Explore the five best shops and shopping centers in Lake of the Ozarks, MO
By Christine Smith
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.
That’s what happened to me. I chatted breezily with many of Lake of the Ozarks’ shop owners, and felt like a bona fide local by the end of my trip. Shopping here is a cultural immersion—a rapid way to get a taste of lake life with your feet on dry land.
The Landing on Main Street
I visited this quaint complex in Osage Beach—built like a boardwalk—three times during my stay and still felt like I could go back and see something new. The anchor store here is the sizable Blair’s Landing, a women’s boutique carrying clothing brands such as Lola P, Simply Southern and Umgee, and accessory brands like Vera Bradley and Spartina. And, men, you get your own room at Blair’s: the Bungalow. Here you’ll find resort wear from Tommy Bahama and sporting wear from Kuhl, plus many other brands.
Chestnut Ridge is Blair’s Landing’s sister store, offering an extensive line of Brighton products and Crabtree & Evelyn soaps and lotions. But the masterful displays of holiday home decor items are what got me at Chestnut Ridge, forcing me to break my steadfast rule of no Christmas shopping before Halloween (and in this case, it was in September—gasp!).
Shabby Chic is a clothing boutique offering flirty, feminine clothes with a sassy kick. My favorite items at this store were the Thelma and Louise t-shirts. Peacock Lane is another clothing and home decor store at The Landing. The owner here informed me that the popular bracelet bar line that she carries, Erimish, is the brainchild of two women who own Coco’s Boutique in Joplin; my neck of the woods. I learn so much when I travel!
Bagnell Dam Strip
This historic district, known as “The Strip,” has been entertaining people of all ages since the 1940s when the first store, Dogpatch, was built as a tourist stop. Today, visitors to Dogpatch are greeted by a talking Ozark Grandpa mannequin sitting in a rocking chair who tells them about the different kinds of souvenirs that they can find in the store, like local jams and jellies and old-time puzzles and toys that are made in the Ozarks.
The Strip also features Summer USA, which offers a large selection of swimsuits and beachwear; Leather Man, which sells a variety of leather goods and moccasins; plus a plethora of t-shirt stores, including Peace Frog, where you can customize your own souvenir t-shirt.
My favorite store on The Strip was Richard’s Relic Shack, an eclectic pawn shop packed with Native American artifacts, rare coins, comic books, vinyl records and other unexpected collections. Of course, it’s worth stopping by just to visit with Richard himself, an interesting elderly gent who resembles a pipe-smoking Santa Claus. Expect to pass through some of Richard’s pipe smoke when you visit; that’s just part of the store’s ambiance.
Shopping and refreshments
Some dining establishments at Lake of the Ozarks are attached to stores, which is brilliant because people like me are apt to spend more when we’ve been properly fed and watered. Take On the Rise, for instance. At this upscale breakfast/brunch restaurant housed in a cozy Tuscan-style building, I enjoyed European Eggs Benedict, served with caramelized onions, pancetta and a truffle sauce. When I was finished, I was relieved to notice a shop at the far end of the restaurant where I could walk off my hearty meal. Palate sells artisanal goods like gourmet cooking tools, wine, Bourbon Pecan coffee from On the Rise and even fine laundry detergent called Glamorous Wash. Move over Tide, I’ll be classing up my washing machine from now on!
I found two other places where I could stop, shop and refresh. Ozark Yacht Club, located near The Strip, has a wine galley offering refreshments while you peruse the nautical decor in the home furnishing shop. There’s also Seven Springs Winery, where you can sample over a dozen wines from the vineyard, choose your favorite (the Norton, a full-bodied red, is popular here), then pair it with an item from the restaurant and savor it out on the patio while you enjoy a stunning view of the rolling hills that surround the winery.
I love pinning decorating ideas on Pinterest, but I get overwhelmed when it comes to putting a room together myself. Evergreen, located on the south side of Osage Beach, is the answer to my Pinterest prayers. This store is packed with appealing displays, and the staff is eager to work with customers to recreate this magic in their own homes. Spouse a little less than entertained? Send him to Evergreen’s man cave where he can relax on a leather sofa and watch a big-screen TV. Everybody wins at Evergreen.
Osage Beach Premium Outlets
A shopping trip to the lake wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Missouri’s largest premium outlet mall. You’ll score deeply discounted items from more than 110 brand-name stores like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Under Armour. And when you’re done bargain-hunting, you can reward yourself with a sunset cruise on the lake.
Exploring lake life while on land proved to be a success. I left with my trunk full of shopping bags and my appetite whetted for more of that laid-back feeling that comes with spending time at Lake of the Ozarks.
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