Okoboji Ice Cream Adventure

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ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — People who venture to this northwest Iowa vacation spot do so to be on or near the beautiful lakes. Some come to visit shops for the historic amusement park. But for some, it’s also an ice cream adventure.

I found there to be five vendors that offered a unique ice cream experience. Of course the chains, DQ, Caseys, Kum and Go all have outstanding ice cream to be sure. On this trip my wife and I were looking for those unique places, which over the years we’ve visited.

The Nutty Bar Stand has been a staple in the Amusement Park since 1945. Serving up the ice cream encased in chocolate and nuts, this summer they’ve even had some alternate flavors, Butter Brickle, and Peanut Butter Fudge.

A newer place in the amusement park selling frozen Yogurt is BonBon.

“Bon bon means good good and we’re hoping to have family make this a tradition, and make good memories from coming in,” said Amy Polaschek, owner of BonBon. She bought the business from her daughter, who at one time operated a store in Spencer, and now just the store in Arnolds Park is open. This is a place to choose your Yogurt, and then whatever toppings, you pay by weight.

Also we paid a visit to the north of Spirit Lake, in the town of Orleans, by Orleans Beach on Big Spirit Lake, it’s called the Spillway Drive-In. It’s kind of out of the way from the traditional tourism areas in Arnolds Park, and Okoboji. But it’s a short drive and worth it to see another area of the Lakes Region, Big Spirit Lake is the largest lake in the chain, and stretches up across the state line into Minnesota. Spillway Drive-in offers a vanilla-mango twist. The Spillway Drive-In just rebuilt it’s building this past spring. It’s located across from the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery, and across the lake from Mini Wankan State Park.

Back to the south, on Highway 71 south of Spirit Lake is Goodies. It features 16 flavors of Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Peanut Butter Fudge was what I sampled. But they also are known for home-made candies.

 “I practiced baking bread, and I was terrible at it, so I had to find another plan,” said owner Tracy Shuck. “I started making candy and all my friends said I was good at it.”

The Goodies slogan came from an unlikely place.

“While being interviewed back in the 1980’s by Des Moines Register Columnist Chuck Offenburger, he commented, ‘Goodies, the name says it all,’ so we ran with that,” said Shuck

And, not planned but we ran across an ice cream truck. Shaw’s Ice Cream Adventure has been selling summer-time ice cream for years.

“We stay out of the amusement park, but there’s so many outlying areas,” said owner Bob Shaw. “In the afternoon we do the beaches, and evenings we doing the resorts.”

And before we left the region, I spotted a bicycle, with signs for Ice Cream for sale on it. That will have to be “next time!”

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