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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri


    Lake of the Ozarks is a very large lake, a destination for many in the spring, summer and fall months. With boating and other water-related activities, the Lake is a social point for residents and tourists alike. The Lake is located in the center of the state of Missouri, about halfway between I-70 and I-44 along US-54. It has more shoreline than the state of California, over 1150 miles. Created by the damming of the Osage River back in the depression years of the late 1920s, and completed in 1931, the dam generates power and is currently managed by the Ameren Corporation.

    Where Is It? How Do I Get There? Many roads lead to Lake of the Ozarks. It is located along US-54 between Jefferson City and Camdenton, MO. From I-70, take either US-54 west at Kingdom City, or US-63 south at Columbia to US-54. From I-44, one could take MO-17 north to MO-42 west to the Lake, or MO-5 north to US-54. From US-50, take US-54 south at Jefferson City.

    Once I'm There, Where Should I Stay? There are many options for staying at the Lake.

    Camping: If you are in an RV or tent, the closest public campgrounds are at Lake of the Ozarks Campground. There are four sections. All have some sites with electricity. Two sections have a playground. Three sections have showers that are available during the late spring and summer months. One has a boat ramp, and at least one has a public beach for swimming (in a cove). You may access more information at Lake of the Ozarks State Park Website.

    There are also any number of private RV parks, from KOA on the south end, several RV parks on County Road W, and one or two in Eldon and Bagnell. There is a private RV park along the Osage River, Riverview RV Park downstream from the dam. If being on the water is important to you, be sure to ask about it when you call to reserve a spot.

    Hotel/motel: If you want a budget motel, most of the lower priced places are located either in the townsite of Lake Ozark (north shore) or on the south side of the Grand Glaize Bridge. The closest to the “Bagnell Dam Strip”, is the RockwoodMotel. Shawnee Bluffs Winery has a small inn with cabins on its property just up from the Strip, and the Orchid Motel(near the intersection of Bagnell Dam Blvd. and Osage Beach Pkwy, is just up the road from there.

    Chain motels exist in the area, but not in great quantity. The Choice chains have one property, the Sleep Inn which is located in Camdenton. In the Wyndham chain, there is a Days Inn located in Osage Beach, and a Baymont which is south of the Grand Glaize Bridge. Holiday Inn Express has a property in Osage Beach. Red Roof Inns also have a presence in Osage Beach, south of the Grand Glaize. The chains, other than the Margaritaville resort chain, do not include lake views or lake access.

    If you would like a resort, most are corporate- owned, but many are located right on the water. Some have been at the Lake for years, such as Kapilana Resort, and Inn at the Grand Glaize. One very well-known resort, Tan-Tar-A, has been turned into Margaritaville ,a small chain of resorts, That one, plus (Lodge of the Four Seasons, are among many of the largest resorts in the area. One of the closest resorts to the “Bagnell Dam Strip” is The Resort at Lake of the Ozarks. Most of these larger resorts will have a lake view, lake access (boat ramp) or both. The Regalia Hotel & Conference Center, located in Four Seasons, has a concert venue and fireworks on weekends during the spring and summer season. (This author has either stayed in or toured the resorts mentioned here, as part of vacations over the years. There are plenty more resorts not mentioned!)


    Renting a home or condo: If you are inclined towards renting something with a kitchen and other home amenities, Airbnb has a large presence here, as does VRBO. Four Seasons Property Management has also been around for awhile and has many properties for short or long term rentals. Many rentals are condos, but there are some nice homes as well.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 09-14-2022 at 02:35 PM. Reason: Resort changed owners/name/website

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default And there's more...

    OK, you made your reservation for overnights at Lake of the Ozarks. Next concern for most people?

    Where to Eat: No doubt about it, there are plenty of places to eat at the Lake!

    Fast food - The chains that are located in the Lake area include McDonald’s (3 locations), Wendy’s, Arby’s, Culver’s, Taco Bell, Panera Bread, Subway, Jimmie John’s Deli, Bandana’s BBQ, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Camdenton has a Dairy Queen. Eldon has some mom-and-pop fast food places such as Cree-Mee’s and Eldon Drive In, as well as a KFC/Taco Bell combo, Hardee’s, and McDonald’s. Other non-chains exist, including Dam Slice Pizza and a few other places on the Strip.

    Mid-range - the chains include Golden Corral, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Steak and Shake. Non-chains include Bonnie Cafe, Pancake Place, The Cozy Cafe, Pappo’s Pizza, and most of the bars in town (and there are a LOT of those). Many resorts also have their own restaurants, though they may not all be open 365/7. Want barbecue? Wobbly Boots, Half-Sauced, and Barn-B-Que are on the top of the lists. Bandana’s, a midwest barbecue chain, maintains a presence here. For Italian food, one could try Domenico’s or one of the two locations for Lil Rizzo’s (both are local favorites). There are a number of places for pizza, including Lil Rizzo’s, PaPPos, Dam Slice, and Pizza Hut - one delivery-and-pick-up-only in Lake Ozark, and two sit-down PH's, one in Eldon and one south of the Grand Glaize in Osage Beach.

    High End
    - The lake has a number of these. Among the favorites are J.B. Hook’s, Baxter’s, Encore at Port Arrowhead, and Bentley’s, all on the newer end of Bagnell Dam Blvd. (between Horseshoe Bend Parkway and Osage Beach Parkway). The Bend is located at the end of Cherokee Road in the Four Seasons area. Of those five, all but Bentley’s have lake views. The Bend has boat access. Others include Jeffrey’s on KK, Redhead Lakeside Grill, and The Lodge at Old Kinderhook in Camdenton.


    Best places for breakfast: The Pancake Place (on Osage Beach Parkway near KK), The Cozy Cafe (on KK near 54), Stewarts on the Strip, On the Rise Bakery & Bistro, are all open for breakfast. Keep these in mind if you choose lodging that doesn’t include a free breakfast (the chains usually do, with a few exceptions, and the resorts usually do NOT).

    The grocery stores - there are quite a few in the area. Gerbes (Kroger) has a location in Camdenton and another in Eldon. Woods has locations in Lake Ozark, Sunrise Beach, and Eldon. Dierberg’s is in Osage Beach, as is HyVee. Some stores have a place to purchase food and eat it inside at a table (Woods Lake Ozark, Dierbergs and HyVee). Walmart locations in Camdenton and Osage Beach are super Walmarts, and Target will soon become a SuperTarget, in Osage Beach.

    Bars, Bar and Grills: No doubt about it, there are plenty of these in the area. Most bars serve food, though some have a more limited menu. Seating with children is available at many, especially those that can be accessed by way of the lake. Not all bars are accessible from the lake, but there are a few!

    On the Lake: There are a number of places where you can take your boat up to a slip and walk to a restaurant. Some have bars attached, others do not.

    Wet your appetite for a trip? You've found a place to stay and you know there are places to eat. What can you do here at the Lake? Coming right up!
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 03-25-2023 at 05:59 PM. Reason: Corrected info on Pizza Hut & updated The Bend

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default All About the Lake Area

    The Bagnell Dam Strip: This is one of the oldest areas at the Lake. Located right next to the Bagnell Dam, it is a long street (US-54 Business) full of shops, bars, snackeries, amusements, restaurants, and marina for the Celebration Cruise line. Most people park in the area and walk from place to place. “The Old Strip” goes from the dam to the church on one side of the road and the school on the other. If you like, you can usually walk or drive on the dam itself. (Donna's 4/29/22 edit: The dam, which has been closed since 9/2021, has finally reopened!)

    To get to the Bagnell Dam Strip, from US-54: Get off at the Horseshoe Bend exit, and follow the signs onto MO-242. Go up the Hill, then make a right on Bagnell Dam Blvd. Or...if coming from Jefferson City, you can get off at W, and follow the signs for Busn. 54.


    Boat Rentals - There are quite a few places that will rent a boat. These range from paddle boats and kayaks, to pontoons and tritoons, with a few renting a small speed boat or cabin cruiser. If you don’t know much about boats, you can also hire a skipper who can take you out for an hour, two hours, or the entire day.

    Ha Ha Tonka State Park - located south of the Lake, along the river, this state park is very diverse Ha Ha Tonka. You can take a hike down to a natural bridge, or hike in other areas. You can go see Snyder’s Castle, a historic ruin that was once the would-be home of the Snyder family in the area. Hike down to a spring from the Castle. Admission is free.

    Donna Summer 2016 Missouri 022

    Willmore Lodge -
    No longer a working lodge, this older building now serves as a visitor center, viewpoint for the lake, and small museum of Lake history.


    Lake of the Ozarks State Park - there are several regions of this state park. There are two public beaches. Hiking trails are in all of the sections. This is the state park that has camping.

    Cave Tours - There are a few commercial caves in the area. Bridal Cave is perhaps the most well known, located near Camdenton. Another one, with more rustic possibilities, is Stark Caverns near Eldon. Jacob Cave is located on the west side of the lake, accessible either by paying a bridge toll or driving around the long way. Caves are common in the Lake area, due to the limestone and karst underneath the ground.

    Golf - If you love golf, this is a place full of private golf courses. A number of resorts, such as The Ridge and Lodge of the Four Seasons (both located off Horseshoe Bend) have their own courses. Most are maintained March through October.

    Shopping Our local outlet center, Osage Beach Outlet Center is trying to hang on for dear life. Like many outlet centers in the US, online shopping has caused a decline in the number of shops at the OBOC. The same is happening at the two outlet centers in Lebanon (about 35 miles away). There is also the Bagnell Dam Strip, where there are shops specializing in water wear, t-shirts, leather, and more. Because the area is also home to many permanent residents, there are 4 major grocery stores (Woods, HyVee, Dierbergs and Gerbes), 3 Walmarts (Osage Beach, Camdenton, Eldon), Target, Kohl’s, Walgreens, CVS, and more.

    If you are a flea market or thrift store hopper, there are several in the area. Check out Off the Hook in the Stone Crest Center, Hope House off Lakeland Rd on “Northshore”, Fresh Start Animal Outreach in Eldon, the Friends of Animals Thrift Shop also in Eldon, and Richard’s Relic Shack on The Strip.

    The Amish/Mennonite area - Many people like to shop in the area around Barnett and Versailles, looking for high quality goods. These are located northwest of the Lake. There are some excellent food markets run by the Mennonites in Eldon, Barnett and Tipton. Bear in mind that photos with Amish or Mennonites are highly frowned upon, though they don’t mind if you photograph something without them in it. It should also be noted that the shops are often part of a homestead, and with just a small sign.

    Wineries: Shawnee Bluff Winery is among the closest, with an inn, restaurant and wine tasting room all on the same property along Bagnell Dam Blvd. (Between Horseshoe Bend Parkway and Osage Beach Parkway). They also have a vineyard in Eldon. Seven Springs Wineryin Linn Creek has a tasting room and restaurant. A newer winery, and a little further away, is the Dale Hollow Winery in Stover. Shawnee Bluff and Seven Springs Wineries are open year-round.

    Last edited by Tom_H007; 05-06-2022 at 01:35 AM. Reason: corrected Bridal Cave URL tag

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default More Things to Do at the Lake

    Things to Do WITH a Boat at Lake of the Ozarks

    Most everything you can do with a boat, you can do on Lake of the Ozarks: cruise, water-ski, party, enjoying the sun and the water. If you’re in a smaller boat, do be careful of the larger boats, because not all boatmen are courteous. If you have a personal watercraft, you can enjoy that. We highly suggest reading up on the Missouri Boating Laws and Regulations before launching your own boat or PWC onto any Missouri lake, including LOTO. Life jackets are required, and sunscreen is highly suggested (even on a cloudy day).

    Things to Do With Children at the Lake

    The lake area can be considered a family place, with the exception of some of the bars. Among the places to take your kids:

    Go-Karts: There are two outdoor tracks, Leman’s Go-Karts off Bagnell Dam Parkway, and Gran Rally near the Grand Glaize Bridge.

    Indoor Play Place: Miner Mike's which is across from the Outlet Center. Dave & Buster’s is attached to it.

