Whenever I think about a beach trip, I usually think about an escape to the Gulf Coast of Texas. But did you know there are actually some great sandy beaches in Missouri you can enjoy that are so much closer to home?
Yes, these are Missouri lake beaches, but what’s more Americana than a lake vacation? Here are the best Missouri beaches perfect for a day trip, weekend getaway, or even a full week beach vacation!
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How to Get to Missouri’s Beaches
Well, if you’re a Missouri local then you probably already know that getting around the state is really tough without a car. I didn’t have a car the first two years I lived in Kansas, and whenever we headed over the border into Kansas City we had to borrow some wheels.
Since you really need your own vehicle to make this work, I have tips below for renting a car if you don’t have one.
The good news is that most of these are easy day trips from many parts of Missouri, so hopefully, you can find one or two Missouri beaches that piques your interest. However, if you do decide to stay nearby, all of these would make excellent Missouri weekend getaways.
Tips for Renting a Car in Missouri
It’s awfully hard to get around Missouri without a car. Trust me, I’ve tried! Typically, I drive to Missouri from Oklahoma or Kansas, but when I don’t have access to my own wheels I use Discover Cars to rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Best Beaches in Missouri
In no particular order…
Long Creek Campground Beach on Table Rock Lake
The great thing about Table Rock Lake is its almost endless options for any visitor; whether you’re going for the beach, camping, or the vacation experience, you’re sure to enjoy a variety of fabulous events including boating, fishing, hiking, water-skiing, camping, sightseeing, etc.
There are a couple of beaches on this lake on the list. The nice thing about the beach at Long Creek Campground is that is has a roped off swimming area with views of the Long Creek Bridge. This is one of the best swimming holes on Table Rock Lake. Just make sure to bring some water shoes because the beach is a rocky one.
Of course, with the many adventures available, Table Rock Lake also provides different lodging options, from hotels to resorts to motels. You can stay at the campground or at another spot near the lake.
Other adventurous options include a spa, swimming pools, indoor and outdoor, and restaurants; all these are located in the Chateau On The Lake Resort Spa and Conference Centre, which offers you a beautiful view of the lake. Whatever type of adventure you’re looking to have, we’re sure Table Rock Lake is a great choice!
The Beach at Echo Bluff State Park
Echo Bluff State Park is one of Missouri’s newer state parks, so it’s still somewhat of a Missouri hidden gem. The fisherman’s favorite, the Spring-fed Sinking Creek, is loved by paddlers and is a great spot for swimming.
The park’s accommodation style makes for either glamping or camping, or you can even pick a room from the Betty Lea Lodge, which boasts spectacular views of the high bluff that earned the park its name.
Other fun options at Echo Bluff include biking, hiking, and kayaking. The remarkable thing about Echo Bluff State Park is its uniqueness in giving a feel of modern and vintage surroundings all at once. It’s an excellent Missouri beach for families looking to relax as well as couples without kids looking for adventures.
Public Beach #1 at Lake Of The Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks is famous for a reason – it’s so much fun! A lake that harbors a cavern along its shorelines, it provides an excellent experience for visitors who enjoy alone time. Yet it’s also got great places to party and enjoy the fun with family and friends. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here!
For those who want to do more than swim, Lake of the Ozarks offers fun activities such as boating, cycling, hiking, and even horse riding. There are also park stores for purchasing the necessary items needed for a water adventure, should you forget anything.
Accommodation options include outpost cabins, yurts, and campsites. Also, there are three picnic areas where visitors can have lovely picnic lunches. Yet, visitors are a few minutes away from other entertainment options.
Lake Of The Ozarks Public Beach #1 is a place to experience nature in its purest forms and the perfect spot to set up on the beach for the day. This is one of the best sandy beaches in Missouri, so it’s great for families with little kids who might not enjoy a Missouri rock beach quite as much.
Moonshine Beach at Table Rock Lake
Known to be the biggest sand beach in southwest Missouri, Moonshine Beach is located along the shores of Table Rock Lake, towards its northern end. For recreation, Moonshine Beach provides fun options such as scuba diving, fishing, boating, hiking, picnic, and visiting a wildlife site. Yes, you can go scuba diving in Missouri!
Most importantly, it is known mainly for that classic beach pastime of basking in the sun followed by a quick dip in the freshwater of Table Rock Lake.
Moonshine Beach is excellent for sightseeing, proposals, or sharing special moments or memories. In fact, it’s one Missouri beach vacation you won’t soon forget!
