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This post is sponsored by the Clear Lake, Iowa Chamber of Commerce. All opinions are my own.
Is it just me or has this winter seemed to last for years? Being new to Midwestern winters, I have especially been struggling with feeling “blah” during this extremely cold weather. My husband and I decided that getting out of town for a few days would be nice, but there was a few problems that prevented us from packing our bags. We had no one to watch our pets, neither one of us could get leave from our jobs, and we couldn’t afford another expensive trip after traveling home for Christmas. Thankfully, we didn’t have to travel far to see a charming town with a slow-paced feel that made us feel like we were on vacation. Our weekend stay-cation to nearby Clear Lake, Iowa was perfect for beating the winter blues!
North Iowa is famous for their strong winds, and sometimes, those winds make an already-cold day even colder. However, those winds worked in our favor when we visited the Color the Wind Kite Festival. This annual tradition has become the largest winter kite festival in the Midwest. I had never been to a kite festival before… to be honest, I had no idea there was such a thing before we moved to Iowa 7 months ago! Color the Wind is actually held on frozen Clear Lake, and again, walking on a frozen lake was another experience I had never had before moving here.
Andy and I had the chance to talk to some of the kite pilots at the opening event the night before the festival. It was so interesting to learn more about their hobby! Many of the kites were over 60 feet tall and required multiple pilots to fly. Some of the kites even cost thousands of dollars! My favorite kite was a giant teddy bear named Buddy, while Andy’s favorite was a giant octopus. It was an absolutely fascinating experience to see all of the kites brighten up the dreary winter sky. I can’t wait to go again next year!
Being new to Color the Wind, I’ve compiled a few tips to make your experience even better.
Tips for attending Color the Wind:
Wear “long-johns” underneath your clothes as well as a pair of snow boots.
I actually wore a waffle-style sweater with a thinner “silk” thermal top underneath, as well as waffles underneath my jeans. I also wore two pair of thick socks with my boots! A Southern girl like me can never be too warm when it’s 20 degrees outside!
Wear a pair of touchscreen gloves.
I learned this tip by mistake. My gloves were too thick to allow me to use my touchscreen cell phone, so I had to remove a glove each time I wanted to snap a picture, send a text, etc. My poor fingers were so cold!
Bring heat packs.
For Andy’s birthday this past October, I bought him a mega-pack of air-activated disposable heat packs since his hands and toes are always cold. He suggested bringing a few packs along to Color the Wind, and I’m a little jealous that I didn’t think of it myself! They were perfect for warming up cold fingers and toes. (Obviously, please be careful and read the directions so you don’t burn yourself!)
If you are bringing little kids to the festival, bring a sled.
Again, this is another idea I didn’t think of myself. I saw some families dragging their children along the frozen lake in a sled, which was genius! Being that the festival is held on top of a frozen lake, pushing a stroller wouldn’t do and carrying your kiddos would get tiring.
Be careful on the snow and ice!
This goes without saying, but be careful walking on the snow and ice. Wear a pair of snow boots with enough traction to keep you stable. If you have balance issues or feel unsafe walking on the frozen lake, view the kites from your car on a nearby road instead!
After attending the festival, we went to a local restaurant to warm up over a hot meal. This time around, we chose an Iowa favorite that has become our new favorite, The Other Place. I am not much of a burger girl, but The Other Place’s burgers are delicious! Had we wanted to try a new-to-us restaurant, I could have easily checked out dining options on the free Clear Lake mobile app. The app is perfect for people like me who are new to the area and don’t know where the locals love to go. (I actually have it downloaded on my phone for our next Clear Lake adventure!)
I wasn’t quite ready to go home, so we decided to do a little shopping in some of the adorable shops on Main Street. Larson’s Mercantile was a neat little variety store that had everything under the sun…. it reminded me of a modern Oleson’s Mercantile from Little House on the Prairie. We also did some window shopping at some adorable clothing stores like Unique Boutique and Emerson’s by the Lake. I can see myself bringing my mom or mother-in-law to go shopping in Clear Lake when they come to visit me soon.
Our winter weekend “stay-cation” was a perfect way to spend a cold day! Clear Lake, Iowa might actually turn me into a winter fan yet! Although I have the feeling I will enjoy Clear Lake even more when it warms up this spring and summer 🙂
Have you ever visited Clear Lake?
What is your favorite winter weekend getaway destination?