Arnolds Park Amusement Park, an Iowa gem with Okoboji history


Arnolds Park has a long and rich history on West Okoboji Lake and, in recent years, has undergone a major facelift.

Paul Plumb, Marketing Director at Arnolds Park for 17 years, said: “If someone hasn’t been here in the last three or four years, they really haven’t come, because there have been so many. changes.

The Restore the Park program that began in 2017 has resulted in an updated majestic pavilion, a restored rooftop ballroom that features weekly concerts during the summer months, a brand new promenade with arches creating a hill walk and many new rides including a carousel right inside the front door and the Swinger, which will be ready for guests any day.

Check the Arnolds Park website for upcoming concerts at the Roof Garden Ballroom.

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However, what makes Arnolds Park a true Iowa gem isn’t just the rides and attractions, but the friendliness that the park promotes. Plumb said, “We have a reputation for creating family memories, whether it’s mom and dad and kids, grandma and grandpa and kids or the three or more generations who are able to spend time out. out of their normal routine to create these memories. that they will keep forever. And families come back year after year. “We find that a lot – if you come once you will come back regularly,” Plumb said. He estimates that around 150,000 people visit the park each year.

Part of the reason is the variety of activities that can be found inside and outside the park, as well as the affordability of a family. Indeed, parking is free, as well as entry to the park. “If Grandma and Grandpa or Mom and Dad don’t want to get on the rides, they can just come in, watch the kids and have a great time taking in the beautiful surroundings,” Plumb said. For those who wish to enjoy the rides, tickets can be purchased individually or families can opt for a daily or seasonal pass.

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The legendary roller coaster at Arnolds Park.

The most popular attraction is undoubtedly the Legend Roller Coaster, the 13th oldest wooden roller coaster in the world. Recently restored, it now offers more sensations and a smoother ride. Plumb said the Log Flume is probably the second most popular ride. Inside the park you’ll find rides for all ages and thrill levels, intermediate games, a train, and the Raceway.

Just outside the park are shops, restaurants, watercraft rentals, and the Maritime and Arnolds Park museums. The Arnolds Park Museum is home to the park’s original slide, where kids and adults can relive the fun for just $ 1 a ride, along with other pieces of Arnold Park history. Harmony Park is also a favorite among visitors of all ages. A variety of interactive musical instruments in a beautiful green space allows anyone to be a musician. “They’re played from the time we open until late at night,” Plumb said.

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Arnolds Park: what you need to know

Address: 37 Lake Street, Arnolds Park

Website: arnoldspark.com

Distance from downtown Des Moines: 206 miles

Hours: The park opens every day at 10 a.m. and closes from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. depending on the day. Check the website for current hours.

Attraction prices: Day passes start at $ 29.95, or you can pay for rides individually. There is no admission to enter the park.

Events to come: Check the Arnolds Park website for upcoming concerts at the Roof Garden Ballroom. “It’s a beautiful facility that we’re really proud of,” Plumb said. Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. in summer, catch a free concert at Preservation Plaza, followed by a fireworks display.

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The State Pier at Arnolds Park.

Insider tip

Make sure to wander the boardwalk and boardwalk after dark to see everything lit up. “The State Pier was also completely redone last year and the sails all lit up,” Plumb said. “It’s good to walk and spend time enjoying the beautiful lake.”

While you are there

The Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Hall of Fame is located right next to the Maritime Museum and Arnolds Park Museum. Interactive exhibits tell the story of Iowa’s musical roots. “Having been redone over the past few years, this is truly a top of the line facility,” Plumb said. Learn more at iowarocknroll.com/museum.

Where to eat

Inside the park, you’ll find all of your favorite fair-trade type foods, including funnel cakes, Reese’s peanut butter cups fries, burgers and more. Just outside the park you can also find a variety of options. “Outside we have Bob’s on the Beach serving up burgers and hot dogs to fine dining at Maxwell’s Beach Cafe across the street,” Plumb said. The Boardwalk Bar and Grill serves gyros and poutine, among other favorites.


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