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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) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Donation suggested.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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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

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Three Stars Plaza.

Surf Ballroom: Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Also visit the memorial a block over from the ballroom, in Three Stars Plaza.

[Mary Sue, 11/08/2020]

Surf Ballroom.

Surf Ballroom: Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Literally brought tears to my husband's eyes. We loved the feel of the ballroom -- the old booths, the ladies' room as it was back in the day. Highly recommend a stop/visit if music is in your blood.

[Rose, 08/05/2017]

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]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Pyramid HousePyramid House, Clear Lake, IA - < 1 mi.
Tiny Church: Guardian Angel Roadside ChapelTiny Church: Guardian Angel Roadside Chapel, Clear Lake, IA - 2 mi.
Iowa Trolley Park - Private Rail for KidsIowa Trolley Park - Private Rail for Kids, Clear Lake, IA - 2 mi.
In the region:
Raging Thunder the Bull, Ackley, IA - 44 mi.

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