    Mini-Golf: There are several places to play miniature golf. Closest to the Strip is Sugar Creek. Putt n Stuffis closest to the Grand Glaize area, (). Even a little further south is Pirate's Cove.

    Water Parks: There is an indoor water park (for those rainy days), and an outdoor one. The indoor park is at Margaritaville (formerly Tan-Tar-A) Resort, Jolly Mon]. The outdoor park is in Linn Creek (south of Osage Beach), Big Surf.

    Trampoline Park:
    Osage Beach has Jetz, with a number of trampolines and other fun activities to do inside. There is a small snack bar.

    City Parks We have several city parks in the area, with fields and playground equipment. Never underestimate the power of an hour at the park! Among the largest are Osage Beach City Park (on Osage Beach Parkway) and Peanick Park on Hwy 42 not far from the junction with Osage Beach Parkway.

    Things to Do on a Rainy Day

    Not every vacation is full of sunny days. Occasionally, a rainy one comes along. Things to do, especially if your lodging place does not have an indoor pool, include many of the above things, like the indoor water park, shopping, Jetz, and Miner Mikes/Dave & Busters. Take a drive outside of town. Even in the rain, going out to ‘the countryside’ can be relaxing. Bear in mind that the Lake seems to temper the weather patterns happening away from the Lake, meaning less severe or lengthy storms. An adage often used around here is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few hours!”
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 03-02-2023 at 04:52 PM. Reason: updated Links

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Fun Drives from Lake of the Ozarks

    On a lovely day, sometimes it’s great to take a drive. Here’s a few favorites:

    Mennonite wagon

    The Amish-Mennonite Area
    : Head out of the Lake on US-54 “east”. Take the first exit into Eldon, marked MO-52. Make a left and go over the highway. As you come into Eldon, you’ll note its look as “small town America.” Shoppers may notice the thrift store on the right, Walmart also on the right, and Nolt’s Market (run by the Mennonites) on the left. When you come to the first traffic light, make a left. This will take you out of town, but you may want to stop at another thrift store located just outside of Eldon. (Note: If you were ever a fan of the 1960s TV show Petticoat Junction, Eldon was the inspiration for the fictional town of Hooterville. No, the Shady Rest doesn't exist any more - a tornado got the better of it - and the railroad tracks were torn up a long time ago. But Rock Island City Park pays homage to that railroad, as does a recycling center!)

    As you come into the tiny hamlet of Barnett, head right on County Road AA. There are a few shops along that. Take a left onto County Rd C, or a right, depending on what shops you might want to come across. Taking a left will eventually bring you back to MO-52. Take a bit to look around the slightly larger town of Versailles (pronounced ver-sails, not ver-sigh). Pioneer Cafe is one of several places to catch a meal if you’re hungry and didn’t partake earlier.

    MennoniteWagon 2

    Note: When driving on County Roads AA or C, and MO-52, watch for black horse-and-buggies. The signs say “Share the Road!” with those, and with bicycles. Some Mennonite folks do not own cars and will often take their horse and buggy to the stores. Once again, photos are okay only if there is no people in it. The photo above shows what it looks like when you approach a horse/buggy on the highway. SLOW DOWN, and above all, do NOT honk, as you will scare the horse!

    Note 2: There is a publication available locally, called “Mennonite Community Map: Versailles and Surrounding Area”. It is free. Inside are maps of the area and what Mennonite stores are available at the time of publication. Look for it around the Lake. (online resource for exploring the area.)

    Continue down MO-5 on the west side of the lake. You’ll pass through Laurie and Sunrise Beach before crossing the lake and coming into Camdenton. These two towns are “the quiet side of the Lake”. At Camdenton, catch US-54 back to wherever you’re staying.

    Other places: You can take a drive over to Bennett Spring State Park,, take in some hiking, and then continue further south on MO-5 into Lebanon. Lebanon has a Route 66 Museum , another outlet center trying to hold on Shepherd Hills Factory Outlet, a former outlet center now called The Mall, a few antiques stores, and on your way back, stop at Smitty’s Flea Market on the right on MO-5 on your way out of Lebanon, north..

