Arnolds Park is known as the city of five lakes. Those lakes are West and East Lake Okoboji, Lake Minnewashta, and Upper and Lower Gar Lakes. At the end of the 19th Century, Arnolds Park was, as it is today, the anchor of the Iowa Great Lakes Region. Tourists would flock to this popular vacation spot to take part in water-related activities, play baseball, compete in various shooting sports such as trap or skeet, and visit the numerous historical and recreational attractions. These visitors would come to the lakes by train and would then board one of the area’s several steamboats to travel to their ultimate destinations. Commemorating these early years of transportation, the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum is now located in Arnolds Park. Continuing the ongoing partnership of transportation and tourism, the museum complex houses not only the Maritime Museum, the Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Okoboji Foundation, but also the State Visitor Center, welcoming visitors to the Great Lakes Region and the State of Iowa.
Now as we begin the 21st Century, Arnolds Park remains the center of the Iowa Great Lakes Corridor. The community retains its small town atmosphere with 1,126 residents who still rely on tourism for their economy. Arnolds Park is home to many resort areas, nightclubs and restaurants. Arnolds Park also features the Spine Trail and Lake Loop, which are very scenic biking, and walking trails in the area. The city has undergone a major transformation in the last few years. Highway 71 has become a three-lane highway and the streetscape along Highway 71 has enhanced the area. Stemming from the Highway 71 project many other city streets have been improved and still more are being planned for the near future. The relocation of the War Memorial and improvements to the Okoboji Cemetery recently became a reality due to the active partnership of the War Memorial Committee, Okoboji Cemetery Society, Center Grove Township, Team Wave, Arpoki Women’s Club, and many other volunteers.
Tourists still flock to the area for many of the same reasons their predecessors did in the 19th Century. They come to enjoy water recreation, hunting, fishing, and visiting the amusement park and numerous historical sites such as the Abbie Gardner Cabin and Monument, located only a block west of the Arnolds Park Amusement Park.
So if you have never been to Arnolds Park or have not visited us lately, we think you are in for a very pleasant surprise. Please visit us soon. Download an Arnolds Park street map here.