Clear Lake, Iowa: Surf Ballroom: Buddy Holly's Last Gig Team Field Report

Surf Ballroom and Museum

460 N. Shore Drive, Clear Lake, IA
I-35 exit 194. Drive west 1.5 miles on US Hwy 18. Turn left at the stoplight onto Buddy Holly Place, drive south until the street ends, then turn right onto N. Shore Drive. The Surf Ballroom will be on the right.
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
Save to My Sights

Surf Ballroom

Surf Ballroom: Buddy Holly's Last Gig
Site of the last performance of rockers Buddy Holly, Ritchie 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 Ritchie made their last phone calls. Report... [01/24/2016]

Visitor Tips and News About Surf Ballroom: Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

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]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Large Chicken, Ice Cream ConeLarge Chicken, Ice Cream Cone, Clear Lake, IA - < 1 mi.
Pyramid HousePyramid House, Clear Lake, IA - < 1 mi.
Tiny Church: Guardian Angel Roadside ChapelTiny Church: Guardian Angel Roadside Chapel, Clear Lake, IA - 2 mi.
In the region:
Buddy Holly Crash Site, Clear Lake, IA - 6 mi.

Latest Tips Across Roadside America

Catch up on the latest discoveries from the road.

Explore Thousands of Oddball Tourist Attractions!

Unique destinations in the U.S. and Canada are our special obsession. Use our attraction recommendation and maps to plan your next road trip.

July 25, 2017

My Sights

My Sights

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Iowa Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Boot Hill and Museum, Dodge City, Kansas (Jul 24-30, 2017)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from Subscribe now! Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, Clear Lake, Iowa

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now