Life

Outdoor Adventures in the Ozarks

Explore your options for outdoor experiences in the Ozarks and choose your own

by Katie Pollock Estes

Jun 2021

Wake surfing on the lake
Photo by Sherri HollowayTry something new this summer with one of these 55 outdoor Ozarks adventures.

Lazy summers have their appeal, but this year calls for something bolder. It calls for adventure. This is your year for throwing caution to the wind and trying something you’ve never done before. Maybe something a little daring. Maybe something a little exciting. Because it’s time to get out there and experience the Ozarks—whether your idea of adventure is a lazy day on a boat in your favorite cove, or shoring up the courage to try wake surfing for the first time. Whatever your level of daring, we’ve got you covered. Let’s help you choose your 417-land summer adventure! Plan your summer itinerary based on the kind of getaway you’re looking for.
Quiz Powered by Springfield Brewing Company.


Cycling in Bentonville
Photo courtesy Visit BentonvilleTake to two wheels on the Crystal Bridges Trail in Bentonville.

Explore the Ozarks on Two Wheels

If variety is the spice of life, we have it in spades in Missouri and Arkansas when it comes to cycling. from paved paths to rugged mountain biking trails, there’s a little something for every skill level.

The Katy Trail might be the most famous place to ride your bike in the state of Missouri, but it’s far from our only option. We have a growing singletrack mountain biking scene in the Springfield area and a stellar system of greenways that are ever-expanding, plus we are just a short drive from northwest Arkansas, which is home to some famously interconnected trail systems and renowned mountain biking spots. Let’s start here at home: Springfield’s Sac River Mountain Bike Trails and the Frisco Highline Trail are both Ozark Greenways projects that each offer a different cycling experience.

At Sac River, 14 miles of interconnected trails span a 300-acre park with options for every skill level. But for those intimidated by mountain biking, the rail-to-trail Frisco offers a leisurely option—flat, scenic and mostly shaded. We recommend Mile 18 to Mile 35 to see railroad bridges and a wildflower-filled prairie. Just south of us is Two Rivers Mountain Bike Park (5055 Two Rivers Rd., Highlandville) also offering singletrack options with Ozarks views. Farther south in Bentonville are copious interconnected trails, including the North Forest Trail on the grounds of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas, 479-418-5700) and the massive Slaughter Pen trail system. And once you’ve explored a bit, head north to give the famous Katy Trail a try too. It’s earned its reputation and is not to be missed.

Mountain Bike Park

Located 40 minutes south of Springfield in Highlandville

The Scenery Flying By
Rugged hillsides through old-growth Ozarks woods.

North Forest Trail

Located 2 hours southwest of Springfield in Bentonville

The Scenery Flying By
Woods dotted with outdoor sculptures and gorgeous dogwood trees.

Sac River Mountain Bike Trails

Located in northwest Springfield near Ritter Springs Park

The Scenery Flying By
Little Sac River, shaded woods and two historic cemeteries.

Frisco Highline Trail

Starts in northwest Springfield and continues to Bolivar

The Scenery Flying By
La Petite Gemme Prairie and 16 railroad bridges.

Slaughter Pen Trail

Located 2 hours southwest of Springfield in Bentonville

The Scenery Flying By
City and forest views, plus a glimpse of the architecture at Crystal Bridges Museum.

Katy Trail

Runs west to east across Missouri from Clinton to Machens

The Scenery Flying By
Shady woods, open fields and so many Missouri River views.


Wake surfing photo
Photo by Josh BeecherRide the waves and get that adrenaline pumping.

Dare to Ride the Wake

Daring lakegoers can challenge themselves on the water this summer by trying wake boarding and wake surfing.

Wake boarding has long been an Ozarks lake favorite for folks who want to try something a little more athletic than being pulled behind a boat on an inner tube. You can rent equipment from local marinas, and getting started is pretty easy. In fact, Ski Shack (5539 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-882-8480), even has a dedicated Cable Park where you can practice your wakeboarding skills.

But wake surfing—a similar and perhaps more challenging activity—has been gaining popularity as well. With wake boarding, you are attached to the board with boots similar to those on a snowboard. With wake surfing, though, there are no attached boots. Instead, you are on your own, balancing atop the board like you’re... well... actually surfing!

