LAKE OF THE OZARKS, MO – Whether it’s cruising on a boat, paddleboarding, kayaking, or simply splashing around, there are so many ways to find on-the-water fun at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks.
“The Lake of the Ozarks has such a variety of on-the-water recreational activities that appeal to visitors of all ages,” says Lagina Fitzpatrick, executive director for the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association. “There are so many ways to enjoy the Lake of the Ozarks, be it boating, swimming, fishing, tubing, wake boarding, paddle boarding, kayaking, you name it, we have it at the Lake.”
Since it’s impoundment in 1931, the Lake of the Ozarks has always been a boater’s paradise. As such, the “Best Recreational Lake in the Nation” was recently named one of the top lakes in the country for boaters by BoatUS magazine. The magazine listed the eight most compelling fresh water lakes in America and featured the Lake of the Ozarks as a fantastic playground for all kinds of boaters.
If visitors would like to spend their time exploring this fresh water “playground,” there are more than 50 marinas dotting the 1,150 miles of shoreline where adults can rent a boat by the hour, day or the week. The Lake of the Ozarks’ marinas as well as many of the resorts and campgrounds rent a variety of boats, including pontoons, speedboats, bass boats, personal watercraft, paddle boats, canoes and kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
For visitors with their own boats, public launching sites are available in the Lake area’s two state parks – Ha Ha Tonka State Park and Lake of the Ozarks State Park – as well as at the full-service marinas and resorts around the Lake.
LEAVE THE CRUISING TO THE CAPTAIN
Vacationers that would prefer to leave the cruising to the captain can experience an easy and enjoyable boat ride on a leisurely Lake cruise. Celebration Cruises, based near the Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark, offers two 80-foot luxury yachts that cruise every day, with the exception of Mondays. Celebration offers 90-minute narrated noon tours with an optional lunch and 90-minute sunset cruises with dinner optional. Boarding for the noon cruise begins at 12:00 p.m. with a 12:30 p.m. departure. Boarding for the sunset cruise begins at 5:30 p.m. and departs at 6:00 p.m. Tickets for both cruises begin at $35 for adults and $20 for children from 2-10 years of age, though prices will vary depending on menu selections. For more information, or to book a cruise with Celebration, call 573-480-3212 or visit www.CruiseLakeOfTheOzarks.com.
The 75-foot Tropic Island luxury yacht, which moors at Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach, offers 90-minute narrated daily scenic cruises for the public during the summer months. The Tropic Island boards at 2:30 p.m. and departs at 3:00 p.m. Tickets for the Tropic Island are $35 for adults and $20 for children from 3 years to 10 years of age. Days and hours of operation are available at www.TropicIslandCruises.com or by calling 573-348-0083.
In addition, chartering a boat from one of the numerous charter services for a stress-free hour or day can be an ideal way to get out on the water and cruise around the Lake of the Ozarks. For a list of Lake-area charters, visit www.FunLake.com.
TIME TO DOCK AND DINE
With over 200 restaurants and nightspots, there is no shortage of options for great places to eat at the Lake of the Ozarks. However, one of the favorite ways to enjoy a meal is dining lakeside, where the views are as memorable as the meal.
Named by Boating magazine as one of the top five destinations in the country to “Dock and Dine,” the Lake of the Ozarks features over 60 restaurants that are situated lakeside, either with a stunning view of the water or with convenient marinas where boaters can tie up their vessels, step off their boats and onto the dock and walk up to the restaurant to enjoy their meal.
Some of the most popular “dock and dine” restaurants at the Lake offer a variety of fare, ranging from Cajun cooking to classic American cuisine and beyond. And, most feature live musical entertainment and each has its own unique amenities and experiences as well. Although arriving to dinner by water is arguably a lot more fun, having a boat is not necessary to enjoy these great lakeside dining options – all of the restaurants are also accessible by land.
MAKING WAVES AND TAKING FLIGHT
If a visitor is looking to make or ride some waves, then Kirby’s School of Wake offers everything needed to get started wakeboarding. The instructor at the School of Wake, located in Osage Beach, professional wakeboarder Kirby Liesmann, has studied with and shadowed some of the most accomplished professionals and coaches in the wakeboarding industry. Kirby puts his years of experience to use in helping others learn the sport. Since 2008, Kirby has taught hundreds of people how to safely pursue wakeboarding with one-on-one instruction through individual classes, day camps and group clinics during the summer months. Whether a wakeboarding student is just starting out and learning the basics or trying to nail some of the most thrilling advanced tricks, they’ll find Kirby’s relaxed, no-pressure teaching style fun and beneficial to them obtaining their goals and progressing at a speed they are comfortable with. For complete details on Kirby’s School of Wake, visit www.KirbysSchoolOfWake.com.
