Top Things to Do in Lake of the Ozarks | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Lake of the Ozarks

Settle in at your choice of Lake of the Ozarks resorts, cabins or hotels, then spend your days exploring the vast lake or the towns like Osage Beach that surround it. See our top picks for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

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.

Lake of the Ozarks


Bagnell Dam Strip Taste fudge or dine at a family-friendly restaurant. Play arcade games like Skee-Ball. Buy a souvenir T-shirt, or attend a car show. It’s all on this main drag in Lake Ozark.

Bridal Cave An Osage Native American tale of heartbreak, love and marriage centers here. Hour-long tours showcase mineral formations, like soda straws and draperies, and subterranean Mystery Lake at the Camdenton attraction.

Bridal Cave

Bridal Cave

Bridgeport Boat Rental Choose from speedboats, pontoons and more in Osage Beach.

Grandma’s Candy Kitchen Give your sweet tooth what it wants—hand-dipped chocolates, 20 flavors of homemade fudge and 40 kinds of saltwater taffy— on The Strip in Lake Ozark.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park More than 15 miles of trails and the striking ruins of an early-20th-century stone mansion—along with caves and natural bridges—draw visitors to the 3,700-acre Camdenton spot.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Hook’em Guide Service Fishing guides happily teach newbies how to bait up, but they’ll also show experienced anglers 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 Kaiser.

Willmore Lodge When you swing by Lake Ozark’s historical visitors center for maps and brochures, leave time to explore the museum exhibits highlighting Bagnell Dam’s construction.

Willmore Lodge

Willmore Lodge


Baxter’s Lakeside Grille By the toll bridge in Lake Ozark, Baxter’s has one of the best sunset-viewing spots. Pair skewers of grilled shrimp with a Baxter’s Sunset: part mango margarita and part raspberry daiquiri.

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.

H. Toad’s Bar and Grill This waterfront spot serves chops, filets, seafood and pastas, but the crowd is here in Lake Ozark for dancing to live music Friday and Saturday nights.

J. Bruner’s Restaurant An upscale dining option in Osage Beach, Bruner’s delights diners with hand-cut steaks and hand-battered onion rings.

JJ’s at the Copper Pot It’s a great spot in Laurie for special occasions. Start in the piano lounge for live music, then indulge in prime rib and lobster tail before finishing with a vanilla bean crème brûlée. JJ's at the Copper Pot on Facebook

Old Kinderhook Resort Two classy dining options await guests at this Camdenton golf resort, part of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail. The Hook Cafe serves breakfast and lunch; The Trophy Room plates entrees like Korean- style sea bass and a veal rib chop with wild mushroom risotto and fried shallots.

On the Rise Bakery and Woodfired Bistro A cafe amid Osage Beach’s big-box stores serves breakfasts of baked vanilla bean French toast or lobster and chive omelets, plus gourmet lunches with pepper- Parmesan potato chips.

Shady Gators Family-friendly by day; spring break party by night. The Lake Ozark spot plays to the Cajun theme with menu items such as blackened catfish and red beans and rice.

Shorty Pants Lounge On a quieter part of the lake near Osage Beach, you’ll find authentic Cajun cuisine in a sophisticated setting. Try the Alligator Eggs (baked cheese-stuffed jalapeños wrapped in prosciutto).

Sunrise Cantina Enormous chipotle burritos make the drive to Sunrise Beach, on the lake’s west side, worthwhile. Sunrise Cantina on Facebook


Bass Point Resort A relaxed vibe and affordable cabins and houses have kept this family-run resort on the lake’s quieter west side in business for more than 50 years.

Lake Breeze Resort Cottages and condo-like units take advantage of a grassy lakeshore. In addition to a pool, there’s a sand beach, fire pit and boat rentals.

The Lodge of Four Seasons Beyond its Rat Pack-Era lobby with a sunken fireplace, you’ll discover a polished retreat with 358 rooms and suites, a large marina, restaurants, golf courses, Japanese gardens, and a spa.

Old Kinderhook Golfers love staying here to play the 18-hole Tom Weiskopf course. Relax afterward in the spa or pool.

Point Randall Resort Guests at the family-owned destination enjoy clean lakeside cabins and cottages, a fishing dock and swim dock, boat rentals, a heated pool, beach, and 1,000 feet of shoreline.

Tan-Tar-A Resort On a lakefront resort spread over 420 acres, guests enjoy an indoor water park, horseback riding, water sports, a game room and the Windrose on the Water restaurant.

For information: Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau

Add Your Comment