Ultimate Guide to the Best Things to Do in Okoboji

Ultimate guide to the best things to do in okoboji

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Tucked away in the northwest corner of Iowa, Okoboji is one of the many wonderful places that the Midwest has to offer.

This delightful city is a great destination to visit. The region boasts a flourishing arts and cultural scene, complemented by exceptional dining establishments, shops, and lodgings. There is something for everyone – water activities, state parks, delicious cuisine, and beaches.

If you’re planning to visit this fantastic location, here’s your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Okoboji, Iowa.

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Explore the Great Lakes

Okoboji, also referred to as the Iowa Great Lakes, is a group of natural lakes in northwestern Iowa. Boating, swimming, fishing, and camping are just some of the awesome activities to enjoy here.

Boating and Water Sports

With six lakes – West Okoboji Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Big Spirit, Upper Gar, Lower Gar, and Minnewashta Lake – Okoboji is the perfect place to spend your summer on a boat.

You can rent a boat or personal watercraft at one of the many great marinas or boat rental locations.

Here’s a list of Okoboji boat rentals:

While in Okoboji, you can take a ride on the Queen II or book a public cruise through Okoboji Boat Works.

More water activities to enjoy in Okoboji include parasailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.


Okoboji is an angler’s paradise in the state’s northwest quadrant. For over a century, fishermen from all over the Midwest have convened here to sample the famous multi-species fisheries.

The chain of natural, glacial lakes in Iowa’s Great Lakes covers nearly 14,000 acres. It is noted for clear water and an abundance of popular sportfish, including walleyes, small- and largemouth bass, muskies, northern pike, and catfish.

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Enjoy the Outdoors

Among the many ways to enjoy the outdoors in this city is to hike along one of the best hiking trails Okoboji Iowa – the Iowa Great Lakes Trail. This trail winds through the Iowa Great Lakes region, offering outdoor opportunities from its popular blue lakes and sandy beaches to quieter natural areas.

Arnolds Park Amusement Park

Arnolds Park has been a popular tourist attraction for more than a century in Okoboji, drawing fans with old-fashioned rides at the edge of the lake.

This historic amusement park is home to Legend, a 91-year-old wooden roller coaster that brings an intense rush to thrill seekers, young and old. It creeps to the summit called ‘The Point of No Return,’ pausing for a millisecond before plummeting 63 feet at 50 miles per hour!

Preserve and Nature Centers

Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Gull Point State Park, a large seaside park with a lodge, picnic spaces, and pathways for observing wildlife.

Discover the rich natural heritage of Okoboji at the Dickinson County Nature Center. This educational facility showcases the diverse flora and fauna of the region through interactive exhibits, engaging displays, landscaped grounds, hiking trails, and guided nature walks.

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If you’re a golf enthusiast, you should include the Okoboji View Golf Course in your itinerary. The 18-hole beautiful golf course places an emphasis on nature, offering several challenges with fast greens, stunning water features, tree-lined fairways, and rolling hills.

Treasure Village Mini Golf is the only 27-hole course in the area, featuring unique obstacles and Mischief Spinners.

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Discover the Arts and Culture

Okoboji is known for its flourishing arts and cultural scene. Here are a few places you must see while in the city.

Pearson Lakes Art Center

The Pearson Lakes Art Center is a hub of art and culture in the Iowa Great Lakes area. This Okoboji art center houses four art galleries and the Lauridsen Performing Arts Theatre. The Center offers art classes tailored to different ages and skill levels. It also hosts Art in the Park, an art fair held next to West Lake Okoboji.

Okoboji Summer Theatre

A trip to Okoboji wouldn’t be complete without seeing a play or musical at the Summer Theatre. The theater typically plays nine mainstage productions and four Boji Bantam Children’s Theatre productions every summer.

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Unwind at the Beaches

Summer is tourist season in Okoboji, the summer playground of Iowa. So, undoubtedly, spending time at the beach is one of the best things to do in Okoboji during this time of the year.

Beach Time

When it comes to having fun in the sun with the whole family, Terrace Park Beach is the perfect spot for parents with small children. It has clean sand and water that makes it enjoyable to swim, float, and relax.

Arnolds Park City Beach is another family-friendly beach where kids can swim and parents can enjoy the view of the passing boats. Located next to the bridge on Highway 71, you can walk or drive to the available parking lot after having a delicious lunch at The Ritz.

Other popular beaches in Okoboji include:

  • City Park
  • Marble Beach
  • Orleans Beach
  • Gull Point State Park
  • Pikes Point State Park
  • Emerson Bay State Park
  • Okoboji Boat Works Beach
  • Arnold’s Park Amusement Park Beach
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Culinary Delights

Okoboji is home to a thriving food scene with excellent locally-owned dining establishments.

Local Dining

Okoboji Store Restaurant is a modern bar and grill located on the lake known for its delicious cuisine, picturesque scenery, and vibrant entertainment. Enjoy your food outside on the deck while enjoying live music and the great view of both East and West Lake.

Maxwell’s Restaurant is a charming restaurant that serves dishes inspired by New American cuisine in a casual setting with stunning views of the lake and outdoor dining.


Okoboji is truly an amazing destination and these are just some of the best things to do when you visit!

If you’d like to know more about what Okoboji, IA, has to offer, give us a call at 712.336.4000. You can also send us an email at team@okobojire.com to schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Summertime is the most popular time to visit Okoboji but there’s plenty to do all year round. If you come during the off-season, you’ll encounter fewer crowds and have a more relaxed experience.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Okoboji, including hiking, boating, cruising, kayaking, fishing, parasailing, and spending time at the beaches.

The Pearson Lakes Art Center offers art classes tailored to different ages and skill levels. It also hosts Art in the Park, an art fair held next to West Lake Okoboji. The Summer Theatre offers mainstage productions and Boji Bantam Children’s Theatre productions every summer.