Growing up in a rural area about an hour northeast of Clear Lake, I couldn’t believe I had never been around the lake. So I was pretty excited when I recently got to ride the Lady of the Lake, an authentic paddle-wheel boat that started giving tours in the late eighties after a stint on the Missouri River.
Before boarding the Lady of the Lake, I had lunch at PM Park, a local restaurant that rests along one of the beaches of Clear Lake. It was a breezy day next to the lake so I opted for a lunch inside. I was impressed with the fried haddock sandwich that I had for lunch and was equally impressed with the size of the tenderloin I saw someone else order. If you’re wanting a local inspired Clear Lake experience I recommend hitting up PM Park. You won’t be sorry.
After gorging on my fish sandwich, I headed to the park next to the dock to board the Lady of the Lake. The park was full of people, kids running around, people enjoying picnic lunches. I happened to be there the weekend of a massive annual car show so the park was loaded with classic car enthusiasts.
I was welcomed with a warm smile and a suggestion on where to sit in the boat for a great view. The boat is locally owned and operated, so you really feel at home stepping on board. We pushed away from the dock and picked up a nice easy speed. I had a really hard time believing how large Clear Lake was. It seemed as though we could go on and on and we’d never run out of water.
The captain of the boat told me about some of the sights we were starting to see among the shores of the lake. For example, the original Surf Ballroom was located right along the Lake but burned down and moved to another location. He also pointed out that there used to be a small amusement park on one of the beaches, but that too burned down.
Had I not lived in a hole when I was growing up in northern Iowa, I feel like I probably would’ve taken advantage of the Lady of the Lake a time or two. They offer private cruises and have a cash bar for a cool drink while you’re enjoying the ride.
Our tour of the lake came to a close and it was time to call it a day, but not before getting a half dozen cookies from Cookies Etc., located right next to the park. Luckily the owner was the one who helped me pick out my cookies and she told me a little bit about the business. The cookies are the owner’s mother’s recipes and it smelled straight out of a dream in the store. The cookie (or should I admit cookies) were a great sweet treat to end a perfect day in Clear Lake.
The quaint community seems to have a lot going, especially in the summer, so make a weekend of your stay and enjoy a ride on the paddlewheel boat while you’re there.
Want to learn more about Clear Lake? Check it out here.