Clear Lake, Iowa: Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Site of the last performance of rockers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper, before their plane crashed nearby. Preserved as it looked in 1959. See the Big Bopper's briefcase of doom, and the pay phone where Buddy and Richie made their last phone calls.

Surf Ballroom and Museum

460 N. Shore Drive, Clear Lake, IA
Surf Ballroom and Museum. At the corner of Buddy Holly Place and N. Shore Drive.
Summer M-F 8-4, Sa 9-1, Su 1-4; off-season M-F only. (Call to verify)
Donation suggested.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Visitor Tips and News About Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

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Surf Ballroom.

Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

My visit to the Surf Ballroom was like walking back to 1959. After looking at the crash site, it is well worth the time to go to the concert hall and buy a Surf Ballroom t-shirt and Buddy Holly glasses!

[Tom Vetter, 04/28/2014]

Surf Ballroom pay phone booth.

Surf Ballroom & Museum

I guess you could call it the last place music lived. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper had their last concert in the Surf Ballroom before their fatal plane crash in 1959, and the venue has maintained its 50s look and feel partially as a museum to the late rock 'n' rollers and partially as a unique venue for modern acts.

The telephone booth where Holly and Valens made their last phone calls has also been preserved, and documentary photos and autographed band shots line most of the lobby and bar walls. The spacious, vaulted main ballroom is still framed by vintage diner-style booths.

The Surf is a locket of American music history cared for by a small American town.

[Laurel Hechanova, 08/27/2011]
Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly Crash Site

When in Clear Lake be sure to check out the Surf Ballroom where Buddy Holly played for the last time. It's free, a donation is suggested -- I gave them my lucky five dollar bill. It's like stepping back in time. I highly recommend you see this as part of your trip.

[Debbie Clark, 12/16/2010]
Surf Ballroom

A must visit for any music fan. Admission to the self-guided museum is free, but donations are requested. What we liked most was how the management has kept the 1950s style architecture and interior design (be sure to check out the bathrooms!). There is also a great gift shop.

[Frank Abbott, 07/18/2010]

Interior of the Surf Ballroom.

Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Looking for good directions and a good breakfast? Stop at Dad's Pump House on Main Street. It is a throwback, and all the locals are there. Ask for Dad and he will give great directions to the Crash Site.

In addition, the Surf Ballroom is still operating. Doobie Bros. played 5/17/2007. The place is open for free, self-guided tours. There are many autographed pictures of bands that performed, and every Feb 2nd they have a weekend sock hop to commemorate the sad event.

[Greg, 05/29/2007]

Wonder if those folding metal chairs are originals?

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In the region:
Iowa Trolley Park - Private Rail for Kids, Clear Lake, IA - 2 mi.

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