"The Lake of the Ozarks tourism family really appreciates the wonderful recognition of being named Best Family Summer Getaway," says Jim Divincen, executive director of the Tri-County Lodging Association at the Lake of the Ozarks. "The variety of the amenities offered here at the Lake of the Ozarks combined with our central location is a perfect fit for family travel."
Adds Tim Jacobsen, director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau, "We are absolutely thrilled to have received such positive recognition by readers of this popular travel magazine. We want to express our thanks to everyone who voted and to everyone who may be encouraged to visit the Lake area as a result." Jacobsen continues, "We want to extend a huge congratulations to all the businesses and attractions at the Lake that were named 'the best' in their category, and special kudos to The Lodge of Four Seasons staff and management for placing in four separate best-of categories."
According to Midwest Traveler, "It was a close race between the Lake of the Ozarks and St. Louis, but in the end 1,150 miles of shoreline won" for Best Summer Family Destination. The story continues, "Today, the Lake is one of the Midwest's most popular summer playgrounds due, in part, to its central location...a day's drive from anywhere in the Midwest...Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri is a place to build vacation memories, which is why many people in the Midwest make it a summer ritual for their families." The Lake of the Ozarks also won second place in the Best Small City for a Weekend Getaway.
In addition, The Lodge of Four Seasons won top honors for both Best Large Hotel and for Best Golf Course, The Cove. "This full-service resort hotel is synonymous with the Lake of the Ozarks," says Midwest Traveler. "Nestled along the shores of the popular Lake, the resort has been welcoming guests for 46 years to its sprawling community that features 357 guest rooms and 2-bedroom suites, 54 holes of championship golf, a full-service marina with boat and wave runner rentals, four swimming pools, a spa (the award-winning Spa Shiki) and multiple restaurants"—including HKs Steakhouse, which placed third as Best Steak Restaurant. Chef Michael Hollingsworth of The Lodge brought home second place honors as Best Chef.
Regarding the Best Golf Course, Midwest Traveler says, "After nearly a year of extensive renovations, Witch's Cove golf course reopened last spring as simply The Cove, but the course is still wickedly fun to play and devilishly difficult in places." The Cove was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in 1971. The Club at Porto Cima, a private course at The Lodge of Four Seasons, earned second Best Golf Course honors.
"Winning this recognition is pretty exciting!" says Carl Clark, vice president of operations at The Lodge of Four Seasons. "It is so gratifying to be named Best Hotel by the readers of Midwest Traveler. We strive every day to provide a quality resort experience for our guests. Evidently that is working, not just at our hotel in general, but also in our steakhouse and golf courses as well, and we are very glad that people come and enjoy all the amenities associated with The Lodge of Four Seasons."
Another Lake of the Ozarks favorite, Tan-Tar-A Resort, Golf Club, Marina & Indoor Waterpark, was named third Best Large Hotel. General Manager Fred Dehner says, "Tan-Tar-A has been a real anchor for the Lake area for 50 years now, and it's been known as a fun family destination for all those years. I believe that's because we have so many wonderful amenities and activities all in one location. You never have to leave the property to have a memorable vacation! Above all, I want to say we are thrilled to receive this recognition, not just for Tan-Tar-A but for the Lake area as vacation destination."
What's the Best Place To Find Quirky Souvenirs according to Midwest Traveler readers? None other than that Lake of the Ozarks original, classic stretch of highway, the Bagnell Dam Strip. The former home of tic-tac-toe-playing chickens, the Strip, on Business Highway 54 just past the engineering marvel Bagnell Dam, offers visitors one mile of attractions and shops that have lured tourists to Lake Ozark for generations, featuring skee ball arcades and batting cages, fudge shops, flea markets, diners, t-shirt and swimwear stores, gift and souvenir shops, psychics, muffler men, a haunted hotel, and a wide range of retailers including the large and unique Dogpatch store, owned by Mike Page.
"Is there any place like the Bagnell Dam Strip in the Midwest? I don't think so!" Page says. "Think back to 1931. Here's this brand new dam and new lake in the middle of nowhere. No city engineer said, Let's build the town this way. It just developed! So what you see is what you get! And the businesses here tune into that; we know what people look for when they come here, those quirky souvenirs! So I was very pleased when I picked up my Midwest Traveler and read that survey voters zeroed in on the Strip's heritage and nostalgia."
Beyond the Strip, Lake-area visitors have a lot of shopping options--including Missouri's largest outlet center, the 110-store Osage Beach Premium Outlets, which came in second as Best Shopping District according to Midwest Traveler readers. "The center offers savvy shoppers savings of 25-65 percent every day," says Candice Wilson, General Manager. Stores include Adidas, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, Coldwater Creek, Gap Outlet, J.Crew, Nautica, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. "Our village-style setting offers a pleasant shopping experience, and our professionally trained customer service staff provides store and Lake-area information. Plus, our online VIP Shopper Club is free to join and offers extra savings," Wilson says. "All this attention to detail and customer excellence hopefully is resonating with our shoppers. We appreciate and value all our shoppers and thank the readers of MidwestTraveler for this accolade."
The scenic natural beauty of the Lake of the Ozarks area also captivated Midwest Traveler readers who named Lake of the Ozarks State Park second Best State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park third best. Bill Bryan, director of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources' Division of State Parks, says, "Having two of our state parks receive such a recognition reflects how much people love their state parks, especially around the Lake of the Ozarks area. There are many outstanding state parks in the Midwest and we're honored the readers chose Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka out of all of them."
Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Osage Beach, Missouri's largest at 17,441 acres, is renowned for its 80 miles of shoreline and two public beaches, 12 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails and Ozark Caverns, offering several unique features and lantern-lit tours. Visitors are attracted to the mysterious castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, as well as its classic karst topography, Ozark woodlands and glades that can be viewed over 16 miles of hiking trails.
Then there's Dale Blue, "the Barefoot Entertainer, who came in second in the Best Local Musician category. With his unique style of humor, blended with blues and classic rock, he never fails to get the crowd up and dancing at Dog Days Bar & Grill in Osage Beach, where he performs most Saturday nights.
For more information about all the "bests" at Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, plus fun events, shopping, attractions, lodging and dining at Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, please call 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau's web site a www.funlake.com.