It’s the Midwest’s playground, drawing millions of visitors every year for an always-exciting, busy, boating season: Lake of the Ozarks is “Vacationland” for young and old.
The busiest weekends at the Lake tend to be Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, and that’s no surprise. People build in their Lake vacation where they already have an extra day off, taking either the entire week before or after the holiday, or sometimes just enjoying an extra day of boating and Lake fun provided by the long weekend.
Those are busy weekends at the Lake: so busy, in fact, that the water can get rather choppy in the peak of the afternoon on some of the busiest parts of the water. In fact, while summertime weekdays can be relatively calm, most weekends in June and July see the Lake at the peak of its activity. It’s a blast: businesses are making hay while the sun shines, and with more than 100 linear miles across multiple channels, there are plenty of places to go, whether you’re looking to be in the middle of the action or for a quiet cove to relax in.
But the Lake of the Ozarks’ best-kept secret is a two-week span where the water is warm, the skies are clear, and the boating traffic nearly vanishes: the last two weeks of August.
A bevy of factors converge to make late-August the absolute best time to vacation at Lake of the Ozarks:
1. Fewer people are here.
School has started again (in Missouri, schools can’t start until ____ days before Labor Day, but often school activities like sports and band have already resumed by mid-August), so families are suddenly tied-up with the flurry of activities brought on by the school year. By the third week of August, traffic on the roads and the water is down, noticeably.
2. The college crowd is gone.
College activities are gearing up too, so the Lake—a popular spot for Midwest college students—is almost instantly devoid of all college students. That means vacation homes, boat rentals, and restaurant space are more widely available.
3. The water is the perfect temperature.
Typically the low-80s this time of year, the Lake is at the perfect temperature to cool off. Contrast that with water temps that can often be below 70 degrees on Memorial Day weekend! Brrrr!
4. The weather is ideal.
The mean air temperature at the Lake in August is 77 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That’s only 1 degree cooler than July, which means you can expect full-on summer warmth, before days begin to cool in September, when the mean temperature is 71 degrees.
5. Everything is still open.
Labor Day is just around the corner, and there are still plenty of vacationers until then, so no Lake of the Ozarks business would dare “close for the season” in late-August.
6. The Shootout.
If you time your Lake vacation right, you’ll be here in time for the annual Shootout boat races: the biggest event of the year and one of the most unique boating events you’ll find, anywhere. It’s always scheduled for the weekend prior to Labor Day Weekend, so usually the last weekend of August. A massive, multi-tiered, miles-long flotilla of boaters joins up to watch boats roar down a 3/4-mile race course, one-at-a-time, gunning for the fastest speed at the finish line. The annual Shootout air show is conducted midway through the day’s races, and it’s a huge crowd-pleaser, as aerial acrobat Brian Correll conducts rolls and flips, and even races a powerboat down the course.
You can’t make too many trips to the Lake, so your late-August vacation needn’t replace your May… June… and July ones. It’s just a great way to cap a summer of unwinding at the most popular recreational Lake in the nation.