How-To: A Lake of the Ozarks Family Weekend
Follow our itinerary to leave logistics behind and focus on family fun
By Jackie Tucker
Tucked away amidst thousands of wooded acres in the heart of Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks is the premier lake resort destination for the Midwest. Long sunny days are filled with boating, fishing, golfing, hiking, shopping and so much more. With plenty to do both on and off the water, it’s easy to see why Lake of the Ozarks won Best Recreational Lake in the nation, chosen by readers of USA Today’s 10Best.
About a month ago, when my family finally got a rare weekend away to enjoy the lake life, we didn’t want to waste one precious moment figuring out what to do next, how to get there or where to eat afterward. So, my husband, Sam, and I worked out a little guide ahead of time so that we could simply enjoy the time with our two boys. [Read the complete Lake of the Ozarks Family Weekend story]
Grandpa's Loving Fishing Lessons in Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Learning to fish with Grandpa imparts lifelong lessons
By Lorry Myers
My father was a fisherman, which says a lot about who he was. Dad fished for the sport and fished for the fish and fished for his peace of mind. Mostly though, he fished because his father had fished with him. Dad wanted his six children to have memories like that. Through the years, Dad cast his line in rivers and ponds and springs, but his favorite fishing spot has always been Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. It’s the best place to teach a kid to fish.
The readers of USA Today’s 10Best chose Lake of the Ozarks as the “Best Recreational Lake” in the nation. Swimming, boating, camping and shopping, the Lake of the Ozarks has something for everyone. Miniature golf, go-carts and more than one water park, the lake makes you feel like every day is a vacation. But for my dad, it was the curve of the crannies and coves and the beauty of the bluffs and beaches that called to him. He loved the sound of the engines and the smell of the motors and the rock of the boat in the wake. He wanted his children to love it too. [Read the complete Family Fishing story]
Lake of the Ozarks’ Best Wedding Venues
Pro (photographer) tips on where to capture your commitments
By Alan Wohlgemut, Lighter Focus Photography
When people think of having a destination wedding, they may not think of the Midwest—they should. In the middle of Missouri is Lake of the Ozarks, a unique area on a huge lake’s shores, with a coastline of sheer cliffs and tall oak trees.
The scenery is just part of the benefit of getting married here. Wedding venues in Lake of the Ozarks have amenities to accommodate every type of nuptial. That might seem like a bold statement, but I’ve seen it. As a wedding photographer, I’ve snapped everything from hundreds of friends and family from all over the country partying on a rooftop overlooking the lake at The Lodge of the Four Seasons, to an intimate beach ceremony by the water, sand between toes while the sun sets at Tan-Tar-A Resort. [Read the complete Unique Weddings story]
Living it up at Lake of the Ozarks, MO
By Jackie Tucker
Everyone knows that Lake of the Ozarks is the Midwest’s premier lake-resort destination. Readers of USA Today’s 10Best have voted it the Best Recreational Lake in the nation. But it also ranks high as the perfect girlfriends’ getaway. With distinctive shopping, the region’s best wines and no shortage of fun in the sun, it hits every necessary indulgence required for me and my squad to relax and do some serious sisterhood bonding.
Other Lake of the Ozarks Articles
Explore the five best shops and shopping centers in Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Exploring the seemingly endless 1,150-plus miles of shoreline is one way to experience Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, voted “Best Recreational Lake” by readers of USA Today’s 10Best. But at some point, you have to come ashore. When you do, you’ll discover that life on land is just as relaxed as it is on the shimmering water; especially at local shops. The friendly, colorful shop owners will help you select that perfect something that captures the carefree feeling of lake life to bring home with you as a reminder of your blissful vacation time.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/must-see-shops.
"Discover why Lake of the Ozarks, MO is great all year long"
When the Weather Cools Down, Hit the Lake
Now that readers of USA Today’s website 10Best have named it the “Best Recreational Lake” in the nation, the whole world knows that Lake of the Ozarks is the premier summer playground of the lower Midwest. From late May to early September, the lake is vibrant with vacationers who come from near and far to enjoy its mixture of outdoor activities, camping, fishing, water sports, golf, attractions, wineries, an indoor waterpark, fine dining and outlet shopping. But does everything suddenly stop when Labor Day rolls around? No way! As a growing legion of savvy lake goers know, the good times and memorable moments at Lake of the Ozarks carry through every season of the year.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/year-round-fun.
"Reflection on Lake of the Ozarks"
Life changes; Sunset stays the same
Sunset has been my favorite time of day since my first visit to Lake of the Ozarks, and I remember my very first sunset on the lake like it was yesterday. I must have been about seven or eight years old. My parents had taken my little sister, Sarah, and me to Lake of the Ozarks for vacation. We had borrowed my uncle’s RV and were watching the sun dip below the horizon from our campsite. Suddenly, everything seemed magical. Vivid in my memories are the bright pink color of the sky, the song of the crickets, the smell of our campfire and the gentle hum of the homemade ice cream maker going in the background.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/Media/Default/Stories/sunset.html.
