Your Autumn Bucket List


It’s no secret Clear Lake is the place to be during the summer months.  The lake time fun, the incredible events and activities.  Every summer is jam-packed with all the fun.

But what about when the season changes?

Fall is often welcomed with open arms in the Midwest after three months of stifling heat and humidity.  The crisp air fills our lungs as we take in the beauty of the changing season around us.

While some might think the fun stops once summer packs up and heads out, that is not true. It simply changes.  We turn from grilling burgers to letting soup simmer on the stove.  Our days of lounging on State Beach in a swimsuit are swapped for cozy socks and stocking hats.

Clear Lake packs a punch of fall fun.  Here are our ten favorites!

1.Take in the beauty of fall foliage

While not scientifically proven, some will argue that as the leaves change to warm hues of gold, red and orange, so do our emotions.  We associate these feelings with comfort, optimism and cheerfulness.  You can take in a wide array of changing leaves with a lake lap on your bicycle.  Spend an afternoon in City Park engulfed in the beauty as you enjoy the final bit of warm sun.  Or snag one of the final cruises for the season on the Lady of the Lake to see the color dotting the shoreline of our beautiful lake.

  1. The Nightmare – Haunted Hike

With Halloween closing out the month of October, ‘tis the season for all things creepy, crawly and scary.  Located on South Shore Drive, the Haunted Hike has been terrifying the youth of North Iowa (and many adults) for the past twenty years.  This frightening attraction is open every Friday and Saturday night from 7-10pm in October, and from 7-9pm on Halloween night.  Their motto is “If you dare – we will scare!”  And boy, oh boy, do they ever!  They have new sets this season for a longer, scarier hike!

  1. Harvest Festival

Held the first Saturday during October, this is the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s premier fall event!  The day kicks off with a Champagne 5K fun run/walk.  Participants (of legal age) can enjoy a glass of bubbly at the turn-around point, as well as the finish line!  By 9am, vendors will line Main Ave selling everything from baked goods to boutique clothing to exquisite decor.  The wine and beer tasting begins at noon along with a salsa competition, the grape stomp, and live music strategically placed around town!  Marketed as the ultimate girls’ day out, Harvest Festival is a favorite event for many to attend!

  1. Pumpkin Palooza

Held in mid-October in Central Gardens, this collaboration between Central Gardens, the Clear Lake Arts Center and the Clear Lake Library is a family-friendly afternoon of celebrating “all things pumpkin” with crafts, food samples and other fun activities.  At the end of the evening, a lighted pumpkin parade will line the walkways for people to enjoy.  And the best part?  It’s all FREE to the public!

  1. Catch a Fall Sunset at the Lake

Clear Lake is touted as having the very best sunsets.  Grab a spot along the newly restored sea wall near City Park to enjoy the end to another glorious day at the Lake.  The hues of gold and orange, encompassed with deep red undertones will leave you mesmerized by its magnificence as the sun descends across the water and back into the horizon.

  1. Fall Farmer’s Market

Located in the Surf Ballroom parking lot, this fantastic event runs through mid-October.  Fall is one of the best times to check out the variety of pumpkins, gourds and apples at Farmer’s Market.  Many small farms still have their locally sourced meats for sale.  The market is also well-known for having a slew of baked goods and craft items each week.

  1. Search for Sea Glass

Not many people realize the shoreline (especially along south shore) is riddled with sea glass this time of year.  Sea glass starts as bottles and other glass items that are broken in and around the water.  It is then transformed and broken by the churning, tumbling power of the water.  It tumbles with the sand and rocks until it is converted into a beautiful sea glass gem, worn smooth over the years.

  1. North Iowa Art Studio Tour

Held towards the end of September each fall, this incredible event opens the studio of local artists for the public to tour and enjoy.  You’ll have the chance to see where the magic happens as people paint, make stained glass masterpieces, create pottery displays and many other artistic endeavors.  A map and list are available in advance.  Those who wish to make the rounds do so on their own during the allotted “open house” times.  It’s a great weekend to wander North Iowa as you check out the amazing local talent.  Typically, the Clear Lake and Charles City Arts Centers have special displays during the studio tour as well. This year there are 25 artists at work in 14 studios that are excited to welcome you!

  1. Clear Lake Fire Department Annual Pancake Breakfast

Typically held the first Sunday of October, the Clear Lake Fire Department opens their doors to the public for a morning of piping hot flapjacks and tasty sausages.  This is small town hospitality at its finest, folks!  Kids can explore the firehouse, as well as a few firetrucks parked outside during the event.  It’s a great kickoff to National Fire Prevention Week for our many brave men in the department.

  1. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Nothing screams “fall fun” more than an afternoon at the pumpkin patch.  With two fantastic choices in our area, you can have hours upon hours of pumpkin-loving fun.  Plain Ol’ Pumpkins is in Clear Lake and is known for having the best corn maze in the area.  They also have hayrides, wagon basketball and apple slingshots.  They also have a large selection of pumpkins and gourds for purchase, perfect to carving and to decorate your front porch.

See what I mean? Don’t be fooled by our slew of summertime fun.  Fall really is one of the best seasons to slow down and take a break. And what better place to do so than Clear Lake!