The pool at The Inn Hotel, new in 2019. Photographer: Drew Dau.
Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys and Cheap Trick all played the legendary Roof Garden Ballroom at Arnolds Park in Okoboji back in the artists’ heydays.
Thanks to a $15 million renovation, the park is still feeling its groove.
At the recently reconstructed Roof Garden, classic orchestras, contemporary rhythm and blues artists, and ’80s rockers perform to visitors of all ages. Just one of the updates at Arnolds Park, the Roof Garden is perhaps its most storied structure.
The Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame, located less than a block away, tells the history of the music venue. Through interactive displays, you can discover some of the bands to headline the Roof Garden, see some of the playbills, and study some of the artists’ contracts. (Louis Armstrong earned $1,000 to play in 1952, and the Everly Brothers made $1,750 for their 1965 show.) Catch one of the movies to learn about the Iowa Great Lakes’ past, as well as the appeal of ballrooms in the mid-1900s.
Next door, the Great Lakes Maritime Museum is worth a quick cruise to see paraphernalia from the area—wooden boats, an early scuba suit, rows of motors, vintage fishing gear, town pennants and more. Several old amusement park games and a giant wooden slide, which you can ride, are part of the Arnolds Park Museum, located inside the Maritime. And at the Arnolds Park entrance, a new carousel is accessible to all, with chariots for those in wheelchairs.
New in 2019, the Inn Hotel offers boutique luxury within a short walk to the museums and amusement park. Decked in a 1920s theme, with a lobby of green paneled walls, leather furniture and vintage lake photographs, the hotel offers a relaxed, sophisticated experience. A second-floor courtyard pool is an inviting place for drinks and sunbathing. At the hotel’s Caribbean-themed restaurant, the Beach Club, order a rum flight or Havana Club Sour to pair with a Cubano. Finish with crème brûlée infused with coconut and vanilla bean.
For more information and upcoming events, visit arnoldspark.com.