IA State Highways

IA - Clear Lake

Crash Site - 2/9/1959

Februrary 3, 1959 is a date that many older riders and fans of rock and roll music will easily recognize as "The Day The Music Died."  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper died when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza crashed on take off from the local airport. 

A small memorial is located at the place their plane came to rest. Four trees were also planted along the fence row in 1999, one for each performer and the pilot. The memorial is located on private property, but the directions are readily available if you want to visit.

If you aren't in to maudlin visits to rock star tragedies, there are many other things to do in Clear Lake that justify a stop or even an overnight stay. For example, "The Lady of The Lake" is a paddle wheel excursion that takes visitors on a relaxing 90 minute ride.

Video clips include local lodging.


Clear Lake Fire Museum, 112 N 6th St, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-2613. 

Open weekends only during the summer season, 10 AM to 4 PM.  Old fire rigs, photos, and a fireman's memorial immediately adjacent.



Iowa Trolley Park 3429 Main Ave, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-7433. 


Open weekends only during the summer season, 10 AM to 4 PM. 


Lady of The Lake,  PO Box 14, Clear Lake, IA 50428 Phone: (641-357-2243. 

Parking, and the boat, can be found at the city seawall in downtown Clear Lake. 90 Minute excursion is priced at $14 and groups of 10 or more can charter the boat - this might be an excellent group ride activity.

Surf Ballroom & Museum, 460 North Shore Dr., Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-6151.

Open: Mon.-Fri. 8am-4pm, Memorial Day-Labor Day: Mon.-Fri. 8am -4pm; Sat. 9am - 1pm; Sun. 1pm - 4pm or by appointment year round.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland, Ohio) has dedicated the Surf ballroom as a historic rock and roll landmark. True rock and roll fans know this is the last place to host the music of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.

Less than a block to the west is Three Stars Plaza, honoring the famous rockers. Try to visit the plaza at night when the neon lights are glowing.


Clear Lake State Park6490 S Shore Dr, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-34212.

55 Acre state park located directly on Clear Lake. Day use recreation and campground. 180 Tent and RV sites from $11 nightly in peak season, only $6 off season. Bathouse and showers. 

GPS:  43.11028-93.39444   43°6'37"N93°23'40"W

McIntosh Woods State Park, 1200 E Lake St, Ventura, IA 50482. Phone: 641-829-3847.

60 Acre state park with day use and campground areas. 53 Tent and RV sites priced from $11 nightly in off season. 

GPS:  43.12722-93.45194   43°7'38"N93°27'7"W


AmericInn, 1406 N 25th St, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-8954 or 800-634-3444.

Breakfast, WiFi, indoor pool w/hot tub, guest laundry, meeting room, whirlpool suites available. Nightly rates from about $95.

Americas Best Value Inn, 1306 N 25th St, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-8700.

WiFi, breakfast, heated seasonal outdoor pool, cable TV w/HBO, Rates from about $65 nightly. Spotty online reviews, you might want to check out the rooms before checking in. 

Best Western Holiday Lodge, 2023 7th Ave N, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 877-722-3422. 

136 Room and suites. Breakfast, WiFi, on site restaurant w/room service, indoor heated pool, exercise room, meeting room, guest laundry, business center, cable TV. 

GPS: Longitude: 43.144685  /  Latitude: -93.36239

Hilltop Motel, 10 Allens Aly, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-2127.

Not your average cookie cutter franchise. 21 Theme decorated rooms and the place is operated by  a family proud to serve the community. WiFi, fridge and microwave. The outdoor pool and patio area is set up with pizza oven, gas grills and is very inviting for guests to spend an afternoon or early evening enjoying summer weather. Kitchettes and B&B rooms are available. 

Peak season rates from about $85 and off season about $50 nightly.  Located adjacent to Surf Ballroom and online reviews are generally favorable.

Lake Country Inn, 518 US Highway 18 W, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-2184

NO current website found, but online reviews seem to indicate they are motorcycle friendly and a basic motel at reasonable rates.

Larch Pine Inn, 401 N 3rd St, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-0345 or 641-355-3789.

B&B accommodations with three room in a large Victorian home and one suite in a detached carriage house. Rates from about $125 nightly - be aware you must cancel 10 days in advance to get your deposit back.

Microtel Inn & Suites, 1305 N 25th St, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-0966. 

Breakfast, high speed 'Net connection, Nightly rates from about $85. Numerous online reviews show clean hotel with a very good manager.

Rumorz Neighborhood Hideaway, 1214 S Shore Dr, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Phone: 641-357-5550. 

17 rooms in a 1960's Era motel offering WiFi, cable TV, microwave and fridge, outdoor grilling area. All rooms were gutted and remodeled in 2015. Nightly rates from $100 in peak and about $70 off peak.