Lake of the Ozarks has been making many headlines of late. With the gritty family drama "OZARK" on Netflix, starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, the spotlight has been shining on this premier Midwest vacation destination in your backyard.
The series revolves around the Byrd family as they relocate from Chicago to Lake of the Ozarks in order to start anew and escape the claws of a drug cartel. Visit the area and see some of the spots where the show was filmed or that inspired settings in the series.
Although the show makes for gripping viewing, it's worth keeping in mind that it's a dramatic presentation. The real Lake of the Ozarks was voted the "Best Recreational Lake" in the U.S. by readers of USA Today.
"You certainly have to take into consideration that 'OZARK'  is a fictional story," says Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau. "And, I'd say the most fictionalized part of the storyline is that the Lake of the Ozarks is depicted as a dubious location, when in reality we have a well-established reputation for being a family-friendly vacation destination where generations of families come back year after year to enjoy themselves and the area. It's an entertaining portrayal, for sure.”
For anyone that's watched the show, a figure that gets mentioned repeatedly is that the Lake has 1,150 miles of shoreline. This is true. Situated in the Osage River basin, the meandering Lake of the Ozarks is fed by two major rivers, the Osage and Niangua, as well as five smaller tributaries. The Lake is comprised of the main channel and four different "arms," each named after its contributing watershed. However, unlike its portrayal in the series, the Lake's shoreline isn't all remote forests and intimidating escarpments, although those do exist in places. The Lake area is more known for its warm and generous hospitality and varieties of entertainment and recreation.
While there are miles of pristine stretches of hardwood forests and impressive cliffs in the Lake’s upper reaches, much of the Lake's shoreline is developed and presents many opportunities for visitors to enjoy the Lake's beauty and myriad activities. There's an adventure awaiting for nearly every 1,150 miles of shoreline. In fact, many of the Lake's landmarks are not only represented by a physical address but also by the prevalent designating mile marker (MM), placing the landmark's location by water in relation to the historic Bagnell Dam.

Where it all began
Starting at the beginning, or the 0 MM, the Lake of the Ozarks was born in 1932 with the completion of Bagnell Dam. Visitors can walk across the historic structure and also spend a couple hours exploring the quirky and kitschy shops that line the Bagnell Dam Strip. In addition to the shops, the Strip is home to an arcade with skee ball, pin ball and other games; an old-time souvenir photo studio; ice cream parlors; a selection of restaurants and bars and a towering fiberglass Indian named "Chief Bagnell,” a vintage Muffler Man. The shops along the Strip make an appearance in “Ozark” on several occasions. This thoroughfare hosts many family-friendly events throughout the year, including two popular classic car shows: Hot Summer Nights multi-date cruise-in series and the Magic Dragon Street Meet Nationals, one of the largest car shows of its kind in the Midwest.

Resorts and         Entertainment
Away from Bagnell Dam, there are a great number of resorts, bed and breakfasts, condominiums, local eateries, golf courses and more located lakeside.
Between the 1 and 2 MM, boaters will get a glimpse of one of the Lake of the Ozarks' 13 celebrated golf courses, The Ridge at The Lodge of Four Seasons. The Ridge, designed by Ken Kavanaugh, is regarded as one of the top five public courses in the state according to GOLF magazine. And, if you keep cruising around the land mass that's locally known as the Horseshoe Bend, you'll find The Lodge of Four Seasons as well as its flagship course, The Cove, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. around the 12 MM. The Lodge of Four Seasons is one of the Lake's original full-service luxury resorts and features the two renowned courses as well as the nationally recognized Spa Shiki, award-winning restaurants, a marina and more.
In between Bagnell Dam and The Lodge of Four Seasons, visitors will find the fun and friendly family-owned Point Randall Resort, located at the 2 MM; the quaint Bass and Baskets B&B, which also serves as home base for Big Ed's Guide Service, one of the professional fishing guides in the area, located at the 4 MM. Playin' Hooky Charters and Water Taxi, the new Tap and Grill Lakeside Brew Haus restaurant, Shady Gators cajun-inspired multi-tiered restaurants and entertainment complex as well as Camden on Lake Resort and Marina, also home to a multi-tiered entertainment complex, are all around the 7 MM. Tap and Grill, Shady Gators and Camden on the Lake all feature live musical entertainment throughout the warmer months of the year and all feature swim-up bars and delicious food.
Alhonna Resort in Lake Ozark, located on the 8 MM of the main channel of the Lake, has a special relationship to the Netflix drama. Bill Dubuque, the creator and writer of the series, worked at Alhonna during the summers of his late teens and based the Blue Cat Lodge, a major setting in the show, on this local family-owned fishing resort. Alhonna has been a mainstay for family-friendly accommodations for nearly 40 years and offers a variety of lodging options, including multi-bedroom cabins complete with kitchens, living rooms and decks overlooking the waters of the Lake. Alhonna also hosts many amateur fishing tournaments throughout the year and its restaurant, Bobber's, serves savory down-home meals from March through October. Guests at Alhonna can take advantage of the three swimming pools, two hot tubs, lakeside sandy swimming beach, playground, boat and kayak rentals as well as the fishing docks.
Also around the 8 MM is Mallard Point Resort and right across the water is Eagle's Nest Resort, both favorites of families and groups that have been traveling to the Lake of the Ozarks for years. Around the 10 MM, there's Frankie and Louie's Beachfront Bar & Grill, where the hungry and thirsty can get a bite to eat and enjoy tasty beverages at the tropical-themed lakeside restaurant overlooking a sandy beach. Located next to Frankie and Louie's is Super Dave's Paddle Craft Adventures where many visitors and locals alike spend afternoons learning to stand-up paddle board in the quiet and secluded cove from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Dining with a View
More than 60 of the Lake of the Ozarks' 200 restaurants are located lakeside, where a delicious meal is made even more memorable by the stunning views of the sun reflecting off the great glassy blue expanse just beyond the dining table. Between the 15- and 16-mile markers, there are several lake-area eateries that offer stunning views of the shimmering waters of the Lake. Baxter's Lakeside Grill features classic American fare served in a dining room with panoramic windows looking out onto the Lake and was named one of the top 100 restaurants in America with scenic views by JB Hook's Restaurant is well-known for its legendary steaks and seafood, as well as its scenery with the Lake as a backdrop. Shawnee Bluff Winery offers a selection of popular menu items as well as a wine bar and samples of its locally-grown and bottled wines. By land, all three restaurants are located on Bagnell Dam Boulevard in Lake Ozark.