"A Game of Catch(ing Up)"
Reconnecting with friends through a fun-filled guys getaway to Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Last month, after coming back from a grueling business trip, Steve had enough. He called me and we decided that it was time to get the gang back together again. We wanted a place that was centrally located, not too expensive and where we could fish, golf and hike together—just like the old times.
After looking at a few different locations, Lake of the Ozarks came to mind—it was a place we’d all talked about visiting while we were studying at Mizzou. While we were all spread out now, it was an easy road trip for everyone.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/guys-getaway.
"Find your best accommodations in Lake of the Ozarks, MO"
Downhome to Uptown, Lake of the Ozarks lodging has it all
Now that Lake of the Ozarks has been voted America’s “Best Recreational Lake” by readers of USA Today’s 10Best, an ever-increasing number of folks across the land are honing in on the lake as an A-list destination for year-round fun. It goes without saying that the key to having a memorable vacation comes with making informed decisions on where to go—and where to stay. In the past, making these choices could be a perilous gamble, but stress no more, planners of outings and seekers of leisure-time fun! From rustic to royal, whether for two or 200, Lake of the Ozarks has you covered.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/lodging-options.
"The Lake Life is Calling"
An extended family remembers spectacular RV and campground getaways in Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Burgers on the grill? Check. Cold drinks in the fridge? Check. The giant calendar with everyone’s summer schedule set up in the dining room? Check. Everything is ready for our family’s annual “Plan the Summer Vacation” party. For the last ten years, three generations of Bradfords have gathered at my in-laws’ house to plan our summer camping trip to Lake of the Ozarks. There’s a reason it was voted the Best Recreational Lake in the US by USA TODAYreaders, and we look forward to going every summer. Now our yearly party has almost become as much of a tradition as the vacation itself.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/family-camping-trip.
"Exploring Ha Ha Tonka State Park"
Family Adventure at One of the Top Four State Parks in the Nation
To me, bringing my kids on hikes is an obligation. It’s one that I inherited from my parents who spent practically every weekend on a trail. It wasn’t always easy (for them or for me): there were heavy baby backpacks, the application/battle of sunblock, the numerous diaper-changing stops, the boxes of animal crackers to quell any sniveling. But I knew that one day my kids would thank me—just as I had thanked my parents.
But today, it’s time to explore Ha Ha Tonka State Park with Sam, 12, and August, 10. The park has 3,600 acres, 16 miles of spectacular scenery and plenty of scope for exploration—from paved walkways to caves to more rugged, challenging hiking trails.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/exploring-ha-ha-tonka-state-park.
"Let Nature Take It's Course"
A father and future son-in-law bond over golf in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
“Have fun,” my daughter said to me nervously over the phone. “And don’t judge his golf game, Dad. Be nice.” I smiled at my future son-in-law, standing across from me, and reassured my only daughter that her fiancé and I were going to have a great time. Sarah and Chris had been dating for more than a year, but because we live three hours apart—they’re in St. Louis—I hadn’t been able to spend as much time with her future husband as I would like. He and I both enjoy golf. So, I invited him on a weekend golf trip to Lake of the Ozarks in an effort to get to know him better.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/bonding-over-golf.
"Reeling In a Winner at Lake of the Ozarks"
An interview with angler Jon Hertzler, winner of the 2015 Big Bass Bash
Jon Hertzler’s fervent love for Lake of the Ozarks’ fishing grew even hotter last fall when he won the Anglers in Action Big Bass Bash.
“I am addicted to fishing the lake,” says Hertzler, an angler from Wichita, KS.
His fondness for the lake’s great bass fishing prompted Hertzler to enter the Big Bass Bash spring and fall events a few years ago. The biggest bass Hertzler had ever caught at the lake was a 7¼-pounder, but he never caught a heavyweight fish in the Bash until this past fall. Read entire article at Funlake.com/reeling-in-a-winner.
"Romance in Bridal Cave"
An engaged couple revisits the location of their first date
“You’re engaged!” My fiancé’s sister, Amy, squealed and gave me a huge hug as I stepped through the door. Fiancé—I was still getting used to calling Chris that. He had proposed a few days before at my favorite restaurant in our hometown, and now we were taking our annual trip to Lake of the Ozarks. Our families have been friends since we were kids, and we’ve all been coming to Lake of the Ozarks together for as long as I can remember. We were the last to arrive at the cabin, and everyone was crowding around to offer their congratulations.
“You know, our first official date was here in Lake of the Ozarks,” Chris reminded my dad. Read entire article at Funlake.com/romance-in-bridal-cave.
