The Oakwood Inn is ideally situated in the Great Lakes region of Iowa, where our guests can take advantage of countless area attractions. Whether you prefer water or land, there will be plenty to do during your Lake Okoboji vacation!
For Adventure Seekers on the Lakes
A Bit of History
Nestled in the northwest corner of the state, the Iowa Great Lakes include Iowa’s largest natural lake, Spirit Lake, and five interconnected lakes: West Lake Okoboji, East Lake Okoboji, Upper Gar, Lower Gar, and Minnewashta. These beautiful lakes are the result of a geological drama that occurred over 14,000 years ago – when the Des Moines Ice Lobe of the Late Wisconsin Glaciation period retreated southward across the upper Midwest.
The chain of six natural lakes, covering more than 12,000 acres with nearly 70 miles of shoreline, is a noted fishery for such game fish species as walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, and bluegill.
Big Spirit Lake is the largest natural lake in Iowa at 5,684 acres. West Lake Okoboji is one of only three blue water lakes in the world. It is spring-fed and measures 136 feet deep. Water recreational options are boundless. From boating and sailing to various water sports, there are choices for everyone.
The Oakwood Inn is conveniently located in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes. Innkeepers Bill and Bridget can assist in recommending the best access point to launch your kayak, canoe, runabout, or pontoon. The Oakwood Inn has boat trailer parking. Please call ahead to inquire about availability as spaces are limited.
Our friends at Kabele’s Trading Post can outfit you with all the fishing gear you need to fish the Iowa Great Lakes summer or winter. To see the process of hatching and rearing walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge, visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery located on the south side of Spirit Lake.
For Adventure Seekers on the Land
The Oakwood Inn is adjacent to the Kenue Park Trail of the Dickinson County Trail system. Take a quick walk or bike ride to visit the Dickinson County Nature Center and the Westport Rural School Museum. For those adventure seekers looking to rent bicycles and equipment, Okoboji Expedition Company is just one mile from The Oakwood Inn.
Dickinson County Trails Map
In addition to the wonderful educational opportunities inside the Dickinson County Nature Center, Kenue Park also features geocaching, mowed trails through the prairie and around the wetland which is home to two rehabilitated trumpeter swans, an 18-hole professional level disc golf course, a fantastic Nature Playscape, and paved trails that are a part of the Dickinson County Trails system.
The trails wind along rural, community, and nature areas in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes region. The “spine” of the system is a 14-mile, ten-foot wide, hard surface trail that accommodates two-way recreational traffic.
Connecting to the spine trail are many other trails to explore. The Arnolds Park City Trail loops through the town and to the Amusement Park and Maritime Museum. The Spirit Lake City Trail begins at the 23rd St. Spine Trail parking lot and runs through the south part of the city to the YMCA. The West Lake Trail along the west side of West Lake Okoboji connects Gull Point State Park, Lakeside Lab, Emerson Bay Recreation area, and Garlock Slough.
Two other trails in the county are the Barney Peterson Memorial Trail at Gull Point State Park and the Kettelson Hogsback nature trail west of Big Spirit Lake in the Kettleson Wildlife Preserve. In addition, 60 miles of signed routes on low traffic county roads have been added to the trails system. These “Touring Routes” are designed for the biker who wants a more challenging workout while enjoying the rural countryside.
Within five miles of The Oakwood Inn, guests can enjoy a golfer’s paradise with five golf courses around the Iowa Great Lakes. With advanced notice, The Oakwood Inn will prepare a delicious breakfast to go for those early morning tee times, giving you a good start to your day on the course.
Bring your clubs and enjoy beautiful fairways, pristine water hazards, and challenging sand traps at Brooks Golf Club. At Emerald Hills Golf Course & Country Club, you will find the hilly terrain, tree-lined dog-legs, and fast undulating greens a challenge to remember. Okoboji View Golf Course is the Lakes’ most westerly located course, featuring beautiful wetlands, expansive prairie views, and tree-lined fairways.
Indian Hills Golf Club is a beautiful 9-hole course nestled in rolling hills, wrapping around Bass Lake. At Woodlyn Hills Golf Course, you will enjoy the wide sweeping views of the Iowa Great Lakes at some of the highest elevations in Iowa.
Hidden along the shores of the Iowa Great Lakes is an antiquing and boutique shopping oasis. Visitors can enjoy antique shops specializing in primitives or lake memorabilia, along with the traditional antique malls with treasures waiting to be found.
Unique specialty shops feature beach attire, home décor, garden art, and second-hand treasures sure to delight the most experienced shopaholic.
