For more than decade, on the shores of beautiful Lake Rathbun in Appanoose County, Honey Creek Resort has established itself as a destination for vacationers, corporate events, weddings, reunions, and more.
It is owned by the taxpayers of Iowa under the purview of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and is operated by a New York-based company. Over the past decade, because it is a state owned property, there have been more than a few stories in the media about it. It still struggles to turn a profit. However, once you spend some time there, you see the significant potential that it possesses.
You enter the park and resort grounds near Iconium, and you are greeted by this sign. The paved road takes you through some lovely rolling hills.
Eventually, the main resort comes into view.
I imagine this time of year is maybe a little less busy as compared to the summer months. However, there were still quite a few cars in the parking lot.
This was actually my first ever visit to Honey Creek Resort and it was entirely too quick. My friend and I did spend a bit of time exploring the main building.
It features some gorgeous architecture and terrific mission style furnishings. I grew up in a mission/arts and crafts house and find the style to be both simple yet elegant.
I was here right after Christmas (the Sunday before New Year's) and so much of the Christmas decorations were still up. However, there is also some other nice art, such as this sculpture, that is up year-a-round.
There is space to host wedding receptions or conferences or just about any kind of event that would require a ballroom or two.
I found a restaurant/bar but didn't get in to try it. Hopefully on my next visit.
Their website boasts an incredible array of activities to do year-a-round but just in case none of that interests you...there's a ping pong and foosball table.
Lake Rathbun is Iowa's second largest lake and includes 11,000 acres of water and 150 miles of shoreline. There's a lot of recreation you can do with that amount of space.
There is a nature center and an 18 hole golf course.
If you don't want to stay in one of the 105 hotel rooms as part of the resort, there are numerous different cabins that can be rented. There are lots of different options.
I feel like I only hit the tip of the ice berg with my quick visit here and it's on my list to visit again during nicer weather. In Des Moines, I am always hearing radio ads about Honey Creek Resort having the only "aquapark" in the entire state.
Having worked in the Iowa Legislature from 2009 to 2012, I heard lots about Honey Creek Resort - especially negative things about it's finances. However, once you actually see the place, it's definitely an attractive property. I think if I got the chance to spend a weekend around Honey Creek, my appreciation for it would grow.
I hope other Iowans will give it a chance, too.