Lake of the Ozarks is known as the place to be for summer fun. But as the temperatures cool and the trees begin to turn, opportunities for enjoyment still abound. Here are seven of the many things to do at the Lake this fall.
1. The Cave Pumpkin Patch
A couple of years ago a Brumley family opened a playground of dreams near the famous swinging bridges, which has become an autumn oasis for visitors and locals alike. Mark and Joyce Beabout and family have transformed a wooded valley into a pick-your-own, locally grown pumpkin patch with a cave that one can visit overlooking the whole complex. There are pumpkin patch wagon rides, play equipment for kids of all ages, corn cribs to dig around in, miniature pumpkin painting, and water balloon shooting.
Out of repurposed materials, the Beabout family has crafted a unique experience, turning every day of fall into a fall festival. Hours of operation are weekends through October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., price is $6, which includes entry into the cave. At the end of your day, purchase a homegrown pumpkin, and visit the Pumpkin Patch store for handcrafted gifts and goodies.
New this year is the cookshack with onsite Big T’s BBQ.
NOTE: Only cash is accepted at The Cave Pumpkin Patch.
Located at 123 Swinging Bridges Road, Brumley.
2. Jacob’s Cave Swap Meet
Jacob’s Cave Meadowlands is holding their first Swap Meet of 2020 on Oct 1–4, since the spring and summer swaps were cancelled due to COVID 19. The famous event is a celebration of all things local and true to the people of our Ozarks region. Animals are traded and sold, but there is so much more. Last year there was a complete set of hardcover Harry Potter editions in one seller’s tent. Fine quality reconstructed vintage furniture that would be a proud addition to any home was being sold behind a pickup truck at another booth. Hand-forged knives, fresh-baked goods, and a wide selection of food trucks, including corn dogs, funnel cakes, and kettle corn are sold on-site.
Be prepared to walk up and down hills for what seems like miles. You will want to see everything! Kids love getting up close to the dizzying array of small animals for sale. Exotic fowl are on display that can’t be seen anywhere else around here. Open from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., except for Sunday which is 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. Jacob’s Cave Meadowlands is located at State Road TT, between Versailles and Gravois Mills.
3. Demolition Derbies
Although most festivals have been cancelled this year, organizers have continued to put on demolition derbies that are usually associated with the annual celebrations.
With Eldon’s Turkey Festival Cancelled, the show went on with a demolition derby at the Miller County Fairgrounds last weekend presented by Lucky 7’s Promotions, bringing drivers from all over Mid Missouri and some of the best food truck vendors from our area.
The Apple Bash Demolition Derby will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Versailles, organized by H&N Promotions and J&B Promotions. This event will include a Figure 8 Derby, which offers great fun watching compact cars race in a figure 8 pattern at high speeds hoping to avoid a collision. Demolition Derby, on the other hand, is designed for larger cars to deliberately smash each other, with the object to be the last car running. On Oct. 10 Lucky 7’s will host a Championship night derby at the Russellville Lions Club.
4. Take A Hike!
Ha Ha Tonka State Park: The obvious choice! Walking the 8 million (ok, it's only 316, but it feels like more) wooden steps from the castle down to the gorgeous blue springs, and then back up... it's a perfect way to enjoy the colors of fall, perfect temperatures, and beautiful views of the Lake.
Lake Of The Ozarks State Park: Several trails offer varying lengths and terrain. Until we get a freeze, you'll still want to spray down with something to keep the ticks and chiggers at bay. Start your hike at the Trail Center. Click here to view a map.
Lake Area Municipal Parks:
Peanick Park (Osage Beach, Hwy 42)
Osage Beach City Park
Camdenton City Park
5. Cave In
No, we're not talking about buying pumpkin-spice everything or shopping for Christmas decor way, way too early. The fall is the perfect time to go caving at the Lake!
Visit Jacob's Cave, Bridal Cave, and Stark Caverns just to whet your appetite. Bonus: Bridal Cave has abundant fall-festival activities and atmosphere this time of year. The Lake's caving scene offers the perfect outdoor experience when the temperatures are beautiful. Ready to take your caving to the next level? Check out the area's advanced caves for more serious spelunkers, in the article below.
