Iowa's neighbor to the north may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but there are no shortage of places to enjoy Iowa lake vacations. When heading to the lake in Iowa, visitors have an array of choices for recreation, whether they want to slip away and relax or thrill to watersports and find adventure.
For generations, families taking Iowa lake vacations have traveled to the Okoboji region, also known as the Great Lakes of Iowa. This chain of glacier-carved lakes in the northwestern corner of the state offers an array of vacation options and places for recreation. The Great Lakes of Iowa include the state's largest naturally-created lake, Spirit Lake, and five other lakes: the Upper and Lower Gar, Minnewashta, East Okoboji, and West Okoboji.
No matter the season, those on Iowa vacations will find plenty of fun things to do. In the warmer months, these Iowa lakes set the scene for swimming, water sports, boating, and fishing. Along the shores, vacationers enjoy amusement parks, waterparks, several golf courses, and trails primed for hiking and biking. When the mercury drops, vacationers flock to the Great Lakes of Iowa for ice fishing and other winter sports.
Okoboji is just one of the places to enjoy Iowa lake vacations. All around the state, an abundance of natural and manmade lakes attract vacationers with a full slate of things to do, plenty of places for overnights, and visitor amenities. There's a good chance an Iowa lake is not far away wherever vacationers are planning to visit, from the bigger cities to rural regions.
Another one of the popular Iowa lakes is spring-fed Clear Lake, and it is a favorite for fishing, boating, and watersports. Every spring, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources stocks this lake in Iowa with pike. Its elevation, approximately 100 feet above the surrounding lands, means there's wind even on calm days, perfect for sailing. The surrounding town of Clear Lake offers plenty of options for dining, golfing, and lake lodging.
The list of Iowa lakes also includes Blue Lake in just outside Sioux City. It's the centerpiece of Lewis & Clark State Park, as are the replicas of the keelboat and other vessels the explorers used that are now docked at the lake. Visitors enjoy an array of things to do, including swimming, hiking trails, and camping.
In south-central Iowa, just outside Centerville, Rathbun Lake is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. This lake in Iowa, one of the biggest in the whole state, helps to control flooding, but it is also a hotspot for recreation. Perched on the north shore of the lake, Honey Creek Resort State Park is home to one of the state's newest luxury hotels and an array of amenities. A cove with a pedestrian bridge separates this site from the original Honey Creek State, where guests can enjoy the boat launches, nature programs, marinas, and cabins.
The Army Corps also watches over Coralville Lake, south of Cedar Rapids and not far from Iowa City, the home of University of Iowa. It offers several campgrounds, boat ramps, hiking trails, and more.