To catch even more air, Paradise Parasail, located next to the Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark, takes customers above the water for a thrilling ride and unique view of the Lake of the Ozarks. Established at the Lake in 1983, Paradise Parasail harnesses adventure-takers into Paradise’s iconic smiley face chute as the wind naturally hoists riders aloft, sailing up to 500 feet above the Lake of the Ozarks. Parasail rides range from one half-mile up to three miles and run from $69 to $92 per person, depending which ride a visitor selects. To learn more about Paradise Parasail, visit www.ParadiseParasail.com.
A more laid-back approach to enjoying the water is by paddling around the spring-fed tributaries and secluded coves from paddleboards, kayaks, canoes or paddle boats.
Visitors of any skill level, from first-timers to the most seasoned pros, can get their paddles wet at a number of resorts, marinas and paddle-specific businesses.
For those wanting to learn how to paddleboard, the Lake of the Ozarks is a great place to start. There are a handful of businesses that not only rent paddleboards but also provide lessons for those new to the sport. Super Dave’s Paddle Craft Adventures in Sunrise Beach, Paradise Marina and Watersports in Lake Ozark, Sunset Beach Resort’s Adventure Boat Rentals in Camdenton and Wake Effects in Osage Beach all make sure to set every guest up for success. Each paddleboard rental comes with personalized instructions for those that need it on how to safely and successfully get on the board, stand up on the board, how to paddle efficiently and how to control the board before vacationers make their way out into the quiet coves to enjoy their newly acquired skill. Lessons can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes depending upon the customer, and, extra assistance and coaching are provided if necessary.
“The Lake of the Ozarks is a great paddling destination because there are so many different coves where the water is super smooth and each offers unique scenery to explore,” says Dave Bertel, co-owner of Super Dave’s Paddle Craft Adventures in Sunrise Beach. “And, on sunny days, it’s nice to be able to stay in the shade along the different cliff faces. You can dip in the water to cool down and then keep paddling. You don’t always get those opportunities on different lakes or with different paddle craft.”
The area’s two celebrated state parks offer kayak rentals and outstanding locations to paddle around. Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Missouri’s largest and most visited state park, offers kayaks and stand-up paddleboards rentals at the marina located at Public Beach #1 near the state park campgrounds in Brumley. According to Brian Frederick, assistant superintendent at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, many vacationers enjoy paddling upstream approximately four miles on the Grand Glaize arm of the Lake from Public Beach #1 to the historic Swinging Bridges of Brumley. In the shoulder seasons, when boat traffic on the main arm of the Lake is quieter, kayakers (and boaters) can spend the day exploring the park’s Aquatic Trail, a nearly 10-mile stretch of water that runs from Grand Glaize Beach to the park’s main campground. GPS locations are placed at various Lake locations to mark this unique water trail and a special corresponding Aquatic Trail interpretive map provides information about what boaters and kayakers see at each stop. The Aquatic Trail map is available at various locations in the park and is recommended before embarking on this on-the-water adventure.
At Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton, which was named the “Most Beautiful Place in Missouri” by Condé Nast Traveler, visitors can rent single or tandem kayaks from the park’s visitor center. The park features launches and wonderful paddling opportunities at the Ha Ha Tonka Cove near Ha Ha Tonka Spring, Missouri’s 12th largest natural spring. Paddlers can take in impressive views of the towering limestone bluffs as well as cool, clear blue waters of the spring. The cool, spring-fed water in the cove at Ha Ha Tonka is a popular spot for swimmers and paddlers at the Lake of the Ozarks.
All paddle craft rentals are generally based on an hourly rate, though some marinas and businesses offer half-day, full-day or weekly rates. Prices vary from business to business, so visitors may want to call ahead to check on prices and availability of rentals.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO REST
Those looking to spend some time splashing or playing around on the Lake of the Ozarks have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to comfortable accommodations for overnight stays, and many of the Lake-area resorts offer boat, personal watercraft, paddleboard, paddleboat and kayak rentals for their guests enjoyment. Accommodations at the Lake include full-service large-scale resorts and smaller family-owned and operated resorts, as well as charming bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins and quaint cottages. In addition, there is no shortage of fully furnished vacation rental homes and condominiums. There also is a selection of familiar hotels and motels at the Lake of the Ozarks. For those who prefer sleeping under the stars, there are spacious campgrounds and RV parks interspersed throughout the area.
The “Best Recreational Lake in the Nation” brings in families, friends, anglers, business and meeting travelers and everyone in between for year around activities and fun. To learn more about all the events, attractions, activities, and available dining and lodging options, visit www.FunLake.com. Or, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253).