The town of Clear Lake in the northern part of Iowa is a place that’s particularly known for offering fun for the entire family. There are outdoor recreation opportunities in abundance, especially around the town’s 3,600-acre lake. Music history merges with up-and-coming and current artists at the Surf Ballroom, which has become a bit of a town landmark. The beautiful waterfront and beaches can often be seen full of visitors throughout the summer season, typically between the end of May to early September. Clear Lake, Iowa also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly

Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly
© Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly

The Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly still remains the same lonely spot within a massive Iowa field as it was back in 1959. For locals or tourists who want to visit the site, the access point is marked by a large pair of Buddy Holly trademark eyeglasses along a farm road. The walk is a bit long from the road to the actual crash site, however, the bare section of dirt that’s in front of the Plane Crash Site of Buddy Holly memorial shows that there are quite a number of fan who make the trip.

22728 Gull Ave, Clear Lake, IA

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2.Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake State Park
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Situated along the southeast corner of the town’s scenic Clear Lake, Clear Lake State Park is one of northern Iowa’s major outdoor recreation areas. While only being around fifty-five acres in size, the state park provides a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor activities thanks to its lakeside location, along with its naturally beautiful landscape characterized by rolling grounds with mature, open oak tree groves. The more than 3,000-acre Clear Lake is a popular place for windsurfing, fishing, and boating, and there are several facilities within Clear Lake State Park, including a campground, modern restrooms, lodge, and picnic areas.

6490 S Shore Ct, Clear Lake, IA 50428, Phone: 641-357-4212

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3.Central Gardens of North Iowa

Central Gardens of North Iowa
© Central Gardens of North Iowa

The Central Gardens of North Iowa are a beautiful green space and public garden spread across almost three acres near the downtown district of Clear Lake. Open seven days a week, from sunrise until sundown, from the beginning of May through the beginning of November, the gardens are free to the general public to explore the meandering brick walkways and spend time simply relaxing or going for a stroll surrounded by artwork, stream beds, ponds, and themed flower beds. The Central Gardens also host a range of special events during the season, such as make-and-take art projects, crafts, beekeeping, and gardening.

800 2nd Ave N, Clear Lake, IA 50428, Phone: 641-357-0700

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4.Surf Ballroom

Surf Ballroom
© Surf Ballroom


The Surf Ballroom in the town of Clear Lake, Iowa is a historic ballroom that once hosted big bands and is the venue where Buddy Holly performed his last concert. As such, the ballroom is famous throughout the United States, as well as the rest of the world. Visitors can join one of the guided tours or can choose to take a self-guided tour of the Surf Ballroom and its museum-quality changing exhibits. Throughout the year, the ballroom is open to the public Monday to Friday from 8:00am until 4:00pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays during the summer.

460 N Shore Dr, Clear Lake, IA 50428, Phone: 641-357-6151

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5.Lake Theatre

Lake Theatre
© Andrea Izzotti/stock.adobe.com


The Lake Theatre boasts great concessions and state-of-the art technology, yet still retains all of the service and charm that’s to be expected from a hometown theater. This family-owned and operated theater is still being run in much the same way as theaters were operated back during the 1950’s. The interior of the Lake Theatre is known for being comfortable and clean, as well as for prices being very reasonable. The building itself dates back to 1890, when it was an opera house. The interior was destroyed in the 1920’s by a fire, and reopened in 1936 as a movie theater.

4 N 4th St, Clear Lake, IA 50428, Phone: 641-357-2414

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6.Surf District Rock 'n Roll Grill

Surf District Rock 'n Roll Grill
© Surf District Rock 'n Roll Grill


The Surf District Rock 'n Roll Grill is a locally-owned and operated dining establishment in Clear Lake, Iowa that was founded to provide visitors and locals alike with a unique dining experience “that rocks.” The restaurant boasts that they offer a “menu like no other” that’s inspired by the artists who have had performances at the historic Surf Ballroom, featuring a wide variety of appetizers, burgers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and more. The Surf District Rock 'n Roll Grill is open Tuesday to Friday starting at four in the afternoon until close and Saturdays beginning at eleven in the morning.

619 Buddy Holly Pl, Clear Lake, IA 50428, Phone: 641-357-1222

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6 Best Things to Do in Clear Lake, IA



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