Silly Monkeys

Making Memories on a Family Day Trip to the Iowa Great Lakes

We found many adventures in the Iowa Great Lakes! My family spent a whole day exploring the area and taking in many sights and activities. Here are the top 5 things we would recommend to other families:

1. Treasure Village

At Treasure Village Mini Golf
The girls loved the fairytale themed mini golf at Treasure Village-they played all 27 holes with anticipation to see what story was next.

Treasure Village has been hosting family fun in Okoboji for 43 years! Flea markets, mini golf, and family-friendly theater performances take place on their grounds. We surprised the girls with a trip to see the musical performance, Rupunzel. Other shows this summer include Rumpelstiltskin and Jack & the Beanstock. They loved the show and the addition of a rabbit and turtle to the storyline. The interactive show was great for families and their popcorn was some of the best concession popcorn we’ve had (we eat a lot of popcorn, so that’s saying something!). After the show, the girls were able to meet the cast and take pictures with them. The characters took time to chat with the girls a bit before we tried our hand at the 27-hole mini golf course. Each hole at the kid-friendly course was decorated to fit a children’s movie or fairytale. We all golfed well, with each of us getting a hole in one! The girls proudly wore the princess crowns they received after turning in their putters. We look forward to hearing the show lineup for next summer!

2. Gull Point State Park

Lake Girl
This little gal had fun finding dandelions at Gull Point State Park. We loved the view during our picnic.

We worked up an appetite while golfing at Treasure Village and were ready to have a picnic lunch. Not being very familiar with the area, we drove around and followed a sign for Gull Point State Park, hoping to find a picnic table or shelter house. We found something even better-a big free standing swing overlooking the lake. The swing was made for our family of four! We enjoyed our lunch while watching boaters below. I could have sat in that relaxing spot all day. We walked the grounds after our lunch and discovered a nice sandy beach. The water shimmered in the sun and looked very inviting! We weren’t prepared for a swimming adventure though and decided we’d find some fun on the other side of the lake.

3. Arnolds Park Amusement Park

Arnolds Park Fun
The girls loved the rides at Arnolds Park Amusement Park!

Our next stop was Arnolds Park Amusement Park. This park began with a lone water slide into the lake 125 years ago, and amid a few setbacks, is still going strong. It was amazing to think we were spending time at such an iconic location. Since we didn’t plan to spend the entire day there, we chose to put a certain amount of money on a pass to use as we rode rides instead of buying day passes for unlimited rides. This seemed to work well for our family. The girls each got to ride 5 rides and went through the Tipsy House and Mirror Maze several times before they were ready to find some air conditioning. They loved the thrill of the rides and even wanted to try the bigger rides. Next summer, when both girls meet the height requirements without standing on tippy-toes, we may just have to buy all day passes so we can experience as many thrills as our hearts desire!

4. Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum

Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum
So much history was crammed into the Maritime Museum. The replica of Okoboji Store was a super fun find.

We took reprieve from the 100 degree weather in the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. The museum is near the amusement park, so we didn’t have far to go. It is full of antique boats and rare artifacts. Ride parts and souvenirs from Arnolds Park’s earlier years are showcased as well. Those were my girls’ favorite things to see. A reproduction of the “Okoboji Store” was also fun for them to explore. Inside, they played a mean game of checkers. Neither of them quite knew the rules so it was very comical. The museum was full of learning opportunities for people of all ages. There is no entry fee for the museum and tours are available upon request. After a rest in the air, we decided to take a drive around the lake before heading home.

5. Dickinson County Nature Center

Bees
Checking out the bees at the Dickinson County Nature Center.

We enjoyed our leisurely drive through the lakes’ neighborhoods. Just as we were going to head out of town we saw a sign for the Dickinson County Nature Center. So we stopped to see what it was all about. We got there are 3:43 PM. It closed at 4:00 PM. We did a quick tour inside to see the bees, turtles, and a replica of an osprey nest before heading outside to explore a bit. An outdoor deck and beautiful landscaping overlooked a path that is a part of a larger trail system around the lakes. While we were only there for 15 minutes, we saw a lot of neat things. It is definitely a place we want to explore more. The Dickinson County Nature Center could provide several hours of fun and adventures!

There are many more fun adventures waiting for you in the Iowa Great Lakes! We couldn’t fit much more in our day, so you could easily fill an entire weekend or even week full of family fun. If you are looking for adult only-adventures you’ll find plenty of those too! It would be a super great location for a date night, getaway, or family reunion. But don’t take my word for it, go check out the area yourself and create your own adventures in the Iowa Great Lakes!

2 thoughts on “Making Memories on a Family Day Trip to the Iowa Great Lakes”

  1. I love Okoboji! Lots of great memories for me as a kid. I remember when Arnold’s Park had a huge water slide! We have taken our kidos there and we stayed at The Inn resort. Not a fancy place, more like a mom and pop place! It is right on the lake. Also check out Sisters restaurant for breakfast. The biggest and best cinnamon rolls around! Then eat at Fishermans Wharf. Get your seafood fix while watching the boats go by. Love being in Okoboji!!

    1. So many great ideas, Michelle! It sounds like your family has made great memories there too. We will have to plan another trip to Okoboji just to try out the food!

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