This post is part 3 of 5 in the series Quick Trips from Des Moines.
If the mood in your house is anything like it is in mine, you desperately need a day of sunshine and warmer temps. And even though the weather might not stay consistently nice in Iowa for a few more months, maybe taking a mental vacation to plan your lake-cation is just what your mama mind needs to get through the rest of winter.
I love being back in central Iowa, but when I think of sunny days, good eats, and family fun, my mind and heart wander up I-35 to Clear Lake, Iowa. We had the joy of living in this amazing community for the past few years. Thankfully for us (and you!), it’s just a short drive up the interstate to all our favorite spots.
Where to Eat
Like I said in my introductory post, we travel to eat—so any trip back “home” is going to involve food! If you have roosters (children who rise before the crack of dawn) like us, you’ll want to be sure your first stop is Cabin Coffee. My favorite is the classic mocha, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that I ate one of their asiago cheese bagels almost every day of my pregnancy with Louie. No judgy!
Spending all morning in the sunshine and lake breeze can really cause a mama and her family to build up an appetite. For lunch, you could grab a hearty sandwich, soup, or salad from Starboard Market and take it to City Park. And I know you’re going to see their gorgeous desserts (take one for later!), but I’m telling you, you’re going to want to save room for some soft-serve from the South Shore Sweet Spot. It’s a little drive from downtown (and cash only) but well worth it!
If you’re kiddos would do better eating in an environment without a playground, lakeside dining at The Landing is the way to go. They have the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had and their kids’ menu is priced well with healthy options.
Where to Play
Whether you’ve got a really active family that love biking, golfing, and sailing, or if you’re looking for good reads and the latest movies, Clear Lake really has something for everyone. Since we’re in the infant/toddler stage of parenting, I love anything where my kiddos can run around (and I can have some good conversation)!
Clear Lake has multiple parks and they all have play equipment for various age groups. And no trip to Clear Lake would be complete without a cruise on the Lady of the Lake. Open up some snacks, lather up with sunscreen, and enjoy this 90-minute historical cruise around the lake. I know you might be thinking, My kids won’t do anything for 90 minutes, but we took a newborn and a two-year-old (granted, we had parent:kiddo, 1:1 defense) and everyone had a blast!
Again, if your kiddos are like mine, there’s no way they are going to spend all day just looking at all that water—they want in on the fun! The splash pad across from the beach was perfect for my pre-swimmer, but if you’ve got older kids, the water is well within view. If you’re not really into dragging sand back into your minivan, there’s even an aquatic center with slides, diving boards, and a zero-entry toddler area.
There are so many more fun, family-friendly activities that I could mention here. And although you can definitely fill a whole day with fun activities and family memories, the awesome folks at the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce want to make sure you can come back—or stay longer! They have partnered with AmericInn & Suites of Clear Lake to offer one lucky DMMB reader and her family an overnight stay and prize pack. How fun is that?
Enjoy your time on one of USA Today’s Great American Beaches with Clear Lake’s “Day at the Beach” prize package! Win an overnight at the AmericInn & Suites plus a handy tote bag, six-pack cooler, beach towel, and beach ball to help you make the most of the sand and sun.
Enter to win below and note that this contest ends at 11 p.m. CST TONIGHT, so be sure to enter ASAP.
Connect with the Clear Lake Visitor’s Center
Read more from our Quick Trips from Des Moines series!
- Destination: Omaha
- A Weekend Getaway in Kansas City
- Family Fun in the Amana Colonies
- Pella: America’s Dutch Treasure