Part of the Iowa Great Lakes region, the community of Okoboji lies on the eastern shore of West Okoboji Lake. This classic lake town offers kids and adults alike a nostalgic trip along the shores of the blue water lake, but the area offers more than just outdoor recreation with theaters and museum. Book a stay at one of many incredible Okoboji vacation rentals today. Here are the most unforgettable kid-friendly activities to check out in Okoboji.
1. Go on the Lake
Whether your vacation rental is along the shore or set back from the water, spending at least a little time by the lake is a must. Boat access at several points around West Lake Okoboji makes it easy to get your kids on the water, while kayaking is a relaxing way to see the lake with older kids. Snag a vacation rental with a garage or storage shed if you plan to bring your own kayaks. You can also rent kayaks from various shops around the lake. Other rental options include jet skis, pontoon boats, paddleboats, and other watercraft. Some rental facilities let you hire a captain to drive the boat if you don’t feel comfortable with the task.
2. Play on the Beach
Being a lake resort area, Okoboji has plenty of beach area to keep your kids entertained. Pikes Point State Park along West Okoboji Lake has a popular beach area, which has a swim platform ideal for older kids. Alternately, you can find beach access at Gull Point State Park, which also trails, picnic shelters, and a boat launch ideal for a long day at the park.
3. Visit a Classic Amusement Park
Arnolds Park Amusement Park sits along the shores of West Okoboji Lake waiting for you to explore it many classic rides. This historic amusement park oozes with nostalgic appeal. Rides range from slow, gentle ones perfect for toddlers to a thrilling roller coaster and spinning rides for your older kids. Classic carnival games give kids of all ages a chance to test their luck. You may end up with a new stuffed animal prize to decorate your vacation rental.
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4. Explore Nature
Venture beyond the lake to experience the full scope of the natural beauty in northern Iowa. The Dickinson County Nature Center offers a place to explore nature. Walk around the facility outdoors to see native flowers and plants. Inside the nature center, check out live animals, look at a bee hive, walk through a bat cave, and play in the kids’ play area.
5. Go Hiking
A number of trails in the Okoboji area give you another opportunity to explore native plants and wildlife. Dickinson County Recreational Trails cover 14 miles with use for walking, cycling, and roller blading. Many of the state parks in the area also feature trails that weave through the natural landscape. Check out the distance of each trail before starting to make sure your kids can handle the trek.
6. Learn About Rock & Roll
Bop over to the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum for a lesson in music, particularly related to rock and roll in Iowa. Check out the memorabilia on display, including instruments and other items from musicians, bands, and radio personalities. Each year, people connected to the music field get inducted into the hall of fame. Fill your vacation rental with rock and roll music before heading to the museum to get everyone pumped for the trip.
7. Visit the Maritime Museum
Switch gears by learning about the area’s maritime history at the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. The museum features antique wooden boats, many of which were pulled from West Okoboji Lake. As part of Arnolds Park Amusement Park, the museum also features vintage ride parts and other memorabilia from the park.
8. Take a Boat Cruise
See the Okoboji area via boat aboard the Queen II. Based on a 19th-century steamer, this ship offers a nostalgic way to see the area. Kids enjoy riding on the open air upper deck, where you get a great vantage point for the sights. The enclosed lower deck may make you feel more comfortable if you have young kids. If your vacation rental sits along the shore, see if you can spot it while aboard the Queen II. At only 60 minutes, the tour is short enough for most kids to enjoy.
9. Take in a Show
Stephens College puts on performances all summer long at the Okoboji Summer Theatre. The performances range from musicals to comedies with various shows throughout the summer. Boji Bantam Productions put on performances especially for kids, so you can take in a show even if your kids are young. Your vacation rental living room may become a makeshift stage after the performance unleashes your child’s inner actor.
10. Play Mini Golf and Other Games
Ranch Okoboji has an 18-hole mini golf course with a Wizard of Oz theme. Indoors, try Tyotee’s Mining with over 200 different types of gemstones and fossils for kids to uncover using the water sluice. Other activities at the facility include sand volleyball, bocce ball, horseshoes, and bags. Treat kids to ice cream from the indoor shop after finishing your fun. Another mini golf option is the Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf in Arnold’s Park, which has a natural stream running through the pirate-themed 18-hole course.
11. Explore Art
Pearson Lakes Art Center inspires your child’s creativity with six galleries and other special performance areas. Check out the upcoming performance schedule to find fun activities during your stay in Okoboji. The center also regularly hosts children’s classes and special events that let your little artist create various forms of art. Bring the new artwork back to your vacation rental to make it feel a little more like home.
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