There is always more to discover in the Ozark Mountains, regardless of whether you spent your childhood summers wandering around the hills and lakes of this stunning and unexpected holiday location. This formerly distant midwestern summer vacation spot is now more well-known than ever thanks to its array of undiscovered gems and fresh favorites.
You’ll find local favorites like waterfall hikes and national forest trails in this comprehensive guide to the greatest things to do in the Ozarks, along with exciting shows and top-notch entertainment to add some laughs and wonder to your trip.
Best Places to Visit in the Ozarks
Prepare yourself for a wonderful stay in the Ozarks; you won’t be disappointed. See more options Below:
1. Lake Recreation or Activities
Everyone who travels to the Lake of the Ozarks must experience the water. No matter the style of vacation, the water is always in view, whether you’re cruising the lake on a boat, fishing from the shore, or taking in the aquatic vistas from a nice home.
Renting a boat from a company like Dirty Duck Boat Rental in Osage Beach makes boating simple. On the Lake of the Ozarks, you may expect to see all different kinds of boats, from stand-up paddleboards to houseboats that are completely outfitted.
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Water skiing, tubing, and occasionally dropping the anchor to take in the stunning surroundings are among the activities that are frequently done on the lake.
2. State Park in Lake of the Ozarks
The largest state park in Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks State Park, is located around the southeast Grand Glaize arm of the lake. The magnificent Ozark Mountain scenery is easily accessible from the lakeside campgrounds. And maybe the best way to explore the park’s 17,000 acres and miles of shoreline in depth is to stay the night.
The Lake of the Ozarks has two State Park Marinas at either end that provide everything you need to enjoy the lake. Both marinas offer boat rentals, fishing equipment, and insider fishing information. The sandy beaches in Missouri are among the best.
3. Putting Greens
Golfing at one of the several golf courses in Lake of the Ozarks is among the most popular activities there. Golfing at Lake of the Ozarks is more than just the act of swinging a club; it’s an excursion into the breathtaking Ozark terrain. Lakeside courses with vast vistas are available.
On the more than a dozen golf courses in Lake of the Ozarks, players of all skill levels will find something to enjoy. At Lake of the Ozarks, almost all of the courses are available for public play. Some offer picture-perfect golf rounds, such as the 27 holes at Osage National Golf Resort, an Arnold Palmer Signature Course.
4. Bingham Dam
The Bagnell Dam needs your attention if you want to understand the engineering miracle that produced the Lake of the Ozarks. The Osage River is impounded by a dam that is more than 2,500 feet long, and its construction was finished in 1931. This technological marvel generates hydroelectric power and the sizable aquatic environment known as the Lake of the Ozarks.
There are numerous opportunities for visitors to the Bagnell Dam to appreciate the engineering in action. The Upper Power Plant Road’s Bagnell Dam Overlook offers a fantastic view of the building.
The Bagnell Dam Strip, which is on the other side of the dam and features family-friendly eateries, interesting boutiques, and the Hot Summer Nights car festival, offers traditional summertime entertainment.
5. Wedding Cave
Bridal Cave is a fantastic place to explore another distinctive feature of Missouri for both novice and experienced explorers. Bridal Cave, which is close to Camdenton, has a lengthy local history that predates the formation of the lake.
The Osage Native American culture and folklore placed a significant emphasis on Bridal Cave, giving this deep cave its current name and narrative. On any of the hour-long guided tours that are provided all day, you can learn more about the history of Bridal Cave.
6. State Park, Ha Ha Tonka
Ha Ha Tonka is located close to Camdenton, south of Bagnell Dam, and along the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. The state park offers stunning views of the Ozarks and a fascinating look at a dismal past.
Over 3,000 acres of karst and woodland attractions make up Ha Ha Tonka. Hiking, backpacking, and exploring geological features like sinkholes, caverns, and natural bridges are popular land activities. Boating, fishing, and swimming are some of the other well-liked activities at Ha Ha Tonka due to the close access to the water.
7. At Lake of the Ozarks, the Storied Willmore Lodge
The Lake of the Ozarks Visitors Center is housed at Willmore Lodge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building also has a museum that chronicles the development of the nearby Bagnell Dam. The Willmore Lodge is a fantastic starting point for anyone visiting the Lake of the Ozarks who is unfamiliar with the region.
Union Electric constructed the magnificent water-encircled wooden log structure known as Willmore Lodge in 1930. Today, visitors to the Willmore Lodge can enjoy the architectural beauties of the building and enhance their trip to the Lake of the Ozarks by perusing historical exhibits about the region.
8. The Brumley Swinging Bridges
Two steel suspension bridges have survived the test of time and are still a popular tourist destination today. They are situated on the southeast edge of Lake of the Ozarks State Park, close to the small community of Brumley. Joseph A. Dice constructed the 134-foot Miller Creek Bridge and the 414-foot Grand Auglaize Bridge in the 1930s.
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Dice was a well-known Missourian swinging bridge builder who was renowned for “eyeballing” his bridge designs. Regardless of his techniques, motorists can still cross the Auglaize Bridge’s shaky planks today.
9. Waterpark, Big Surf
Spending the day at Big Surf Waterpark is the best way to escape the oppressive heat of a Missouri July. Big Surf Waterpark, which is close to Osage Beach and Lake of the Ozarks State Park, has furious rapids, lazy rivers, and a number of water attractions. At Big Surf Waterpark, all age groups and swimming skills are catered to.
The three-story-high Zambezi Falls water halfpipe and the 30-foot-wide Space Bowl that guests plummet into are two of Big Surf’s most unusual water thrills. The 375,000-gallon wave pool at Big Surf Waterpark and the water obstacle course in the activity pool must be experienced while visiting.
10. Learn more about Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a stunning natural treasure that is situated south of Table Rock Lake and along the Arkansas-Missouri boundary. The first thing that greets visitors to this kid- and family-friendly nature and conversation area are the tumbling falls that cascade over the cliff.
Choose from guided horseback riding excursions or hilly biking and hiking trails. Along the journey, you’ll pass across caves and springs, and the park has amenities like restrooms and a striking visitor center. The best option for a less remote method to connect with nature without giving up any of the beauty and serenity you’re hoping for is to visit Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
The Ozark Mountains are one of Arkansas’ most recognizable landscapes. The state’s self-perception as a wild, rugged wonderland that nurtures a rich folk culture and a prized sense of independence depends on these forested hills.
The Springfield Plateau and the Boston Mountains are two geologically distinct regions of the Ozarks that dominate northwest Arkansas.