The Lake offers an endless variety of fun things to do including taking a smiley face parasailin adventure.

The Lake offers an endless variety of fun things to do including taking a smiley face parasailing adventure 

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, is the perfect destination for lake lovers. The lake is actually a man made reservoir and unique in that it is the largest such body of water not built for flood control. At the turn of the century, a St. Louis resident named Ralph Street dreamed of building a power plant, harnessing the Osage River. He did not have enough funding to complete the project and the Union Electric Company took over, building the Bagnell Dam. At its peak, more than 20,000 men were employed, working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A visit to the Willmore Lodge, home to the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, is definitely recommended. Not only is the short tour is fascinating, the view is spectacular.

The area began to develop into a recreational area in the late 50's and today, more than 70,000 homes are located along the 1150 miles of shoreline. The nearly perfect weather, incredible scenery and laid back atmosphere has turned the lake into a major resort area with more than 3 million people visiting each year.

Old Kinderhook Golf Course is pure pleasure to play.
An aerial view of the impressive Bagnell Dam can be seen from one of the many airplane and helicopter rides offered around the lake.

Activities- At the Lake of the Ozarks, it is a nonstop party. Boaters zip around, guests lap up fresh seafood, cold beer, margaritas, and burgers at the hundreds of great restaurants. There are festivals, celebrations, spas, putt putt, shopping, waterparks, arcades, bowling alleys, and the famous Bagnell Dam Strip is a mile of funky shops, attractions and oddities. You can play skee ball for a dime here. Wineries are thriving – and be sure to visit the Seven Springs Winery where there is live music each weekend (and a $10 pp shuttle service too). We enjoyed a 30-minute airplane ride over the lake – breathtaking. Helicopter rides, boat cruises, gospel sings, bicycling, kayaking, horseback riding, lazer tag, caving, parasailing, and museums will keep your family busy for days.

Outdoors – The Ozark Mountains are famed for their cool, green beauty. There is a lot to explore and each season brings special treats for the outdoor enthusiast. There are hundreds of trails for hiking and exploring and a number of outfitters will rent you all sorts of watercraft or organized float trips down the waterways. Ozark Caverns, Bridal Cave and Jacob’s Cave are magnificent. Lake of the Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park have caves, hiking trails and picnic areas and, at Ha Ha Tonka, the ruins of a fabulous castle once owned by a prominent businessman.

Boating and fishing predominate at Lake of the Ozarks. Both are simply incredible. Bring your own boat or rent one here. One popular option is to rent a houseboat and enjoy staying on the water. Boat shows are held throughout the year. Fishing is a pleasure as the lake has 54,000 surface acres and is home to dozens of fish species including bass, catfish, walleye and paddlefish. Many lake resorts have heated docks for winter fishing enjoyment. More than 500 fishing tournaments are held each year at the lake. A daily license is $7.50 and a season pass is $42.

The rooms at the Lodge of Four Seasons offers great views of the lake

It comes as no surprise that golf is a major endeavor at the lake. You can play a course designed by almost every well known golfer: Arnold Palmer, Ken Kavanaugh, Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus all have courses here. Old Kinderhook, a Tom Weiskopf course, is located in Camdenton. We enjoyed a day here – the wide spacious fairways and large greens are a joy to play. Head golf pro Chris Buescher promises to make all players feel at home. The Elements Spa overlooks the 15th fairway and offers an outstanding, and very affordable, massage.

The Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail features 14 lake courses, close enough to each other to play two in a day! The Lodge of Four Seasons has 54 holes of golf and three championship courses – Porto Cima, the Cove and the Ridge. Robert Trent Jones designed The Cove, which is the Lodge's signature course, Ken Kavanaugh designed the Ridge and Porto Cima is designed by Jack Nicklaus. All three offer exceptional golfing experiences with memorable views.

Lodging – We stayed at the Lodge of Four Seasons, one of the finest properties on the lake. Locally owned since 1964, the Lodge features a renowned restaurant, a spa, and has received dozens of awards for the dining, spa and hotel. The Lodge is so popular that the property recently expanded by adding rooms and renovating all others. There is a marina, seven docks, an exhibit hall and conference center and a beach.

Restaurants – There are so many local, wonderful eateries on the lake. Definitely try Dog Days, which offers casual lake front dining. We really liked Li'l Rizzo's. The place was jumping the night we were there – everyone enjoying the awesome view of the lake. HK's Steakhouse in the hotel was excellent, quiet and delicious. There are more than 100 restaurants to choose from, with more than 40 offering waterfront views.

Relax and enjoy Lake of the Ozarks. It is a perfect family getaway that offers a lot of diversion for everyone. For complete information, visit or call 1-800-386-5253.

Cynthia Calvert
Author: Cynthia CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
A trained journalist with a masters degree from Lamar University, a masters from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as extensive coursework toward a masters of science in psychology from the University of New Orleans, Calvert founded the Tribune Newspapers in 2007. Her experiences as an investigative, award winning reporter (She won Journalist of the Year from the Houston Press Club among many other awards for reporting and writing), professor and chair of the journalism department for Lone Star College-Kingwood and vice president of editorial for a large group of community weeklies provides her with a triple dose of bankable skills that cover every aspect of the journalism field. Solid reporting. Careful interviews. Respect and curiosity for people and places.

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