We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Surf Ballroom

Clear Lake, IA
Improve this listing
Ranked #1 of 9 attractions in Clear Lake
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Bar/ Clubs, Landmarks/ Points of Interest
Activities: Nightlife
112 visitor photos
Write a Review

72 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
15 attraction reviews
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 14, 2014

Nice small atmosphere venue with decent acoustics. There's some booths around the edges for an extra fee but I've found you probably won't be sitting much. The floor is open with no seating and almost everybody is out on the floor. No matter where your at, you are close to the stage/band. It's a part of history so it's a... More

Was this review helpful? Yes
Tring, Herts
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
8 attraction reviews
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2014

I travelled to Iowa especially to see this attraction, and it didn't disappoint. I fully expected to cry at the crash site, but the tears came as soon as I walked into the Surf Ballroom. What an absolutely fantastic place this is. It has been so faithfully restored to it's original style that you feel that you are walking straight... More

Was this review helpful? Yes
Ventura, Iowa, United States
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

Great Place to see a show. Check the website for available tables but if there are no good ones don't pay to reserve one as there is always somewhere to sit.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Clear Lake, Iowa
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

The owners of this iconic landmark have done a great job attracting top-tier performers along with maintaining the historical feel of the venue. No one should ever come to North Iowa and not make a stop at the Surf - where history in music lives.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
11 attraction reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2014

Having last been at this ballroom in 1970 I am pleasantly surprised at the work and restoration done to capture the rock and roll era of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and DJ Richardson. The museum and collection of guitars is amazing. The best part for me though was the backstage prep-room where performers at the Surf have left their autograph,... More

Was this review helpful? Yes
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
11 attraction reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2014

Saw Queensryche and Stryper play here 3/22/2014. Didn't realize that this was the venue that Buddy Holly & Richie Valens played their last gigs before their tragic accident. Lot of memorabilia on the walls of the many many acts that performed here in the past. Nice retro type place replete with hardwood floors.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
12 attraction reviews
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2013

A must see for a Holly, Valens, Big Bopper fan. They have a ton of memorabilia on the walls and you could spend hours just reading through it. It's free to visit, but we've only been there during daylight hours. The routinely have shows there so visiting in the evening may cost you admission. Definitely check out the gift shop.... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Clear Lake, Iowa
12 reviews 12 reviews
7 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2013

Being at the historic Surf Ballroom leaves a person with a fascinating feeling. The history, the aura, the ambiance. Well worth the time!

Was this review helpful? Yes
19 reviews 19 reviews
8 attraction reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2013

On our way through Iowa, we drove into Clear Lake specifically to see the Surf Ballroom. Unfortunately, it was closed. But even in the rain, we enjoyed the sites on the exterior of the ballroom, and hope to return. The memorial to Buddy Holly and the others killed in the plane crash after their Surf performance is not attached but... More

Was this review helpful? Yes
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
27 attraction reviews
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2013

I just visited the Surf Ballroom, with two motor coaches of women. We were all "of the age" of this music and it's great performers. What fun to see all the exhibits and pictures. Almost everything is original, especially the floor and the booths, each one has a small metal napkin holder attached to the back wall, very neat. There... More

Was this review helpful? Yes

Travelers who viewed Surf Ballroom also viewed


Been to Surf Ballroom? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Surf Ballroom, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.

Manage your listing