Fun for all ages in Lake of the Ozarks
By Kristin Luna
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? Here are 10 ways to maximize your time:
1. View from the top. An aerial tour is the perfect introduction to the reservoir and its 1150 miles of shoreline. Hop aboard one of AirLake Aviation’s airplanes or snag a seat with Lake Ozark Helicopters and settle in for the ride of a lifetime.
2. Glide across the surface. The glassy water is prime for a lazy boat ride with Lake of the Ozarks Yacht & Charters or a guided, narrated tour via one of two excursion yachts, the Tropic Island or Celebration Cruises. For those who want to fly but are hesitant to go up in an aircraft, jetpacking on the water is one fun, adrenaline-fueled alternative. Suit up with a flyboard from Iguana Watersports and experience what it feels like to be Marty McFly.
3. Get your game on. Down for a little family-friendly competition with your travel companions? Tee up at Sugar Creek Miniature Golf and Pirates Cove Miniature Golf, lap your kid at Gran Rally Go Karts or test your aim in the 4,000-square-foot Lazer Force arena.
4. Step back in time. A historic schoolhouse in Linn Creek, Camden County Museum hosts Civil War re-enactments, as well as regular dinner theater shows and other events. Miller County Museum celebrates centuries of central Missouri history through artifacts, photographs and primitive dwellings. At Willmore Lodge, learn the history and building of Bagnell Dam through words, pictures and audio exhibits.
5. Go for a ride. Circle R Stables at Tan-Tar-A Resort offers guided horseback rides through two miles of rolling hills and wooded countryside surrounding Lake of the Ozarks.
6. Get intimate with the Great Outdoors. Woodland abounds in Missouri, and the Lake of the Ozarks State Park with its 17,741 acres and 85 miles of lake frontage is prime territory for camping, fishing, swimming, mountain biking and hiking. Another prized local gem, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a 5,000-acre refuge comprising sinkholes, crumbling ruins and natural bridges galore. It was recently voted in the top found best state parks in the country by USA Today.
7. Plan a musical interlude. A landmark for the better part of two decades and a favorite pastime for repeat vacationers to Osage Beach, Main Street Music Hall promises live music several nights a week with its rotating shows, Main Street Opry and Reelin in the Years.
8. Retreat underground. Chock full of Native American history, Bridal Cave is a popular site for weddings that also lays claim to a lakeside viewing deck, observation tower and gemstone mining. At Fantasy World Caverns, take a guided walk through sponge work, cave coral and over an underground lake. And a handful of grottos like Jacob’s Cave provide for cool—literally—subterranean exploration in the lake region.
9. Sip and see. Missouri may be far from Napa, but it boasts its own scenic wine country, complete with a half dozen vineyards. With Casa de Loco Winery, Sugarloaf Vineyard, Golden Rock Winery, Seven Springs Winery, Shawnee Bluff Winery and Shawnee Bluff Vineyard all scattered conveniently along a single wine trail, you’ll taste a bevy of blends and varietals while getting a sense of the lush area’s topography. (Visitor’s tip: If you don’t have a designated driver on hand, Zee Bus & Limo and Safe Shuttle Service both serve the region.)
10. Pay homage to Mary. At the National Shrine of Mary—also called the Mother’s Shrine—visitors can see a 14-foot steel sculpture of the matriarch surrounded by fountains and other mothers’ names etched into the granite.
No matter what your family enjoys, you’ll find plenty of fun at Lake of the Ozarks.
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