Located on the northeast edge of the Ozark Mountains in the heart of Missouri, you’ll discover the Lake of the Ozarks. This artificial lake was created by a damming of the Osage River in 1931.
In its 90 years, the Lake of the Ozarks has become one of Missouri’s top vacation destinations. More than 5 million people come every year!
Whether you enjoy camping by the lakeside, renting a boat, or visiting the surrounding towns, the Ozarks have something for everyone.
Use this guide on what to do in the Ozarks to help you plan your perfect trip to Missouri.
And if you’re driving down on Route 66, it can be a pretty cool place to take a detour.
Lake of The Ozarks
The Lake of the Ozarks is listed as one of the best lakes in the United States for fishing.
The main fish you can find are:
- and a wide variety of bass.
Although fishing is not your thing, the lake and the area have much more to offer visitors.
Rent a boat for the day, fish on the lakeshore, or enjoy the water views from the shore.
Typical activities on the lake include water skiing, tubing, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Relax on a pontoon boat or try your hand at paddle surfing on this beautiful artificial lake.
There really is something for everyone at the Lake of the Ozarks: Beaches, water activities, walking trails, horseback riding, camping, golf, etc.!
Lake of the Ozarks State Park is approximately 17,000 acres and is the largest in Missouri.
It provides easy access to both the lush Ozark Mountains and the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.
The park offers the opportunity to enjoy a variety of recreational activities both on the lake and on the shoreline.
On the coast, hikers, backpackers, horseback riders, and bikers can traverse open woods, sunny glades, small springs, and streams for high-top views of the Lake of the Ozarks.
You’ll find iconic hikes on trails like the Trail Of Four Winds, a 13-mile hike that gives you beautiful views of the lake.
For water enthusiasts, you can make use of the park’s two beaches for swimming and renting boats. In addition, there are paved ramps for boats or kayaks.
Check out the Water Trail, a 10-mile interpretive trail that gives boaters the information they need about the lake.
And do not forget to visit the caves of the Ozarks, an underground visit that will surprise you.
Go Underground in the Ozark Caverns
Caves are common in the Ozarks, thanks to the geological formations in the area.
Visiting the Ozark Caverns will take you on an underground adventure complete with stalactites and stalagmites.
Angels Showers Cavern is an Ozarks cave with an unusual phenomenon. They call it the never-ending rain since the water gushes out of one of the rocks on the roof without stopping and looks like fine rain.
On tours inside the cavern, you can see claw marks left by animals thousands of years ago.
The Ozark Caverns offer two different tour options, the Traditional Tour and the Kids Tour.
- It lasts about an hour
- does not reach a kilometer of travel (approximately 1 mile)
- Covers all cave topics (general cave development, speleothem formation, life inside caves, etc.
- Appropriate for all ages.
The children’s tour is specifically designed to educate while keeping the children’s attention. This tour lasts around 30 to 45 minutes and does not reach 400 meters in length.
It is designed for children ages 5 and up.
NOTE: The cave is at approximately 13 Celsius degrees (56ºF) throughout the year. I recommend that you bring a jacket.
- Adults: $10 – €6 (approx)
- Teenagers (13 to 17 years old): $8 – €5 (approx)
- Children (6-12 years): $6 – €4 (approx)
- Children under 6 years: Free
Address: 03 MO-134, Kaiser, MO 65047
Discover Bridal Cave
Bridal Cave has a long history in the area, even existing centuries before the Lake of the Ozarks was created.
It is located near the city of Camdenton.
This cave, in particular, played an essential role in Osage Native American culture and folklore, giving this deep cave its current name and history.
More information about the history of Bridal Cave can be learned on any of the hour-long guided tours offered throughout the day.
Take a one-hour guided tour to learn more historical and geological information.
Tours are available year-round, and thanks to its underground nature, the cave is kept at a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) at all times.
Take into account the cave’s temperature and bring a jacket or something to keep you warm while you visit.
