Camdenton, Missouri came into being in the 1930s after the Osage River had been dammed and the Lake of the Ozarks formed. The 92 mile lake, made by the Bagnell dam, was the largest in the USA at the time and one of the largest in the world.

It brought hydro electricity to the area and shortly afterwards tourists started arriving. There are now 70 000 homes on the lake, most of them vacation homes. Most of the 1150 km shoreline is privately owned. There are around 3 million visitors to the area each year.

1. Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park
© Eifel/

This 3700 acre state park is situated on the Lake of Ozarks. The main attraction is the ruin of an early 20th construction that was designed to look like a European castle. The businessman who conceived the plan named it after the bubbling water of the natural spring. The building has a sad history, ending in a fire in 1942. Fifteen kilometers of trails have been laid out on the land so visitors can see the sinkholes, caves, bluffs and natural bridges in the park. Boating, swimming and fishing are popular lakeside activities. A visitor center and outdoor interpretation area provide information on the various attractions and activities.

1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO

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2. Bridal Cave, Camdenton, Missouri

Bridal Cave, Camdenton, Missouri
© Bridal Cave

A story of a wedding in the early 1800s, as told by the Osage Native Americans that lived in the area, is the origin of the cave's name. Fittingly, it can be hired for weddings in the modern era and more than 3000 couples across the globe have done so. The area has been protected since 1948 but visitors are welcome. There are frequent guided tours through caves where many rock formations and the Mystery Lake can be seen. Outside of the cave, there are viewing decks, an observation tower, trails and picnic spots. Gems can be 'mined' in the souvenir shop.

526 Bridal Cave Rd, Camdenton, MO 65020, Phone: 573-346-2676

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3. Lake Valley Golf and Country Club, Camdenton, MO

Lake Valley Golf and Country Club, Camdenton, MO
© davidsonlentz/

The golf course was commissioned in 1967 but torrential rain and the rocky terrain delayed construction and necessitated a change in design. Instead of being a par 70 course, it became a par 72. The early years were difficult financially but a volunteer spirit, donations and dues paid in advance helped the fledgling club to survive. Today there is a clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant, locker rooms, ablution facilities and a swimming pool. The golf course and the banquet hall in the clubhouse can be hired for group functions. Regular events ranging from Independence Day celebrations to trivia evenings are held at the club.

367 C.C. Blair Drive, Camdenton, MO 65020, Phone: 573-346-7218

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4. Pepperoni Bill's Pizzeria, Camdenton, Missouri

Pepperoni Bill's Pizzeria, Camdenton, Missouri
© Pepperoni Bill's Pizzeria

Growing up in the Lake of Ozarks was sometimes lonely for Bill. Neighbors were far away so he spent time with his mother and grandmother in the kitchen and developed a love of cooking all the old family Italian dishes. He grew up to establish his own restaurant near where he grew up. It is small but expanding due to increased popularity. Pizzas are most popular, from the 10” Billy the Kid to the 16” Jumbo. There are also gluten-free options, including a cauliflower crust. Raviolis, insalatas and calzones are also crowd pleasers.

On the Square - 35 Camden Court SW, Camdenton, Phone: 573-873-2365

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5. RJ's, Camdenton, Missouri

RJ's, Camdenton, Missouri
© RJ's

Randy Jung has been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years and attracts clients from 40 miles away. His family-friendly diner serves breakfasts and lunches. The food is home-cooked using fresh, local ingredients and the portions are huge. Specials change almost daily but some favorites remain, such as a short stack of pancakes, crispy French toast and Friday's fisherman's platter. There are a range of pies to choose from for dessert. RJs caters for special events and large groups.

275 W. Hwy 54, Camdenton, MO 65020, Phone: 573-346-6133

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