20 Beautiful Lakes in Missouri You Totally Have to Visit

Without a doubt, Missouri is a great place to visit if you want to spend your holiday on the side of the lake, experiencing tranquility as you relax, swim and even fish if you so please.

You can do whatever you want and that’s not all, you also get access to more than a handful of beautiful lakes to choose from when you prepare for the holiday season. The only real problem with this is that there are so many lakes out there that it’s actually quite tough to find the perfect location for you.

You have dozens of picks to choose from, and they all excel at one thing or another, which is why it’s so hard to make that choice. This is where we come in.

For today we have decided to prepare for you a list with the top 20 best lakes to visit from Missouri, in the hopes that we’ll save you a lot of time, money and essentially your vacation as a whole as picking the right spot can truly make or break your vacation.

With that being said, let’s start off with quite a famous pick, one that most people must have already heard of before, and that is:

20. Wappapello Lake

Wappapello Lake
Wappapello Lake / seetheozarks.com

What originally started as a mistake caused during the construction of the Wappapello Dam around the St. Francis River ended as one of the most gorgeous vacation spots in the world.

Anglers looking for a good catch will have a blast here as they’ll find themselves catching fish such as the largemouth and white bass, the bluegill and more.

If that doesn’t sound great to you then you should know you can also go water-skiing and jet-skiing around the lake and you can feel your heart beat out of your chest as you jump over one of the 25 boat ramps available around the site.

19. Creve Coeur Lake

Creve Coeur Lake
Creve Coeur Lake / stlmag.com

Being the second largest natural lake in all of Missouri, you’ll be pleased to find that there’s a lot of lake to go around here which is just perfect for scenic shots for your social media. The only problem here is that swimming is not allowed, but other than that you have plenty of other stuff to do.

If you’re a fan of volleyball you’ll have an absolute blast here, and the local shops offer a plethora of hiking equipment for those looking to get their experience to the next level.

Overall, the Creve Coeur Lake is a great visit if you’re looking to relax and catch a few z’s, maybe bask in the sun and take in the scenery for what it is.

18. Francis Case Lake

Francis Case Lake
Francis Case Lake / J. Stephen Conn / flickr

You can find the Francis Case Lake along the Missouri Plateau, but unlike other picks on this list its scenery is definitely one of a kind, offering a mix of ruggedness and as many have pointed out, it looks as though the place was pulled straight out of an old western.

You’ll find a ton of rugged bluffs, canyons and ravines, all the better to make your vacation here more memorable. On top of that you can always fish around the site as there’s plenty of trout, salmons and pickerel to go around.

17. Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake / wanderthemap.com

Table Rock Lake is mostly known for the incredible look at the Ozark Mountain Region, making this one of the absolute kings of all rocky shores out there.

As you can already expect from it, there’s plenty of activities to choose from including the pontoon boat rides you can rent out, the wave runners and of course, the ski boats. You can even take part in the famous parasailing option if you’re daring enough.

Scuba diving is also an option and yes, the fishing here is phenomenal. Definitely recommend going over to the Table Rock Lake if you’re looking for a good time.

16. Stockton Lake

Stockton Lake
Stockton Lake / news-leader.com

You can find the Stockton Lake on the western foothills of the Ozarks, and while it may not seem like much at first, we highly suggest you take a closer look because this is by far one of the best locations in all of Missouri. Why?

The answer is simple, you have everything you could ever ask for from a lake site. You have the incredible background scenery, fishing, boating, every watersport you can think of, plenty of wildlife to look over and interact with and you can even take part in scheduled horse racing events.

Overall, there’s simply put too much to do here, to the point where most of the time you’ll just waste your time trying to pick out one amazing activity over the other.

15. Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake
Smithville Lake – Clay County Parks

While it didn’t actually start as a popular site, it quickly rose to fame as more and more people realized that the Smithville Lake was actually a lot more special than they believed it to be.

The lake is literally surrounded by the wildlife, and on top of that there’s so much you can do around that it’s not even funny to joke about its humble beginnings anymore.

You can participate in horseback riding events, you can go hiking, you can swim around in the clear blue lake and you can even go hunting or birdwatching if you so please.

