The tropics have come to south central Iowa! Well, kinda. If you’re looking for humid temperatures, beach chairs and water play, you can head to Honey Creek Resort State Park at Rathbun Lake. It’s a great weekend family getaway, especially if you’re looking for a little reprieve from the frigid temps. You can make the drive from Des Moines in just under two hours and if you can’t find the time to stay over, they also offer day passes to their Buccaneer Bay Water Park.
Know Before You Go
- Room Rates: Guest Rooms and Suites start at $119 per night and includes four water park passes; Cottages start at $209 per night and includes eight, ten or 12 water park passes; RV Spots are $49 per night and includes access to Resort amenities. (The average daily rate can vary depending on the day of week, special events or holidays.)
- Water Park Hours: Monday – Friday: 4:00 to 9:00 pm; Saturday & Sunday: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
- Water Park Passes: Day passes are available to non-hotel guests. Monday – Thursday $10.00 per wristband; Friday, Saturday & Sunday $12.00 per wristband and there is a Spectator Fee of $3.00.
- Parking: There is plentiful FREE parking.
- Food: The resort has a full service restaurant, Rathbun Lakeshore Grille, where you can order food and drinks. There’s also a Snack Bar located in Buccaneer Bay.
While You’re There
We’ve been wanting to check out Honey Creek Resort State Park for some time now. My friend Pam Mohr and her family, have stayed at the Resort a number of times and I’ve been 20 questioning her to get her insider tips and suggestions. Here’s what she has to say about a family weekend get away to Honey Creek Resort at Rathbun Lake.
Why did you decide to stay at Honey Creek Resort?
We were looking for a waterpark resort close to home. Someplace with enough activity for the kids, but also quiet and relaxing for us as parents.
How long do you typically stay?
We’ve stayed several times, usually one or two nights.
We’ve gone alone as a family and we’ve also had grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins join us.
Did you find the resort kid and family friendly? Were the rooms large enough to accommodate a family?
Yes, Honey Creek Resort is very kid-friendly. The rooms in the main lodge are typical sized hotel rooms with two double beds or a king bed with a bathroom. The one, two and four bedroom cottages are great for longer stays, stays with extended family, or if you want to be able to cook some of your meals, BBQ, or have a campfire. We stayed in a cottage during our most recent visit (last year) and really enjoyed the space it provided, the ability to cook some of our own meals, and our children had fun making a campfire.
What was included with your hotel stay?
Waterpark passes are included. They also periodically offer packages or specials where other services are included, such as a voucher to use in their restaurant. (FYI: The Resort is currently offering two specials – a Family Winter Wonderland Package and Family Cabin Fever Package.) They also offer complimentary family activities.
Is there a restaurant on-site? Was the food good?
There is a full-service restaurant, a bar, and also a snack bar within the water park. The restaurant has a more upscale menu for adults, but also has a good selection of kid-friendly options on the children’s menu. It also has a brunch on Sunday mornings. There is both indoor and outdoor seating on their patio.
Were there enough activities to keep everyone entertained?
Yes. When our children were younger (three to four), they spent most of their time in the waterpark. Now that they are older (seven to eight), they still like to swim, but also enjoy digging in the sand at the beach, taking nature walks, playing at the playground and having a campfire (if we stay at a cottage). The resort also provides many FREE scheduled activities throughout the day. For example, guided nature hikes, crafts for kids, nature talks by a naturalist, etc. There are also boat rentals available during warmer months.
Was it a good place for both kids AND parents to stay?
Yes, both children and adults can find enough to do as well as find time to relax.
Is it budget friendly? Do you think it is reasonably priced?
Rates vary throughout the year. I feel Honey Creek’s rates are comparable to other hotels with a waterpark. We’ve only chosen to stay in the cottages when we’ve found a special.
Why do you continue to return to Honey Creek Resort?
It’s a great place for a quiet weekend get-away. My kids enjoy the familiarity of the resort, since we’ve been visiting for several years. I also like the fact that you’re out of the City and you’re not surrounded by other restaurants, activities, shopping, etc. like you would be in Minneapolis, Kansas City, or Omaha – other places within a similar distance (actually farther) with hotels with waterparks.
Being in a more rural locale encourages us to spend time in nature, partaking in the resort’s provided activities, and enjoying a slower, more relaxed vacation experience. It’s also a unique experience since the hotel is managed by the Iowa DNR and the design and operation of the resort is environmentally friendly.
Honey Creek Resort
12633 Resort Drive
Moravia, IA 52571
Have you stayed at Honey Creek Resort? Tell us about your visit below!
Pam Mohr is a Des Moines native and is a busy mama to three boys and dog Louie. She enjoys raising her family in the Des Moines metro area. When she’s not drowning in laundry, Pam likes to volunteer, read, and take walks.
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