Posted: 11 May 2018
Nothing says summer like a beautiful pristine lake. And there’s no better lake to spend your summer on than the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Stretching out to a gorgeous 17.741 acres, this man-made lake is the largest in Missouri.
But before you head to Missouri, make sure you plan your trip properly.
We got you with this guide on what to do, where to eat and where to stay. All the travel tips you need to plan a successful summer trip to the Lake of the Ozarks that your family and friends will be talking about for years to come.
Let’s get right into it!
History of the Lake of the Ozarks
The Lake of the Ozarks is only 87 years old. It was created by the construction of the Bagnell Dam by the Union Electric Company of St. Louis, Missouri.
But the area around the Lake of the Ozarks is rich in history. Dating back to the Osage Indians who first settled the Ozark hills.
Later, Lewis and Clark would go on to describe the natural beauty and wonderment of the Ozark Mountains. Then the post Civil War westward expansion that brought railroads helped develop this area before the Osage River was dammed in 1931.
Before we get into all the fun things to do at the Lake of the Ozarks, it’s important to remember to stay safe.
Whether you’re flying, boating or trailing, be sure to have emergency contact numbers. Carrying a safety medical kit is also recommended. Whatever the case, accidents can happen, and you can read more here. Just ensure you have access to all the essential support.
Things to Do
There’s so much to do near the Lake of the Ozarks; you’ll want to make sure your phones are charged so you can capture every moment. From it’s sandy beaches to historical museums and natural attractions. The best way to get it all in is to make a realistic schedule and stick with it.
Try to spend as much time by the Lake of the Ozarks. After All, it’s summertime, and the living is easy and not rushed.
Read reviews online and do some research, so you know what to expect. There are so many attractions to check out. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Go Fish!
You can’t go to a lake and not fish (or at least try to). Hook’em Guide Service Fishing happily teaches newbies how to bait up. And for the more experienced fishers, they’ll show you the best spots on the lake.
2. Play Golf
Spend the day at The Ridge Golf Course. The only full-service golf resort in Missouri. Here you’ll find Robert Trent Jones Sr. signature golf course, the Cove.
Take in the Lake of the Ozarks view while you play on one of the top five golf courses in Missouri. Even if you’re not a golf pro, the resort has two PGA professionals on site who can help you with your swing.
3. Shop ‘Til You Drop!
For a little history and fun, check out Bagnell Dam Strip’s historic district.
This area is the perfect spot where the whole family can find something to do. You can taste 20 flavors of fresh fudge and 40 flavors of saltwater taffy at Grandma’s candy kitchen, play Skee-Ball, shop at nostalgic gift shops or even attend a car show. There are even weekly firework cruises and dance parties.
There’s also a beautiful view, and if you have time cross the dam for a real treat.
4. Explore the Great Outdoors
John Mayer clearly didn’t know about Ha Ha Tonka State Park before writing his hit song.
Because this park (not your body, sorry) is a wonderland.
In its over 15 miles of trails, there’s sinkholes, caves, a natural bridge, bluffs and Missouri’s 12th largest spring. And if that’s not enough for you, there’s also ruins of a turn-of-the-century stone castle.
You can even make a reservation for camping and lodging at the park.
Things To See
1. The Bridal Cave
Described as “stunning” and a “must see attraction on the lake,” by travelers on trip advisor, this is a spot you don’t want to miss. It’s also kid friendly and one of the most scenic cave tours in the country. Named Lake of the Ozarks year-round number one attraction, despite it’s Osage Native American tale of heartbreak.
Sign up for an hour-long tour where you can hear the story and see the cave’s giant columns, delicate soda straws, and massive draperies up close and personal.
2. Ozarks Amphitheater
An open-air performance venue with more than 10,000 seats and additional lawn seating. This is the best place to catch live music on the lake. Check out their calendar to find out who’s playing and when.
3. Big Surf Waterpark
Bring the whole family to this water park where they can catch a wave in the wave pool, slide down crazy slides, chill in the floating river, or have fun in the white-water rapids or splash pool.
Places To Eat
One of the best parts of traveling is experiencing new flavors, ambiances, food and local cuisines. Restaurants near the Lake of the Ozarks won’t disappoint. Here are some favorites:
1. Baxter’s Lakeside Grille
When was the last time you ate dinner with a view of the sunset? Baxter’s Lakeside Grille has one of the best sunset views on the lake.
Take in the view while sipping on a part mango margarita, part raspberry daiquiri drink. Pair your drink with some fresh shrimp skewers and a gooey butter cake with cinnamon ice cream for dessert that can’t be missed.
2. Blue Heron
Another Lake of the Ozarks goto, for a fancier dining experience. You know that night when you want to get dressed up and savor some lobster pouches, trout Almondine or veal Morel, all while taking in a panoramic view of the lake.
3. JJ’s at the Copper Pot
A solid spot for special occasions. There’s a piano lounge for live music and cocktails. Then treat yourself to some prime rib and lobster tail topped off with vanilla bean creme brulee for dessert.
Check their schedule for their bi-monthly wine dinners which include six wines from around the globe paired with food. Now, this is some lake living.
4. Shady Gators
Fun for the whole family by day; spring break frat house party by night. They call themselves the “party capital of Lake of the Ozarks on their website and is voted the best waterfront bar on the lake.
Bask in the restaurant’s Cajun theme with dishes like blackened catfish and red beans or their best tacos and premium tequila bar. Stay for the live music and shots.
Where To Stay
Where you stay on vacation can make or break your whole trip. You want to make sure you and the whole family feel not only comfortable but also feel relaxed and actually on vacation. Like any travel arrangements be sure to book your accommodations well before your trip, to ensure availability.
Here are some spots that are sure not to disappoint.
1. Bass Point Resort
Feel like a local on the lake with this resort’s affordable cabins and houses. In business for more than 50 years, the whole establishment is family-run and nestled on the lake’s quieter west side.
Located on the 8-mile marker of the Osage at Lake of the Ozarks, this resort stretches out over sixteen acres right on the water. There’s even an on-site boat ramp, a fishing and swimming dock, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and pickleball, tennis and basketball courts all on the property. Why ever leave?
2. Lake Breeze Resort
Or perhaps you’d rather stay in a two or three bedroom cottage that has an old resort charm and rustic feel. Maybe you’d like a more modern vibe; they also offer a four unit building with suites and a contemporary “condo-like” vibe.
Lake Breeze Resort has something for everyone. On a grassy lakeshore, this resort has amenities like a pool, sand beach, fire pit and even a place where you can rent boats.
3. Point Randall Resort
Another family-owned destination where you can stay at pristine lakeside cabins and cottages right on the dock. Located two miles away from Bagnell Dam and 3 miles away from many restaurants, shopping and attractions, this resort is in a great location.
Enjoy features like a fishing and swimming dock, boat rentals, a heated pool, and beach. Called a “boaters paradise” with its thousand feet of breathtaking shoreline.
4. Tan-Tar-A Resort
A lakefront resort that spread over 420 acres. Guests get to enjoy an indoor water park, horseback riding, golf, water sports, a game room, a spa and the elegant Windrose on the Water restaurant.
They also offer an early bird special. If you book with them at least a month before your trip, you can save up to 10-20 percent on your stay.
To Wrap it Up
There’s so much to do at Lake of the Ozarks so start planning your trip as soon as possible. Start with your travel and accommodations and then make dinner reservations and book a spot at activities if required.
Don’t try to fit in everything in one day. Space it out, so you really get to relax and enjoy.
And remember vacations don’t have to break the bank. Make a budget and stick to it. Or better yet, check out our website for travel giveaways.