June 6, 2016

My Clear Lake Bucket List

This summer, my family will road trip through central Iowa, and one of the stops I’ve been looking forward to is Clear Lake. 

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to do (or will be saving for another trip):

Clear Lake Iowa Bucket List

My Clear Lake Bucket List

Beach time. If you know me at all, you know I love the outdoors and I love a good beach. Clear Lake has three beaches to try out: Clear Lake City Beach is near downtown, Clear Lake State Park has a 900-foot sandy beach on its 55 acres, and McIntosh Woods State Park has an unsupervised beach on a peninsula that juts into the lake. We’ll be in the area long enough to hopefully visit all three.

Fun on the beach in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Fun on the beach in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Stay in a yurt. A yurt is a round tent – think, fancy camping. And Clear Lake’s McIntosh Woods has a couple you can stay in, right by the lake! When’s the last time you had a chance to stay in a yurt? 

A yurt at McKintosh Woods in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo courtesy  The Walking Tourists

A yurt at McKintosh Woods in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo courtesy The Walking Tourists

Visit Surf Ballroom. Clear Lake is probably most known for this concert hall, known as the last concert hall played by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. They still have concerts there.

Inside the Surfside Ballroom in Clear Lake. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Inside the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Visit the place where “the music died.” If you make the trek to Clear Lake simply for the Surf Ballroom, your next stop is likely the crash site trail head marker and crash site memorial. Those are about 5 miles north of the concert hall. The memorial is a ¼ mile walk into the field from the trail marker – a huge replica of Holly’s glasses.

The crash site memorial to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

The crash site memorial to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper near Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Eat good food. I love planning trips around local restaurants. Among the ones I’ve seen recommended are PM Park, known for a good breakfast according to Midwest Living; Barrel Drive-Inn, recommended by any as having the best broasted chicken; and dining with a view a The Landing (or maybe just a drink – doesn’t the photo for this post’s graphic make you want to head straight to The Landing?). On the blog Jeni Eats, I also read that Louie’s Custom Meats is a great family-owned butcher, and we might check it out if we grill out while there.

The crowd at PM Park at dusk in Clear Lake. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

The crowd at PM Park at dusk in Clear Lake. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Fun on the water. I’d love to rent a boat one of the days we’re there, but if we don’t swing that, a ride on the paddle-wheeler Lady of the Lake will still be a novelty for our kids.

Lady of the Lake offers tours to visitors. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Lady of the Lake offers tours to visitors. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Celebrate America. We’re going to Clear Lake in time to enjoy the Fourth of July celebration they’re known for. I’m looking forward to experiencing how a small town on a lake celebrates.

This year, Clear Lake starts its annual multi-day Fourth of July celebration on June 30. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

This year, Clear Lake starts its annual multi-day Fourth of July celebration on June 30. Photo courtesy Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce

Your turn: What else do you recommend for me to try while we’re in Clear Lake?? Please share your tips in the comment section!

Comments

  1. You must try starboard market for a quick lunch and the Muskie lounge for the best burger or their fish fry!

  2. Rick Knudson says:

    Starboard Market deli is a must!
    The Half Moon steakhouse is one of my favorites!
    Enjoy your time in our great town!
    Rick

  3. Ginger Kay says:

    We’re from Overland Park, Kansas and love visiting Clear Lake every chance we get. I recommend seeing the city garden (called Central Gardens of Northern Iowa) on 2nd Avenue. Gejo’s restaurant has great pizza and is across from the city park and band shell. Drive around the entire lake. You’ll see cozy campsites and lake homes; large fancy vacation houses; Ventura, Iowa on the west side, where you’ll love the beer and a fish fry at Rich’s Muskie Lounge…. Awesome view!; find the pyramid house on the north side of the lake, kids think its cool. And, visit the folks at the Hilltop Motel, next to the Surf Ball Room. Terry and Jay will show you around, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Retro & perfect.

  4. Starboard Market for lunch, Cabin Coffee for coffee, and a bike ride along the lake.

  5. The Anchor is the number one place to eat dinner in Clear Lake. The food is outstanding…staff is superb!

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