Looking for a family getaway on the water? Iowa's lakes offer an abundance of water-centric activities. Use this list to discover the adventure that best suits your style, from boating and fishing to cabin retreats and lakeside hikes.


Iowa Great Lakes

Best of Iowa Lakes: Lake Okoboji

Comprised of several lakes including West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Spirit Lake, the Great Lakes are the premier destination for all things “lake vacation” in Iowa, especially for boaters. With 12,000 acres, Okoboji’s Great Lakes offer fantastic opportunities for sailing, jet skiing and boat recreation. Thousands of vacationers visit Okoboji every year to enjoy all the amenities the Great Lakes offer, including marinas, restaurants, state parks and more.

More lakes for boating:


Lake Icaria

Best of Iowa Lakes: Lake Icaria

Choose your family’s level of “roughing it” at Lake Icaria near Corning. All 14 cabins sleep six and include heat/air conditioning, beds, refrigerator, microwave, picnic table, water hydrant and fire pit. Six cabins are also equipped with kitchenettes and a restroom with a shower. [Bonus: dogs can come along for a small additional fee.] Any of them will put you close to 650 acres of water full of fish, more than six miles of nature trails, a 300-foot roped sand beach for swimming and a marina. Two new cabins, anticipated to open in 2019, will accommodate up to 12 people.

More parks with family cabins:


Lake Macbride

Best of Iowa Lakes: Lake Macbride

Enjoy a lovely stroll along the shore of Lake Macbride in eastern Iowa, near Solon. Starting at the beach house at Lake Macbride State Park, the 1.25 mile shoreline trail meanders under a canopy of trees, with beautiful views of the lake. Bring along a fishing pole to cast in one of the coves. Lake Macbride has several nearby trails for bikers and those looking for a longer hike. The state park also offers camping, a playground and beach, boat rentals, a dock and boat ramp.

More lakeside hikes:


Briggs Woods Park

Best of Iowa Lakes: Briggs Woods

For an unforgettable retreat, head to Briggs Woods Park in Webster City and take in a hands-on workshop offered by Legacy Learning Boone River Valley. The eclectic mix of classes, taught by artists, natural resource professionals and skilled craftspeople, include canning, copper repousse, cabin building, watercolors, pine needle baskets, herbal soap and more. The park also boasts three modern cabins, four rustic cabins, hiking trails, paved trails, a lake and an 18-hole golf course.

More quiet hideaways:


Big Creek Lake

Best of Iowa Lakes: Big Creek Lake

Plan a fun family get-away to Big Creek Lake north of Polk City. Numerous fishing jetties and a universally accessible fishing pier provide easy access to catch bluegill, crappie and walleye. Visit the Big Creek Marina to rent fishing boats, pontoons, water bikes, kayaks and more. Kids enjoy the large playground and cabanas near the popular beach.

More great fishing spots: