When we were planning our fall travel schedule, one place that was a must-do for us was Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Obviously, the TV show Ozark helped feed this desire, but aside from that, it was a perfect location for us at that time. We stayed for two weeks both working at our remote jobs and hanging out with some friends who traveled with us from Minnesota.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park
This summer was spent mostly in the Midwest as we bounced around between Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our time there ended on October 2, one day after our niece was married in central Minnesota. Our goal was to get as far south as possible that weekend, because, as many of you may know, Minnesota can get a little snowy in October (if you experienced the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, you know what I mean).
We had been talking about visiting Lake of the Ozarks and this trip made perfect sense. We would “high-tail it” straight south on I-35 toward Missouri and enjoy the fall leaves change again — and be in warmer weather. So we booked a campsite at Lake of the Ozarks State Park just outside of Osage Beach, MO.
Overall, the park was great. It was spacious between sites (although snug getting in and out of our site for dumping and driving through the very large campground), it had optional 50 amp sites, a lot of trees hiking trails both short and long, picnic tables and fire rings. However, while we didn’t think there would be sewer, we DID think there would be water hookup. But there wasn’t. We only had electric. So during our two week stay, we had to pack everything up to dump and refill water.
Additionally, the wifi for working was bad. We have a hot spot for T-mobile, Verizon and AT&T and I could hardly do a phone call let alone a video call. This location broke our streak of five straight months with no wifi issues. This also fell on a week where I was doing a on-camera media training with a client. So I went to Panera and camped out there for most of our two weeks. Bless you Panera, for not only solid wifi, but also for not kicking me out for staying there as long as 6 hours straight. I did buy myself breakfast and lunch while there too!
Activities in Osage Beach, MO
We were able to get out and sight see a bit as well as try a few fun restaurants in town.
Stark Caverns: We didn’t know that this area was known for its caves and caverns. We did a “black light” tour here and it was pretty cool! They do have lighted tours too if being in pitch black makes you a little nervous. Bring a jacket if you get chilly and no hat needed since you have to wear a hard hat.
Ozark Distillery: This was a nice place to go. It also has a brewery (I don’t like beer so I didn’t try that, although others in our party did). We tried their variety of spirits and brews in a “tasting” and then go sit down for a cocktail. I had a blackberry lemonade made with their blackberry moonshine. It was delicious!
1932 Reserve: This is an upscale restaurant and lofts building right on the lake. If you decide to go, the restaurant is down a steep driveway or stairs, so if you don’t do stairs, they have golf carts that can take you down. We were a little confused when we got there, but when you park you’ll see signs with a phone number to call if you need a ride down the hill. We had a charcuterie board and then dinner on top of that. It was very good.
WFO Watercraft Rentals: We had perfect weather on October 9 when we rented a pontoon for the day with our friends. We enjoyed checking out the amazing lakeside homes, we barbecued, swam and generally had a great day. One note, we couldn’t believe how choppy the main channel on the lake got in the afternoon. There were swells upwards of two feet. So if you’re not super proficient at captaining a boat, maybe you want to leave the boat work to someone else and take a tour.
Hiking at the campground: There are many very nice hiking trails at the state park. The one I did was the Lakeview Bend Trail. It was a couple of miles with some good elevation and it started and ended right inside the campground.
That’s our quick summary. If you have some other recommendations feel free to leave them in the comments! Enjoy your time there if you plan to go!