The long and winding Lake of the Ozarks is among Missouri’s leading vacation spots today. It is located in the central parts of Missouri on the Ozark Mountains’ northern edge. It has over 1,100 miles of shoreline and offers plenty of attractions worth visiting. You’ll also get the chance to indulge in some exciting activities during your visit to the Lake of the Ozarks.
They include camping on its shores, boating, and golfing with some awe-inspiring views of the water. You’ll also come across some historic lodges, water parks, and swinging bridges. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best places you can explore at Lake of the Ozarks:
1. Lake of the Ozarks State Park
This state park is the largest in Missouri. It surrounds the south-eastern arm of Grand Glaize of the Lake of the Ozarks. You can enjoy pleasing views of the lush Ozark Mountains from the lakeside campsites. Spending the night on the vast shoreline would truly be an unforgettable experience.
At either end of the Lake of the Ozarks are two State Park Marinas. At both these marinas, you can get fishing supplies, boat rentals, and some useful fishing tips. Above all, the sandy beaches are undoubtedly among the best in the state. If you wish to go hiking, take the 13-mile Trail of Four Winds.
It will give you the much-needed exercise besides the excellent views. You’ll find several other shorter hikes spread throughout the park’s south-east region. Also located within the park’s boundaries are the Ozark Caverns. You can explore them with the help of a guided tour.
2. Bagnell Dam
The construction of this magnificent dam was completed in 1931. A visit to Bagnell Dam would make you appreciate the engineering marvel that created the Lake of the Ozarks. This dam has been built on the Osage River. It measures over 2,500 feet and helps in the generation of hydroelectric power.
Your trip to the Bagnell Dam will give you the chance to explore several family-friendly restaurants in its surroundings. You’ll also get to visit some unique shops. This area is also the place where Hot Summer Nights motor festival is hosted ever year.
3. Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Encompassing over 3,000 acres of karst and woodland, the Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers some charming views. It is located near Camdenton to the south of Bagnell Dam. While on a visit to this state park, you can explore its breathtaking geological features. There are caves, sinkholes, and a natural bridge in this park. As it provides easy access to water, you can also indulge in fishing, boating, and swimming.
You’ll find ruins of an early 20th century castle near the park’s northwest entrance. The walls of this ruined castle date back to the beginning of the 20th century. Another ghostly ruin you’ll come across in this park is a burned mansion-turned-hotel.
4. Bridal Cave
Bridal Cave has played an important role in the Osage culture and folklore. You’ll get to know more about the history of this cave by taking an hour-long guided tour. Such tours are offered throughout the day. Both seasoned adventurers and young explorers can have loads of fun during their visit to Bridal Cave.
However, the guided tours are the only means available to explore the cave in detail. Owing to the subterranean nature of this cave, the temperature in it stays at a comfortable 60-Degree Fahrenheit. Once you get inside the cave, you’ll witness stunning giant columns and mysterious lakes.
5. The Swinging Bridges of Brumley
Joseph A. Dice was a renowned swinging bridge builder from Missouri. He was well-known for ‘eyeballing’ the designs of his bridges. He built the 414-foot Grand Auglaize Bridge and the 134-foot Miller Creek Bridge. Both these bridges are located within the Lake of the Ozarks State Park’s south-eastern boundary.
These two steel-suspension bridges are still popular among the visitors of the park. The area surrounding these two bridges comprises dense woodland. You can enjoy swimming in the Auglaize Creek’s shallows. If you want to have a great camping experience, use the primitive camping sites located ashore.
6. Big Surf Waterpark
If you wish to take a break from the heat of the Missouri summer, head to Big Surf Waterpark. It is located to the south of Osage Beach and offers some fantastic features. You’ll get to enjoy lazy rivers, raging rapids, and other water-based attractions here. This water park has a range of offerings for visitors of different age groups and swimming abilities.
Among the more unique water rides are the Zambezi Falls water half-pipe. You’ll also be thrilled to drop into the 30-foot wide Space Bowl. Don’t miss a session in Big Surf Waterpark’s wave pool, which has the capacity of 375,000 gallons. The activity pool is yet another feature of this water park, which offers you a thrilling aquatic obstacle course.
7. Willmore Lodge
The historic Willmore Lodge was constructed by the Union Electric Company in 1930. It is a fascinating building made of wooden logs and is surrounded by water. Willmore Lodge houses the Lake of the Ozarks Visitors Center. It would be your first stop when you visit the Lake of the Ozarks.
While exploring this building, you’ll certainly be impressed by its architectural aesthetics. The visitor center gives more details on the things that you can check out in the area. You can also take in the panoramic views of the lake from the building’s observation deck.
8. Golf courses at Lake of the Ozarks
Nearly all the golf courses at Lake of the Ozarks are open to the public. Golfing is one of the popular things that visitors indulge in while getting around in the area. You’ll come across some lakeside courses that offer expansive views besides a great golfing experience.
These golf courses cater to players of all skill levels. The golf course at Osage National Golf Resort has 27 holes, which allow you to play some great rounds of golf. The Osage National Golf Resort is located at Osage Beach. You’ll also enjoy playing a round at Bear Creek Valley Golf Club.
Among the best public golf courses is Old Kinderhook. It is located to the south of Osage beach and is a championship course. You’ll like its lakeside setting, characterized by rolling fairways and long putts.