Innkeepers Bridget and Bill can provide a map and recommendations to guide your day of shopping to area shops including:
- Okoboji Mercantile, Arnolds Park
- Okoboji Antique Mall, Arnolds Park
- Homeology, Arnolds Park
- The Emporium, Arnolds Park
- Antiques of Okoboji, Okoboji
- Barn Swallow, Okoboji
- The Wash House, West Okoboji
- Antiques, Etc., Milford
- Thee Garage Sale, Milford
- Bayview, Spirit Lake
- Consignment Corner, Spirit Lake
- Fergusons’ Garden Center, Spirit Lake
- Goodies, Spirit Lake
- Mary’s, Spirit Lake
- Spirit Lake Antique Mall, Spirit Lake
- Timeless Consignments, Spirit Lake
Deciding where to eat when you stay at The Oakwood Inn can be a pleasant challenge with all of the great dining options available!
Lunch is easy when you stay at The Oakwood Inn. Rabab’s, located next door to The Oakwood Inn, has an eclectic coffee shop vibe where the owner, Rabab Koepp, serves up soup, salad, and sandwich lunch options and features tasty fresh-made pastries to go. During the summer season, the legendary O’Farrell Sisters is a great option for a diner-style lunch. Make sure to stay for a slice of their famous pies!
For dinner, you can find an intimate table for two at The Waterfront on East Lake Okoboji, the Hi Point Lounge, or Maxwell’s, both on West Lake Okoboji, and Yesterdays in downtown Arnolds Park. The culinary experience and personalized service at these restaurants set the standard for dining in the Lakes Area.
For History Buffs
The history of the Iowa Lakes Area is rooted in the draw of the lakes, going back more than 150 years. The Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum features rare artifacts that tell the story of early pioneer vacationers, the grand hotels that dotted the lake shores, and the boats that provided transportation and recreation to generations of visitors.
Follow this visit with a ride on The Queen II where the guided tour of West Lake Okoboji explores the lore of the Iowa Great Lakes while enjoying the beauty of one of the world’s “Blue Lakes.” For those visitors who remember Okoboji vacations that included trips to the Arnolds Park Funhouse, stop by the Arnolds Park Funhouse Museum to see some of the old rides and to take a ride down the giant slide again.
Enjoy the history of Dickinson County and the early pioneers at the Dickinson County Museum or view the private collection of Lake Okoboji and Iowa memorabilia at the Clark Museum. The Abbie Gardner Museum tells the story of brave Abbie Gardner, the lone survivor of the Spirit Lake Massacre in 1857 and the aftermath that led to the settlement of the Iowa Great Lakes Area.
Classic car enthusiasts will be enthralled with the Okoboji Classic Car Museum, where you can tour the showroom filled with classic cars, see the restoration shop, and walk down memory lane amongst the mint condition classic cars for sale.
The Indian Motorcycle Factory & Visitor Center allows visitors to the Iowa Great Lakes area to take a tour of the factory and visit the experience center where current and historic Indian motorcycles, vintage artifacts, and memorabilia are displayed.
At the Higgins Museum of Money, visitors have the opportunity to view and enjoy the largest collection of National Bank Note issues on permanent exhibit anywhere in the country.
For the Culture and Art Aficionados
Just a short walk from The Oakwood Inn along the Kenue Park Trail is the Pearson Lakes Art Center, one of the top art museums in Iowa. Visitors can peruse their six galleries, enjoy a performance in the performing arts theatre, or explore their interactive gallery.
One of the longest running summer-stock theatre programs in the country, the Okoboji Summer Theatre provides an entertaining lineup of performances. The comedies, farce, and musicals have utilized students and professional faculty from Stephens College, as well as professional guest actors to delight theatre goers for more than 60 years.
Music buffs will enjoy exploring the Iowa Rock & Roll Music Association Museum and the Hall of Fame inductees that span several generations and all genres of music.
For Wine & Craft Beer Connoisseurs
The Iowa Great Lakes region is home to two unique wineries, both within 30 miles of The Oakwood Inn.
At Round Lake Vineyard, the grapes grow next to a quiet and beautiful lake straddling the Iowa and Minnesota State Line. Enjoy a tasting by the lake and watch the large flock of Canadian geese in its natural surroundings.
At the Little Swan Lake Vineyard, visitors can tour the vineyard and the adjacent buffalo farm while enjoying a glass of one of the 35 wines produced onsite.
The Iowa Great Lakes is also home to two craft breweries. West O Beer, ranked as one of the top 10 craft breweries in Iowa, features beer made from the clear naturally soft spring-fed waters of West Lake Okoboji. At the Okoboji Brewing Company, the taproom carries the nine beers brewed in-house, as well as more than 20 guest taps for visitors to try.