16 Fun & Best Things to Do in Spirit Lake, Iowa

16 Fun & Best Things to Do in Spirit Lake,

Spirit Lake is taken into account the gateway to the Iowa Great Lakes area. This small however vibrant metropolis is situated in northwestern Iowa, lower than 10 miles from the Minnesota state border and 100 miles east of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The city, based in 1879, derives its title from the Dakota Sioux phrase for the massive lake to the north – “Minnewaukon” or “Lake of the Spirit.” Easily accessible by automotive, Spirit Lake, Iowa, sits on the cross-section of Interstates 71 and 9.

Not surprisingly, with such magnificence and pure wonders, there are numerous issues to do round Spirit Lake involving the nice open air. Over 100 miles of trails crisscross the area, together with a ten-mile city-based path system that connects 4 fishing piers and needed facilities.

For the golf fanatic, Spirit Lake has two personal golf programs inside the metropolis and over 11 private and non-private programs inside half hour of downtown, guaranteeing difficult play for all. In {the summertime}, temperatures attain the mid-80s, good for the entire outside actions within the space.

But the world has a colder facet as effectively and receives as much as 40 inches of snow yearly. Luckily, that doesn’t cease the vacationers who go to this small city year-round. Why a lot curiosity in Spirit Lake, Iowa? Because whereas awe-inspiring in its pure magnificence, there are extra issues to do in Spirit Lake than play open air.

Spirit Lake is house to nice eating places, just a few breweries, phenomenal museum complexes, and a retail artwork gallery district. There are additionally a number of seasonal amusement parks and a historic district with quite a few European and indigenous buildings that date again to the town’s earliest settlements. 

If you’re planning to go to, here’s a record of the very best issues to do in Spirit Lake, Iowa.


  • Most important landmark – Abbie Gardner Cabin
  • Best park – Memorial Park
  • Best free exercise – Dickinson County Museum
  • Best factor to do for teenagers – Treasure Village
  • Best factor to do for adults – Pearson Lakes Art Center
  • Best meals – The Waterfront Grille
  • Best nightlife – Okoboji Store
  • Best all-around lodging – The Oakwood Inn

Best & Fun Things to Do in Spirit Lake, Iowa

1. Dickinson County Museum 

Address: 1708 Keokuk Avenue, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

The Dickinson County Museum homes a set of displays celebrating the county’s historical past and cultural heritage, all contained in a transformed practice depot. Under one roof, guests can discover an arrowhead assortment, a number of foot pump organs courting again to the unique settlement of the world, a Nineteenth-century dental chair, and a touring veterinary wagon. 

One of the museum’s hottest displays highlights the world’s Native American tribes. Arrowheads and stone artifacts complement instruments and objects left from the 1857 Spirit Lake Massacre, a somber level within the area’s historical past.

Another image of historic life is the ice harvesting exhibit. Ice was massive enterprise in Spirit Lake. Blocks for “kitchen ice boxes” have been lower with distinctive instruments from the frozen lake and shipped by rail all through the United States.

If you need one thing to do, the Dickinson County Museum is a enjoyable place to spend a few hours studying about life close to the Iowa Great Lakes. And the very best factor of all? Admission to the quaint museum is free.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Des Moines, Iowa

2. Big Spirit Lake

Big Spirit Lake is the most important pure lake in Iowa and the second of three space lakes carved by glaciers. Often known as a glacial pothole – the roughly 5,700-acre lake was shaped throughout the newest ice age – 13,000 years in the past.

This breathtaking lake reaches depths of 24 ft and due to its shallow depth, the waters are extra inclined to environmental temperatures – hotter in the summertime and colder within the winter.

The northern shore of Big Spirit Lake touches the Iowa-Minnesota border. And quite a few seashores encircle the lake, together with Mini-Wakan State Park on the north and the favored Orleans Beach on the south finish of the lake close to the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery.