Overall, there’s very little that any other lake around the world will offer over the famous Smithville Lake.

14. Pomme de Terre Lake

Pomme de Terre Lake
Pomme de Terre Lake / City of Morris

Despite the fact that the Pomme de Terre Lake is by far one of our favorite locations in all of Missouri, we still have to mention the fact that it’s also one of the least visited lakes in the area. Why? Mostly because not a lot of people know about it.

Even though it doesn’t have as many special events organized around it there’s still so much to do here that you’ll never get bored. You get access to the local marina for example and you can have a blast there for the rest of your stay.

It’s also a great spot for fishing, as you’ll find yourself plenty of bass, crappie and bluegills swimming around ready to be plucked out by you.

13. Norfork Lake

Norfork Lake
Norfork Lake / norfork.com

Despite the fact that most of Norfork Lake resides in Arkansas, we’ll still count it as a Missouri lake simply because it deserves to be on any lake-related list out there and that’s a fact.

The best part about it is the fact that it’s not been tempered with by society, it’s actually pretty much just a haven for those that want to sit around and have a picnic, maybe go hike around the site and feed the deer around the place.

You can even fish and do some bird-spotting if you want to get your relaxation level through the roof, and on top of it all you can watch nature at its finest as you swim around in one of the most peaceful lakes in the world.

12. McDaniel Lake

McDaniel Lake
McDaniel Lake / springfieldmo.org

Being one of the most famous manmade lakes in the state of Missouri, you can already expect there to be a lot of people that want to go to this site so we recommend checking in early to rent a place if you want to spend your vacation here.

You’re not allowed to swim, float or anything of that sort here, but you can go fishing if you want to in the designated areas there.

What you can do however is you can enjoy the scenery since as a manmade lake it has been specifically created to attract individuals, which means that aesthetically speaking, there aren’t that many lakes out there that can rival it.

11. Mark Twain Lake

Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake / visitmarktwainlake.org

The Mark Twain Lake is known not only as a great site for tourists but also as an incredible landmark for human ingenuity as the site generates electricity, controls all flooding disasters and most importantly, provides the whole area with its water supply.

On top of all of that you can find yourself truly enjoying your days here regardless if you’re here to fish or have your adrenaline pumping as you ride around in your ski boat or jet-skis.

It also makes for a great camping site if you want to live amongst the wildlife without the constant fear of a bear charging at your tent during the late hours.

10. Longview Lake

Longview Lake Park
Longview Lake Park / alltrails.com

What started off as just a biproduct of the Little Blue River Project soon caught the attention of millions of tourists as they basically trampled each other for the opportunity to spend their vacation here.

If you’re looking for a great swimming place that you can also go boating in and that is also extremely good for anglers then honestly the Longview Lake is right up your alley.

While swimming is the main attraction here, make sure you also take a ride down the bicycle trail to make that vacation all the more memorable.

9. Taneycomo Lake

Taneycomo Lake
Taneycomo Lake / bransontourismcenter.com

If you’re looking to fish for some trout then there’s very few places in this world that are on par with Lake Taneycomo and for good reason too.

It is one of the most diverse fishing lakes in the whole country and on top of that you can even take part in some fly fishing events if that sounds better to you than regular fishing.

While swimming is usually discouraged because of the coldness of the water, you can still enjoy your time on the kayaks, fishing boats and canoes that you can rent out at any of the surrounding shops. Couple that with the incredible hiking trails and you have yourself a trip you’ll never forget.

8. Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks / lakeexpo.com

Ever since it was built in 1929, the Lake of the Ozarks has been bringing in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year as more and more people realize just how amazing the site can really be.

We’re talking some of the most fun and challenging trails in the country alongside incredible sights to behold and the ever-so-famous annual fishing tournaments that you can take part in as well.

On top of it all we also recommend camping in the area too and when you wake up in the mornings be sure to take a dip in the lake to really make you forget every problem you’re currently facing.