Intrigued? Even if you don’t have the equipment and special type of boat needed for wake surfing, you can give the sport a try. Branson-based The Wake Camp (416 Cave Ln., Branson) offers hourly coaching, half-day and full-day excursions where you can take to the lake to learn how to wake board or wake surf from coach Jaysin Smith. If you want a more all-in experience, their all-inclusive wake camp packages offer coaching, lodging, meals and activities.

If you’re sold on the sport and know you want to purchase equipment of your own, try Williams Bros. Ski and Sports where they offer lessons and sell boards and other gear.

Check out more adrenaline-pumping ways to play on the water:

Work That Core

Stand-up Paddleboarding
Kayak Branson
5403 MO-165, Branson, Missouri, 417-336-2811

At Kayak Branson, in addition to seated vessels like kayaks and canoes, you can rent a stand-up paddleboard to take out onto the Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo. It’s a great way to see the lake from a different perspective—while you work those abs keeping your balance.

Conquer Your Fear of Heights

Parasailing
American Parasail
State Park Marina Rd., Branson, Missouri
, 417-334-2628
Considering you’ll be flying 300 feet above the water while dangling from a parachute, parasailing might seem scary to those afraid of heights. But thanks to secure harnesses and gorgeous views, it’s actually pretty relaxing!

Fly Across the Water

Water Skiing and Tubing
State Park Marina
State Park Marina Rd., Branson, Missouri, 417-334-2628
This is just one of many local marinas that will let you rent inner tubes, water skis and ropes. And both of these activities are pretty simple to dive into on your own, even if you aren’t a super-skilled skier. Just find a quiet corner of the lake, and give it a whirl!

Go Deep

SCUBA Diving
Diventures
5225 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-883-5151

Even beginners can muster the courage to explore the depths. They can start with SCUBA lessons and certification. Diventures also has the Landlocked SCUBA Clubs, so you can hone your skills alongside other local SCUBA enthusiasts.


Lake Taneycomo areal photo
Photo courtesy Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of CommerceFish for the big one at one of the region's many beautiful lakes and waterways.

Reel in a Big One

Fishing in the Ozarks is for everybody, whether you're a seasoned pro who already has a favorite fishing hole or a beginner who just wants to feel the rush of a big catch.

Maybe your idea of a worthwhile adrenaline rush isn’t so much a day of sustained excitement, but rather a few minutes of thrill as you wrestle with the writhing fish on the end of your line. If that’s the case, and if you’d like the rest of your day to be peaceful and serene, then spending a few hours fishing on one of our waterways is probably right up your alley.

One of the coolest things about fishing in the Ozarks is that you don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it—a huge part of the appeal is the stretch of quiet calm between each catch while you wait for a bite and take in the scenery. If you don’t reel anything in, well, you still had a good day, right?

But if you do want to try and be good at it—or at least learn how to get started—there are businesses that can help you. At Dogwood Canyon Nature Park (2038 State Hwy. 86, Lampe, Missouri, 877-459-5687) you can go trout fishing with a guide who teaches you casting and tying. The four-hour excursion costs $250 for two people. Not too far away on Lake Taneycomo, Chartered Waters Guide Service will take you out on a boat to the very best rainbow trout fishing spots for $195 to $1,195 depending on what option you choose.

About two hours east is a different experience: Rockbridge Trout & Game Ranch (4297 Co Rd. 142, Rockbridge, Missouri, 417-679-3619). The resort is situated on Spring Creek and stocked with rainbow trout. You can fish with a view of the red 1800’s-era grist mill (which has been converted into a bar) and then hop over to the restaurant to eat super-fresh trout caught on-site. The resort also has lodging, stables and a gun club, so you can make a weekend of it.

For a well-stocked hatchery a little closer to Springfield that’s a great day trip with the kids, there’s Mountain Springs Trout Park (2549 State Hwy. O, Highlandville, Missouri, 417-443-3400) in Highlandville. You have to keep what you catch, but they’ll clean it for you—so you can take it home and try your hand cooking the super-fresh fish.