"Shopping Lake of the Ozarks"
Retail scores and lakeside family R&R ready me for a return to the workforce
Now that my two kids are both in school, I’m re-entering the job market after being a stay-at-home mom for eight years. A friend helped me update my résumé in a way that convincingly presents my stay-at-home-mother management skills as the assets they are.
Lucky for me, our upcoming vacation had just the place to help me prepare for this next big step.
Our family has long enjoyed vacationing at the Lake of the Ozarks. We’re not alone—just this year the readers of USA Today voted it as America’s favorite recreational lake. Read entire article at Funlake.com/shopping-lake-of-the-ozarks
"Lake of the Ozarks Dining & Entertainment"
Experiencing Lake of the Ozarks for the first time
“You’re going to love it, trust me. My family has been coming here since before I was born.”
My boyfriend, Sam, was bouncing up and down in the driver’s seat like an overactive toddler. I couldn’t help but smile. Not being a native Missourian, this was my first trip to Lake of the Ozarks—he was clearly excited to show me his childhood vacation spot.
And I was just as excited to see it. I did my research and discovered Lake of the Ozarks won USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards for both the number one Best Recreational Lake in the nation and the Top Four State Parks in the nation. Read entire article at Funlake.com/lake-of-the-ozarks-entertainment
"New at the Lake - Lodging Renovations"
America’s favorite lakeside resorts get spiffy with added amenities that appeal to all
Americans love the water, whether they are splashing in it or just admiring it. When it comes to lakes, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks earned top billing from readers of USA Today in 2015, besting Lake Tahoe, Lake Michigan and Lake Powell for the prestigious “Best Recreational Lake” award. With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, this reservoir from the Osage River has earned its nickname “Fun Lake” for the many water-centered activities it offers visitors.
Recently, major resorts in the area have been busy unveiling new and improved experiences for guests. So take a seat, get comfortable and read on as you imagine what awaits you on your next lakeside getaway. Read entire article at Funlake.com/new-at-lake-of-the-ozarks.
"Autumn at the Lake"
A Family Tradition in Lake of the Ozarks
As a child, I enjoyed many a fine summer’s day at Lake of the Ozarks. But my family had another lake tradition I came to appreciate even more, one that started when a relative gave my parents a Pentax 35mm camera. Delighted with their new toy, my family acquired a couple of how-to books and set about seeing what could be done with it. My family’s blossoming interest in photography took us back to the lake the following fall—and many autumns thereafter—as we visited one campground, trail and scenic vista after another in search of the next perfect shot. And now, every year around mid-September, a feeling comes over me—an internal yearning that heralds the change of seasons. Like the geese homing south, I know where I’ll be going before October’s end. Read entire article at Funlake.com/autumn-at-the-lake.
"Lake of the Ozarks waterparks & Water Slides"
Wet, wild or mild—find your ideal place under the sun this summer
Waterparks, an American symbol of summer, are a great place to soak up sunshine. That’s why there are more than 1,200 keeping us cool on scorching summer days. And they’re popular: in 2012, 85 million people visited at least one.
Waterslides are a way to release your inner eight-year-old and relive those carefree childhood memories with your own children and grandchildren. Wholesome, safe and fun, waterparks rank high with both parents and kids.
Watersliding at Lake of the Ozarks The main attraction of waterparks, of course, is the waterslide. Did you know that waterslides have been in use since the aqueduct was invented? But they were functional, not fun, used as time- and energy-saving transportation. Workers would slide through the tubes, descending from the tops of the structure to make repairs at the base.
The precursor to the modern waterslide dates to 1923. The Sellner Water-Toboggan Slide—an enormous slide made of wood and suspended over water—was the brainchild of Herbert Sellner of Minnesota. Thrill seekers climbed to the top of the slide with their sleds and then slid down the contraption at high speeds.
The rest, as they say, is history. Read entire article at Funlake.com/water-fun.
"Paddles A Plenty"
The first time Lisa and David Bertel failed at stand-up paddleboarding, they were hooked. They tried, they failed, they splashed and they stood right back up.
“It is one of those sports that if you try it, you love it, you live it, you want to do it all the time,” Lisa Bertel said. “Every so often you find someone who says it’s just OK. We tried it, and that was it—that was the end. This is what we want to do.”
So much so that the Bertels started a business out of stand-up paddleboarding. Read entire article at Funlake.com/paddles-a-plenty.
"Links to the Sweet Spot"
Discover top-rated golf courses with an unbeatable view in Lake of the Ozarks
Aim for the lake. The flag is just shy of the water. A few boats nod in the background while their occupants watch the game. A well-manicured carpet of grass slopes downward between the tee and the flag. Touches of red and yellow decorate the trees alongside the fairway. This is Lake of the Ozarks golf.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/lake-golfing.