The crystal clear water is open to all, with simple lake entry. Lakegoers can safely canoe and fish by way of a canoe ramp or a protected boat ramp. If exploring the world is extra your fashion, take pleasure in a strolling path that wanders close to the water’s edge. After a peaceable hike, you’ll be able to relaxation on one of many many park benches.

Playing on Big Spirit Lake is exhausting, and it’s good to verify right into a peaceable resort after a protracted day within the solar. Big Spirit Resort is situated about 5 miles from Orleans Beach on the lake shore. This space lodge is in an ideal location and provides easy accessibility to the lake.

3. Treasure Village Miniature Golf

Treasure Village Miniature Golf
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 2023 IA-86, Milford, IA 51351 

Skip the crowds and simply play mini-golf at Treasure Village. While not in Spirit Lake correct, Treasure Village Mini-Golf is only a brief nine-mile drive to the south finish of West Lake Okoboji. This iconic golf course options 27 holes in fact play, with every gap adorned with acquainted storybook characters. An ice cream snack store is onsite for fast refreshments.

If you desire a extra historic miniature golf expertise, strive Pirate’s Cove in Arnolds Park, only a few minutes away. This conventional seasonal miniature golf facility has one 18-hole course and meals concessions. You will probably be greeted with a pleasant Arrgh! after which proven into Pirate’s Cove.

Eighteenth-century pirates rule the day all through the cove as you putt beneath strategic waterfalls, over a pure stream, and across the pirate ruins. 

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Dubuque, Iowa

4. West and East Okoboji Lake

Sitting to the quick south of Spirit Lake, Iowa, West Okoboji Lake is Iowa’s deepest pure lake, with a most depth of 136 ft, whereas East Okoboji Lake has a most depth of solely 22 ft. Underground springs present Iowa’s hottest lake with cool, clear water. This space surrounding the lake has been the ancestral house of the Santee or Dakota Sioux tribes.

Lake Okoboji is house to the Arnolds Park Amusement Park and Museum. There are rides for each age open through the summer time, together with a race observe, curler coaster, and log flume. Another prime lake attraction in Spirit Lake to do with children or as a solo traveler is a experience on the Queen II tour boat. A lake paddle boat, the Queen II excursions the world offering spectacular vistas and historic accounts.

After a day on both lake, seize a chunk and a pint on the Okoboji Store. This hip waterfront bar and grill options pub grub, deck seating for spectacular sundown views and reside native bands. And a mile or so from the Okoboji Store is the AmericInn by Wyndham. This simple motel is great for beachside lodgings at an reasonably priced value.

5. Pearson Lakes Art Center

Address: 2201 US-71, Okoboji, IA 51355

The space treasure sits roughly three miles south of downtown Spirit Lake. The Pearson Lakes Art Center combines six completely different artwork galleries. The advanced museum encompasses a 300-person theater, a clay studio, and academic programming in a single distinctive artwork vacation spot. 

The Pearson Lakes Art Center homes a wide range of old-world and modern masters, together with Jasper Johns, Salvador Dali, Picasso, Miro, and Andy Warhol. The Russian gallery options the nation’s most intensive Russian and Soviet-era artwork assortment – over 43 items. 

After just a few hours immersed within the artwork world, it’s time for just a little rustic appeal. Less than a mile from the Art Center is likely one of the space’s most eclectic bars and eating places. The Barn at Okoboji is a restored red-roofed rustic barn circa the early 1900s, full with a Grain Bin Bar, outside stage, and exercise courts. There can be a music hotspot, The Farmhouse. 

Once the night winds down, go for top-notch lodging close by. The Oakwood Inn checks each field.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Ames, Iowa

6. Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum 

Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum 
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 243 West Broadway St, Arnolds Park, IA 51331

In one other part of Arnolds Park lies the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. This intimate attraction homes many boating-related artifacts, paperwork, and objects. Between the black and white images, the gallery boasts a uncommon assortment of vintage picket boats, together with a restored boat recovered from the underside of West Okoboji Lake.

