Okoboji is a small city located on the eastern shore of West Okoboji Lake, one of Iowa’s Great lakes in Dickinson County. The Iowa Great Lakes region is a major regional summer tourist destination, and Okoboji is primarily a residential community with businesses along the Highway 71 corridor. Residents enjoy all the attractions and amenities that bring the tourists, including the beautiful lakes and the surrounding natural beauty, the restaurants, amusement parks, and concerts - but they also enjoy opportunities in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture, as well as great schools and beautiful neighborhoods. The Okoboji community focuses on creating great work/life balance for its residents by making the town eminently livable.
Walkers and bicyclists can enjoy the multi-use Iowa Great Lakes Trail that wends its way through Okoboji and the other towns nearby. There are many public transportation options in the area including bus service provided by the Dickinson Area Transportation System (DATS). The average one-way commute time for Okoboji residents is 16 minutes, much shorter than the 26.4-minute national average.
Although tourists swell the population each summer, Okoboji is home to a year-round community that calls the town home, composed primarily of young professionals and retirees. One notable feature created by the community are the memorial trees planted in Speier Park in the 1970s, donated by family members in honor of loved ones, which have now grown into beautiful mature trees for everyone to enjoy. Okoboji is served by the Okoboji Community School District.
Okoboji is a name from the Dakotah language that means ‘spreading out to the South’ as the lakes do in this area. When the first European settlers began to arrive in the area they moved into the hunting grounds of the Sioux Indians, which caused conflict one starving winter that resulted in the ‘Spirit Lake Massacre.' Later, as the settlements were growing from fishing camps to actual settlements, a bridge was built in 1860 connecting West Okoboji to East Okoboji. Slowly more amenities such as a bank, a mill, and other businesses arrived. In the late 1800s and early 1900s homesteaders began to build their homes along the lakeshore, and the City of Okoboji was incorporated in 1922 with a recorded population of 176 residents.
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