Fishing and boating activities abound at Pioneer Beach Resort, which has sheltered vacationers inside rustic cabins near the wooded shores of Spirit Lake and Okoboji Lake since the 1920s. Sprinkled across the resort's idyllic grounds, eight air-conditioned cabins each regale guests with a full kitchen, barbecue, and picnic table. As kids frolic across a playground, fishermen can stock up on snacks and live bait at the onsite, full-service bait-and-tackle shop before rehearsing largemouth-bass calls from atop ample fishing benches on a boating dock stretching 100 feet into the glistening waters. Resort guests may also charter pontoons by the hour ($100 for the first hour, $50 per hour after the first). Pioneer Beach Resort is nestled in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes region, which brims with outdoor recreation, art galleries, live music, and a historic amusement park.
Laughter and shrieks of excitement fill the air as families plunge down an enclosed water slide's 420-foot descent. The thrill ride is just one of the attractions that pack King's Pointe Resort & Waterpark's indoor and outdoor entertainment facilities. Nestled against the edge of Storm Lake, the outdoor park invites visitors to soar down its five slides and ponder loudly why its lazy river doesn't get a real job. The howling hurricane slide’s green open flume winds down to the earth in tangled twists, and side-by-side slides let friends race down 100-foot drops. Within the 20,000-square-foot indoor park, three more slides, a rock-climbing wall, and a slew of year-round activities await. Above all else, King's Pointe Resort & Waterpark makes safety a priority across all of their attractions; Red Cross–certified lifeguards keep a close eye on all visitors.
With balconies overlooking Storm Lake or the city, the onsite resort offers a relaxing retreat in which to browse free WiFi and order room service. Hungry guests have more options in the resort’s two restaurants: the Sara Lee Snack Shack and the Regatta Grille, where a wood-fired grill cooks ahi tuna and chefs pour alfredo sauce over al dente pool noodles.
The course at Emerald Hills Golf Club is sculpted into hilly terrain that presents frequent doglegs, fast greens, and stone-lined water hazards. Though the relatively short, flat first hole would lead first-timers to believe otherwise, the course rewards conservative play as most fairways bend to some degree and require distance control to avoid unfavorable lies in the rough or in an alternate reality run by basketball-playing cartoon characters. The par 5 fifth hole, the course's most difficult hole, presents an uphill dogleg left onto an elevated, two-tiered green with breaks that are difficult to read. Emerald Hills Golf Club also features pristine practice facilities, lessons with resident golf pros, and an onsite clubhouse with a banquet hall and a cocktail lounge.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Total length of 6,632 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 72.6 from the back tees
Course slope of 125 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
Featuring professional staff members, an impeccably maintained course, and true-rolling greens arranged according to the position of 18 miniature meteor craters, The Ridge offers a golf experience for clubbers both skilled and woefully handicapped. A full round of evasive holes ($25 weekdays, $27 weekends) tantalizes cleek caressers and promises more excitement than a ruptured appendix. A golf-cart rental ($15) and a medium bag of range balls ($5) are included in the package, as well as a caged self-loathing that, according to The Ridge’s policies, can be unleashed upon any golfer who putts an eagle.