Anyone whose idea of a great vacation involves new experiences and hands-on activities won’t want to miss a trip to Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. Whether it’s learning to paddle a kayak or paddleboard, how to wakeboard, fish or golf, you can “learn it and love it” at the Lake of the Ozarks. And that’s just the beginning. Read on for fun and exciting ways to build the perfect action-packed vacation at what readers of USA Today deemed the Nation’s “Best Recreational Lake” and “Best Lake for Water Sports.”

Endless Fun on the Water

Anyone looking to get in on the Lake of the Ozarks’ endless aquatic fun won’t be disappointed. If a vacationer already loves water sports, then they can just jump right in. However, if a visitor has no prior experience, no worries! There are plenty of ways to learn.

Super Dave’s Paddle Craft Adventures, located in Sunrise Beach on the white sand beach near Frankie and Louie’s Bar & Grill, offers a number of rental options for those looking to paddle around on the Lake. The most popular items are kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Thousands of customers have come to Super Dave’s to learn to paddle in a safe and tranquil setting. Each kayak or paddleboard rental comes with personalized instruction from the owners, Dave or Lisa Bertel, where they teach their customers how to safely and successfully board their paddle craft, how to efficiently paddle and maneuver their personal vessel before paddling their way into the quiet Lake cove. This can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes, depending upon the customer; however, additional assistance and coaching is provided if desired. “We want to make sure everyone is successful and has a great time,” Dave says.

Many area lakefront resortsvacation rental homes and condominiums offer kayak and paddleboard rentals, too. In addition, both of the Lake of the Ozarks-area state parks offer paddle craft rentals for their guests and also offer periodic “Learn2 Paddle” seminars conducted by certified State Park personnel.

For higher-speed water sports, Kirby’s School of Wake is a great place to start. Since opening in 2008, owner and professional wakeboarder Kirby Liesmann has helped hundreds of people learn to wakeboard and wakesurf through individual sessions, classes and camps during the summer months. Whether it’s their first time on a board or if they’re trying to nail a gnarly new trick, students at the School of Wake find Kirby’s relaxed, no-pressure teaching style a fun way to spend some time on the water. A day of wakeboarding or wakesurfing could be a wonderful “exclamation mark” for any Lake vacation. For complete details on Kirby’s School of Wake, including the cost of lessons and a schedule of camps and clinics, visit

Get a Line on Fishing at the Lake

The Lake of the Ozarks, which has a reputation for being one of the best freshwater fisheries in the country, provides an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in learning how to fish or how to improve their angling prowess. The professional fishing guides at the Lake of the Ozarks are a great resource for anglers of any skill level, from newbies to seasoned anglers. Beginners can learn the basics — how to bait a hook, how to cast, how to tell when you have a fish on the line and how to land a fish — while more experienced anglers can learn new tricks and tactics to increase their odds of hooking up with a fish of a lifetime at the Lake. The fishing guides provide all the necessary equipment for an enjoyable day on the water, including state-of-the-art bass boats, rods, reels and tackle. All a guest needs to bring is a valid Missouri fishing permit (a permit is not required for anyone under the age of 16 or over the age of 65).

“I enjoy taking someone that’s never fished before and helping them learn not just how to catch a fish, but how to tie on a lure and learn every aspect of fishing from start to finish,” says Ed Franko, owner of Big Ed’s Guide Service and co-owner of Bass and Baskets Bed and Breakfast in Osage Beach. “The biggest thrill I get is seeing the happiness on my customers’ faces when they’ve learned something new and have success by catching their very first fish or their first fish using a new approach. They light up and their excitement is contagious. It can be a life-changing experience. And, I’ve found you’re never too old to learn something new. I’ve been doing this for years and I still learn something new every time I’m on the water.”

The fishing guides at the Lake love what they do and they love sharing their knowledge with their guests. A guided fishing trip for up to two people at the Lake begins at $350 for a half-day (four hours) of fishing which includes your guide, their bass boat and all the necessary tackle. A complete list of Coast Guard-certified fishing guides at the Lake of the Ozarks can be found on the Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website at

Practice With a Pro

As we all know, “practice makes perfect.” So, what do you do when you want to learn a new skill or perfect an existing one. You practice, practice, practice. And, when you’re able to learn and practice with a pro, all the better.

Those that have ever had the desire to learn the game of golf or improve their play make sure to carve out a few hours to learn and practice with one of the many PGA golf professionals at the Lake of the Ozarks. Whether it’s your first time holding a club or you’ve been playing for years, the Lake’s golf pros can be a tremendous help.

According to Paul Leahy, president of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Council and director of golf at Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach, the Lake of the Ozarks offers an incredible opportunity to learn the game of golf. “We have some of the best and most experienced professional golf instructors here at the Lake, so it’s very easy to get help with your golf game. A pro can help you with your stance, your swing, your whole approach and can make a world of difference. Working with a pro instructor can be a lot of fun and very beneficial, too.”

