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What To Do In The Ozarks

Located on the northeastern edge of the Ozark Mountains in central Missouri, you’ll discover the Lake of the Ozarks. This man-made lake was created by an impoundment of the Osage River in 1931. In its 90 years, the Lake of the Ozarks has grown to be one of Missouri’s premier vacation destinations. Whether you enjoy camping next to the lakeshore or renting a boat, the Ozarks have something for everyone. Use this guide on what to do in the Ozarks to help plan your perfect trip to Missouri. 

What To Do In The Ozarks

Lake Of The Ozarks

Visiting the Lake of the Ozarks means you’ll experience all that this waterway has to offer. Rent a boat for a day on the water, fish off the lakeshore, or enjoy the aquatic views from the shores. Common activities on the lake include water skiing, tubing, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Relax on a pontoon or try your hand at paddle boarding on this beautiful man-made lake. This is also regarded as one of the best fishing lakes in the country. Anglers can hook crappie, bluegill, catfish, walleye, and a wide variety of bass. There truly is something for everyone at Lake of the Ozarks. 

Relax At Lake Of The Ozarks State Park

403 MO-134, Kaiser, MO 65047

As the largest state park in Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks State Park is about 17,000 acres. It provides easy access to both the lush Ozark Mountains and the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. You’ll find iconic hiking on trails like the Trail Of Four Winds, a 13-mile hike that gives you beautiful views of the lake. Or check out the Aquatic Trail, a 10-mile interpretive trail that gives boaters the information they need about the lake. 

Go Underground At Ozark Caverns

Adults – $10/$6 

Teens (13-18) – $8/$6

Children (6-12) – $6/$4 

Under 6 – Free 

Caves are common in the Ozarks thanks to the geological formations of the area. Visiting the Ozark Caverns will take you on an underground adventure complete with helictites and stalagmites. This cavern has an unusual cave phenomenon, as a never-ending shower of water springs from one of the ceiling rocks at Angels Showers. The Ozark Caverns offer 2 different tour options, the traditional tour lasts about an hour and covers all cave topics. And the children’s tour is specifically designed to educate while holding the attention of the kids, this tour lasts around 30 to 45 minutes. 

Camp In The Ozarks

You won’t find a shortage of options for camping in the Ozarks. Whether you are looking to camp lakeside or in a lush forest there are options for pitching a tent or a fun RV respite. Many of the best campsites can be found in the areas of Osage Beach, Lake Of The Ozarks, and Camdenton. Here are a few campground suggestions: 

Lake Of The Ozarks State Park

403 MO-134, Kaiser, MO 65047 

There are nearly 200 campsites available at the largest state park in Missouri. The campsites are split over 4 different sections of the park and most offer electric hookups and ample parking. Most of the camping sections also have flush toilets and showers available for your convenience. 

Majestic Oaks Campground

8 Majestic Oaks Road, Eldon, MO 65026

Nestled into a lush woodland setting you’ll discover Majestic Oaks Campground. Spread over 47 forested acres this campground offers full hookup RV sites, as well as secluded tent camping options. Fun for the whole family this campground offers a pool and many hiking trails within its sprawling acreage. Take part in family lawn games such as volleyball, horseshoes, and playground fun. 

Marvel At Bagnell Dam

617 River Road, Lakeside, MO 65049 

This engineering marvel that created the Lake of the Ozarks, Bagnell Dam, is one of the most popular attractions in the area. Construction on the dam was completed in 1931, the impressive structure spans 2,500 ft and impounds the Osage River. Check out the Bagnell Dam Overlook on the Upper Plant Road to truly appreciate this hydroelectric powerhouse. If you’re looking for some classic family fun stroll to the opposite side of the dam on Bagnell Dam Strip. Here you’ll find family-friendly restaurants, shopping, and even fun festivals throughout the year. 