There are over 25 basic picket runabouts housed in a totally restored boathouse. There can be a wonderful exhibit of interval swimsuits. But there are undoubtedly no bikinis on this assortment. And volunteer docents present attention-grabbing excursions exploring the historical past and lore of the Iowa Great Lakes.

These strolling excursions final from 30 to 60 minutes. Don’t overlook to cease by the present store for just a few historic presents for these again house. After touring the museum, go for a top-notch meal. The Waterfront Grille sits straight on the southeastern shore of East Okoboji Lake, close to Arnolds Park.

This upscale American steak and seafood restaurant anticipates each culinary want and is a must-try, from the grilled scallops to the new wok Korean shrimp scampi.

7. Okoboji Classic Cars Museum

Okoboji Classic Cars Museum
Image fromTripAdvisor

Address: 810 Jeppeson Road, Okoboji, IA 51351

Tens of 1000’s journey yearly to a basic automotive museum in the midst of nowhere. Discovered mainly by phrase of mouth, Toby Shine’s Okoboji Classic Cars assortment is value over $6 million. Owner Toby Shine considers the museum his ‘man cave,’ and he usually sits on the finish of the museum’s bar chatting with automotive lovers.

Okoboji Classic Cars began as a automotive restoration enterprise and shortly expanded right into a museum. While 47,000-square ft is devoted to automotive restoration, the awe-inspiring assortment of roughly 70 autos spans two large showrooms inside 28,000-square ft of show.

These scenes of space life are thought-about the most important recognized indoor mural. The constructing partitions are a hand-painted diorama recreating downtown Spencer close to Arnolds Park, Iowa, circa 1950.

See Related: What is Iowa recognized for? Facts in regards to the Hawkeye State

8. Elinor Bedell State Park

Elinor Bedell State Park
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 1619 260th Avenue, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Elinor Bedell State Park sits on the east shore of East Okoboji Lake close to The Narrows Point and Arthur Heights. It boasts a sprawling, unspoiled 80-acre space in style for tenting and fishing. There is a formidable 120-person picnicking pavilion and a playground with spectacular water views.

There is a strolling path with interactive classes in regards to the Native Americans, space wildlife, and a peaceable small-step waterfall. Elinor Bedell State Park is the proper place for a peaceable weekend getaway.

Just over the Hiawatha Pioneer Trail, from Elinor Bedell State Park, is the favored Memorial Park. This 10-acre inexperienced area sits on the western financial institution of the northeasterly shores of East Lake Okoboji. Memorial park is well accessible for a day with the household for a enjoyable picnic. It encompasses a splash pad, mountaineering trails, fishing piers, and a horseshoe courtroom. And you’ll be able to watch the children on the playground tools whilst you keep watch over the grill.

Or in case you are too drained to cook dinner, just a few blocks away is an old school hamburger joint, Burger & Company Spirit Lake. Made-to-order juicy burgers, selfmade fries, and thick milkshakes are the order for the day.

9. Abbie Gardner Cabin

Address: 74 Monument Drive, Arnolds Park, IA 51331

Arnolds Park is likely one of the many close by cities to Spirit Lake. It is a brief five-mile drive south of downtown Spirit Lake, Iowa. A pivotal a part of native historical past, Abbie Gardner Cabin sits inside the small lake district.. The Nineteenth-century log cabin was made well-known as the placement of the often-referenced Spirit Lake Massacre.

The Spirit Lake Massacre was a controversial 1857 regional battle. The northwestern Iowa incident concerned a band of Sioux Indians led by Inkpaduta, who, seemingly with out purpose, attacked a bunch of European settlers. 

Abigail (Abbie) Gardner was a thirteen-year-old settler orphaned and captured through the raid. The warriors took her 100 miles northwest to Pipestone Quarry, the place she was ransomed 84 days later and ultimately launched within the Dakota Territory.

