The Maritime Museum

So Many Wooden Boats!
by Rebecca Peters

This week I visited the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum and gift shop.  The museum is full of fascinating artifacts that tell a story about our community in years past.  It is free to visit, but donations are accepted. The gift shop is filling up with toys, trinkets, and keepsakes ahead of the busy summer season.  It’s a great spot to pick up a birthday gift for children!

My appreciation of the Maritime Museum grew during the winter that my office was located in the “Archive Room” of the museum.  I had the opportunity to walk through the museum everyday, and many days I took a different path to discover something new to me.  I still love walking through the museum, and try to visit often.

Some of my favorite artifacts in the museum are the wooden boats!  Spirit Lake was once home to Hafer Boat Company who made beautiful wooden boats.  You can see many of them and learn more about their history in Spirit Lake at the museum. You’ll also see a couple of boats that have been brought up from bottom of the lake and learn about their history, or mystery!  You can see an old diving suit, and read menus from favorite area restaurants of the past.  There is a large collection of vintage swimwear, and an even larger collection of boat motors.  Did you know that at one time many people didn’t own their own swimsuit and paid $0.10 to rent one for a day in Arnolds Park?  You can learn about the 1965 Arnold Park Riots, and see a replica of the original Okoboji General Store.

Hear more about this adventure in the Vacation Okoboji podcast!

There is so much to see and learn about in the Maritime Museum!  If you have never visited, what are you waiting for?  If you haven’t visited since last year, go back and discover what has newly been added.  Learn more about the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum and other attractions in the Iowa Great Lakes Area at

Check out more adventures!