Rainbow trout stock photo
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Fish for Rainbow Trout at Lake Taneycomo or North Fork of the White River

Bass fish stock photo
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Fish for Bass at Table Rock Lake or Bull Shoals Lake

Muskellunge stock photo
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Fish for Muskellunge at Lake Pomme de Terre and Fellows Lake

Walleye stock photo
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Fish for Walleye at Stockton Lake

Photos courtesy Shutterstock

Floating river photo by Chuck Travers
Photo by Chuck TraversTake it easy (or easier, at least) on a float trip.

Set Out on a Float Trip

Explore the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks from the seat of your own vessel as you embark on a float trip down one of the region’s beautiful scenic waterways.

You can thank the region’s numerous streams for the Ozarks landscape we all love so dearly. Over time (lots of it!), those flowing waterways cut through bedrock and eventually created the towering bluffs that provide the backdrop of all the best Ozarks float trips. It’s an awe-inspiring thing to think about next time you’re dipping your oar into the clear water of a nearby stream.

If you’re new to paddling and haven’t even set foot in a canoe or kayak yet, don’t let that deter you from enjoying this quintessential Ozarks activity! Springfield-Greene County Park Board offers Intro to Kayaking classes at Lake Springfield Boathouse that teach safety tips, paddle strokes and more.

Beyond some basic paddling skills, sunscreen and sustenance for the trip, the only other thing you really need is a good pair of water shoes. Our rivers have rocky bottoms, which keep the water more clear and pristine than a siltier muddy bottom would—but those little bits of rock just love getting stuck in your shoes.

Once you’ve practiced on Lake Springfield, invested in some comfy river shoes and mustered up some paddling confidence, it’s time to hit the river. There are so many to choose from in the region (110,000 miles of river in Missouri alone!), but we’ve rounded up details and suggested floats on four favorites—each with its own personality and appeal.

“I’m here for the riverside scenery.”

Buffalo National River
Travel time: 1 hour 45 minutes south of Springfield to Buffalo Outdoor Center
Suggested route: Ponca to Kyle’s Landing
What you’ll see: Big Bluff, the tallest bluff face between the Rockies and the Appalachians.
Why it’s perfect: The scenic beauty of the Upper Buffalo simply can’t be beaten. After June, this part of the river becomes too low to float, so make sure you visit early in the season for the best experience.

“I’m spending quality time with my kids.”

James River
Travel time: 35 minutes south of Springfield to Hootentown Canoe Rental
Suggested route: the shorter Jamesville trip option
What you’ll see: The gorgeous Ozarks and lots of other floaters on this often-busy river.
Why it’s perfect: With a 4-mile float option, this is ideal for families with kids who aren’t experienced floaters yet. It’s long enough to get a feel for the river, but short enough to hopefully avoid tired-kid meltdowns.

“I’m looking for wild, wild wilderness.”

Eleven Point National Scenic River
Travel time: 2.5 hours east of Springfield to Richard’s Canoe Rental
Suggested route: Greer Crossing to Whitten
What you’ll see: Tall dolomite bluffs, thick forests and clear swimming holes.
Why it’s perfect: This is a get-away-from-it-all river, with light crowds and very little riverside development—so you feel like the river is all for you and the critters that call it home.

“I’m on a grown-ups-only weekend trip.”

North Fork of the White River
Travel time: 2 hours southeast of Springfield to Dawt Mill Resort
Suggested route: Blair Bridge to Dawt Mill
What you’ll see: Althea Spring, Ozarks woods, and rainbow trout for the luckiest anglers.
Why it’s perfect: Your float will end at Dawt Mill, the perfect place to sit down for a chef’s table dinner and spend the night in cozy cabins. That makes this river a great option for a weekend away with another couple or two.


Photo courtesy Big Cedar Lodge

Try Out Glamping

When you think of a camping adventure, what’s the appeal? It’s probably the nearby hikes and outdoors excursions rather than the act of pitching a tent. And if that’s the case, you might be a glamper.