Inkpaduta was a Santee Sioux Chief pursued by the United States Military and ultimately defeated at theBattle of Killdeer Mountain in 1864. He was pressured to flee the world, ultimately migrating to Canada.

Decades after the bloodbath, in 1891, Abbie bought her outdated household cabin, reworking it into one in every of Iowa’s earliest vacationer sights. After touring the Abbie Gardner Cabin web site, take just a few hours to relaxation and refresh at The Inn Hotel, which provides modern European-styled lodging with an onsite restaurant.

See Related: Visiting the Four Corners National Monument within the USA

10. Pikes Point State Park

Address: 15973 213th Avenue, Orleans, IA 51360

Pikes Point State Park sits on the shores of West Okoboji Lake on a tip of land, 4 miles from downtown Spirit Lake. Due to its distinctive suspended swim platform, Pikes Point State Park is likely one of the Iowa Great Lakes’ hottest swimming holes and a major fishing spot in Iowa. 

Anglers of all ability ranges are challenged by the number of the water’s feisty recreation fish – walleye, northern pike, bass, bluegills, catfish, and bullheads. The park’s boat launch accommodates ski boats, sailboats, and canoes on the blue water’s floor. Closer to shore, scuba and snorkeling excursions are in style. 

And after a protracted day of play, exit the lake utilizing one of many close by boat ramps, however don’t take too lengthy as a result of the grill is sizzling, and it’s time to eat. This is when household picnics rule at Pikes Point, with a number of picnic tables and an ideal view of the glacial basin.

A mile or so from Pikes Point State Park is the Lake Dog Park, an open-air off-leash canine park. The six-acre canine park is designed to permit two separate canine runs -one for big canines and one for extra reserved personalities.  

When it’s time for a soothing night and an ideal meal, drive the few miles throughout the lake from Pikes Point to the Pub19 Bar & Grill, an up-scale steak and luxury meals restaurant.

11. Dickinson County Nature Center

Dickinson County Nature Center
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 22785 Nature Center Road, Okoboji, IA 51355

The Dickinson County Nature Center consists of 11 distinct parks and reserves and is an environmental and ecological mecca for kids and adults. Education packages introduce reside animal ambassadors, whereas interactive displays present a extra educational strategy to the world’s habitats. 

Kenue Park options geocaching, disc golf, and a nature playscape. While the Pioneer Park Nature Preserve, a 35-acre park, is a superb place to go fishing or birdwatching. In the winter, the Dickinson County Nature Center turns into the go-to place for downhill snow tubing at Horseshoe Bend Wildlife Area. 

In winter, the Okoboji area is a playground. And the Dickenson County Nature Center is the house to the Dickinson County Snowhawks snowmobile membership, a group group that works to groom lots of the almost 100 miles of Dickinson county trails, protecting them protected for cross-country snowboarding, snowshoe mountaineering, snowmobiling, and winter birdwatching- sure that basically is a factor!  

See Related: Best Hiking Trails within the World You Must Visit

12. SAMI Bedell Center for the Performing Arts

Address: 612 twenty eighth St, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

The SAMI Bedell Center for the Performing Arts is straight away adjoining to Spirit Lake High School and Little League Park. Distinguished by a larger-than-life fashionable purple metallic sculpture, The SAMI encompasses a 1000-seat performing arts auditorium with a fancy dress store, a surroundings store, and a full orchestra pit. 

The wildly profitable facility can be house to one of many Yamaha purple limited-edition live performance grand pianos signed and gifted by music legend Sir Elton John.

Local actors hone their expertise in musicals and particular occasions whereas world-class performers are scheduled. It can be a one-of-a-kind venue to catch nationally touring Broadway-style performances. The Center additionally serves the group as a spot for city corridor conferences and highschool performances.

13. Templar State Recreation Area

Address: 13185 Templar Drive S, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

The Iowa Great Lakes area has over two dozen state parks, seashores, and recreation areas. 