The Beach at Thousand Hills State Park
You won’t just find a sunny beach at Missouri’s Thousand Hills State Park. There’s a lot of important history here as well. Petroglyphs, Native American carvings dating back to 1500 years ago, are among the wonders to be found here. That makes Thousand Hills State Park the perfect destination for anyone who wants recreation and a bit of education on the same trip!
Offering adventurous activities like biking, hiking forest trails, picnic spots, fishing, swimming, boating, a beach, campsites, and cabins, it is an excellent place for relaxation and a fantastic well-rounded vacation experience.
For accommodation, it has seven duplex cabins which are only available from March through to November, but most offer a view of the beautiful forest lake and significant services to see their visitors’ comfort.
The Beach at Stockton State Park
Highly recommended for its serene atmosphere, Stockton State Park is an area known for its beach and water sport, such as swimming, boating, fishing, and of course, their marina has all the necessary items you need for the ideal lake boating experience.
Lodging options such as condos, condominiums, and motels are available for visitors according to tastes and preferences.
If you’re looking to have an outdoor event, there’s a space that can accommodate a picnic or other gathering of up to one hundred people. That’s a pretty big group for a beach day!
The Beach at Creve Couer Lake
The lake, which looks like the half of a heart, is said to have got its name, Creve Couer, which is French for ‘broken heart,’ from the death of a young Indigenous woman whose heart was broken from the loss of her husband. While this is a romantic tale, it’s more likely that the lake formed from the break-off of a tight curve of the Missouri River, leading to its separation from the main channel.
Fun activities at Creve Couer include fishing, cycling trail, picnicking at the pavilion, and spending time at any of the four playgrounds. There is also an archery course, a tennis court, and a golf course.
The beach areas at Creve Couer are perfect for relaxing since they are sandy beaches you can layout on. Don’t spend all your time snoozing in the sun though. There’s so much fun to be had at the Creve Couer Lake.
Rocky Falls Beach
When molten rock, located deep in the earth, made its way to the surface, it cooled and formed the Rocky Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in Missouri. It’s been over 1.5 million years since it was formed. It is a shut-in panoramic view, with water tumbling over rocks to merge with the Current River.
Activities near the beach at Rocky Falls include swimming in the river below, picnicking, and hiking trails on the rocks to explore the falls’ top. It’s an excellent place for sightseeing and one of the prettiest beach views in Missouri.
You’ll find good amenities here for those who choose to stay all day, including public toilets.
Allison Cove Beach at Lake Wappapello State Park
Wappapello Lake is located right outside of Saint Louis and has everything you could want: swimming, eating, and opportunities for recreation. The Allison Cove Day Use Area is where you want to head to enjoy the beach at Lake Wappapello. There is parking available practically at the water’s edge, so it’s great for people who need to go to the beach with a lot of stuff in tow.
Wakonda Lake Beach
Visited by over 250,000 people every year, Wakonda State Park, located at LA Grange in northwestern Missouri, is comprised of six lakes. However, of all the lakes at the Wakonda State Park, Wakonda Lake is the one with a beach suitable for swimming, while the other lakes have options for boating and fishing. In fact, Wakonda Lake has the largest natural sandy beach in Missouri, so its arguably the best Missouri swimming beach.
There are shower and clean facilities located at the beach itself. The park also features campsites, lakeside picnic areas, and trails. Their picnic shelters can accommodate up to fifty people.
Highway 107 Recreation Area at Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake, located in the aptly named Mark Twain State Park, offers picturesque views of limestone bluffs. Featuring boat ramps, hiking trails, camping, picnic sites, cabin for campers, the park is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. However, literary fans will appreciate that the park is where Mark Twain’s birthplace is located.
The picnic shelter, which houses about a hundred persons is great for camping with family and friends. Also, fishing is a big deal as the park provides you with two lakes, the Mark Twain Lake and the Tom Sawyer lake, which are home to many fish.
The main beach at Mark Twain Lake is located at the Highway 107 Recreation Area. This area is protected from boat launches and is only open for swimming.
The Beach at Long Branch State Park
Famous for its Long Branch Lake, known for bass fishing and offering facilities such as trails, campsites, a swimming beach, ADA fishing dock, picnic areas, and shelters, boat slips, Long Branch State Park is found two miles west of Macon.
The campground is available for all times in the year, even on the coldest days of winter, providing a camp store and a WiFi connection, a fantastic venue for a weekend getaway.
The swimming facilities include a sandy beach and a sand volleyball net.