"Don't Miss Missouri's Top 10 Lake Attractions"
Fun for all ages in Lake of the Ozarks
With spring underway and summer on the horizon, there’s no better way to beat the mounting heat than retreating to this lakefront sanctuary in central Missouri. Equal parts resort town and family destination, Lake of the Ozarks promises a smattering of activities for kids of all walks (and their adults, too). Have a long weekend—or better yet, full week—to explore everything this eclectic destination has to offer? Read entire article at Funlake.com/top-lake-attractions.
"On the water at Lake of the Ozarks"
The Midwest’s favorite lake lures visitors with world-class boating
Living in the Arizona desert makes you long for water. So when my friend, Erin’s, parents suggests a group trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, it’s an immediate yes. Erin’s parents, Helen and Bill, are the kind of 70-somethings who breed bullmastiffs, brew their own beer and regularly drive their RV across the country (they left the big rig at home this time). In short, they’re exactly the kind of people I love to hang out with. Read entire article at Funlake.com/on-the-water.
"On the fly!"
Water sports at Lake of the Ozarks
We launched our Lake of the Ozarks water sports getaway with a leisurely afternoon cruise aboard a rented state-of-the-art pontoon boat. Shaded by a convertible canopy and well stocked with food and drink, it was a classic party boat affair for four friends. With the bright sun glinting off the water, listening to some Jimmy Buffet and taking the occasional plunge for a swim around the boat was what we had in mind for the first day’s physical activity. Everything was going according to plan...until we saw a Flyboard in action. Read entire article at Funlake.com/lake-water-sports.
"Spring Vacation at Lake of the Ozarks"
Family fun is in full bloom
Sunsets over Lake of the Ozarks are nothing short of spectacular. One night the orange sun might be ablaze against a clear sky; the next night it might hint at its presence with shades of magenta and lavender streaking the sky, muted by cozy, billowing clouds. We chose this location for its beauty as much as the available fun.
Read entire article at Funlake.com/spring-vacation.
Families united with fun and adventure at Lake of the Ozarks
It’s not as unusual as you might think. Since 1949, more than 2,500 couples have exchanged vows in Bridal Cave, named by Glamour magazine as one of the nation’s top ten unique wedding venues. It was June 1964 when my parents were married inside Bridal Cave, the entrance of which overlooks a scenic expanse of Lake of the Ozarks from the side of Thunder Mountain. When they announced their intention to reaffirm their vows at the same spot for their upcoming 50th anniversary, the celebration quickly turned into a family reunion. Fueled by a flood of enthusiastic responses from our far-flung clan, there were ultimately 28 attendees who convened for a very special Lake of the Ozarks vacation. And why not? For a group with ages ranging from 3 to 73, you couldn’t script a better setting to guarantee fun times and happy memories. Read entire article at Funlake.com/full-circle.
"Reeling One In"
Lake of the Ozarks makes for memorable fishing
As an outdoors writer, I’ve fished some of the finest lakes and rivers in the United States, but throughout the years, I have discovered there’s no place like home.
Lake of the Ozarks has gifted me with chart-topping fishing trips. My wife and I moved from St. Louis to the lake area in 1982, but I had previously fished the lake with my dad, uncle and some neighbors.
In my fishing scrapbook, there are three photos of us holding stringers loaded with crappie—trophies from our spring trips. Read entire article at Funlake.com/reeling-one-in.
"The gift of Friendship"
Rediscovering the Magic of the Holidays in Lake of the Ozarks
Soon after Thanksgiving, mere hours after the leftovers were in the fridge, my best friend, Emily, and I were on the road headed to Lake of the Ozarks for a relaxing weekend filled with shopping and entertainment.
With my day-to-day responsibilities in the rearview mirror, I exhaled for what felt like the first time in months. I had been running myself ragged doing things for everyone but myself: Carpooling to soccer tournaments, heading the PTA fundraiser, hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws—all 32 of them! Emily knew that I was hanging by a thread and if I didn’t take some time for myself, I would unravel altogether. She had fond memories of spending time in Lake of the Ozarks during the holidays and thought that I would enjoy the quiet pace of the enchanting lake town. I mentioned it to my husband and he encouraged the trip, assuring me that he could handle the household for a weekend. Read entire article at Funlake.com/the-gift-of-friendship.
"Holiday on the Lake"
Find family fun and adventure this holiday season at Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks is as American as apple pie and as archetypal as Huck Finn. It’s one of the world’s largest manmade lakes and it’s only a few hours drive from Kansas City. We didn’t have much to bring, just our winter garb: Parkas, mittens, hats and gloves.
As a busy family, Sunday nights had become our only “free” night when we weren’t pulled in different directions. We were hoping for a hiatus from electronics, sports commitments, work and school. We needed to reconnect. A cozy cabin by the Lake seemed like the answer. Read entire article at Funlake.com/holiday-on-the-lake.