Visit Music History and things to do in Clear Lake, Iowa 

Visit Music History in Clear Lake, Iowa

In 1959, Clear Lake, Iowa, was just another medium sized town on the concert trail of Buddy Holly. But on a February night, Clear Lake was immortalized as Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (aka the Big Bopper) died in a plane crash after a local concert. Today, Clear Lake is town built around the lake from which it takes its name and the activities offered at the lake and surrounding areas.

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Surf Ballroom and Museum

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Visitors to clear Lake, Iowa, will want to spend some time at the Surf Ballroom. The Surf Ballroom was the site of the final concert before the plane crash took the life of the Holley, Valens, and Richardson.

The Surf Ballroom continues to offer live music and other entertainment. Markers denote this as the location of the final concert outside of the building. Tours are available of the facility. The Surf Ballroom also contains a museum of musical history. The Surf Ballroom also hosts the annual Buddy Holly Tribute during the first weekend of February. The tribute provides a range of entertainers over the weekend.

Outside of The Surf Ballroom – Photo by Gary Warren
Visit Music History in Clear Lake, Iowa
Inside Surf Ballroom

While in town catch a ride on the Main Street Trolley. The vintage trolley runs on weekends throughout the summer and on other occasions throughout the year.

Clear Lake State Park is the primary draw of tourists to the town of Clear Lake. Clear Lake encompasses over 3500 acres and provides the opportunity for swimming, boating, and fishing. Clear Lake State Park also provides over 100 acres for bank fisherman, picnicking, and more. Camping is available in the park as well. McIntosh Woods is situated on the north shore of the lake and provides hiking trails and a great place to relax.

Another place near Clear lake : Main Street Exchange in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Another large lake is available for fishing in the nearby town of Garner at Rice Lake State Park. Rice Lake offers an over 600 acre lake for fishing, boating (electric motors only), and picnicking.

Garner at Rice Lake State Park

Also near Garner is Pilot Knob State Park. Pilot Knob provides in excess of 700 forested acres in a quieter setting for those who like a more remote park experience. Pilot Knob State Park also offers camping, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing in the 15 acre lake. Beed’s Lake State Park and Heery Woods State Park are also nearby to the south of Clear Lake just off of Route 3.

A Frank Lloyd Wright designed home is located nearby in Mason City. The Frank Lloyd Wright Stockman House is available for tours throughout the summer months.


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