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Clear Lake, Iowa Travel Guide

Complete Vacation, Recreation and Tourism Information

Clear Lake is a glacier-created, spring-fed, lake of 3,684 acres. Prior to pioneer settlement in the 1850s, Clear Lake was a popular hunting and fishing territory for Native Americans. Spring through fall the lake is a fishing and water sports venue. Clear Lake, a small resort town of 8,000 provides amenities to visitors.

There are many public lake accesses around the lake. Marinas rent personal watercraft, ski boats, pontoons, and paddleboats. Good winds make the lake a prime sail boating location. Visitors can often view sailboat regattas. Catamaran rides and lessons are available. Cruises on the lake are also offered summer through fall on Lady of the Lake riverboat. The area's fishing club keeps the lake stocked with northern pike and draws anglers to a tagged walleye contest with a $1,000 grand prize. Two state parks, Clear Lake and McIntosh Woods, provide lake access, camping, beaches, and trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Downtown Clear Lake has a vintage feel with popular boutique and antique shops housed along brick sidewalks. Surf Ballroom is a music venue famous as the location of Buddy Holly's last concert. Each February the ballroom plays tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, who died in a 1959 plane crash just north of Clear Lake. Throughout the year the ballroom hosts a variety of top name musical acts.

Additional outdoor recreation includes an ice-skating and hockey rink, and several area golf courses, which offer nine- and 18- hole greens and driving ranges. A bike trail connects Clear Lake to Mason City, seven miles east. For family fun, visitors can get lost and found in the Fort Custer Maze, a two-mile long maze with towers and bridges.

Clear Lake is located in north central Iowa 115 miles north of Des Moines and 7 miles west of Mason City. It is accessible via Interstate Highway 35 and U.S. Highway 18. Lodging choices include: hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, RV parks, and campgrounds. In summer rental homes, condos and cottages are available on the lake.


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