My family has been going to Honey Creek Resort on Rathbun Lake ever since it opened in 2008. It’s one of our favorite Iowa getaways and today I’m going to give you an insider’s scoop on how to make the most of your stay at Honey Creek Resort!
What is Honey Creek Resort?
Honey Creek Resort is located on Rathbun Lake, in southern Iowa. Rathbun Lake is Iowa’s 2nd largest lake and offers 11,000 acres of water and 150 miles of shoreline. The lake is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and is largely undeveloped, which is one of the reasons we love it. Honey Creek Resort is part of Honey Creek State Park, which stretches over 850 acres and is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy and explore nature, while also having all the benefits of a full-service resort!
Where do you stay at Honey Creek Resort?
Honey Creek Resort has a main lodge, which includes a restaurant, bar, ballrooms, exercise area, indoor waterpark, and 105 guest rooms. Guest rooms include either 2 queen beds or a king bed. You can choose to have a resort view or a lake view. You can also choose a suite, which is a little larger. Rooms on the main floor have a walk out and some rooms are pet-friendly. What I enjoy most about staying in the lodge is that you’re in the same building as the waterpark. This especially comes in handy during the winter or during inclement weather because you can head straight to your room after swimming and don’t have to go outside with wet clothes! The lodge also offers amazing views of Rathbun Lake.
Now that we have four little kids, I really love staying in a cottage. Cottages offer your own full kitchen (stove, microwave, DISHWASHER, full-size fridge, dishes, silverware, glasses, pots, and pans), living room, bathroom(s), and bedroom(s). There are three options to choose from: a 1 bedroom + loft (has a queen bed in the bedroom and a bunk bed in the loft + 1 bathroom and a sofa sleeper), 2 bedroom (has either a queen bed in each room or a queen bed in one room and a bunk bed in the other + 2 bathrooms and a sofa sleeper), or 4 bedroom (has a queen bed in two bedrooms and bunk beds in the other two + 2 bathrooms and a sofa sleeper). A 2 bedroom cottage works well for us because everything is on the same level and everyone has a bed! Each cottage has a wrap-around deck, fireplace, satellite tv, fire pit, charcoal grill, picnic table, and at least one parking pad.
What I enjoy most about staying in a cottage is the privacy (we don’t have to worry about how loud our kids are), and the space. You have all the comforts of home, with all the convenience of staying in a hotel. I appreciate being able to cook our own food or go to the restaurant if we want to. And I really appreciate that housekeeping comes to bring fresh towels, make beds, and clean just like they do in the lodge!
If camping is more your style, you can bring your RV or camper and still enjoy the full Honey Creek Resort experience.
What can you do at Honey Creek Resort?
The highlight for families is the indoor waterpark. Our family loves it because it’s big enough to entertain all of our kids, but small enough to keep an eye on them. It has a slide, lazy river, and fun pool with obstacles and basketball to entertain my oldest. The deepest water is only 3 1/2 feet so we can let her explore and know that she can touch the bottom wherever she goes! My youngest three love the pirate ship pool. It has a zero-entry, fountains, big toys to sit on, and an awesome pirate ship with two slides. It’s only about 1 foot deep, so it’s great for babies through preschoolers. Several lifeguards are always on duty, so you can feel good knowing there are extra sets of eyes helping you keep watch! There’s also a large hot tub. Upstairs features an arcade and snack shop. Downstairs features the waterpark, tables and chairs, and bathrooms where you can change.
Resort guests receive waterpark passes with their rooms, whether you stay in the lodge or in a cabin. The number of passes depends upon where you stay. You can purchase additional waterpark passes for extra guests or purchase day passes if you just want to visit the waterpark!
If you are a golfer, you will love the Preserve! The Preserve is an 18-hole championship golf course that follows the natural landscape of the park. You can purchase 9-hole and 18-hole day passes or take advantage of one of the resort’s golf and stay packages.
When the weather is nice, there are lots of activities to keep you entertained! Honey Creek Resort provides bikes you can check out March-November to explore their paved bike paths, sleds you can check out in the winter, guided hikes, self-guided hikes, and Field Packs you can check out to go geocaching, birding, or tracking. In the summer they offer activities like campfires, volleyball, and more. You can also swim at the beach, rent boats, jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks, fish, or dock your own boat or jet ski. My husband and I like to go for our own getaway occasionally and enjoy renting a jet ski and hanging out on the beach without the kids!!
We really like the Naturalist Programs Honey Creek offers. Our kids have made chalk, created bags of items for birds to make nests with, and learned about tracking. They also have an Activities Building where you can talk with a Naturalist and do activities. Be sure to check out the schedule before you book your stay to take full advantage of these programs! You can also check out books and board games from the front desk if you’re looking for something else to do!
The resort offers Rathbun Lakeshore Grille as its on-site restaurant and bar. You can eat at the restaurant, order room service in the lodge, or pick up a meal and go for a picnic or back to your cottage. In the summer we enjoy sitting out on the patio so we can fully enjoy the view. Make sure to know the restaurant’s hours ahead of time and plan accordingly.
One more thing to note: Honey Creek Resort is fairly remote, which is what makes it so peaceful and relaxing. The nearest town with conveniences is Centerville, which is about 20 minutes away. There is a gas station a few minutes away for absolute necessities, but if you need to head to Walmart to pick up something you forgot or want to visit a local town, plan on a little bit of a drive!
Honey Creek Resort is one of our family’s favorite Iowa vacation destinations. It’s a manageable drive with little kids (2 1/2 hours from Cedar Rapids), but far enough to make you feel like you are getting away. We like the fact that you can explore nature, but still have every modern convenience. And our kids love the waterpark. I hope it will become a favorite spot for your family too!
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