For the second stop of our #70DayRoadTrip, we headed to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. This is a fun-filled family destination located in the heart of Missouri, and it’s a true lake enthusiasts dream. What if you are visiting in the off season though? During our visit, it was rainy and cold, and many attractions had not yet opened or were operating on a limited basis. That didn’t stop this family friendly destination from showing us a good time though. There are so many thing to do with kids in Lake of the Ozarks in the off season, no matter what your idea of fun might be!
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
This was by far our favorite attraction in Lake of the Ozarks. We were only in the area for a short time, but I can’t imagine anything else beating the beauty, natural wonder and history of this place. The name Ha Ha Tonka is thought to be a name given to the area by the Osage Indians, and is thought to mean “laughing waters.” If you go down by the Ha Ha Tonka Spring, which is the 12th largest in the state of Missouri, you can hear the water rushing over the rapids, and it’s lilting trill sounds a bit like giggling.
One of the big draws of this State Park are the castle ruins. In the early 1900’s Robert Snyder purchased 5,000 acres and begun construction on his dream, an elaborate castle set high upon a hilltop. Unfortunately, he died in a car accident before it could be completed. In 1922, the castle was finally completed by his children, only to be destroyed by a fire in 1942. Hence the sad story of one man’s dream. Today, the ruins of the castle can be visited and viewed, looking much like something straight out of a Wuthering Heights novel, but you can still picture it’s grandeur of days past.
In addition to the castle ruins, a host of amazing geological features including tunnels, caves and the incredible natural bridge can be viewed due to the parks karst geology.
We have visited many caves during our travels, but Bridal Cave is definitely one of the prettiest. I like it for it’s relatively short and less strenuous tour, and for the amazing formations it holds. One unique fun fact about Bridal Cave is that over 2,500 weddings have taken place within it’s depths. The photo below shows the ceremony room within the cave.
Bridal Cave is rated one of the most scenic cave tours, and it is easy to see why. With vast draperies, dangling soda straw formations and giant columns, it wows you from start to finish.
Bridal Cave tours begin at 9am and the last tour leaves at 4pm. Tours are $16 for ages 13 and up and $8 for ages 5-12.
Tan Tar A Resort
This is a premier resort located in Lake of the Ozarks, and while they have a lot of peak season, warm weather activities, they are also a great place to check out during the off season too. Even if you are staying somewhere else during your visit to the area, a visit to Tan Tar A Resort can be entertaining for your family.
The resort features a great arcade that works with cards and a points based system, so you don’t have to worry about carrying around coins. The boys and I had a blast playing air hockey and other popular arcade games with an amazing view of the lake.
Tan Tar A Resort also features a bowling alley. Games are fairly inexpensive at only, and it is a great way to get in out of the cold or rain and enjoy some laughs with your family.
Most importantly, Tan Tar A Resort is home to an indoor waterpark, that thankfully, is not affected by the weather outside. Kids can slip, slide and swim their way to fun here. Unfortunately, we were not able to experience this during our visit, but we definitely hope to return and make it a priority in the future.
Main Street Music Hall
It can be hard finding a family friendly night time activity during the off season in Lake of the Ozarks. Perhaps one of the best options, is the Main Street Music Show. They feature two shows. The Best of Main Street Opry, which showcases a mix of new and old country mixed with some comedy that will have you rolling on the floor. The Reelin’ in the Years show features the best of the oldies from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
We took in one of The Best of Main Street Opry shows, and it was a blast. We are definitely fans of country music, and if you aren’t, this may not be the show for you. The comedy parts were by far the boys’ favorites, and they still talk about them days later. The whole cast does a fantastic job, and this show is a real treat regardless of the time of year.
Ticket prices for the Main Street Music Hall shows are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $11 for children ages 5-12.
Randy’s Frozen Custard
While I had had frozen custard one other time before coming to Lake of the Ozarks, the boys hadn’t. It took a bit of convincing to make them believe that it was very similar to frozen yogurt, only a million times better. One taste though, and they were hooked.
Due to the newly added indoor seating, Randy’s Frozen Custard is now a year-round activity that can’t be missed. There are so many flavors to mix and match and try together, that you might just want to visit each day of your trip!
Don’t think the fun stops at Lake of the Ozarks when the weather is cold. There are plenty of family friendly activities just waiting for you in this exciting Missouri destination.