7. Jacomo Lake

Jacomo Lake
Jacomo Lake / Vincent Parsons / flickr

You can find this amazing site around 15 miles away from Kansas City, and despite the fact that it was only created around 50 years ago, it quickly rose to fame as one of the best sites in all of Missouri.

You have a ton of activities to partake in as you can already tell, including the kayak and canoe events, the obvious fishing stations and most importantly you can also take part in the dry sailing events that have brought tourists from all around the world to try out at least once during their lifetime.

6. Harry S. Truman Lake

Harry S. Truman Lake
Harry S. Truman Lake / wikipedia.org

Being the largest lake in all of Missouri, you can already guess that there’s a lot of things to do here. You get to observe the natural wildlife habitat and you can even camp out next to them for an experience you’ll never forget.

You can explore the whole lake by kayak or canoe, although we wouldn’t recommend going too far since it is a whopping 958 miles large so you can easily get lost on the water if you’re not careful.

Fishing wise it’s any angler’s dream come true and it also offers plenty of other planned events that you can’t find anywhere else on this planet.

5. Fellows Lake

Fellows Lake
Fellows Lake / news-leader.com

If you’re looking to fish your heart out then the Fellows Lake is the perfect place for you simply because it’s commonly referred to as Missouri’s most famous muskellunge fishery and for good reason too.

But hey, if you’re not looking to take advantage of that then you can still have a blast here by enjoying a barbeque, a picnic or whatever else gathering you think would soothe your mind and body the most.

You can camp out in the wild as you relax for the duration of your stay, you can even hike around if you need to burn off some calories so don’t miss out on that if that sounds like a good plan for you.

4. Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake
Council Bluff Lake / Paul Sableman / wikipedia.org

The Council Bluff Lake is commonly referred to as the “clearest lake in the country” and that’s all thanks to how well maintained it is. It is essentially the pride of the state, one of the most beautiful sights in all the country for sure.

Spend your holiday here along the shores or go biking around the designated trails. If you want something more exciting then go and rent out a nearby boat and start gliding across the lake to get your blood flowing.

On top of it all the fishing possibilities here are endless as you can find an abundancy of sunfishes, bass, bluegill and even crappies. Overall, definitely a great spot to spend your vacation in.

3. Clearwater Lake

Clearwater Lake
Clearwater Lake / seetheozarks.com

By far one of the best recreational areas in all of Missouri, the Clearwater Lake lives up to its name because of how well it is maintained and most importantly, because of how peaceful it really is.

While the water level may fluctuate every now and then, it’s no problem for you if you decide to come close to it and camp out during the nights. The only problem is that when the water rises at its maximum level, you’re not allowed to go swimming or take out your boat but other than that this is definitely one of the best sites in the country.

2. Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake
Bull Shoals Lake / lostintheozarks.com

The Bull Shoals Lake offers literally one of the best lakes for anglers out there and that’s a fact. You can get yourself some of the most memorable catches of all time here, you can even fish out white and black crappies, catfish and the elusive smallmouth bass.

If you want to take your fishing experience to the next level, we recommend going for spear fishing as well. Again, the lake is so clear that you can see almost all the way to the bottom which makes it incredibly easy and fun to hunt down some fish using a massive pointy spear.

1. Blue Springs Lake

Blue Springs Lake
Blue Springs Lake / Vincent Parsons / flickr

The Blue Springs Lake is by far the best choice in all of Missouri simply because there’s nothing bad about it to begin with. It excels in fishing opportunities, you can swim around to your heart’s content, you can get your adrenaline up jet-skiing or sailing and you can even grill out your catches whenever you want to at one of the local restaurants that specifically allows you to bring your own meal with you.

Overall, there’s nothing left to say about the Blue Springs Lake except for the fact that there’s a reason as to why it’s one of the most perfect vacation spots in all of the US.

Conclusion

lakes in missouri
Fellows Lake / Riley Harmon / unsplash.com

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which lake you choose to go to from this list, we can assure you that each and every one of them will scratch that itch that you have just fine.

Just remember, some are more specialized on the fishing side of things while others are more so just made as vacation spots for younger tourists that want to party and swim to their heart’s content. Pick out the best site for you and make sure you get your money’s worth by taking part in every event you

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