Price of admission
- Adults (from 13 years old): €22
- Children (between 5 and 12 years old): €11
- Children under 4 years – Free
Address: 526 Bridal Cave Rd, Camdenton, MO 65020
Campgrounds in The Ozarks
You’ll find no shortage of campsite options in the Ozarks. Whether you’re looking to camp by the lake or in a lush forest, there are plenty of opportunities to pitch a tent or park your van or RV.
The best campsites can be found in the Osage Beach, Lake Of The Ozarks, and Camdenton areas. Here are some suggestions for camps:
There are nearly 200 camping spots available in Missouri’s largest state park. The campgrounds are divided into 4 different park sections, and most offer power hookups and ample parking.
Most camping sections also have restrooms and showers available for your convenience.
Address: 403 MO-134, Kaiser, MO 65047
Majestic Oaks Campground
Nestled in a lush forest, you will discover Majestic Oaks Campground. Spread across 47 wooded acres, this campground offers full RV and campervan sites, as well as tent camping options.
In addition, this campsite has a swimming pool and many hiking trails within its extensive area. You can also participate in games such as volleyball, horseshoes, and others.
Address: 8 Majestic Oaks Road, Eldon, MO 65026
Marvel at Bagnell Dam
Bagnell Dam is the engineering marvel that created the Lake of the Ozarks. And, it is one of the most popular attractions in the area.
The dam is located in the city of Lakeside.
Construction of the dam began in 1929 and was completed in 1931; the impressive structure spans 2,500 feet and impounds the Osage River.
At the time of its construction, it was one of the largest artificial lakes in the world and the largest in the United States.
Check out the Bagnell Dam lookout on Upper Plant Road to truly appreciate this hydroelectric power station.
If you’re looking for classic family fun, walk to the opposite side of the dam on the Bagnell Dam Strip.
Here you will find restaurants for the whole family, shops, and even fun festivals throughout the year.
Note: If you follow the Ozark TV series on Netflix, this area features prominently in the series.
Address: 617 River Road, Lakeside, MO 65049
Find the Hidden Gem at Ha Ha Tonka State Park
This state park offers beautiful scenery of the Ozark area and an interesting look at the park’s past.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park has more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of forested attractions, a place where popular activities include backpacking, hiking, and exploring impressive geological features.
You can also boat, swim, and fish here, thanks to easy access to the water. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the park’s hidden gem; the ruins that remain are of an early 20th-century mansion.
The mansion-turned-hotel burned to the ground in the 1940s, and today the ruins are one of Ha Ha Tonka’s most popular attractions.
A series of trails and boardwalks make it easy for you to experience everything the park has to offer, from its historic castle and geological wonders to its wooded areas and open rock glades.
Picnic spots invite you to enjoy a relaxing lunch in a scenic setting unlike any other in the lake area.
All of these fascinating elements combine to create a park that can be explored and enjoyed again and again.
Address: 1419 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020
Big Surf Waterpark has a variety of rides and attractions for the entire family. So beat the summer heat and enjoy slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool.
Enjoy your visit throughout the day; you can eat and drink at SurfSide Grill.
It is known for having one of the best wave pools in the area. It also has cabins that you can rent by the day. It is an ideal visit for the whole family.
- All Day Surfer (ages 11-59) – €34.95
- All Day Junior Surfer (Ages 4-10) – €29.95
Address: 954 State Highway Y, Linn Creek, MO 65052
Take a Dinner Cruise on The Lake
A great way to end a busy day exploring the Ozarks is to book a dinner cruise on the lake. There are plenty of options to book, but keep in mind that sunset dinner cruises book up quickly.
During dinner, you will enjoy magnificent views and a little history of the region.
Enjoy a Glass of Wine at Seven Springs Winery
The Ozarks offer a plethora of wineries to choose from and even have a wine trail if you’re looking for a full day of wineries.
One of the most popular is Seven Springs Winery, which offers a relaxing breath of fresh air from all your lake of the Ozarks adventures.
Sip some local wine, sample the local cuisine, and relax at this beautiful vineyard in the Missouri foothills.
