Take a seat at Ainsworth-Orleans Beach

I grew up along the Mississippi River, and many memories surround that water for me. Feeding ducks and geese, taking walks along the shore, attempting to waterski, watching it rise and fall with spring rains and dry summer days.

The hardest part of college was not being near water, and I spent studying time and quiet moments at a nearby pond, just soaking in the part of nature that beat within me.

Moving to the Iowa Great Lakes area was a natural fit after college then. I need the water. I need the quiet rustle of waves. I need the cool breeze coming across the shore.

Ainsworth-Orleans Beach is one of the best places to soak in the beauty of the water, because it offers so much. Picnics. Playtime. Swimming. Enjoying.

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Come by in the evening and take a seat along the shore. The sun is gently setting just to the west, making the water light up with brilliant colors as it reflects the sky above. The trees lining the shore all around the majestic body of water turn black and melt together, contrasting with the dimming skyline.


Geese honk as they fly in a V overhead, moving south to warmer temperatures. A few ducks flap their wings frantically as they do the same. Nearby, a fox squirrel eyes its surroundings warily, its bushy tail disappearing amidst fall foliage. A variety of other birds twitter their goodnight songs in the trees.

The waves beat south, landing on the sandy shore. In the summer, those cool waters relax warm toes buried in the coarse sand, and the breeze calms parents as they watch their children climb playground equipment or dig in the sand. In the fall, the waves are still relaxing, instead of sticking my toes in the sand, I breathe in deeply and let the frigid air course its way into my lungs. In the winter, the frozen waters seem almost more expansive in their white stillness.

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No matter the season, there's something to do at the small county park along Big Spirit Lake, but Ainsworth-Orleans Beach is almost more than that. I didn't really have to do anything. I just sat down. I breathed. I listened. I enjoyed.

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(Westport Park is another water-based gem.)

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  1. John F Smeltzer on February 10, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Very nice beach …. great sand, great playground equipment and a small shelter to have a picnic under. New bathrooms as well and close to a small ice cream stand just across the parking lot.

  2. Greg on November 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Nice! This was a favorite beach for my family going back over 60 years!