AirLake Aviation: 20 Airport Drive, Camdenton, MO 65020
To kick off our family vacation in Lake of the Ozarks, we took a plane ride overlooking the area from Bagnell Dam to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It was a fantastic way to get a bird’s eye view, especially of the serpentine shape of the lake itself. My kids were having fun snapping photos with their phones while our pilot pointed out the highlights in the area. The girls agreed that it was the perfect way to start our family vacation.
Our pilot Corey was awesome! He was the perfect guide because he’s not only the owner of AirLake Aviation, but he’s also a dad of two boys. He kept the plane really steady and the girls weren’t scared at all. Corey took us up for about 30 minutes and he told us about some of the fun things he likes to do with his family. Whenever we get the chance to meet locals, I really like to pick their brain! I always ask where they like to eat, where the best family friendly activities are and the how to find hidden gems for kids off the beaten path.
I also want to thank Corey for towing a banner for us that read “Family Travel with Colleen Kelly!” Our crew got up early one morning and caught the plane flying by for the perfect shot of the banner. That was above and beyond hospitality and I can’t thank him enough! When you watch the Lake of the Ozarks episode, you will see it at the top of the show. Keep your eyes out for it!
Tom Sawyer Paddlewheeler: 1006 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark, MO
When I think of Missouri, I think of Mark Twain. And when I think of Mark Twain, I think of Tom Sawyer! The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River in a town that is similar to the author’s hometown, Hannibal, MO. The classic book is a great way to get the kids excited about a vacation in Missouri.
When we discovered that there was a paddlewheel boat called the Mark Twain that tours the Lake of the Ozarks waters, we wanted to climb aboard and give it a try for ourselves. The paddlewheeler takes visitors on a 90 minute tour all around the lake. The journey is narrated and offers facts as well as trivia about the area. If you plan ahead, you can make reservations for a dinner cruise featuring chicken and ribs…sounds good!
The boat is well loved…some might call it vintage, some might call it old. But even though it’s not a bright and shiny bauble, the old fashioned paddlewheeler was charming. We spent a nice time getting to know other families on the boat. The kids got the chance to take a turn steering and they even received their captain’s license. We really had a nice time just enjoying the trip around the lake.
Whether by air or by water, we recommend you take the time to get to know what makes the lake so special. It is the heart of the area and we encourage you to make it the center of your family vacation activities.
Some Additional Tips & Fun Facts
• “Mark Twain” is a riverboat term measuring two fathoms (12 feet) in depth: mark (measure) twain (two). If the man checking the depth called out “Mark Twain,” it meant a depth of twelve feet, “safe water” for riverboats of the day.
• Cruises run from May – October
• Weather may cause cancellations