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Honey Creek Resort: The Best Kept Secret In Iowa

The Midwest has its well-known lake resorts — we’ve all been to one, or at least, have been meaning to go to it. It’s the hidden gem lake resorts that have started to appeal to me. The places like Honey Creek Resort State Park in Iowa. Has this getaway really been so close to Omaha all this time and I’m just now getting to it?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Travel Iowa. Our stay was complimentary so I could write about it. This post may contain affiliate links. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. 

UPDATED June 2023: Since our visit in May 2022, the resort has been undergoing renovations from its new concessionaires. I’ve tried to update the post as best I could, though I haven’t visited since changes have been made.

Kim and kids in front of Honey Creek Resort sign in Iowa

Staying at Honey Creek Resort

Unlike other lake destinations in Iowa (namely the Okoboji area), Rathbun Lake isn’t situated among a lot of tourist attractions or cities that come to life in the summer. Being the case, staying somewhere that has all you need for a perfect summer getaway is key. 

At Rathbun Lake, that ideal spot is Honey Creek Resort on Rathbun Lake. Read TripAdvisor reviews of the resort here. There are three accommodation options at the resort: Staying the lodge, staying in a private cottage, or staying in your RV. There are 28 cottages available in one-, two- or four-bedroom. On our summer visit, we stayed in a classic hotel room in the lodge, one that also happened to allow dogs.

The lodge at Honey Creek Resort State Park has solar panels on the roof

It’s worth noting that while this is a Department of Iowa Resources property, it is run very much like a hotel. A green hotel, at that. 

Honey Creek Resort is one of the few LEED-certified hotels in Iowa, and has very visible environmentally sound practices in place. There’s a wind turbine to generate electricity and solar panels on the lodge roof. Underground, a thermal heating system has been installed. 

Organic materials are used, when possible, and several reminders are found throughout the resort intending to prod us all along in the effort to conserve energy. Our shower, for instance, had a timer to keep us mindful of water usage and refillable containers for shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

Refillable containers of bath products at the Honey Creek Resort

Activities at the resort (it’s all included)

When staying at the resort — lodge or cabin, doesn’t matter – there are several things that are included with that price. And my friends, that’s the big draw in my book. It’s all included.

We spent two days at the resort and my kids were hell-bent on cramming as much activity as possible into those 48 hours. And those activities didn’t cost extra.

Buccaneer Bay, the indoor waterpark at Honey Creek Resort State Park in Moravia, Iowa

On the first night, we splashed and hit the slide at the indoor waterpark, Buckaneer Bay. It had a lazy river, zero-depth entry pool for littles, a large hot tub, and more. We went twice during our stay, the kids liked it so much.

But, our Saturday will really make you tired. Here’s what we did at the resort in one day:

A green bike by a path near Rathbun Lake
  • Bike ride. There are complimentary bikes and helmets for hotel guests. If you’re are serious about your bikes, bring your own, though. These were all well loved and not comfy for long distances. 
  • Inflatable obstacle course. Life jackets and lifeguard supervision are included. There’s unlimited time on the obstacle course, much to my kids’ delight (cold water didn’t stop them). 

NOTE: As of June 2023, the resort has not brought back its inflatable obstacle course. They have added new activity offerings, though, including horse-drawn carriage rides.

Kids on the inflatable obstacle course at Honey Creek Resort State Park in Iowa

There’s a small sandy beach by the obstacle course, with a swimming area and a volleyball court. Lounge chairs were plentiful by the waterfront. 

  • My daughter and I took a brief paddle on the lake in one of the two-person kayaks. The resort also offered free stand-up paddle baards for guests.
A stack of standup paddle boards at Honey Creek Resort State Park in Iowa

We debated on renting a pontoon for fishing. In the end, we decided to save it for another visit.