The Wild Beach at Lewis And Clark State Park
While many who come to Lewis and Clark State Park do so with history in mind, those who come for recreation won’t be disappointed! Lewis and Clark State Park is a 621-acre camping park situated in one of the last major stands of old-growth forest in the state. There is no official swimming area, but more adventurous spirited people do come to swim.
Monsanto and Pim Beaches at St. Joe State Park
There are four lakes at St. Joe State Park, and two of them have beaches for swimming. Monsanto Lake and Pim Lake beaches are great for families coming to the lake to swim and to fish. Manpowered boats can also be used on these lakes. St. Joe State Park, located at the Old Lead Belt, also provides activities for guests like hiking, horse riding, cycling, etc.
For those wanting to stay overnight, the park has a campsite which also houses a playground, a camping area, modern restrooms, and other amenities to make your stay both rustic and comfortable!
Meramec River at Castlewood State Park
Castlewood, not to be confused with one of Missouri’s castles, is a state park located in St. Louis County, Missouri. Castlewood State Park offers fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, boating, and hiking.
The beach here is a river beach, which means you need to be careful. While it’s got great views, there is an undertow that can trap swimmers who aren’t prepared to deal with it. Swimmers who want to enjoy the Meramec should be on the more experienced side and look up river swimming safety. Be sure to heed any signs or other park warnings.
The park straddles the valley of Meramec river, so it has some truly gorgeous views. Elsewhere the park has biking trails and is considered one of the best places for mountain biking in St. Louis County. It’s a great spot for bikers of all levels, so amateurs and first-times can still feel comfortable.
Famous for being a family-friendly destination for the summer season, Fugitive Beach, located eight miles to the south of Rolla, is a sand beach in Missouri with over one acre of water.
It features a quarry beach, cliff jumps, slides, a restaurant, etc., and usually available from May through September. It’s best enjoyed if you’re spending a night or two. Honestly, it’s the closest you’ll get to the Mediterranean in Missouri.
It’s history is a bit of a kick. The owner Mark Kearse decided to use abandoned quarries for a recreational area, which turned the former work zone it into a one-stop for tourists.
The blue color the quarries add to its allure, coupled with the modern-day accommodations, make it a family-friendly site for guests. They offer pavilion rentals, cliff jumps, sand volleyball, and the famous Ricky and Bobby’s Beach Bar and Grill.
The Swimming Beach at Watkins Mill State Park
Watkins Mill State Park offers visitors a chance to visit a historic mill, but swimmers will prefer visiting the large sand swimming beach that is located at the north end of the lake near the picnic areas. A change house is located near the beach for comfort.
Located close to Excelsior Springs, Kansas City, the park also offers camping, nature programs, picnicking, and boating, making it terrific for excursions.
The Beach at Finger Lakes State Park
Finger Lake State Park features off-road riding as its most famous activity. Other activities include swimming, boating, fishing. The swimming area is a sandy beach that includes a roped-off swimming area, so it’s great for families traveling together who need to keep an eye on active children in the water. The water in the lake is suitable for fishing, scuba diving, swimming, and canoeing.
Located close to Columbia, Finger Lakes was once a coals strip mining operation, which now provides various amusement options to guests after being transformed to a recreational site. Its motor trails are its major draw.
The Beach at Lake Lincoln at Cuivre River State Park
For a delightful experience, a visit to Cuivre River State Park in the summer will be unforgettable. It’s a nature lover’s delight! Swimming is available at Lake Lincoln, which has an accessible sand beach area set aside for swimmers to enjoy. The lake is also great for fishing.
For those who want to stay overnight, the park provides modern and rustic campsites for guests who are there to stay a few days. Cuivre River State Park has natural benefits for nature lovers, including woodlands, sinkhole ponds, rock bottom streams, and native prairie.
The River Beaches at Washington State Park
Owning three three hiking trails and a big river, hikers and swimmers will be glad to go for a dip, hike, etc. . Petroglyph, hiking shelters, and amazing Ozarks views combine to give Washington State Park a distinctive feel. It provides for a Missouri beach experience like no other.
The Rock and Sand Beaches at Longview Lake
The last beach on this list is definitely not the least, as Longview Lake is one of the most photogenic spots in the entire state!
Longview Lake Beach hosts special events throughout the summer, including a very popular movie series. The beach features lifeguards, covered eating areas, a sand volleyball net, and cleaning facilities.
Longview Lake Beach is also where Rowdy Ribbit’s Inflatable Water Park is located, which is independently owned and requires a separate fee.
Missouri Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
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.
Pin this Guide to the Best Missouri Beaches for Your Missouri Adventures!
Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!