Profile: Parks Marina in Okoboji, Iowa – Quimby's Cruising Guide

Profile: Parks Marina in Okoboji, Iowa

The main attraction of the Okoboji area of the Iowa Great Lakes is its beautiful blue water, and there may be no better place to gather and enjoy the glacier-carved hotspot than Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji.

The marina is home to The Barefoot Bar, featuring lake views, food, live entertainment and a tiki bar. The O’Farrell Sisters restaurant, another lake icon located at Parks Marina, serves its legendary pancakes and cinnamon rolls (“the size of a softball”) all day and also has a full bar.

Parks Marina Inc. was established when Leo “Butch” Parks purchased the then Gibson Sporting Goods in 1983. What was once a small fishing boat sales and repair facility has expanded into a diversified business with two marinas on Lake Okoboji (Parks Marina and Okoboji Boat Works) and one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (also called Parks Marina).

The original Parks Marina location on East Lake Okoboji has transient slips available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis. Water depth is 4 to 7 feet at the docks and marina entry. Both Parks Marina locations include sales and service, storage, boat rentals, pro-shops and retail stores.

Purchased in 2001, Okoboji Boat Works on West Lake Okoboji features state-of-the-art boat slips, the world’s largest Fish House restaurant, a pro-shop, gas dock, boat showroom, convenience store and a sandy beach for families to enjoy. Approximately 40 slips are available for rent, with up to eight transient slips are available for short-term use. Water depth at the dock is 6 to 10 feet. It is the last of the marinas on West Lake Okoboji and perhaps the oldest, as it was founded in 1890.

Other amenities include boat sales and service, hoist and slip rentals, restaurants, surf and ski lessons, paddleboard lessons and yoga. There’s a large fleet of rental boats and, most notably, a fleet of eight excursion boats ready for private or public cruises.

And Still Growing
Most recently, Parks Marina purchased the Central Emporium in Arnolds Park, Iowa. The Central Emporium has overlooked West Lake Okoboji for more than 100 years and is currently home to 26 shopping and dining venues.

“Because of the fantastic team of employees who each excel in their area, it has enabled us to grow and expand our hospitality business,” said Butch Parks. “The Emporium is fully rented out and will fit nicely in our tourism and entertainment businesses.”

With three marinas and a new and exciting asset in The Central Emporium, it’s sure to be an exciting summer for the Parks Marina family and its guests.

Parks Marina – Okoboji
24457 178th Street
Okoboji, Iowa 51355
(712) 332-7303

Fuel: Gas and diesel available

Electric: 30/50 amp

Amenities: Water, ice, bars, restaurants, gas dock, watersport lessons, boat rentals, excursion cruises, service and repair shop, convenience store, boat sales, yoga, hoist and slip rentals and a sandy beach.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Author: Heather Ervin is the associate editor of HeartLand Boating

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