The Lake of the Ozarks is a 92 mi (148 km) long lake, created by the Bagnell Dam stopping the flow of the Osage River. The lake is a precious resource, please respect it by throwing away trash and cigarettes into their proper receptacles.
The lake was created by the construction of Bagnell Dam, which was a depression era project (Tennessee Valley Authority) that became operational in 1929. For a long time it was the largest man-made lake in the United States. The dam provides hydroelectric power for much of the region. Since the dam's opening, the lake has slowly grown as a tourist attraction for regional people (and more) as a easy access getaway. Many family owned resorts, hotels and condos line it's shores. The Bagnell Dam Strip is where it all started.
Ozark Mountain hills, some windy roads and elevation changes around the water.
Typical temperatures in the Summer range from 80s to even low 100s on the worst days. Fall can be hot until until early October- many waterfront bars keep their pools open thru the first or second week of October and you will be quite comfortable in them. Winter can vary- cold days can be 10s to 30s; 40s to even 70s on some days. It is not uncommon to have stretches of 50s, 60s and low 70s in the Dec. thru February time-frame- with sunshine, it can feel quite warm with low winds, making a nice weekend getaway and even some golf.
- From the north, US Highway 54 coming from Jefferson City runs directly through the city and offers many exits to Lake of the Ozarks.
- From the west, the Lake of the Ozarks is can be reached via US Highway 65 near Warsaw.
- From the south, it can be reached by Missouri Route 5 near Camdenton. US Highway 54 is another effective means of transportation when coming from the south.
- From the east, visitors can take Missouri Route 42 through Brumley directly into Osage Beach.
There are no openly commercial airports located in the area, making driving from a larger airport a requirement when visiting Lake of the Ozarks.
- Columbia Regional Airport (COU IATA), small airport with daily flights to Chicago, Dallas, and Denver through United Airlines and American Airlines. Drive to Lake of the Ozarks is about one hour by taking US Highway 63 and US Highway 54
- Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF IATA), reasonably sized airport with about 10 gates offering many daily flights throughout the United States. Drive to Lake of the Ozarks is a little under two hours by taking Interstate 44 and Missouri Route 5
- Kansas City International Airport (KCI IATA), large international airport serving a wide variety of destinations. Drive to Lake of the Ozarks is about three hours when taking Interstate 70 and Missouri Route 5.
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL IATA), major international airport offering flights to and from many major cities. Drive to the Lake of the Ozarks is about two and a half hours when taking Interstate 70 and US Route 54.
- Amtrak provides rail service in many Missouri cities, including Sedalia, Jefferson City, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Drive to Lake of the Ozarks from the Jefferson City station is about forty minutes when taking US Route 54.
It's a good idea to have a car to get around Lake of the Ozarks. Drive to the Lake of the Ozarks is about three hours by taking Interstate 70 and Missouri Route 5. Public transit is not available. If you have a boat, you can see most of the best areas via water.
There are taxi companies, and water taxis that are available.
Renting a boat is a good idea and makes for a great day of sightseeing and visiting nice waterfront establishments, as well as seeing some very large, beautiful home properties; get a map and plot the waterfront places you would like to go. Most marinas will charge around $400 for an all day pontoon rental. Many marinas also rent speedboats and personal watercraft, as well. Be sure to observe No Wake Zones and observe the rules/laws that the marina advises you on- the Missouri Water Patrol is very active during high season.
The Lake of the Ozarks is a winding 93 miles (150 km) long. The common indicator for determining a lake location is the mile marker. Beginning at Bagnell Dam each mile of the lake has a marker designating how far from the dam by water the position is. There are several areas with distinctions
- North Shore referring to the first 6 miles along the north side of the lake. It includes the town of Rocky Mount and by land can be reached via Highway W in Miller County.
- Horseshoe Bend refers to the peninsula created by the bend in the lake along the first 17 miles of water. The area is often referred to by the main highway that runs its length "HH".
- Shawnee bend refers to the bend the lake makes immediately after Horseshoe Bend. By land it is connected to Horse Shoe Bend via the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge (locally known as the toll bridge).