    Jefferson City is about 40 miles from Lake of the Ozarks. You can tour the Capitol building and/or the state penitentiary, visit Jefferson Landing, hike through Runge Conservation Nature Center and see its visitor center exhibits.

    THINGS TO REMEMBER There are residents who live at the Lake area year-round. They own the places and are dependent on the income which tourists/visitors provide. It is relatively safe here, but like any other place, be cautious and aware of your surroundings.

    That said, we hope you'll come and visit Lake of the Ozarks!

    Last edited by DonnaR57; 05-19-2022 at 07:42 AM. Reason: added a link; added two photos

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default plenty of information and photos.


    Really nice thread with plenty of information and photos.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default More Information about LotO - Links

    Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau - Funlake has a bunch of great information basic to the entire lake area.

    Lake Ozark Fun - particularly on Horseshoe Bend Click here. In here are links to short term rentals (i.e. AirBnB, VRBO, types), dining, marinas, and other things in the Four Seasons area.

    Lake of the Ozarks State Park - hiking trails

    The local news, Lake Sun, AKA Lake News Online

    Even more local news, Lake Expo

    A beach and marina at Lake of the Ozarks State Park

    Backwater Jacks, one of the boat-up bars. This one also has a swim-up bar, after Memorial Day.

    We have wildlife at the lake: deer, raccoons, ground hogs, armadillos, and more. Deer eat everything! We wish they'd eat the squirrels that leave a mess!

    View from one of the resorts, Margaritaville, toward one of the many condos in the area. Condos can be rented short and long term, or purchased.

    Ready to go yet? Pack your car and GO!


  8. #8


    Sounds like a great place, though we over here in NY would like our lodge back ;)

    That, of course, referring to the Lodge at Old Kinderhook, which of course was an expression used by a former president who happened to be from Kinderhook (NY), and is the long form of what is often used today as OK :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Missouri borrows a lot of names from other places (and doesn't return them). Kinderhook is just a drop in the bucket! Versailles, California, Mexico, Paris, Cuba, Washington, Lebanon, Springfield, and Louisiana are just a few more place names that got borrowed from somewhere else. There are more, too, I'm sure, that I didn't think of just now.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Bennett Spring State Park

    Bennett Spring State Park - an hour from The Lake

    Bennett Spring

    Located about 50 miles from Lake of the Ozarks, Bennett Spring State Park is a lovely, peaceful place to spend an afternoon, or a full day, away from the Lake.

    The first stop at the State Park should be at the Nature Center, open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 10 am to 4 pm (not in winter, though). You’ll find maps, brochures, and a museum at the Nature Center. The exhibits in the museum for adults and children, some with hands-on experiences for all.

    From there, you can walk or drive over to the Spring. Year round, it is stocked with rainbow and brown trout, and it’s very common to see folks fishing by standing in the water (in waders) or at the side, trying to catch fish. The spring has a spillway, or “waterfall!” as some children will call it. There is an old bridge, and on the other side, the river is also a fisherman’s paradise. There is no swimming allowed in the spring and river.

    The Bennett Spring Spillway

    The old bridge.

    There are also four fish hatcheries on the property, two of which are viewable by the public.

    The state park hosts a large campground, but if it is full, there are quite a few commercial campgrounds/RV parks just outside of the park. The park also has a number of cabins to rent, and there are commercial ones outside of the park as well. There is a park store, with limited hours but lots of fishing supplies, and a dining lodge (restaurant), should you want to eat out. The dining lodge will also prep and cook the trout you caught.

    The River below the bridge.

    If you want to make this a day trip, there is a large picnic area and a small playground. If you see other literature about the State Park that mentions a pool, be aware that in 2022, that pool was very empty and has been for awhile.

    To get to Bennett Spring from Lake of the Ozarks, head west on US 54 toward Camdenton. At Camdenton, pick up MO-5 south. At the brown sign in Lebanon, turn right (west) onto MO-64. It’s a little over 9 miles on that route, to the State Park. If you are staying on the west side of the Lake, just take MO-5 south to Camdenton, then MO-64 (west) to the state park.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 08-26-2022 at 07:20 AM. Reason: corrected directions to BSSP

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