One of probably the most rustic, Templar State Recreation Area is a ten-acre park with minimal companies and facilities. The park sits straight on the southwestern shores of Spirit Lake, near Kettleson Hogsback Wildlife Reserve. It is a superb setting for an impromptu household picnic or cookout with one picnic shelter and two gazebos.

Lakegoers have entry to a lagoon-based boat launch that gives shelter even on the windiest days, and there are additionally quite a few spots for wonderful shore fishing. The lake additionally has a number of sloughs, a wetland or shallow half of a bigger physique of water, that function estuaries and wildlife reserves.

See Related: Best Islands to Visit Around the World

14. Corner Lanes Bowling

Address: 2105 Circle Drive W, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Corner Lanes is a date night time mainstay for locals and a change of tempo from the waterfront actions of the Iowa Great Lakes. Perfect for a solo night or your complete household, the bowling alley boasts 12 lanes and all the mandatory leases to make for an gratifying night.  

Corner Lanes additionally has a bar and grill serving burgers and buckets of beer. There is even a full-service breakfast restaurant subsequent door.

Kick up your ft, your journey to Spirit Lake is a rousing success! After bowling that good ‘300’ recreation, it’s time to calm down. Grab a room on the Super 8 Hotel by Wyndham, subsequent door to the bowling lanes. But don’t overlook to do some extra buying on the Spirit Lake Antique Mall subsequent door earlier than leaving.

15. Goodies Handmade Candies

Goodies Handmade Candies
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 2321 thirtieth Street, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Goodies Handmade Candies is a family-run enterprise specializing in distinctive goodies, together with turtles, recent toffee, dipped fudge, and peanut butter bars. This in style community-based confectionary is situated within the Spirit Lake space.

Goodies Handmade Candies can be well-known for its brownies and hand-made biscotti, an ideal companion to recent espresso. All the candy treats at Goodies Handmade Candies are made with recent elements and may be purchased year-round or bundled for the proper vacation items.

See Related: Best Beaches within the US to Visit

16. Gilbert Park

Address: 601 Hill Ave, Spirit Lake, IA 51360

Just west of Peppermint Point, Gilbert Park was established in 1874 however has repeatedly been upgraded. The park is a five-acre group mainstay that features roughly 500 ft of shoreline on the northwestern fringe of East Okoboji Lake.

Gilbert Park gives two floating and swimming platforms and a basketball courtroom. This well-maintained paved courtroom is a superb place to play basketball with household or mates. A fantastic city inexperienced area, Gilbert Park additionally has a motorcycle path, a shelter home, grills, and tables are sometimes used for a full afternoon of household picnic enjoyable.


What is the very best factor to do with children in Spirit Lake, Iowa?

Spend the afternoon touring the Okoboji Classic Cars assortment. This personal assortment is value over $6 million and sits in a 28,000-square-foot metal constructing. The partitions are coated with hand-painted murals depicting space city life all through the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties. These dioramas are the most important steady murals on this planet, taking 400 gallons of paint to finish. 

What is Spirit Lake, Iowa, recognized for?

While the world is blanketed with parks and inexperienced area, Spirit Lake, Iowa, is known for the Spirit Lake Massacre – a controversial battle that occurred in 1857 on the Abbie Gardner Cabin. The northwestern Iowa incident concerned a band of Sioux Indians led by Inkpaduta, who attacked a bunch of European settlers. Inkpaduta was a Santee Sioux Chief who was ultimately defeated at theBattle of Killdeer Mountain in 1864 and compelled to flee to Canada.

What are some issues to do in Spirit Lake, Iowa, when it’s raining?

One of the very best issues to do when it’s raining or snowing in Spirit Lake is to seize a pint and bowl just a few video games at Corner Lanes Bowling. If you favor a extra eclectic afternoon, go to the free galleries and the huge assortment of up to date artwork on the Pearson Lakes Art Center.

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