It's this time of year when you start hearing folks at the Lake wistfully talking about "missing the sunshine" and "ready for spring." And while Lake of the Ozarks is a paradise built for warm weather, there are still some great ways—outdoors and indoors—to get out, and beat the winter blues at the Lake.
1. Go Caving
The Lake of the Ozarks has four of Missouri's most stunning, open-to-the-public caves, and three of them are open year-round! In addition to seeing the caves' intricate and intriguing formations, the benefit of a winter tour through a Lake-area cave is that the temperature stays in the upper-50s: nice and warm!
Missouri has more than 7,400 documented caves; so its nickname, "the cave state," is well-ea…
2. Go Karting
The Lake area has always had a robust go-kart scene. And while there are fewer outdoor tracks than there used to be (and no one wants to go kart outdoors in February anyways), the pace-setter these days is Miner Mike's Indoor Track. An electric go-kart race is the perfect way to burn off some pent-up winter energy!
Open on Saturday and Sunday in the winter, and every day during the Lake's busy season, Miner Mike's added their go-kart track in 2018: a 15,000-square-foot addition dubbed Buster’s Garage. It contains 20 state-of-the-art, electric-lightning, single-seat racing go-karts, and five double go-karts, that race on a 700-foot, roller-coaster-style track. Much of the track—about 500 feet—is elevated as high as 15 feet in the air. The pit area is themed like an old service station, and the track has a Route 66 theme throughout.
The go-karts boast a wireless charging system: charging pads in the parking area allow the go-karts to charge while in their parking position. This allows each go-kart to maintain an 85 percent charge at all times.
Don't assume these go-karts are just for kids — these things are quick, and even come with "turbo boost" buttons to gain the upper hand in a race. Adults enjoy the go-karts as much (or more) than kids do. And if you still feel weird going without kids, you probably have friends who would happily let you rent their kid(s) for an afternoon at Miner Mike's!
Buster’s Garage can accommodate drivers on the single seat lightning karts from 8 to 12 years old for “rookie” speeds and 13 years and up for “race” speed. Kids 4 to 8 can ride for free in the double karts with a paying adult (over 18).
The Lake of the Ozarks' indoor family fun center, Miner Mike's in Osage Beach, opened its ne…
3. Go Hiking
Ha Ha Tonka State Park: the obvious choice -- it doesn't need to be very warm to enjoy some fresh air and even work up a little sweat! 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 stark winter landscape which, though grey, offers deeper views through the woods.
Need a little variety? Here are a few more fabulous winter hikes:
Lake Of The Ozarks State Park: several trails offer varying lengths and terrain. The upside: this time of year, you don't need to worry about ticks and chiggers. The downside: make sure you wear boots, because it's the soggiest time of year. Start at the Trail Center. Click here to view a map.
4. Go Ice Skating
The Ice at Old Kinderhook. It's $13 to skate all you want, and that includes skate rentals. There's also a snack shack for warm (or cold!) drinks and treats, to enjoy while you rest your skate-sore feet by one of the multiple fire pits around the rink.
Monday & Tuesday CLOSED
Wednesday – Friday 5 PM – 10 PM
Saturday & Sunday 1 PM – 10 PM
5. Go Pubbing For Local Brews
An adult-friendly option. There are plenty of places to grab a drink at the Lake, of course. But some of them are especially suited for lovers of new and unique microbrews. Check out:
-Pappo's Pizzeria - Osage Beach: their revolving tap always has 32 beers going, with a wide variety: there's something for every palate. And occasionally their "tap takeover" events give you a chance to taste many styles from one particular brewer. Open daily at 11am. 4705 Osage Beach Pkwy., Osage Beach, MO 65065
-Lake of the Ozarks Brewing Co. - Osage Beach: a newer local brewing company, serving by the pint, flight, or growler. Sip local brews and enjoy some salty or sweet snacks (popcorn is free!). Hours: Thur/Fri: 2pm-8pm, Sat: 12pm-8pm, Sun: 12pm-4pm. 6192 Osage Beach Pkwy., Osage Beach, MO 65065
-Ozark Distillery & Brewery - Osage Beach: The oldest (legal) distillery in Camden County, Ozark Distillery & Brewery offers six different styles of locally-crafted beers in pints or flights, and you can order pizza to enjoy alongside it. Beyond good beers, there's "genuwine" (as Tom Sawyer would say) Ozark-made moonshine... Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 8pm. 1684 Hwy KK, Osage Beach, MO 65065
Looking for local brews at Lake of the Ozarks? Here's where to go.
6. Go Swimming -- Or Watch Others Do It
It's a real option! For the especially adventurous, there's the Polar Plunge, where you take a hop in the frigid Lake. This year's Plunge is set for Saturday, Feb. 27, and the Lake temp is currently in the low-40s.
There are also indoor pools at the YMCA and in Laurie, the Westlake Aquatic Center.
7. Go Fishing
Winter months can be excellent for fishing—as long as you don't mind the cold.
Chris Jones, who runs the Catfish Pursuit Guide Service, chases blue cats even in the cold of January. He likes the Warsaw area of Lake of the Ozarks, and targets deep channel holes where the blue cats spend the cold months. February can be good bass-fishing. The key, according to long-time angler Brent Frazee: use a slow-motion retrieve to appeal to the sluggish bass. Paddlefish-snagging season arrives on March 15, and it's arguably the most unique fishing opportunity of the year. These huge, ancient creatures are numerous in Lake of the Ozarks, but they won't bite a lure: you have to snag them. Of course, April is just around the corner, and that's when the crappie fishing gets so good, it's hard to do anything else.
REMEMBER: Make sure you're wearing a life jacket! You shouldn't be fishing without one, no matter what time of year it is, but especially in winter, a fall into the frigid water can be quickly fatal.
Lake of the Ozarks offers plenty of adventure—indoors and outdoors—during the offseason. And, of course, warm weather is just around the corner.