Kid-friendly Okoboji Vacation Guide

Kid Friendly Vacation Guide

If you're looking for a family-friendly summer vacation, this will be your last stop. Not just for this year's vacation planning, but for every year after. Okoboji offers something for the entire family Monday - Sunday. And we mean it! (Who doesn't love lake life?) And next year when you're making the drive, we guarantee everyone in the car will be asking "are we there yet?!"

Okoboji is the destination for families across the Midwest from Kansas City (332 miles) to Minneapolis (181 miles) and every town in between (Omaha, Nebraska - 179 miles; Des Moines, Iowa - 205 miles). It’s a short road trip for many. (We know that's what you like to hear.)

kids boating


What is THE one thing you need for KID APPROVED lodging?  WATER OF COURSE! Whether you are looking for a lakeside resort, indoor water-park, or a hotel with a pool Okoboji has it all! If your crew is in need of more space you can rent a comfy cottage or condo style lodging to accomodate groups of any size.  

Bridges Bay Resort Waterpark
Crescent Beach


After checking out all your resort has to offer and getting a good night's rest it is time to get out there and make memories. No matter your age, the lake is something the entire family can enjoy – from the beach to kayaks to paddle-boards. Find an activity everyone will enjoy, opens in a new windowfind the nearest beach here. opens in a new windowCheck out Okoboji watersports here.  Stop lakeside for lunch at The Okoboji Store or pizza at opens in a new windowThe Ritz. After a day of surf, sand and sun, eat an early supper to catch a ride on the opens in a new windowQueen II for a sunset cruise around West Okoboji Lake. This is a great way to relax after a long day, and a great way to experience the lakes if you haven’t been on the water yet. Be sure to book your tickets beforehand!

Beach drone photo
boat rental options
kids jumping off boat


For the families interested in lake and land, the Iowa Great Lakes trail is yours to walk, run, bike and explore. And be sure to check out the opens in a new windowPearson Lakes Art Center or the opens in a new windowDickinson County Nature Center. The art center features an interactive Art Smart gallery for kids. The nature center boasts an indoor and outdoor playground. And for the furry kids in your family, there’s the six-acre opens in a new window Lakes Area Dog Park.

Pearson Lakes Art


Roller coaster, Ferris wheel, log rides, oh my! No vacation to Okoboji is complete without a day at opens in a new windowArnold’s Park Amusement Park ! When you arrive stop at Arnolds Perk  for a coffee and breakfast pastry to fuel your day at the park.  For lunch you can find concessions at various food stands throughout the park or take a walk along the lake shore to opens in a new windowBob's at the Park  which is sure to please everyone.  After the kids have had their fill of rides be sure to check out the shops at  opens in a new windowQueens Court for Okoboji souvenirs. While you shop the kids can play life size musical instruments at Harmony Park. For dinner close by, a steak or sandwich on the deck at opens in a new windowThe Hutt Bar and Grill or Mexican food at opens in a new window Los Pueblos  will be satisfying after a day at the park.  If the kids are still raring to go, play a round of mini golf at opens in a new windowPirate's Cove  or take a spin on the go-cart's at the opens in a new windowArnold's Park Raceway and end the day lakeside with a opens in a new windowNutty Bar as you watch the sunset over beautiful West Lake Okoboji! BUT WAIT the day is not over yet because as soon as the sun sets there is a free family movie on the opens in a new windowPreservation Plaza green space, complete with popcorn and treats. Now that is a full Okoboji day!


The weather may not always be bright and sunny, but no worries! We have the perfect plan for an unexpected rainy day, or maybe you just need a day out of the sun, in any case there are plenty of things to do to stay busy!  Start the morning with a hot coffee and warm pastry or breakfast sandwich at opens in a new windowArnolds Perk. From there you can do some shopping at  opens in a new windowThe Central Emporium.  Then catch lunch at opens in a new windowThe Garden's.  After lunch spend the afternoon exploring the many great  opens in a new windowmuseums depicting the history of our area, the hardest part will be choosing which ones to visit! Many museums have special tours tailored to kids, ask for a special tour for the kids upon arrival. Finally the kids will love having dinner at opens in a new windowPizza Ranch, and you will love that everyone will be happy eating whatever they want!  

Arnolds Perk Coffee House
Okoboji Classic Cars


Rise and shine, ready for some pancakes? Start the day at opens in a new windowO'Farrell Sisters for some of the best in the area.  You will finish just in time to catch a children's theater production at  opens in a new windowBoji Bantam theater.  Following the production swing through the opens in a new windowJimmy John's drive through for a picnic lunch at opens in a new windowMemorial Park where the kids can enjoy running through the splash pad.  You can even fish off the dock at Memorial Park. Speaking of fishing there are many opens in a new windowfishing guide services who will ensure a memorable day catching fish.  For dinner head on over to Bridges Bay where you can choose between  opens in a new windowBracco's  island inspired menu or opens in a new windowWaterfront Grille which serves steaks, seafood and made to order flatbread pizza.  Following dinner take a ride on the opens in a new windowSky Rider Zipline which will give you a fabulous view of Lake Okoboji.

Kids fishing off the dock in Okoboji, Iowa


OH NO, its Saturday already! Make the most of your last full day by repeating a favorite from the week, relaxing at your resort, or round up the crew and gather for lunch and an Okoboji afternoon at opens in a new windowThe Okoboji Store or opens in a new windowBarefoot Bar. You can arrive by land or sea at either restaurant, and both have kid-friendly menu items and pre/post-lunch activities. The Store features Iowan comfort food, including cheese curds, corn on the cob and a kid-favorites (did someone say Spaghettio’s?!). The Barefoot Bar offers Phil’s Phamous BBQ ribs, tacos, pizza and more. Both are casual, beachy atmospheres offering fun and food for the fam. And for the kids, The Store has a playground and basketball court, while the Barefoot Bar has a waterslide and the region’s largest sandbox and live music.  End the day at Preservation Plaza where there is a free concert every Saturday night, a breathtaking sunset, and fireworks most Saturday nights.

Okoboji Store food
Preservation Plaza drone view


As you spend a leisurely morning packing up and reminiscing on the fabulous week making memories with your family the only thing left to do is head to the front desk to make your reservations for your next visit to Okoboji! With endless fun and activities, Okoboji is a summer vacation getaway your family will never forget. opens in a new windowTo learn more about the area request a copy of our Vacation Guide here.

Looking for more information and suggestions?  Check out opens in a new windowOh My! Omaha's Guide to Okoboji in the Summer with Kids!  Also take a look at our list of opens in a new window Top 10 things to do with kids in Okoboji