  • At 8 p.m., we got our s’mores kit from the front desk and headed out to the nightly bonfire. We heard it’s a popular activity in the summer, but we were lucky to have a small crowd the night we attended. Guests receive one complimentary s’mores kit with their stay.

While half our group roasted marshmallows, the other played corn hole in the yard. The resort had several lawn games for guests, including giant Connect 4 and frisbee golf.

A group roasts marshmallows while a corn hole game is in progress at Honey Creek Resort in Iowa

We kept active but we didn’t do all that we’d hoped to do! There’s also an Activity Center, kid’s activities, and a golf course. Guests can golf for free (just have to rent the cart). 


Where is Honey Creek Resort?

I confess: I spent quite a long time confusing Honey Creek with Honey Creek Resort State Park and, honestly, with Honey Creek State Park. They’re all different places in Iowa.

Chairs on the beach at Honey Creek Resort State Park, and in the background, the swim area of the lake

Omaha friends, Honey Creek, Iowa, is not where you’ll find Honey Creek Resort. The resort’s address is in Morvaia, a small town in south central Iowa. It’s not too far from Pella if that helps you situate it.

But, most Iowans know it for its proximity to one of the largest man-made lakes in the state, Rathbun Lake, or Rathbun Reservoir. The region has its share of slight, rolling hills and plenty of trees.

How far is Omaha to Honey Creek Resort?

Rathbun Lake is about 190 miles from Omaha, roughly 3 and a half hours of driving. Since we brought our dog, we had a slightly longer trip due to a dog park stop in Red Oak. 

Is the resort dog-friendly?

Yes, there are a few lodge rooms set aside for families visiting with dogs, as well as some cabins. There’s an additional fee, and dogs need to be leashed on the grounds. NOTE: It was dog-friendly in 2022. I am not sure how the new management runs the resort now.

This was our dog Stanley’s first family vacation with us. All the deer on the property was exciting for him, but he was not a fan of the little waves created by boats on the lake. Dogs were allowed on the beach.

Is there wifi at Honey Creek Resort?

Yes, but it’s spotty. My cell phone kept disconnecting from the network, so I had to manually join the network each time I tried to use it. 

But, unless you’ve got work to do, it shouldn’t bother you. 

Can you fish at Honey Creek Resort?

Yes, and equipment is available complimentary for guests. Fishing licenses and bait are available for purchase in the lodge, too.

What is there to do near Honey Creek Resort?

I know it’s hard to believe, but I mostly scouted out the restaurant in Moravia (BK’s Boathouse for pizza and Captain’s Landing for ice cream). I sought out a few other possible things to do (besides eating) if you venture off the resort’s little corner of the lake. 

Bowl of ice cream at Captain's Landing

Honey Creek State Park is about 8 miles from the resort. There are hiking trails, and a bike lane for road bikers. Centerville is fairly close to the resort (it’s all relative out in the country). The historic town square is lovely to walk around, with restaurants, cute second hand shops, and a book store with a cafe inside it. 

Your turn: If there are any Rathbun Lake regulars reading this, I’d love to hear your recommendations on things to do nearby! I already planning a return trip.

Iowa lakeside vacation spot: Honey Creek Resort State Park on Rathbun Lake. There's a beach, inflatable obstacle course, golf, kayaking, biking, and an indoor waterpark (all included!)

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Jackie Richardson

Monday 13th of June 2022

In centerville there is the coal mining museum…. Cd’s in Moravia serves a great breakfast Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 11 am…. If you are going back to Omaha you should also take the scenic route going through corydon stopping at the museum to the Jessie James exhibit or east of Allerton to see the Round Barn site


Monday 13th of June 2022

Thank you for those tips, Jackie!!


Saturday 11th of June 2022

Thanks for sharing! I've never heard of this before. It looks awesome!


Sunday 12th of June 2022

@Sara, go back and look again ask about the windmill, the decks on cabins, go to the third floor and look.the food comes in frozen and very over priced. Yes a really cool place no doubt about it.

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