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Summer Sunset along the shoreline

7 items at the top of the to-do list

This summer is shaping up to be a big one in the Iowa Great Lakes as people anticipate making up for lost time when they head out on vacations and weekend getaways.

As the season ramps into full gear, here is a sampling of things to consider for an Okoboji to-do list. Meandering through the warmest months of the year is going to be fun in 2021.


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1. Lake Affect

Damon Dotson’s annual concert on the water is back for a 14th year in Millers Bay. Slated for Saturday, July 3 at noon, opening acts Cody Carter and Birdchild are set to warm up the stage for Dotson. All three musical acts figure to rock the blue water and the hundreds, if not thousands, of surrounding boats with an energetic mix of pop, rock, country, original music and much more.


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2. Okoboji Summer Theatre

Vacationers can once again add a stage production to their summer to-do list as Okoboji Summer Theatre announced an abbreviated schedule for the 2021 season.

The theatre company owned and operated by Stephens College will present six shows for their 63rd season, three musicals and three comedies, starting July 6-11 with the fan-favorite, “Grease.”

Also on tap will be a pair of Boji Bantam performances, “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” and “The Velveteen Rabbit,” taking place in the outdoor amphitheatre at the Pearson Lakes Art Center.

For ticket information, call the box office at 712-332-7773 or e-mail boxoffice@okobojisummertheatre.org.


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3. Farmers Market in the Park

Stock up with fresh produce for the week, or find the perfect unique summer keepsake.

Strolling through Farmers Market in the Park is a great way to kick off any summer weekend in the Iowa Great Lakes.

There is always a wide variety of vendors, live music, activities like yoga classes and much more for visitors to enjoy as they stroll down Lake Street past the Roof Garden Ballroom and Arnolds Park Amusement Park down to the State Pier on West Lake Okoboji.


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4. Lazy day at the lake

Sometimes the best vacation days are the ones unplanned. No agenda. Go at your own pace. Morning coffee and a stroll down the Promenade. Sure thing! Maybe follow that up with a bit of shopping before deciding where to stop for lunch. An afternoon lounging on the beach with a book, a nice breeze and the water lapping at the sand is hard to beat. Or maybe a bike ride on the beautiful trail system is more your speed. Go for it! Then perhaps it’s time for a leisurely evening boat ride before stopping somewhere for a final bite to eat and taking in some live music. The options are limitless. The combinations are endless. That’s the beauty of the Iowa Great Lakes. And everyone should try it at least once this summer. Skip the plan. Be spontaneous. It’s sure to be fun.


5. Dinner with a view

Maybe it’s a picnic on the beach or something prepared for the boat. Maybe it’s fine dining at Maxwell’s or Prime. The Waterfront and Bracco have great ones too. The Gardens and the Dry Dock. The Ritz and Okoboji Store. Watching the water, especially as the sun begins to set, while also enjoying a great meal, is one of the best ways to wind down a beautiful day in the Iowa Great Lakes. No matter where you choose to go, a summer visit isn’t quite complete without dinner and a view.


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6. Rocking the Roof Garden

The Roof Garden Ballroom is ready to hit full stride this summer with a schedule of concerts ranging from classic rock to hip-hop and big band to all the oldies but goodies.

A couple comedy nights offer a nice addition to the mix as well.

There will be Head East, Slaughter and Quiet Riot.

Maddie Poppe, Nappy Roots, the Marshall Tucker Band, and even an appearance by Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters.

A state-of-the-art facility with a nod to the area’s rich history with live music, checking out a concert at the Roof Garden Ballroom should be on everyone’s list this summer.


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7. Ride the roller coaster

It’s one of the most recognizable sounds of summer in the Iowa Great Lakes. Shrieks of delight and the clickety clack of the tracks as the Legend makes its mad coaster dash around Arnolds Park Amusement Park. While in the area it’s not a bad idea to hop on the Ferris wheel for a fantastic view of West Lake Okoboji. Of course, there’s all kinds of fun to be had for the whole family beyond these two nostalgic icons, but they could easily be considered the best ways to start, and finish, a great day at the park.