- The West Side includes the Greenview, Sunrise Beach, Laurie and Gravois Mills areas. It's considered the "quiet side" of the lake. By water it includes parts of the Niangua Arm, parts of the Osage Arm, the Little Niangua arm and some would consider the Gravois arm part of the Westside.
- The Grand Glaize is an arm of the lake formed where the old Glaize Creek flowed into the Osage River in modern day Osage Beach. It is home to Lake of the Ozarks State Park and the ever popular Party Cove.
- The Gravois Arm is the Northernmost arm of the lake formed where the old Gravois Creek flowed into the Osage River near modern day Rocky Mount.
- Main Street Music Hall Live entertainment: From Opry to "Reelin' In the Years" (60s, 70s, 80s) and also Christmas- something for everyone.
- Go golfing. There are more than 13 golf courses around the lake.
- The Lodge of Four Seasons Is a championship course and one of the most challenging in the Midwest.
- Osage National Golf Club This is an Arnold Palmer layout and has imposing bluffs, creeks, lakes and large bentgrass greens.
- Shawnee Bend Gold Course Is on the westside of the lake in Warsaw an is a 9-hole course.
- Go fishing. There are more than 1300 miles of shoreline on the Lake of the Ozarks. That's a lot of Crappie.
- Big Surf Waterpark Has everything you would expect
- Celebration Cruises Yacht giving scenic and theme tours, dinners, etc. Full bar at Bagnell Dam.
- Tropic Island Lake Cruises- Island themed yacht, full bar- both scenic and lunch/dinner theme cruises; full bar. Located in Margaritaville.
- Party Cove If you're the drinking and partying type, make your way to the Party Cove. (You will need a boat – and be sure to have a sober designated driver along.)
- Rent a boat or a wave runner.
- Seven Springs Winery, 846 Winery Hills Estates, ☏ . 11AM-10PM daily. Atop 160 acres of rolling foothills between Camdenton and Osage Beach, the winery is less than ten minutes from either location. Covered porch and patio for wine sampling and admiring the beautiful views. The winery serves Missouri wines, sangria's, and a few micro-brews and offers wine tastings and a light menu consisting of soups, sandwiches, cheese trays, and bread with various dipping oils. Shuttle bus from lake area locations, with a maximum of 14 guests for $10/person, with a minimum of $60. Please call for a price quote for distances farther than 20 miles from the Winery. Advance arrangements necessary.
- The Strip at Bagnell Dam. Where it all started. Many elements remind you of what it once was long ago. Many great shops, all locally owned and operated. A must see. Candy shops, old time photos, arcades, a candle factory and great, unique souvenir shops, not to mention bars and restaurants.
- H. Toad's at Camden on the Lake. Entertainment complex with pool, swim-up bar, outdoor stage, mall, hotel, indoor restaurant & bar. Regular concerts and good nightlife.
- Topsider, Poop Deck, Tiki Bar. Large complex with multi-level decks, outdoor seating, pool,tiki-bar and night club. Great for relaxing by the lake with food/drink during the day. the night club is for those who enjoy loud music and dance!
- Pier 31 Yacht Club & Marina. Full service marina with outdoor seating & Key West style bar/restaurant. Has a motel and gift shop, as well.
- Aquapalooza (Aquapalooza Lake of the Ozarks), 1232 Jeffries Rd, Osage Beach, MO 65065 (19MM by water). Aquapalooza is the single largest one-day family event at Lake of the Ozarks.
- Yearly, Seasonal and One-Time Events can be found on the funlake.com website, sponsored by the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
- Osage Beach Outlet Outdoor Mall with many retailers such as GAP, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Banana Republic, etc. There is a bar/restaurant as well as a movie theater.
- Dogpatch A legend on The Strip; Souveniers and things you will not find anyplace else.
- The Strip many unique shops- from t-shirts to old time photos.
- Summer USA Everything you ened from swimwear, tee shirts, sunglasses, souveniers, decor, refreshments....
