Lake of the Ozarks Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Lake of the Ozarks Trip Guide

Book the lodging that feels right to you, then wake each morning and let your mood guide your day. The nice thing about a destination this big is that no matter what you crave, you’ll find it.
Lake of the Ozarks.
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Lake water slide.
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Boating on Lake of the Ozarks.
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Lake of the Ozarks has a reputation as a full-throttle boating vacation destination. And there are plenty of activities (waterskiing, tubing, biking or going for a zoom in a speedboat) that will get you buzzing on this massive reservoir near the center of Missouri. But that doesn't mean there aren't quiet places to drop a fishing line or just dangle your feet in the water. The lake itself is vast: more than 1,100 miles of shore and coves snaking out in all directions, which means that even on summer weekends, you can find elbow room.

You can also find a huge variety of lodgings: rustic cabins, newer condos, fully equipped houseboats, family-oriented resorts and luxurious, pampering retreats. The restaurants around the lake offer the same range.

What to do

Bagnell Dam Strip Save one afternoon for posing for old-time photos and riding bumper cars near Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark. Bonus: You’ll find some cute shops that don’t feel touristy. (800) 451-4117; lakeareachamber.com

Bridgeport Boat Rental Choose from speedboats, pontoons, fishing boats and more. In Osage Beach. (573) 348-2280; bridgeportboatrental.com

Ha Ha Tonka State Park A cool relief map near the gift shop illustrates the park's topography and geography, including more than 15 miles of varied trails and the striking ruins of an early-20th-century-castle. Near Camdenton. Free. (573) 346-2986; mostateparks.com

Hook’em Guide Service Friendly fishing guides happily teach newbies how to bait up, but they also show experienced fishermen the best spots on the lake. (573) 216-2409

Lake of the Ozarks State Park Sandy beaches, 12 hiking trails, horseback riding, boat rentals and lantern-lit tours of Ozark Caverns attract visitors to this leafy park in Osage Beach. Free. (573) 348-2694; mostateparks.com

Spa Shiki Sign up for a soothing mani-pedi or massage at The Lodge of Four Seasons’ high-end spa, and then relish the extras—comfy chaises, spa whirlpools and fabulous three-head showers. In Lake Ozark. (573) 365-8108; spashiki.com

Willmore Lodge When you swing by Lake Ozark’s historic visitors center for maps and brochures, leave time to explore the museum exhibits highlighting Bagnell Dam’s construction. (800) 451-4117; willmorelodge.com

Where to eat

Baxter’s Lakeside Grille By the toll bridge in Lake Ozark, Baxter’s has one of the best sunset spots. Pair a swordfish Caprese sandwich with the signature Baxter’s Sunset: part mango margarita and part raspberry daiquiri. See reviews and ratings. (573) 365-2669; baxterslakesidegrille.com

Blue Heron A long-standing favorite, Blue Heron offers fine dining and a panoramic view of the lake. Arrive early to avoid the dinner rush. (573) 365-4646; blueheronpottedsteer.com

Grandma’s Candy Kitchen Give your sweet tooth what it wants: penny candy, hand-dipped chocolates, homemade fudge and saltwater taffy. On The Strip in Lake Ozark. (573) 365-2624; grandmas-candy.com

J. Bruner’s Restaurant An upscale dining option in Osage Beach, Bruner’s delights with hand-cut steaks and hand-battered onion rings. See reviews and ratings. (573) 348-2966; jbruners.com

Old Kinderhook Resort Two classy dining options await guests at Camdenton’s golf resort, part of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail. The Hook Cafe serves breakfast and lunch; the Trophy Room serves casual dinners. (888) 346-4949; oldkinderhook.com

On the Rise Bakery and Bistro A cafe tucked amid Osage Beach’s big-box stores serves gourmet lunches with pepper-Parmesan potato chips. See reviews and ratings. (573) 348-4224; ontherisebakery.com

Shorty Pants On a quieter part of the lake near Osage Beach, you’ll find authentic Cajun cuisine in a sophisticated setting. (573) 302-1745; shortypantslounge.com

Sunrise Cantina Enormous chipotle burritos make the drive to Sunrise Beach, on the lake’s west side, worthwhile. (573) 374-8185; sunrisecantina.net

Where to stay

Bass Point Resort A relaxed atmosphere and affordable cabins have kept this family-run resort on the lake’s quieter west side in business for more than 40 years. From $95. See reviews and ratings. (573) 374-5205; basspoint.com

The Lodge of Four Seasons Beyond its Rat Pack-Era lobby with a sunken fireplace, you’ll discover a polished retreat with 359 rooms and suites, a large marina, restaurants and a dance club. On Horseshoe Bend. From $119. See reviews and ratings. (888) 265-5500; 4seasonsresort.com

Tan-Tar-A Resort On a sprawling lakefront resort spread over 420 acres, guests enjoy an indoor water park, horseback riding, water sports and a game room. Couples can do dinner at the Windrose restaurant. From $99. See reviews and ratings. (800) 826-8272; tan-tar-a.com

For information: Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (800) 386-5253; funlake.com

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