10 Best Places to Swim Outdoors in Iowa

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, at no cost to you.

Like all states in the country, Iowa also has numerous rivers, lakes, swimming holes like Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This state also has some amazing beaches along with water bodies, which provide a perfect swimming spot during summer.

Here we have listed down the ten best places to swim in Iowa. These spots are known for various reasons. Along with swimming, most of the spots below also offer fishing, paddle boating, kayaking, and much more. So, let’s discuss the details of each of these spots.

1. Emerson Bay State Beach

Emerson Bay State Beach is located in Milford. This beach is nestled on the west shores of Okoboji Lake. It has clear water and an amazing shore. The coastline here is great to enjoy with family. It also offers water-front picnic tables. You can swim, teach your kids how to fish, launch a boat into the water, and much more. The numerous opportunities to enjoy here makes it one of the best spots to swim.

2. Upper Iowa River

Located in Decorah, the Upper Iowa River has numerous access points by the Department of Natural Resources. This river has various places where people can enjoy swimming, like Upper Dam, Iverson Bottoms, Lower Dam, etc. Moreover, this spot is famous for its beautiful scenic views, which are great for nature lovers.

3. Big Creek State Park

Big Creek State Park is situated in Polk City, to the north of Des Moines. The beach in this park has an incredible shoreline with plenty of sand for swimmers to enjoy. Additionally, you will also find picnic areas, shelters, a sports field for multi-purpose spots, boat ramps, and a playground. The perfect trails here are also best for hiking, bicycle riding, and jogging.

4. Lake Macbride State Park Beach

Lake Macbride State Park Beach is located in Solon. This beach is the favorite location of both tourists and locals during summer. Moreover, it is also one of the best beaches for kids in Iowa because it has shallow waters, a flat shoreline, and gentle waves. That’s why it is a great attraction for families.

5. Honey Creek State Park Beach

The Honey Creek State Park Beach is in Moravia. This beach is nestled on Lake Rathbun’s shores. This spot is considered best for those who want to plan a trip with the entire family. This beach is full of amazing activities for kids and family. You can teach your kids bike riding or help them build sandcastles, and this location is perfect for all.

6. West Lake Beach

West Lake Beach is situated in Davenport. It is also one of the favorite locations of those with the family. This beach is also considered safe for toddlers because the lifeguards continuously monitor swimmers here. Moreover, this beach also has a separate swimming area for kids and infants too. It has a vast shoreline with shaded picnic areas.

7. Wabash Trace Rail Trail

The Wabash Trace Rail Trail is situated to the north of Coin and south of Shenandoah. To access the stream here, you should follow the trails here. The bank here is steep; however, if you start heading east by climbing down, you will also find some private sandbars. Additionally, this spot is also known for its natural location surrounded by trees.

8. Lake Icaria Beach

Lake Icaria Beach, situated in Corning, is home to a sandy shoreline of 300 feet. The scenic location of this beach makes it the Mecca of nature lovers. It offers various amenities, including stand-up grills, picnic tables, restrooms, and more. Other facilities include a volleyball court and playground. So, along with swimming, you can also enjoy some other activities too.

9. Five Island Lake

The Five Island Lake is a great spot for relaxing and swimming during summer because of its amazing beach. Moreover, this lake also features other kinds of stuff like a fish cleaning station, recreational equipment, camping, fishing, and boating. Additionally, shore fishing here is also famous throughout the state.

10. Gull Point

The Gull Point is considered great for a family picnic. You can sit on the beach, bring your blanket, or even reserve the available open shelters here. People also plan their special events here like weddings and family reunions etc. But above all, the lake here provides a great picnic spot to enjoy with your entire family. Moreover, the facilities here include campgrounds, restrooms, playground, and paved roads.


Do you want to spend this summer exceptionally well with lots of fun and memories? If yes, then this summer, you must explore the spots mentioned above.


10 Swimming Holes in Iowa.

10 Best Beaches in Iowa.

10 Best Family Beaches in Iowa.