Plunging into the refreshing lake water is a time-honored way for people to cool off during summer days at Lake of the Ozarks, named USA Today’s “2016 Best Recreational Lake”. But there’s a recent trend at the lake that offers visitors another way to get a break from the sun: lakeside pools. No matter what kind of vibe visitors are looking for, they are now happily adding pool side fun to their lake getaways.
Found throughout Lake of the Ozarks, these pools dot the lakeshore, offering easy access to boaters and landlubbers alike. Free to the public, these pools also have bars and restaurants next to them, creating a resort-like feeling that entices people to spend the day lounging poolside. But with so many pools on this 54,000-acre lake, how do you choose the one that best fits your summertime vibe?
To find the answer to this question, I invited my husband along with me to check out the hottest pools at the lake (he agreed immediately). Here’s what I found:
During the day, socialize at the swim-up bar, people-watch from the poolside cabanas or play volleyball in the sand at Lazy Gators. Later, watch the sunset, then grab a bite to eat at Shady Gators, the bar and grill next to the pool, where you can dance to live music and cool off in the wild Friday Night Foam Party. One of the most popular drinks at Shady Gators is vodka and Red Bull because, according to a bartender, “everyone wants to stay awake.”
Come early to claim a poolside seat at Coconuts Caribbean Beach Bar & Grill because this hot spot fills up quickly on the weekend. Sit on an in-pool swing and sip a Voodoo Juice or Skinny Dip while you chat with a friend—or even make new ones. With its tropical decor, emceed parties and young crowd, Coconuts feels like a spring break party. There is a separate kids pool (wristband purchase required), which I’d recommend using during weekdays when things are quieter.
While we didn’t make it to Topsider, it’s worth mentioning in this category. This entertainment complex includes The Poop Deck (the swimming pool area), The Tiki Bar and Topsider Nightclub, which is the only “on the water” dance club at Lake of the Ozarks.
The sprawling pool at Backwater Jack’s Waterfront Bar & Grill, with its three-sided swim-up bar, in-pool lounge chairs and multiple drinking islands, attracts a more laid-back crowd (kids are welcome to swim on weekday mornings, but it’s an adults-only environment the rest of the time). We heard the live poolside music while we were eating on the restaurant’s upper patio, where I ordered the flavorful red beans and rice, a dish that reminded me of the time I spent living in New Orleans. I enjoyed Backwater Jack’s easygoing coastal atmosphere—while there were a lot of people at this multi-level complex, it never felt overcrowded or loud, making it a great place to chill out.
A similar vibe can be found at Dog Days Bar & Grill, With the kids’ pool right next to the adults-only pool, Dog Days offers an ideal option for parents who want to enjoy the swim-up bar and great food while enjoying family time.
Other kid-friendly swimming spots include Franky & Louie’s Beachfront Bar and Grill and Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill. While these lakeside venues don’t have pools, they do have shallow swimming areas where kids can splash around while parents sip Rum Runners on the beach. They also offer sand volleyball and other family activities. These beaches can get crowded, so come early to find a spot. When you start getting hungry, take a few steps over to the popular restaurants at each of these locations; try the pizza at Franky & Louie’s and the B Lob T (a lobster version of a BLT) at Captain Ron’s.
Redhead Lakeside Grill satisfies those who seek casual gourmet food and well-crafted drinks. Eat on one of the patios at this multi-level complex, or dine poolside—better yet, eat at the swim-up bar, which is what we did. I ordered the popular fish tacos, topped with fresh pineapple pico and lime cilantro dressing, and served with a side of crunchy cucumber, tomato and radish salad. I also sipped on a refreshing Pink Lady, made with tequila and sparkling prickly pear and orange San Pellegrino.
There’s an adult pool on the upper deck, and an adjacent lower pool for the kids, making Redhead a good place for the whole family. From the pool area, you can also feast your eyes on the many high-end yachts navigating their way to the Redhead Yacht Club Marina.
There’s even more to check out, too. I’d like to test out the saltwater pool with a swim-up bar at Boathouse Lakeside Bar & Grill. Once there, I’d enjoy the expansive lake view from the pool at Tap & Grill Lakeside Brew Haus, where I’d try one of the 60-plus craft beers to accompany the sesame encrusted ahi tuna at this restaurant that sounds incredible.
If you want to enjoy a lakeside pool without having to travel around the lake, here are some inviting hotel pools:
Located on a point, Arrowhead Pool at Tan-Tar-A Resort features a waterslide and an adjacent beach area, and has been a family favorite for years (I have fond memories of swimming here on my first visit to the lake as a child).
Explore the landscaped gardens and koi ponds as you make your way to the pool at Lodge of Four Seasons. This family-friendly pool features a wading area and a swim-through waterfall that the kids will love.
The pool at bustling Camden on the Lake offers the best of both worlds: there is a swim-up bar on one side where adults congregate, and on the other side is an area where kids can swim and play.
Whether you’re traveling with your kids or visiting the lake with friends, or whether you’re in the mood to relax or are geared up to party, there’s a pool at Lake of the Ozarks waiting for you.
All you have to do now is take the plunge.
Dry off and explore more of the outdoors at Lake of the Ozarks.