More than 5 million visitors come each year to play at the lake. Boat to dockside eateries, such as Shady Gators, or hop in the car to explore small towns like Osage Beach and Lake Ozark. See our top picks for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
June 20, 2012
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Do

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. lakeareachamber.com

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. bridalcave.com

Bridal Cave

Bridgeport Boat Rental Choose from speedboats, pontoons, Jet Skis and more in Osage Beach. lakeoftheozarks.com

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. grandmas-candy.com

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. mostateparks.com

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

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. mostateparks.com

Lake Ozark Fishing Guide Service Guides happily teach newbies how to bait up, but they’ll also show experienced anglers the best spots. fishinglakeoftheozarks.com

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. funlake.com

Willmore Lodge

Eat

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: mango margarita and raspberry daiquiri served side by side. baxterslakesidegrille.com

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. htoads.com

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 pan-seared Chilean sea bass and marinated flank steak with jalapeño-cheddar grits. oldkinderhook.com

On the Rise Restaurant 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. ontherisebakery.com

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. shadygators.com

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 Jack Daniels glazed chicken or the creamy crawfish and shrimp étouffée. shortypantslounge.com

Sunrise Cantina Enormous chipotle burritos make the drive to Sunrise Beach, on the lake’s west side, a worthwhile trip. Other specialties: carne asada and grilled chicken tenders with fresco cheese. Sunrise Cantina on Facebook

Stay

Bass Point Resort A relaxed vibe and affordable cabins and houses have kept this family resort on the lake’s quieter west side in business for more than 60 years. Boat, swim or play disc golf. basspoint.com

Lake Breeze ResortCottages and condo-like units take advantage of a grassy lakeshore. In addition to a pool, there’s a sand beach, firepit, playground and boat rentals. lakebreezeresort.com

The Lodge of Four Seasons Beyond its lobby with a sunken fireplace, you’ll discover a polished retreat with 358 rooms and suites, a large marina, restaurants, golf, four pools, and a spa. 4seasonsresort.com

The Lodge of Four Seasons. Photo courtesy of the lodge

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

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

MargaritaVILLE Lake Resort A $10 million renovation gave a beachy new vibe and updated rooms to the former Tan-Tar-A, a 20-acre Osage Beach spot. margaritavilleresortlakeoftheozarks.com

For more information funlake.com