- Hwy 54 has everything you need, from a Hy-Vee to Target, to local and national retailers, restaurants and lodging and entertainment. Worth a drive just to take in anything you may want to visit.
There are over 40 waterfront restaurants along the Lake of the Ozarks.
- JB Hooks. Excellent lake view with indoor and outdoor seating. Piano bar. Great steaks and seafood. Open all year.
- Larry's on the Lake. Right on the water, literally floating. Great pizza & a variety of other things. Tiki Bar. Seasonal.
- Shorty Pants Lounge & Marina. Creole/Cajun food and great drinks. Waterfront location. Seasonal.
- Sunrise Cantina. Great Mexican food and atmosphere. Great Margaritas, too. Water view. Open all year.
- Ruthie D's. Upscale, yet laid-back dining with good prices. Open all year.
- Dog Days. Great location, right on the water at the Grand Glaize Bridge. Great food and they make a great drinks, to boot. Large Tiki Bar outside.
- Schuckers Tuckers- Oysters, seafood and other fare for the non-seafood eater, as well. Bagnell Dam Strip and open all year
- Sergios Taqueria- Mexican right on Bagnell Dam Strip, good food and even better Margaritas. Open all year.
- Lil' Rizzo's Italian food in two locations- one of HH with a cove view and an inland location right by the outlet mall. Open all year.
- The Jerk Shack- Waterfront restaurant/bar serving Jamaican themed food and drink, as well as domestic offerings. Seasonal.
- Backwater Jacks. "Floribbean" themed waterfront bar/restaurant. Known for their Rumrunners. Seasonal.
- Paradise Tropical Restaurant & Bar. Just how it sounds with a great waterfront view on the main channel. Has live reggae music all summer with a real band from the Caribbean. Seasonal.
- Shady Gators Bar and Grill. Great food and drink right on the water. Next door is "Lazy Gators", which has an infiniti pool and rentable cabanas. Seasonal.
- Coconuts Caribbean Beach Bar & Grill- You have to see it to believe it; outdoor pools, bars and entertainment. The theme is of course, Caribbean. Seasonal.
- Bulldog's Beach House. Excellent drink specials and the food is great, too! Seasonal.
- Redhead Lakeside Grill  Right on the water with an outdoor pool; great food and drinks, multi level, so good amount of room, even when busy. Open all year
- Shawnee Bluff Winery on the top of a bluff with exceptional lake views. Near HH/54.
Margaritaville- Formerly Tan-Tar-A, the resort has been updated, remodeled and has numerous new bars & restaurants. You can stay at the main complex or in the Estates section.
The Lodge at Port Arrowhead - remodeled and has a new restaurant/bar called "Fat Pollys"; great view of the lake and has indoor and outdoor pools.
The Inn at Grand Glaize - at the Grand Glaize Bridge, full service hotel with bar and restaurant. Outdoor pool overlooking the lake with a bar.
Many Resorts offer camping; check the funlake.com site under "Resorts"
Lake of the Ozarks is the third most accident-prone body of water in the United States, after the Atlantic Ocean and the Colorado River. In the past, this was mainly because of alcohol-related boating accidents in and around Party Cove. However, Party Cove is no longer the busy cove it used to be. The no wake buoys have been removed. Find out what happened to Party Cove here. If you wish to boat at Lake of the Ozarks, make sure you have a designated driver for your boat.
Carrying insect repellent during the summer months is a wise idea. Mosquito and other chiggers in the grass and brush can turn a fun trip into an unpleasant one. Also don't forget to use sunscreen when on the water. There isn't much shade out there and during the summer you can get a bad sunburn very quickly.
- Lake of the Ozarks State Park, the largest park in the state. See some beauty and caves.
- Cross the Swinging Bridge over Grand Glaize Creek near Brumley, MO
- Osage Beach Premium Outlets go shopping at the outlet mall in Osage Beach.
- Play the arcades and shop the Lake Ozark strip.
- See the castle at Ha Ha Tonka State Park