Most of the Lake of the Ozarks’ 13 incredible courses offer one-on-one golf tutorials with PGA professional instructors to ensure that visitors have a great first experience and/or improve their game while at the Lake. Personal attention and, in many cases, state-of-the-art video analysis will help iron out the kinks in any golfer’s swing and help newcomers to the game of golf develop a solid foundation and appreciation for the sport. All the Lake-area courses offer various practice facilities so golfers can work on long drives from the tees and master their short game on putting and/or chipping greens. Once a golfer spends a couple hours with a pro or working on their game on the practice range, they’ll have the confidence to put their skills to the test on any of the courses at the Lake. For more information on golf at the Lake and a list of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail courses, visit For details on available practice facilities and golf lessons, click on the course of your choice to learn more.

Let Mother Nature Be Your Mentor

It’s no secret that Mother Nature holds many treasures and that much can be learned from spending time outdoors.

For the outdoorsy types, the Lake of the Ozarks’ two state parks provide a world of possibilities for exploration.

Each of the Lake’s state parks have their own claim to fame: Lake of the Ozarks State Park is Missouri’s largest and most visited state park, and Ha Ha Tonka State Park was named the “Most Beautiful Place in Missouri” by Condé Nast Traveler and voted the fourth-best state park in the country by readers of USA Today. Both celebrated state parks have friendly naturalists and interpreters who can enhance visitors’ experiences at the parks with a wealth of knowledge about the flora, fauna, geographical and topographical makeup of the parks and the natural areas available within. The parks’ naturalists and interpreters are always happy to answer any questions visitors may have about their respective park, its history and fascinating features.

And, for the self-starters, self-guided trail maps, species note cards and brochures help hikers at both parks learn about and identify different plants, trees and wildlife that can be found along the 25 trails located within the parks. Thousands of people visit the parks each year and many come back time and time again and always see, learn or experience something new. Both parks are open year around and admission is free. For more information about both parks, visit the state parks page at

Additionally, the Lake of the Ozarks’ four spectacular “show” caves offer intrepid explorers and first-time cavers an entertaining way to learn about geology, hydrology and anthropology while discovering the underground beauty found at the Lake of the Ozarks.

The Lake’s “show” caves are wild caves that have been “tamed” through tremendous work and dedication. They feature paved walkways, bridges, hand rails and lights that have been installed for the convenience of viewing nature’s subterranean sights safely and with little effort. No special clothing or equipment is necessary to tour these caves. However, with constant temperatures between 50-60 degrees, visitors are encouraged to wear a light jacket and comfortable walking shoes. For those interested in exploring and learning more about the region’s caves, Bridal Cave, Jacob’s Cave and Stark Caverns each offer entertaining guided tours year around while Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park is open for tours from mid-May through mid-September. Visitors should check with the cave of their choice for pricing and tour schedules.

An Elevated Experience

On the opposite end of the spectrum from caving, there are numerous opportunities at the Lake of the Ozarks to really soar through the skies for an incredible hands-on experience.

For a birds-eye view of the Lake of the Ozarks, there’s no better option than an aerial tour with Lake Ozark Helicopters. Get a sky-high glimpse of Historic Bagnell Dam, the serpentine Lake of the Ozarks, “Million Dollar Row,” wineries, golf courses and the Lake of the Ozarks’ two state parks. Lake Ozark Helicopters offers six standard tours with the option to customize your trek. Their pilots are wonderful tour guides sharing information on the history of the Lake of the Ozarks as well as background information on the different landmarks and attractions highlighted during the tours.

For nearly 40 years, Paradise Parasail, located next to the Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark, has been taking customers up to 500 feet above the water for a thrilling yet peaceful ride and a one-of-a-kind view of the Lake of the Ozarks. Going up with Paradise Parasail is an experience like none other at the Lake.

A little closer to earth, the newly opened Adrenaline

Zipline in Camdenton offers the Lake area’s first zipline 

canopy tour. Adrenaline’s Osage-8 Canopy Tour features eight different ziplines with tours lasting approximately two hours taking visitors on a high-flying tour into the heart of the Ozarks. The experienced team at Adrenaline Zipline acts as personal cheerleaders and work hard to ensure every guest feels safe and confident during their adventure, oftentimes helping hesitant guests overcome their “pre-zip jitters” or fear of heights.

Malted Monkey, located on the Historic Bagnell Dam “Strip,” is one of the Lake’s newest entertainment options and includes an outdoor ropes course that reaches up to 60-feet high across three levels and features over 45 obstacles. Customers at Malted Monkey get to navigate the three-story obstacle course, climbing, swinging and jumping their way from station to station. And, the ground-level cafe specializes in smash burgers and custom milkshakes for a refreshing treat when guests are finished with the ropes course.

The trained staff at Paradise Parasail, Adrenaline Zipline and Malted Monkey walk their guests through the safety protocols as well as the process of how to properly wear and use the necessary helmets, harnesses and hand signals to ensure that each customer has the most exciting and enjoyable experience possible. Interested visitors should check with each business for their respective rules and safety guidelines, minimum age, height and/or weight requirements and hours of operation.

Your Lake of the Ozarks Adventure Awaits

This is just a highlight of some of the opportunities for new experiences, lasting memories and new traditions vacationers will find at the Lake of the Ozarks. For the most enjoyable Lake of the Ozarks vacation, be sure to make plans in advance and reach out to the business(es) of your choice to check availability, schedules, pricing, safety protocols and guidelines.

For more ideas, or to learn more about all the fun events, attractions, as well as lodging and dining options available all year at the nation’s “Best Recreational Lake” and “Best Lake for Water Sports,” call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-LAKE, or visit

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