Is there anything better than a weekend spent at a lake? They’re the perfect place to relax, swim, fish, canoe, kayak, or whatever else your heart desires. There are so many fabulous lakes in Missouri for you to choose from, spread out across the state. But these are my favorite Missouri lakes to help you plan your next weekend getaway.
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The Best Lakes in Missouri
In alphabetical order for easy reference.
Blue Springs Lake
To start things off we have the Blue Springs Lake, one of the more popular lakes of this list. It is located near Lee Summit, Missouri built in 1982 and is known more as a party lake than anything else. It has great swimming holes along with tubing and other fun recreational activities such as shopping, eating, boating, tours, and mini-golf.
If you have any plans of going to this lake make sure to bring some extra cash along with large amounts of sunscreen.
Bull Shoals Lake
Next up is the Bull Shoals Lake, one of the less popular lakes in Missouri as it is located on the border sharing half of its area with Arkansas. It is more known for its fishing and doesn’t have very many tourists or recreational activities. This is a true hidden gem!
While it is man-made like many of the other lakes on this list, it is almost only used as a flood control lake. If you are looking for a small quiet lake that won’t have crowds, than this is the one for you.
Creve Couer Lake
The Creve Couer Lake is next up on our list and this is one of the most restrictive lakes on our list. This lake is a part of the Lone Elk Park and can be more easily compared to the private lakes than any public lake out there.
Not only are you not allowed to swim, but no boats with a gas motor are also allowed on the waters of this lake. However, the exclusivity makes it a great place to relax.
While Fellows Lake is one of the smaller lakes on this list. It is near the Ozarks and is located in Springfield, Missouri, making it a hot tourist attraction.
While it’s not the most popular lake out there, you are still able to do a lot of different activities such as shopping, eating out, and fishing on this lake. This lake is a control lake for a dam so it is known to be flooded if need be.
If you are looking for a smaller lake that still has some tourist destinations then this is the lake for you.
Francis Case Lake
The Francis Case Lake is a Missouri lake that is almost only known for its fishing, and while this is by no means a big lake it does get a good amount of traffic due to a large number of different fish species that live here.
This along with the deepest part of the lake being 140 feet deep and that the levels are controlled by the connected dam make this lake a popular fishing destination.
Jacomo Lake is next up on our list and this is another lake with a lot of rules. This lake is run by Fleming Park and as such is more like a private lake than any public ones.
It has no outside businesses that are not partnered with Fleming Park and all the boat rental prices and entree fees are controlled by Fleming Park. You are not allowed to swim in this lake and fishing while allowed is more restricted.
However, this is a great place to kayak.
Longview Lake is the third biggest lake on our list. This lakes has pretty much everything you are probably looking for when looking at different lakes to visit. It has fishing, tourist attractions, eating, shopping, and camping.
If you plan on visiting this lake make sure you call and get a reservation to your choice of residence before you go.
An important note is that this is a seasonal lake, it is controlled by the core of engineers and most parts of the lake open in March and close in November.
Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake is one of the bigger lakes in terms of size alone and is a great fishing destination. However, it’s not flush with the same tourist-friendly services as some of the more well known Missouri lakes on our list.
It does allow swimming, kayaking, and boating anywhere in the lake but if you do plan on visiting make sure your scout the area for places to eat beforehand because your choices are going to be limited. Or you can bring your own!
Mozingo Lake is the fourth biggest lake on this list. It has everything from tourism to fishing but is a little more on the strict side as its owned by the Maryville town and is that town’s water supply.
Yep you read right this town does not use water towers, instead, they take the water out of this lake and pump it where it’s needed.
Due to this, the water levels are constantly changing and can make it hard for some fish to live in the lake.
Norfolk Lake is a bit of a conundrum for fishing enthusiasts, but it’s a nice lake to visit. Because 95% of the lake is in Arkansas, and only 5% of the lake is fishable by Missourians.
This means that if you accidentally cross the lake border and don’t even realize it, you could get in trouble for fishing with the wrong state permit. If you’re thinking about going to this lake I recommend planning very carefully.
The Ozark Lake is tied for the best lake on this list. It is a very big lake and you can do almost anything in it, swimming, kayaking, along with great evening activities.
They only thing that people complain about is that if you do want to fish it is very hard. Not because the fish don’t bite here, but because everyone else that visits this lake it there to party and this creates a lot of noise and wakes the lake so much that the fish don’t swim up very high.
Now if you are looking for a lake that you can party non stop at this is the lake for you.
Pomme de Terre Lake
Pomme de Terre Lake is another lake that has everything you could ask from a lake, swimming, boating, eating, camping and more. Along with that, there aren’t even that many restrictions and rules for this lake.
It has a good mix of relaxation and festivities and overall has a lot of different and unique options.
If you are looking for a relaxing lake that can still offer some opportunities for nightlife here and there then this is the lake for you.
Stockton Lake is a lake that is shared between over four different counties in Missouri making the rules of this lake pretty strange. Each county has different rules and regulations for their part of the lake making some of the regulations of the lake pretty confusing.
But in every county, most of the same basic things are offered. Swimming, eating, some shopping, and basic recreation. If this is what you are looking for then this is the lake for you.
Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake is one of the biggest tourist lakes in the United States. Just not on the Missouri side.
This lake has everything from fishing to bars to mini-golf. The only downside is that all the good parts of this lake are located on the Arkansas side. So if you’re from Missouri and were hoping to visit this lake you still can your just going to need to cross the border to find the good stuff.
Taneycomo Lake is a man-made lake used to control water levels, it has almost nothing going for it except for its large number of fishermen. While many might find this lake on the boring side, it’s fisherman’s heaven.
There is no partying to be found but also on that note there is almost nothing to eat or towns to visit either. If you are planning on visiting this lake I would recommend you plan ahead and travel to one of the few towns connected to this lake so that you can get some home-style grub.
Truman Lake is the other lake on this list currently tied for first. This is because it has everything that you could want. But unlike Ozark Lake that is mostly known for partying, this lake is mostly for fishing.
It does have party coves but not that many people go to them. It has good food, places to stay, and a lot to do. If you are thinking about going to stay a few days at a lake this is the one I recommend.
If you do decide to visit I recommend going to Bucksaw Resort and Marina they are the best known on this lake and have the most reasonable prices. Along with that, they have everything I mentioned above.
Wappapello Lake is the last lake on our list. This lake is located pretty much right outside of Saint Louis and has everything you could want: swimming, eating, recreation, and some partying.
The only downside right now is that it’s currently controlled by the army core of engineers is required to get your reservation a week in advance. But if none of that bothers you then this is the lake for you.
Missouri Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Heading out on the road?
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
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Corwyn is an 18-year-old Missourian and author who likes to play games, write and study computer science. He is currently attending Central Methodist University and is working on his third book. In his free time, he loves exploring his home state.