Missouri’s Largest State Park
Jumping off the main channel of water to the east, Lake of the Ozarks State Park serves as the backdrop to nearly the entire Glaize Arm of the Lake. This state park is the largest in Missouri's park system with 17,626 acres, and is Missouri's most visited park. With public ramps and a marina, this state park is a favorite among anglers. The park features 12 trails on land ranging from 0.8 mile to 13.5 miles that accommodate casual strollers, backpackers, mountain bikers and equestrians. On the water, there's a self-guided aquatic trail where boaters can travel nearly 10 miles end-to-end to discover and learn about different facets of the park and its landscape. Hidden below the surface of the park is Ozark Caverns, one of four area "show" caves that are open to the public. Informative park interpreters offer hour-long hand-held lantern tours of the area's underground beauty from mid-May until mid-September.

Fun on the Water
Back on the main channel at the 19-mile marker, there's Dog Days Bar & Grill. Dog Days hosts the annual Canine Cannonball, an Olympic-style athletic event for dogs, as well as the Lake's largest family boating event, AquaPalooza, which is a one-day on-the-water/in-the-water music festival.  The 21 MM is home to Redhead Lakeside Grill, recently voted the Lake's best restaurant on the water, Redhead Yacht Club and Performance Boat Center, where visitors and locals alike flock for most of their boating needs.
Tan-Tar-A Resort, another flagship full-service resort at the Lake of the Ozarks, is located on the 26 MM and features a 500-room resort, two award-winning golf courses, horseback riding trails, an indoor waterpark, spa and salon, multiple restaurants and a full-service marina where guests can rent boats and personal watercraft as well. The Tropic Island luxury motor yacht moors at the Tan-Tar-A marina and offers narrated 90-minute excursions around the Lake where passengers can take in the stunning views and learn about the history and residents of the area.

The Underground
Jumping off the main channel again, this time onto the Niangua Arm of the Lake, another of the Lake of the Ozark's majestic subterranean beauties is Bridal Cave and Thunder Mountain Park. The entrance to this show cave, which is named after a local legend of a Native American marriage, is right off the water at the 10 MM of the Niangua Arm near Camdenton. Over 3,500 couples have said "I do" in the stalactite-adorned bridal chapel, earning it the recognition of being one of the 10 most unique, "crazy, awesome and unexpected" places to get married according to Glamour magazine. Hour-long guided tours are offered daily throughout the year and children can pan for gemstones outside the park store.

Old Kinderhook Resort, located along the 12 MM of the Niangua Arm, lays claim to the second-best golf course in Missouri according to readers of GOLF magazine. In addition, the resort has the award-winning Trophy Room restaurant, an 84-room lodge, a marina, a spa and the area's only outdoor ice rink that transforms into a sand volley ball court in the warmer months. Old Kinderhook also hosts the annual Missouri Invitational Fish and Golf Championship pro/am tournament, a unique event that pairs professional and amateur anglers together to test their skills on the water and on the greens.

One of the Best State Parks in the Country
Between the 13 and 14 MM on the Niangua Arm, boaters will catch a glimpse of Lake Valley Golf Club on one side of the Lake and Ha Ha Tonka State Park on the other. Ha Ha Tonka, the Lake's second state park, was voted the fourth-best state park in the country by readers of USA Today and features one of the most photographed sites in Missouri: the stone skeleton of a once-opulent country estate owned by a wealthy Kansas City businessman that overlooks the water. Ha Ha Tonka has also been named one of the most romantic spots in Missouri by MSN Today and attracts thousands of visitors per year to hike its 14 trails, gaze at Ha Ha Tonka Spring and learn about the unique geological aspects of this 3,751-acre park. Lover's Leap, another scenic overlook in the area that was featured in "OZARK” is located near the paved walking trail that circles the "castle" ruins as well.

The Fruits of Our Labors
The Lake of the Ozarks' wineries provides visitors with the opportunity to sample some of the best local wines and enjoy vineyard views at five different stops. Visitors will find a variety of vintages for tasting and amenities such as food to complement the wine, a gift shop, picnic tables and more. Each stop along the trail has its own unique sights, sounds, smells and tastes to excite the senses and create lasting memories.
SugarLoaf Vineyard, located at the 16 MM of the Niangua Arm, provides its clientele the opportunity to sample its locally made wines and dine on pizzas and sandwiches while overlooking the water below. And, before or after sipping and sampling the vittles and victuals, guests can head out on the water in one of SugarLoaf's kayaks to paddle around in the secluded cove, up to Ha Ha Tonka State Park or down to Onyx Cave, a sizable cave that kayakers can paddle into to explore.

Learn More
This is just a brief overview of a few of the waterfront attractions and activities that line the 1,150 miles of shoreline that bring over 5 million visitors to Lake of the Ozarks each year. For a better idea of all that the area has to offer, visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau's website at, or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253).