Are you looking for the Midwest’s premier lake resort destination? Someplace with beautiful boating, outdoor adventures, and delicious restaurants? There are so many romantic and adventurous things to do at Lake of the Ozarks, it’s a perfect setting for a romantic getaway. No wonder Lake of the Ozarks was named the #1 Recreation Lake in the nation by USA Today.
Read along as we take you step-by-step through three action-packed days (and nights if you’re lucky 😉) filled with the best things to do at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Map of Things to do at the Lake of the Ozarks
Below is the map of things to do at Lake of the Ozarks that accompanies this article. It’s divided by days, so you might want to turn different layers on and off so you can see each day separately. You can even load this into your Google Maps so you can navigate off your phone. If you don’t see the map below, be sure to refresh your browser😉.
Day 1: Golf and Spa Day At Old Kinderhook
The Lake of the Ozark Golf Trail offers twelve upscale resorts with championship golf courses. It’s a terrific place to start if you’re looking to put a little swing into your step. The entire trail is fantastic, but one property lured us in – Old Kinderhook.
Not only is their course ranked the second-best in all of Missouri by Golf.com, but it’s also one of the finest courses in the midwest. What’s more, their well-appointed 84-room hotel sits right on the greens. That means you’ll enjoy the spectacular vistas of the exquisitely manicured grounds for your entire stay and not just your time on the links. You can watch the sunset over the 18th hole and wake up to the mists rising off the water features.
Arrive at Old Kinderhook
Plan to arrive at Old Kinderhook in the early afternoon. Check-in isn’t until 4:00, but you want to come before that so you can enjoy the resort. Who knows, they might even be able to check you in early, especially if you’re coming in on Friday for a 3-day weekend.
Old Kinderhook is in Camdenton, Missouri, about a 3-hour drive from either St Louis or Kansas City. An early afternoon arrival will give you a leisurely morning departure from either of these gateway cities and still leave you time to stop for lunch.
Play at Old Kinderhook
There are so many ways to enjoy Old Kinderhook, even if you’re not a golfer. The most romantic option might be the Spa 54 At Old Kinderhook, a full-service spa that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. There’s also an indoor and an outdoor saltwater pool as well as a hot tub. You can always just relax and read a book while you sit on your room’s private balcony overlooking the golf course.
However, if you play golf, want to take a lesson, or just hit a bucket of balls in the practice range, Old Kinderhook has you covered with a full-service golf shop. Hotel guests always receive discounted green fees, but be sure to check for stay and play packages. One final golf note… If you want the best prices and the least amount of people, plan to play a round Monday – Thursday. If you scheduled your arrival for Thursday afternoon or played before you left on Monday morning (when it’s still nice and cool), you’ll save about $20 in greens fees and get a lot more elbow room.
Dinner at 1932 Reserve
Old Kinderhook is a beautiful property, but it has limited lake access. You can see the water from hole seven, and they have a boat ramp and slips available for private boat owners. They can even arrange specialty trips, like a sunset cruise. However, we’re keeping it easy for our weekend guide and suggesting dinner at 1932 Reserve, Lake of the Ozarks’ premier waterside fine dining establishment.
1932 Reserve claims a vividly artistic atmosphere with true Lake of the Ozarks energy, and we couldn’t agree more. They offer flavor-forward New American cuisine with farm-to-table ingredients. We suggest getting a patio table so you can savor each bite as you watch the day’s light turn into the night’s mystique. Be sure to check their whimsical drink menu or full wine list to find your meal’s perfect pairing.
Day 2: Exploring Natural Wonders of Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks has not one but two incredible state parks. Both Lake of the Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers ample recreational activities, including miles and miles of hiking trails. However, Ha Ha Tonka was named the Most Beautiful Place in Missouri by Conde Nast Traveler and the fourth-best state park in the nation by the readers of USA Today, so that’s an excellent place to start. Besides, it’s right next door to Old Kinderhook.
However, we’re not going to end there. There’s one more cool place to check out that totally rocks, but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that. Sorry to keep you in the dark, but we’re not dropping any hints here😉.
Dealer’s Choice Breakfast
You could eat breakfast every day at the Hook Café, and it would be delicious and convenient, but we’re covering that for lunch later in this section. You can also head into Camdenton to try out the locally owned Higher Grounds Coffee House. You could even just pack a granola bar and hit the trail early. It’s all good.
Explore Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Why is everybody talking about Ha Ha Tonka? It’s a little park that packs a powerful punch with tons of fun things to do and beautiful places to see. More than 15-miles of hiking trails in the park connect you to all the park’s highlights. There are even kayak rentals and a paddling trail on the park’s 1/2-mile long cove that’s a 100% no-wake zone. However, it’s the eye candy highlights that will make you swoon.
High atop the bluffs sit the ruins of the Ha Ha Tonka Castle. A turn of the century building styled after a European castle. Only, it burnt down in 1942, and only the ruins remain. There’s also the Ha Ha Tonka Springs, Missouri’s 12th largest spring that discharges 48 million gallons of otherworldly blue water daily. Combine those with 3,000 acres of the best-preserved oak woodlands in Missouri and unique karst formations like balancing rocks and a massive natural bridge, and you get the picture. In fact, if you visit, you’ll probably come home with lots of pictures.
Lunch at the Hook Café
Ha Ha Tonka is a beautiful place to explore, but you don’t want to “smell like a hiker” on your romantic getaway. Never worry, Old Kinderhook is only 10-minutes away, so you can freshen up for your afternoon of fun. While you’re back at base, stop into the Hook Café for a quick and casual meal that will not break the bank.
