RE/MAX Hall of Fame & Lifetime Achievement
Emerald Hills Golf Course is one of the premier golf courses in the Iowa Great Lakes. Golfers throughout Okoboji will tell you that compared to the rest of the golf courses around, Emerald Hills is probably the most challenging. When I grew up as a kid, we lived just a half block from the back side of the course. We would sneak on with a couple short little clubs and balls we found walking the course and sometimes spent more time being chased by the sprinklers than trying to hit golf balls. Emerald Hills was owned by Gordy and Bette Benit many years ago and they can be credited with growing this course into the masterpiece it has become. Later purchased by Randy Rohlfsen and a few others, Emerald has flourished as one of the best courses around. If memory serves me right, Randy has been there since the early 1990's and has always had a strong conviction to help young golfers. He has taught and coached numerous high school teams, and they also put on a 5 day junior camp every year which has been a tremendous hit. I grew up on this course and can honestly say, you better be hitting the ball straight!
Bridges Bay Resort is built on the land purchased a few years prior which used to be owned by the Nielsen family of Arnolds Park. This huge complex consists of a hotel, 3 condo buildings (a 4th is under construction), and over 100 vacation cabins. A popular part of the resort is the indoor waterpark that cabin and condo owners have access to, but also, so does the public for a fee. Braccos is a fantastic summertime restaurant and bar which is frequented by boat, by car, and by foot, especially from the owners of the condos and cabins. All of the units at Bridges Bay have an opportunity for a boat hoist, and it is an extremely popular destination for out of towners looking for a vacation spot in Okoboji. Because Bridges Bay is not within the city limits, many owners utilize property management companies to help them rent their units by the day, week, and month. I've personally sold and shown many condo and cabin units and would be delighted to help.
Referred to locally as the lake turning over the thermocline is a feature of lakes with deep water. The water on the top of the lake changes temperature much more variably during the year. On West Lake, it can reach as much as 75 degrees in July while the water below, greater than 35 or 40 feet deep is relatively stable around 45 degrees. In the fall and early winter, the top strata of the lake will cool to below 45 degrees, and then because it becomes denser, it will "sink" below the lower strata, thus, displacing it and making the lake "turn-over". In the deepest part of West Lake (near the 136ft mark), no light is availble, and hence little life is known whether fish or plant. Typically questions are raised as to why the surface water gets dirty for a short period of time in the fall, this this is the standard answer.
Okoboji Boat Works is home to "The Fish Shack" and "The Inconvenience Store". Formerly a marina of thriving boat sales since 1890, OBW now offers up many different rentals, a 24 hour gas dock, excursion boats, and more. I remember the days as a child of fishing for crappie and blue gill here and along the docks of Smith's Bay. Though the scenery has changed, the outstanding fishing has not.
AmericInn Lodge & Suites is centrally located in Okoboji on beautiful Brooks National Golf Course. This hotel offers 61 guest rooms all with 32' flat screen televisions and plush top beds. There are a variety of different room types are available.....fireplace, whirlpool tub, patio or balcony. They offer a free hot home-style breakfast such as waffles, sausage, eggs or biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, yogurt and more! Enjoy the heated swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna or soak up the sun on one of the three patios. AmericInn offers an affordable option to tourists, especially in the summer. It is also conveniently located just off the trail system in Okoboji.
Founded in 1960, the Three Sons has been a staple of Milford, IA retail. From Herman and Emil Richter, owners, was born the University of Okoboji, a ficticious university that calls the entire Iowa Great Lakes the campus of the U of O. Part of the experience of shopping the three sons, if walking the old battered floors, and taking a trip upstairs for half price, plus a buck. Brands you would expect in Milford Iowa are abundant, such as Patagonia, Oakley, Under Armour, Tommy Bahama, and more. There are currently 2 other stores; one at the amusement park, and another near the Regal Beagle called the bridge store. No self-respecting visitor to Okoboji leaves without visiting one of their stores.
Haywards Bay on West Lake Okoboji boasts low approaches and one of the few areas on West Lake to offer sand beaches. Renowned for the "bay of the flags", you will know you are in Haywards bay because of the all the American flags on the end of the docks. Fishing is great in Haywards Bay and the sunsets are one in a million. To get to Haywards Bay by car, one would drive the east side of the lake on Lakeshore Dr.
Having lived in Okoboji all my life, there are a wealth of memories of Arnolds Park. I, like many of the locals, miss the nostalgia of the old Roof Garden, the fun house, the water slide and much, much more. With time comes change, and the amusement park continues to reinvent itself. Currently with over 20 rides to choose from, the family is sure to have a good time. The main attraction, The Legend Roller Coaster, is the 7th oldest coaster in the United States and apparently the 13th oldest in the world. Reaching speeds of up to 50 mph, the roller coaster has undergone substantial renovations in the last year. In front of the amusement park on West Lake is the Queen II excursion boat, and Pirate Jacks Bar. The sunsets here are unparalleled. If you have a chance to visit, make sure to check out the tipsy house, the three sons, and all of the shops. Just to the east is the green space, which provides great entertainment and in 2013 OAR came to play, which is a pretty big name for Okoboji.