What to do with kids at Lake of the Ozarks

The Lake of the Ozarks is a well-known Midwest destination for summer fun and recreation. With 84 square miles of water, 1100 miles of shoreline, and a host of on-land attractions, the Lake has something for everyone. Here’s a taste of what to do with kids at Lake of the Ozarks:

ozarks

The Bagnell Dam Strip:

This classic taste of the Lake offers fun, touristy attractions like old-time photos, a haunted hotel, and the Dog Patch Arcade, an open-air arcade with an old-school nostalgia.

Fun parks:

LeMans Family Fun Park, on Bagnell Dam Boulevard, offers single and double go-karts, a miniature go-kart track for the little ones, bumper boats (a great way to cool down on a hot day), and miniature golf with a view of the lake. They also have two other locations around the Lake area. If the weather’s bad, try Miner Mike’s, an indoor fun-plex with arcade, Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and more, open year-round.

Boating:

Boats and personal watercraft are available for rental all over the lake area. Fishing, tubing, skiing, and swimming in the quieter coves of the lake are perennial favorites.

Sightseeing Cruises:

Tropic Island Cruise takes guests on a 1 1/2-hour cocktail cruise in a 75-foot boat, highlighting some impressive multi-million dollar lakeshore homes. This is a great a date if you’re staying at a resort that offers child care (like Tan-Tar-A or the Lodge of the Four Seasons), but if you bring the kids along they might just get to steer the boat.

ozarks

State Parks:

Ha Ha Tonka State Park was developed to feature the ruins of a castle built on the bluff overlooking the Lake. With hiking trails, a large spring, and a boardwalk stairway connecting the blufftop with the Lake, this is a highlight of the Lake area—and free to the public. And Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers beaches, mountain biking, a water trail, camping and cabins (even yurts!), and cave tours.

Food:

What would a vacation be without great food? From fine dining to down home Ozark cooking, the Lake has it all. Check out Tonka Hills Restaurant for casual, family-friendly atmosphere, with breakfast all day, a salad bar, and a fabulous fried grouper sandwich. If you’re on the lake, pull in around the 8-mile mark and grab a bite at Alhonna Resort’s Bobber’s Cafe.  For a quick dessert, stop at the outdoor service window at Randy’s Frozen Custard, on Osage Beach Parkway, for a concrete or a cone. (Bonus: they have an air-conditioned room around the corner reserved for their customers, with an air hockey table.)

Shopping:

Osage Beach Outlets features more than a hundred brand name stores, from shoes to apparel to cutlery, and is open year-round. And who can resist the classic Ozarkland, whose exterior tells you everything you can find within its walls?

Other fun:

Tan-Tar-A resort has horseback riding and an indoor water park, both of which are open to the public as well as to resort guests, who get a reduced rate. The lake also boasts more than a dozen high-end golf courses.

On summer weekends, the Lake area fills up with visitors from surrounding metro areas, so if you can come during the week you’ll find the water and the roads less crowded. There are transitional seasons in the later spring and early fall in which some attractions are open weekends only, and many places close down in the winter, but during the Christmas season the Lake area offers several light displays worth driving through.

Be sure to check out our additional posts on Big Surf Waterpark, Bridal Cave, and the family-friendly Alhonna Resort!

lake-of-the-ozarks

Portions of our trip were made possible by the Tri-County Lodging Association’s Lake of the Ozarks Hospitality Bank, but all opinions are our own.

About the author

Kathleen Basi

Freelance writer Kathleen Basi has lived her entire life in “flyover country,” but she’s an old pro at road trips, having taken the first of many extended driving vacations at the tender age of five. She’s a huge proponent of letting kids see and experience the space between “here” and “there.” Find her at http://kathleenbasi.com/blog/.

Comments

comments

Leave a Comment

*

Shares