Missouri has more than 7,400 documented caves; so its nickname, "the cave state," is well-ea…
6. Final Weekend At Lakeside Bars
Closing weekends at popular lakeside bars and restaurants are not to be missed. Most of the patrons tend to be locals at this point, with a few city visitors looking for that last blast of the summer season. Bargains are the order of the weekend with many businesses running half-price deals on food and drink to clean out their inventory before closing for the year. It is a bittersweet, reflective time to sit on the deck in the crisp, fall air with the last frozen drink in hand and think back on sunny boat rides in 90 degrees.
Last year I bade farewell to Cabana Jones in Gravois Mills on their final weekend and season with discounted chicken nachos, and our crowd proudly helped drain the pina colada machine dry for half price. The year before, we danced ourselves silly to a Columbia band at Frankie and Louies in Sunrise Beach. This year, Backwater Jack’s is my pick, with Friday night Steak Night starting for fall. Their Caribbean take on lakeside dining doesn’t ever really seem to close in the offseason, but definitely gets quieter and more intimate. Inside their sprawling dining areas and poolside, it’s a perfect Sunday evening place to sit and watch the sun set to a live band cranking out blues music or danceable classic rock.
Open 7 days a week at 11 a.m., Backwater Jacks is located at 4341 Beach Drive, Osage Beach, or the 17.7 mile marker.
7. Visit the Wineries
The Lake area is without an official "wine trail," but that just means wine-lovers can DIY it. There is no better time to visit wineries than the autumn season. Pack a wine picnic bag, or eat on site, either way, you can’t go wrong. The essential wine picnic bag contains crackers or crusty bread, cheese of various kinds, a little relish or mustard, something pickled, plates, knife, and napkins. Once you get to the winery, all you have to worry about is picking the vintages that you want to enjoy. Fall also often brings special seasonal wines that you can’t get other times of the year, such as spiced, or fruit selections such as apple pie, or cranberry.
Seven Springs Winery
It’s a well known destination for events and weddings, but what stands out at Seven Springs Winery is the wine infused food offerings on the restaurant menu. Beef Bourguignon wraps with Norton wine simmered beef, or a Norton burger with the vintage showing up in a demi glaze are a couple of the offerings. The wine list is blessedly simple to navigate: five reds and five whites of the most popular varieties; Norton, Syrah, Vignoles bring unique and local flair. They also offer a few dessert and sparkling wines which are a welcome find. Seven Springs Winery is located at 846 Winery Hills Estate, Linn Creek.
Shawnee Bluff Winery
Shawnee Bluff is a fixture in the Lake's winery scene. With the Winery overlooking the Lake on Bagnell Dam Blvd., an afternoon or evening at Shawnee Bluff is an easy win.
If you're feeling adventurous and effervescent, try Shawnee Bluff’s sparkling tap wine enough. A little fruity, and slightly carbonated, a carafe of the bubbly house stuff goes great with one of their thin crust pizzas and the live band quietly playing in a corner of the beautiful tasting room.
Specialties like wine slushies and fresh salads are enjoyed on an unmatched view from the patio overlooking the main channel and toll bridge at the Shawnee Bluff Winery above the Bagnell Dam Strip.
Golden Rock Winery
Golden Rock Winery is open to tasting and dine-in services. Located right in the middle of town, their wine tastings are free! Golden Rock sources their grapes from several locations internationally. With over 30 different wines, there is surely something for everyone. The wines are named for fun local attractions such as the Party Cove Pinot Noir, with a deep cherry woody hint, or Old Trail House, a California Zinfandel variety. On the white menu there is a HaHa Tonka Riesling, perfect for October, and a Grand Glaize Gewurztraminer, also good with sausage and cheese, with some apples on the side. 11 fruit wines are available, which can be hard to find at some wineries, but rapidly gaining popularity.
Let’s not forget about the food at Golden Rock Winery, because it is a beautiful stand alone restaurant. Bruschetta, Hummus, and meat and cheese platters are all perfect for tasting visits. Thin or flatbread pizza also makes the menu, with regular and gourmet toppings. Located at 955 North Business Route 5, Camdenton.
Shawnee Bluff has bought Casa De Loco’s Camdenton location, and will be opening their third venture at the site called Riverbird Winery. The winery is not yet open, but the low water launch of the Niangua River is open to kayaks.
The importance of the changing of the seasons is to get out and experience the crisp fall air, and colorful display. Have some fun with the family in a laid back environment before the hectic holidays come upon us. Appreciate what a valuable commodity and varied culture that the lake area affords us locals to have fun year round.