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This Resort Is The Best-Kept Secret In Iowa

The Midwest has its well-known lake resorts — we’ve all been to one, or at least, have been meaning to go to it. It’s the hidden gem lake resorts that have started to appeal to me. The places like Honey Creek Resort State Park in Iowa. What took so long to plan a visit?

Disclosure: This post first appeared on Oh My! Omaha and is republished here with slight edits, all with permission. This post may contain affiliate links.

The exterior of Honey Creek Resort at dusk, with a man by a corn hole game

Staying at Honey Creek Resort

Unlike other lake destinations in Iowa (namely the Okoboji area), Rathbun Lake isn’t situated among a lot of tourist attractions or cities that come to life in the summer. Being the case, staying somewhere that has all you need for a perfect summer getaway is key. 

At Rathbun Lake, that ideal spot is Honey Creek Resort. There are three accommodation options at the resort: Staying the lodge, staying in a private cottage, or staying in your RV. There are 28 cottages available in one-, two- or four-bedroom. On our summer visit, we stayed in a classic hotel room in the lodge, one that also happened to allow dogs.

Note: When I visited, the property was managed by the Department of Iowa Resources property, ran very much like a hotel (a green hotel, at that). Achieva Inc. is the new concessionaire for the resort.

Honey Creek Resort is one of the few LEED-certified hotels in Iowa, and has very visible environmentally sound practices in place. There’s a wind turbine to generate electricity and solar panels on the lodge roof. Underground, a thermal heating system has been installed. 

Organic materials are used, when possible, and several reminders are found throughout the resort intending to prod us all along in the effort to conserve energy. Our shower, for instance, had a timer to keep us mindful of water usage and refillable containers for shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

Activities at the resort (it’s all included)

When staying at the resort — lodge or cabin, doesn’t matter – there are several things that are included with that price. And my friends, that’s the big draw in my book. It’s all included. We spent two days at the resort and my kids were hell-bent on cramming as much activity as possible into those 48 hours. And those activities didn’t cost extra.

A boy plays at Buccaneer Bay located at the Honey Creek Resort in Moravia, Iowa

On the first night, we splashed and hit the slide at the indoor waterpark, Buckaneer Bay. It had a lazy river, zero-depth entry pool for littles, a large hot tub, and more. We went twice during our stay, the kids liked it so much.

But, our Saturday will really make you tired. Here’s what we did at the resort in one day:

  • Bike ride. There are complimentary bikes and helmets for hotel guests. If you’re are serious about your bikes, bring your own, though. These were all well loved and not comfy for long distances. 
  • Kayaking. My daughter and I took a brief paddle on the lake in one of the two-person kayaks. The resort also offered free stand-up paddle baards for guests. We debated on renting a pontoon for fishing. In the end, we decided to save it for another visit.
  • Roasting marshmallows. At 8 p.m., we got our s’mores kit from the front desk and headed out to the nightly bonfire. We heard it’s a popular activity in the summer, but we were lucky to have a small crowd the night we attended. Guests receive one complimentary s’mores kit with their stay. While half our group roasted marshmallows, the other played corn hole in the yard. The resort had several lawn games for guests, including giant Connect 4 and frisbee golf.

We kept active and yet we didn’t do all that we’d hoped to do! There’s also an Activity Center, kid’s activities, and a golf course. Guests can golf for free (just have to rent the cart). 

Note: The resort’s inflatable water course is no longer available.

Kayaking at Rathbun Lake


Where is Honey Creek Resort?

Even though there is a Honey Creek, Iowa, that town is not where you’ll find Honey Creek Resort. The resort’s address is in Morvaia, a small town in south-central/south-eastern Iowa. It’s not too far from Pella if that helps you situate it. But, most Iowans know it for its proximity to one of the largest man-made lakes in the state, Rathbun Lake, or Rathbun Reservoir. The region has its share of slight, rolling hills and plenty of trees.

Is there a restaurant at Honey Creek Resort?

Yes, but since the transformation of Honey Creek Resort following our visit, it’s not the same as the one I visited. It’s now called Prairie Rose Bar & Grill.

Can you fish at Honey Creek Resort?

Yes, and equipment is available complimentary for guests. Fishing licenses and bait are available for purchase in the lodge, too.

Is there wifi at Honey Creek Resort?

Yes, but it’s spotty. My cell phone kept disconnecting from the network, so I had to manually join the network each time I tried to use it. But, unless you’ve got work to do, it shouldn’t bother you. 

What is there to do near Honey Creek Resort?

I know it’s hard to believe, but I mostly scouted out the restaurant in Moravia (BK’s Boathouse for pizza and Captain’s Landing for ice cream). I sought out a few other possible things to do (besides eating) if you venture off the resort’s little corner of the lake. Honey Creek State Park is about 8 miles from the resort. There are hiking trails, and a bike lane for road bikers.

Ice cream at Captain's Landing in Moravia, Iowa, a town near Honey Creek Resort

Centerville is also fairly close to the resort (it’s all relative out in the country). The historic town square is lovely to walk around, with restaurants, cute second hand shops, and a book store with a cafe inside it. 

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