Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. - Impounded in the 1930s, Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks has been a favorite family vacation destination for decades.  While the area has grown rapidly and includes many new attractions, accommodations and dining options, the Lake still offers glimpses of its authentic beginnings.


Bagnell Dam Postcard

The historic Bagnell Dam Strip, adjacent to Bagnell Dam, is the original tourist area where all the Lake fun began.  The result of its longevity is a kitschy, retro vibe that still exists today.  

One of the original, oversized "Muffler Men," a towering fiberglass icon of the 1960s, welcomes vacationers as they travel across the Bagnell Dam and enter the "Dogpatch Complex." This string of shops includes the Leather Man store, which specializes in customized leather goods and apparel; Grandma's Candy Kitchen, home to rich, homemade chocolates and 20 flavors of its award-winning fudge; a traditional arcade featuring Skee Ball as well as some of the most popular video games of a bygone era, where parents can introduce their kids to Pac-Man and Mario Brothers, and there's the iconic Dogpatch store.


Dogpatch Muffler Man Dogpatch, which opened in 1947 and is based on Al Capp's comic strip of the same name, is the longest continually operated store at the Lake.  Generations of visitors return to bring their children and grandchildren to hear the welcoming "howdy" from the hillbilly mannequin seated in the store's rocking chair.  Dogpatch features an assortment of souvenirs and gifts, including corncob pipes, in keeping with the Dogpatch theme.


The Old Time Photos studio, located across the street from the Dogpatch Complex, offers the chance to don vintage costumes and pose as cowboys and dance hall girls, straight out of classic western movies.  Bagnell Dam Strip offers several dining options, including down-home diner food at Stewart's Restaurant.  Locals and tourists have been enjoying their catcher's mitt-sized cinnamon rolls and huge pork tenderloins smothered in gravy since 1953.  For more information about the historic Bagnell Dam Strip, visit


Vintage cars and motorcycles look right at home along The Strip at annual events such as the Magic Dragon Street Meet, Hot Summer Nights and Bikefest.  The 27th annual Magic Dragon Street Meet, May 1-3, will bring in over 1,000 classic cars and 10,000 spectators from across the country for an event that has been 
likened to walking onto the set of "American Graffiti." For complete details on Magic Dragon, please visit During the summer, Hot Summer Nights, held the second Friday of each month from May through September, is another fantastic vintage auto show that features free live music and entertainment along with plenty of hot cars, trucks and bikes. Find more information at  In mid-September, Lake of the Ozarks Bikefest draws motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country to the Lake for four days of scenic rides, vendor villages, concerts, contests, a bike giveaway and other activities, including the chance to show off their bikes along The Strip. Information about Bikefest can be found at


For an overview of the Lake's origins and current information on things to do in the area, visitors can choose to make their first stop at historic Willmore Lodge, which now serves as a museum of Bagnell Dam history as well as the offices of the Lake of the Ozarks Area Chamber of Commerce.  Willmore Lodge was built of white pine logs and completed in 1930 to serve as an administrative building, resort and entertainment facility for Union Electric employees during the construction of Bagnell Dam.  Willmore Lodge guides visitors through the Lake of the Ozarks' past, and provides them with a stunning panoramic view of the Lake.  Learn more about Willmore Lodge at


While the landscape has changed over the years as the area has developed, one aspect that has remained constant is the natural beauty of the Lake of the Ozarks.  Rolling hills and bluffs are a forested backdrop for the 54,000 acres of sparkling blue water.  The area is home to two of Missouri's most popular state parks. 


Hiking in the Park Lake of the Ozarks State Park is the state's largest and includes activities for every member of the family. Boat rental, public ramps and a self-guided aquatic trail are perfect for vacation activities on the water. On land, 12 trails, ranging from 0.8 of a mile to 13.5 miles, wind through the park for hikers and mountain bikers. Ozark Caverns, located inside the park, offers lantern tours of the Lake area's underground beauty.


USA Today's readers very recently named Ha Ha Tonka State Park the fourth best state park in the country. The ruins of a 1900s-era "castle" stand out amid the scenery of this magnificent park located near Camdenton. The stone structure that sits atop a bluff overlooking the Niangua arm of the Lake is all that remains of the dream of Robert McClure Snyder, a wealthy Kansas City businessman, who began construction on his elaborate country estate in 1905. Snyder never saw his dream materialize as he was killed in an auto accident the following year, but the home was finally completed by his sons in the late 1920s and served as Robert Snyder, Jr.'s residence for several years. It was later operated as a hotel until it was destroyed by fire in 1942. The skeleton of Snyder's dream home is now the centerpiece of the park. Ha Ha Tonka offers 14 walking trails covering more than 15 scenic miles throughout the park. The trails allow visitors to see the topography of the area, complete with sinkholes, natural bridges and springs.  For more information on both parks, visit .


As the Lake area built its reputation as a family vacation destination, hundreds of small motels and family-owned resorts dotted the area to provide accommodations for travelers.  Over the years, the Lake's lodging landscape has changed to feature all types of comfortable accommodations, from campgrounds and rustic cabins and bed and breakfasts to luxury resorts and condominiums, yet those remaining small family-owned resorts continue to be a mainstay for travelers wanting that authentic Lake of the Ozarks experience.

For more information about accommodations, activities, events and dining at the Lake of the Ozarks, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-LAKE, or visit the CVB's award-winning website,


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Phone: 800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253) Fax: 573-348-2293  

P.O. Box 1498  Osage Beach, MO 65065

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