Nestled in the American heartland, Lake of the Ozarks is the perfect affordable destination for a huge swath of middle America. Just three hours outside Kansas City, Missouri, the lake is lined along its 94-mile length with countless lake homes ranging in opulence from shack to presidential estate, making it a playground that lives up to its nickname: the Redneck Riviera.
On any given summer weekend, the Ozarks are filled with tourists and cabin-goers escaping reality and taking part in any number of classic lake activities: tubing, water-skiing, fishing, or just floating in the warm southern water with a cold drink. My family’s recent visit to a relative’s cabin on the 60-mile marker was spent equally between time relaxing together and boating up and down the lake, seeing homes amazing for either opulence or poverty and visiting popular sites such as the legendary Big Dick’s Halfway Inn (a bar located at mile 47, owned by a large man named Richard).
While fun-filled adventure and activity is a huge draw for the multitudes or tourists visiting the Ozarks each year, the best part of the lake is its remoteness. It is an old place, nestled into the farm- and ranch-stitched hills of central Missouri, formed in 1931 by the construction of the Bagnell Dam over the Osage River. With nothing for miles around, and high ridges cradling the water, the typical Ozarks experience is one without internet or cell service — especially on the more rural western end. That is a rare opportunity, even in a nation known for her vast, beautiful public lands.
My family was lucky enough to enjoy time away from the constant flow of information and chain of distractions omnipresent in the modern world, without the hardships of a backcountry journey. Those hurdles are particularly defeating when your family has young children. As any parent can attest to, finding time to engage deeply and attentively with your children in the fast-paced life of a city can be very difficult. Having the opportunity to put your full attention toward your family, and to have it returned, is an uplifting, happy, and and increasing rare thing.
So, if you find yourself in need of time away from the world, time alone with your loved ones, and are as big a fan of the lake life as this Minnesota native, then the Lake of the Ozarks might just be for you.