Discover Bridal Cave

526 Bridal Cave Rd, Camdenton, MO 65020 

Adults (13+) – $22 

Children (5-12) – $11 

Under 4 – Free

Bridal Cave has a long history in the area, it was even around before Lake of the Ozarks was created. Most notably, the Osage Native American culture and folklore centered around the Bridal Cave. Take an hour-long guided tour for more history and geological information. Tours are available year long, and thanks to its subterranean nature, the cave stays at a temperate of 60 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

Find The Hidden Gem At Ha Ha Tonka State Park

1419 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020 

This state park delivers on the beautiful Ozark scenery and offers an interesting look at the area’s ruined past. Ha Ha Tonka State Park is over 3,000 acres of woodland attractions, a place where popular activities include backpacking, hiking, and exploring stunning geological features. You can also boat, swim, and fish here thanks to easy water access. If you’re lucky you’ll find the hidden gem of the park, the ruined remains of an early 20th-century castle. The mansion turned hotel burned to the ground in the 1940s and today the ruins are one of the most popular attractions in Ha Ha Tonka. 

Big Surf Waterpark

954 State Highway Y, Lynn Creek, MO 65052

All-Day Surfer (Ages 11-59) – $34.95 

All-Day Jr Surfer (Ages 4-10) – $29.95 

Big Surf Waterpark has a variety of rides and attractions for the entire family. Beat the heat of summer and enjoy waterslides, flumes, a lazy river, and a wave pool. Have snacks and simple eats at the SurfSide Grill during your visit. Known for having one of the best wave pools in the area and relaxing cabanas for adults, your family will love a day spent at this small but beautiful waterpark. 

Take A Dinner Cruise On The Lake

A great way to end an eventful day of exploring the Ozarks is by booking a dinner cruise on the lake. There are plenty of options for booking, but keep in mind that the sunset dinner cruises book quickly. If you are interested in a sunset dinner cruise it’s a good idea to book early. Get a bit of a history lesson as you cruise along the lake and dine on delicious food. 

Enjoy A Glass Of Wine At Seven Springs Winery 

846 Winery Hills Estate, Linn Creek, MO 65052

The Ozarks offer a plethora of wineries to choose from and even have a wine trail if you are looking for a day full of wineries. One of the most popular is Seven Springs Winery, which offers a relaxing breath of fresh air from all the adventuring of Lake of the Ozarks. Sip some local wine, dine on small bites and relax at this beautiful vineyard on the rolling hills of Missouri. 

A Show At Main Street Music Hall

5845 Osage Beach Pkwy, Osage Beach, MO 65065

The Main Street Music Halls in Osage Beach offers a variety of shows featuring singers, musicians, and comedians. This beautiful music hall has something for every musical taste and is family-friendly. Enjoy the Best Of The Main Street Opry for a dose of laughter and family fun as the talented singers and musicians regale you with their talent. Music varies from country hits to the classics of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. That winning combination coupled with comedians and great costuming will make this an evening you won’t soon forget. 

Try A Killer Cinnamon Roll At Stewart’s

1151 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Lake Ozarks, MO 65049 

Stewart’s Restaurant on the Bagnell Dam Strip is one of the most famous spots in the Ozarks. The star of the show at this place is the gigantic cinnamon roll. The whole family can enjoy this one unbelievably huge, scrumptious, and gooey cinnamon roll. 

Visit The Willmore Lodge

1 Willmore Lane, Lake Ozarks, MO 65049 

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, located conveniently inside the lodge, you’ll learn about the history of the dam and the geological factors at play in the area. Make sure to walk through the beautiful gardens for spectacular lake views. 

Get a Birds Eye View With Lake Ozarks Helicopters

2101 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Lake Ozarks, MO 65049 

For those looking for a little 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 on the company and tour available click here. They offer several tours but some of the most popular are: 

Bagnell Dam Special

$69 per person 

Get a spectacular 360-degree aerial view of Bagnell Dam, Million Dollar Row, and Grand Glaize Bridge. This is the most popular tour that Lake Ozarks Helicopters offers. 

State Park Tour

$99 per person 

On this popular helicopter tour, you’ll see the breathtaking birds-eye view of the untouched shorelines of Lake of the Ozarks State Park.  This tour is around 18 miles of gorgeous views of the park. 

Ultimate Tour

$179 per person 

See everything that the Ozarks have to offer on one all-encompassing helicopter tour that covers approximately 40 miles.  

No matter what you do in Missouri’s Ozarks region, you are sure to have an amazing time. Whether relaxing on the lake, hiking, or sipping wine this incredible destination has something for the whole family.