Cool Off at Bridal Cave
Did you guess what the ‘secret’ afternoon activity was? Bridal Cave is appropriately named because more than 3,775 couples tied the knot here, and Glamour Magazine calls it one of the top 10 “craziest most-awesome places to get married.”
However, it’s not the matrimonious ties that have Bridal Cave as a stop on our romantic tour. It’s here because it’s an incredibly beautiful place to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. The tour takes you through massive flowstone formations on your way to a secluded underground lake. Despite the trail’s winding path, the calcite forms one continuous drapery for most of the tour, making it one of the largest formations in the world by volume.
Dinner at Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina
Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina in Camdenton makes a perfect dinner stop on the way back from Bridal Cave. Enjoy the evening air as you dine on authentic Mexican food on the patio. If it’s looking like a sunset to remember, go ahead and make a memory. Cash out early and head back up to the Ha Ha Tonka Ruins for the best sunset view in the Ozarks. Otherwise, enjoy their oversize margaritas and take it easy.
Day 3: Lake of the Ozarks on the Water
Day three on your romantic and adventurous getaway is dedicated to the water. This is the day where your water spirit plays. From beaches to boating trails, SUPing or sipping, you’ll become one with the best recreational lake in America.
Breakfast at On the Rise Restaurant
On the Rise Restaurant offers a wide variety of hand-crafted pastries and confections that change daily and specialty cakes and tarts. They also offer eight different Eggs Benedict, baked vanilla bean French Toast, banana fosters French Toast Longue, and so many other yummy breakfast creations that you might want to eat every breakfast here. If nothing else, you’ll get fueled for another fun day of adventure.
Cruise Lake of the Ozarks Water Trail
The 17,626-acre Lake of the Ozarks State Park is a remarkable property that protects almost the entire Grand Glaize Arm from developers. It’s the most popular state park in Missouri, with over 2.5 million yearly visitors. Despite its popularity, there’s plenty of places to spread out and find your nature. In fact, there’s more shoreline at Lake of the Ozarks (1,150 miles!) than the entire California coast.
You can see why it would be practically criminal to come to Lake of the Ozarks and not get out on a boat. You can fix that easy enough at the Grand Glaize Marina by renting a pontoon boat and exploring the Lake of the Ozark Aquatic Trail. Starting from the marina, you’ll explore almost 10-miles of shoreline, where you’ll get a waterfront perspective of the park’s history, nature, and geology through 14 well-crafted stops. After you return, you can splash and cool off at the nearby beach, if you haven’t already taken a dive off your pontoon boat.
Lunch at Franky & Louie’s Beachfront Bar & Grill
They say the Caribbean is an attitude, not a latitude. Franky & Louie’s Beach Front Bar proves it. It’s like a little slice of the Florida Keys at the Lake of the Ozarks. The island vibe will surround and inspire you, from the Key West color scheme to Caribbean-inspired food.
Inspire you to do what exactly? It’s hard to say. Most likely drink frozen cocktails and hang out at the beach. Of course, there are worse ways to spend a day.
Super Dave’s Paddle Craft Adventures
How does an average, ordinary Dave become a Super Dave? Dave used to come up from Florida every summer and park his camper at Franky and Louie’s campground. During his winters down south, he saw a friend of his running a rental stand. It inspired him to open his own and, thus, the legend of Super Dave’s was born. Now, he rents paddleboards and kayaks to inspire a new generation. The bay outside of Franky and Louie’s is a no-wake zone that’s perfectly sized to explore by SUP.
It’s not only being the paddleboard peanut butter to Franky & Louie’s daiquiri jelly that makes Super Dave super. He also has eleven grand ducks that he and his daughter raised from tiny ducklings. He taught them to swim and fly, and his favorite, Elvis, follows him home to his camper every night.
Elvis isn’t your ordinary duck either. A run-in with a fishing lure left his mouth looking more like a grapefruit spoon than a teaspoon. At first, his nest-mates were rough on him. Then, after he healed up, they realized that they were bringing spoons to a steak knife fight. Soon, Elvis was the king, and he claimed his spot by Super Dave’s side.
Dinner at The Trophy Room at Old Kinderhook
The Trophy Room at Old Kinderhook is a dining experience not to be missed. They offer an upscale chophouse menu with many of the ingredients grown in the Old Kinderhook gardens.
Unfortunately for us, we did miss our meal at Old Kinderhook. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays and close at 9:00 on weekdays. When we come back, we’ll definitely tell you all about it. Until then, we’ll have to let their hundreds of 4-star reviews speak for themselves.
Wrapping Up Romantic and Adventurous Things to do at Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks isn’t only the best recreational lake in America; it’s also a legitimate romantic destination. By combining its natural beauty with aquatic adventures and the elegance of the golf culture, you get a 1-2-3 combination of things to do that’s hard to beat. It’s like a beach adventure that’s driving distance from much of mid-America.
This romantic itinerary started mid-afternoon, but you can swap it up. For example, you could swap out the second night’s dinner from Ixtapa to the Trophy Room and head home after Franky and Louie’s. That will put you on a more traditional 3-day/2-night weekend getaway format and get you home for work on Monday morning. You can also stay longer and play a round of golf on Monday morning at the mid-week price point. It’s your vacation, make the best of it!
Disclosure: A big thank you to The Beenders Walker Group for setting up a fantastic itinerary and hosting us along with their partners Lake of the Ozarks, Old Kinderhook, and Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail!
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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