Address: 846 Winery Hills Estate, Linn Creek, MO 65052
Take in a Show at the Main Street Music Hall
Main Street Music Halls in Osage Beach offers a variety of shows featuring singers, musicians, and comedians. This beautiful music hall has something for all musical tastes and is ideal for families.
Join the Best Of The Main Street Opry for a dose of laughter and family fun as talented singers and musicians regale you with their talent. The music ranges from country hits to classics from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
That winning combination, along with the comedians and fantastic costumes, will make this a night you won’t soon forget.
Address: 5845 Osage Beach Pkwy, Osage Beach, MO 65065
Try the Cinnamon Rolls at Stewart’s
Stewart’s Restaurant on the Bagnell Dam Strip is one of the most famous places in the Ozarks. The star of the show at this place is the gigantic cinnamon roll.
The whole family can enjoy this incredibly huge, delicious, sticky cinnamon roll.
Address: 1151 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Lake Ozarks, MO 65049
Official website to make reservations: https://www.stewartsrestaurants.com/
The historic Willmore Lodge is home to the Bagnell Dam Museum. The lodge itself is on the National Register of Historic Places and retains its rustic charm and nostalgic Adirondack architecture.
At the Bagnell Dam Museum, conveniently located inside the lodge, you’ll learn about the dam’s history and the geological factors involved in the area.
Be sure to walk through the beautiful gardens to enjoy the spectacular views of the lake.
Address: 1 Willmore Lane, Lake Ozarks, MO 65049
Enjoy a Panoramic View with the Helicopters of the Lake of the Ozarks
For those looking for a bit of adventure or an aerial view of the Ozarks, consider taking an aerial tour with Lake Ozarks Helicopters, Inc. Taking a helicopter tour of the area is a fun way to gain perspective.
For more information about the company and the tour available, click here.
Address: 101 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Lake Ozarks, MO 65049
They offer several tours, but some of the most popular are:
Get a spectacular 360-degree aerial view of Bagnell Dam, Million Dollar Row, and the Grand Glaize Bridge. This is the most popular tour offered by Lake Ozarks Helicopters.
Ticket price: €69 per person
On this popular helicopter tour, you’ll see stunning bird’s-eye views of the pristine shores of Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
This trail is around 18 miles of beautiful views of the park.
Ticket price: €99 per person
Discover all that the Ozarks have to offer on a comprehensive helicopter tour that covers approximately 40 miles.
Price from €179 per person
What to Do at Night in the Ozarks
There are many things to do in the Ozarks at night, from romantic dinners to music venues and fireworks.
You have a wide variety of venues to enjoy live performances, such as the Ozarks Amphitheater and Main Street Music Hall; they are the best known.
If you plan a romantic trip, you can enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner on the lake.
No matter what you do in the Missouri Ozarks, you’re sure to have a blast.
Whether it’s relaxing by the lake, hiking, or sipping wine, this incredible destination has something for all types of travelers.
Where to Stay in the Lake Ozark
There is a wide variety of accommodations throughout the Ozarks area. From camping for your tent or RV to romantic hotels or entire houses.
Prices vary depending on dates, type of accommodation, and size. Here are a couple of examples that you will like.
Entire Apartment Lake Ozarks Get Away, with Lake Views.
Margaritaville Lake Resort Lake of the Ozarks, on Osage Beach. A resort with all the services to enjoy a few days of relaxation in the Ozarks.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Do not forget to buy travel insurance to travel to the United States. Hopefully, you don’t need to use it, but it is better to be prepared for any eventuality or emergency.
Choosing travel insurance will depend mainly on the duration and coverage of the insurance. Therefore, it is best to inform yourself well to choose the best insurance available.
If you want, you can review our guide on choosing travel insurance, where you will find comparisons, opinions, and discounts.
Plan Your Trip to Missouri
- Travel Insurance
- Must-Visit Places in Missouri
- Route 66, what to see between Springfield and St Louis, MO
- Best things to do in Springfield, Missouri
Last Updated on 22 March, 2022 by Veronica