Enjoying Clear Lake in the winter

Clear Lake

Roadside chapel outside of Clear Lake. Trust me when I say the walk from the road to the chapel was a challenge. Snow was knee deep.

People tend to hate the snow and cold that comes with winter. Lisa and I visited Clear Lake, Iowa, recently. The weather wasn’t the greatest. A fog prevented us from getting a good view of the lake. Of course, the lake was frozen over for the winter.

Clear Lake

This is the view most people look forward to when they think about Clear Lake

Winter gives us an opportunity to find a different type of beauty in our surroundings. Winter can create some nice photo opportunities. As we walked along the lake, a sign that most people would look past during the summer acts as a foreground focus for a winter photo.

Clear Lake

This view during winter gives visitors a different perspective of the lake

The seawall was layered with snow and had a magical appearance to us. You can’t tell where the lake ends leading up to the shoreline near the wall.

Clear Lake

A favorite view of mine of the seawall

My favorite view at Clear Lake was the sidewalk trail. The snow created a nice foundation for a landscape photo with benches, the seawall and bare trees. The view looked like it was in black and white.

Clear Lake

The lakeside trail is beautiful no matter the time of the year

I liked a view finder that was frozen along the walk. On a sunny day, you could look out across the lake and take in some pretty views.

Clear Lake


We moved on from the lake to the downtown area. I have always liked the mural of flowers in an alley.

Clear Lake

I like this mural

We stopped at Collectors Wonderland. This may be my favorite place in downtown Clear Lake. The front window display had a 1950s rock and roll theme. The shop owner told us that a lot of the stores decorate for the annual Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in early February. It was following the 1959 dance party that three rock and roll stars died in a plane crash, along with their pilot.

Clear Lake

Rock-n-Roll is here to stay!

Speaking of the Surf Ballroom, we met fellow travel blogger Jody Halsted of Family Rambling Upgraded there for a self-guided tour. It was her first visit. We’ve been there a couple of times. Regardless, visiting the Surf is a special occasion for me, as I have been a big fan of Buddy Holly since I was a kid. I think my older sisters had to have been fans, and they influenced my music appreciation. I also like the music of Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson. They were the three stars killed in the plane crash.

Clear Lake

The three stars who perished after the 1959 Winter Dance Party – Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson

The Surf’s “green” room is a small room just offstage, where performers wait until show time. Performers sign the wall, ceilings and door frames. Don McLean put some lyrics to “American Pie,” the song he penned in honor of Holly’s death. He referred to the crash as “The Day the Music Died.”

Clear Lake

“American Pie” lyrics by Don McLean

I learn new things every time we visit the Surf. In looking at a Hall (literally a hall) of Fame, I noticed a series of photos of classic singers and Big Band era performers. The Surf hosted such classic acts as Shirley Jones, Rosemary Clooney, Lawrence Welk and his orchestra and the Glenn Miller Band.

Clear Lake

Glitter ball above the Surf Ballroom dance floor

More modern acts that have performed at the Surf include Kevin Costner and his band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sara Evans, The Righteous Brothers, Little River Band and the Beach Boys.

We are fans of Clear Lake regardless of the season. We plan to visit Feb. 20-21 during the annual Color the Wind kite festival. Giant kites are flown on the frozen Clear Lake. I want to attend the 2019 dance party as it will be the 60th anniversary of the loss of the rock stars. I want to participate in that memorial to pay my respects.

Clear Lake

In a few weeks, giant kites will be flying above the frozen lake. We are excited to attend the Color the Wind Festival Feb. 20th.

We may be biased toward Clear Lake, but we recommend visiting Clear Lake any time of the year. There are plenty of attractions and restaurants to keep you busy for a couple of days.

For more information on Clear Lake and its attractions, please visit www.clearlakeiowa.com.

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