Let’s get straight to the point: Camping is work. There’s the packing and lugging, the set-up and lugging, and finally the tear-down and lugging. Throw in humidity, mosquitos and cooking over an open flame that you have to light yourself like some sort of wizard—and the outdoor fun hardly seems worth it anymore.

If all of that sounds appealing, then this page might not be for you. But if it elicits instant anxiety, I have good news: Glamping is a growing trend in the region, and you have options for embarking on a wilderness adventure that doesn’t involve any wilderness at all during those times when you’re trying to sleep and eat. I’m talking about yurts, my friend.

These cute little permanent structures are like camping light. You get the scenic setting and fresh air, but you don’t have to set anything up. They have varying levels of amenities depending on where you go (some have outdoor showers, others have A/C and hot tubs), but they all provide the delightful illusion of being in nature, when really you’re comfortably separated from it. It’s all the fun and none of the work. It’s all  the comfort and none of the waking up at 7 a.m. inside a damp canvas oven and then eating a hot dog for breakfast. You get the idea, right?

Check out some nearby glamping opportunities below:

“Give me hotel-quality.”

Camp Long Creek
1358 Long Creek Rd., Ridgedale, Missouri, 417-39-5455
With easy access to a marina for boat rentals and Canteen at Long Creek for tasty eats, this stay will feel more like a camping-vibe hotel than roughing it in a tent. Stay in a two-person glamping unit overlooking Table Rock Lake.

“I want something with artistic vibes and cool history.”

Forest Garden Yurts
23732 MO-413, Reeds Spring, Missouri
Designed by renowned yurt-builder William Copperthwaite and used as a home and pottery studio for artist Tom Hess, this spot in Reeds Spring is packed with artistic details that make simply observing it a worthwhile experience.

“I’m willing to road trip to arkansas.”

StoneWind Retreat
15840 Wilson Branch Dr., Chester, Arkansas, 479-369-0049
Seclusion and scenic views are the draws at StoneWind Retreat, about 45 minutes south of Fayetteville. The spacious yurts have skylights for watching the stars, decks for enjoying the view and hot tubs for relaxing.

“I want proximity to a big city.”

Hawley Farm Glamping
3406 NE Hardy Dr., Kingston, Missouri, 816-589-9448
Located in Hamilton (near Kansas City), this 210-acre farm houses three yurts and countryside views—perfect for getting your outdoors fix before a weekend in KC.

“I Like a casual state park atmosphere.”

Table Rock Lake State Park
5272 MO-165, Branson, Missouri, 417-334-4704
The Premium Yurt at Table Rock Lake State Park is great if you want state park fun (trails and a low-key vibe) without pitching a tent.  Bring the kids; it has two bedrooms.


Falling Water Falls
Photo by Zack ShermerTake a dip at Falling Water Falls or any of the other springs and swimming holes in the Ozarks.

Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole

Turn your next cool-down day into an adventure at these swimming holes that combine scenic views and cool water.

Gunner Pool

Here you’ll find a quiet swimming spot beside the charming and unique architecture of a Civilian Conservation Corps dam that almost looks like some sort of ancient ruins. The water is shallow and still, perfect for the laziest of lazy days on the water. To find this swimming hole, take the North Sylamore hiking trail at Gunner Pool Recreation area. It’s located in Fifty-Six, Arkansas, about three hours from Springfield.

Dog’s Bluff

Not far from Houston, Missouri, on the Piney River is a sweet little riverbend that offers both cool water for swimming and towering bluffs for a bit of lovely scenery. You can access this spot from Highway 17, meaning you don’t have to commit to a float trip to take advantage of this location. After working up an appetite during your dip, head to the BARn Taproom at Piney River Brewing Co. for soft pretzels, hot pizza and locally brewed beer.

Falling Water Falls

If this spot near Sand Gap, Arkansas, doesn’t elicit some serious feelings of nostalgia, we don’t know what will. It has all the trappings of a perfect childhood swimming spot: pristine water, rope swings, wooded planks nailed to a tree so you can climb up to the top of a waterfall. The setting is surrounded by woods, giving it the feeling of something super-secret and secluded—when in fact it’s really easy to get to. It’s just perfect.

Grand Falls

You can’t talk about Ozarks swimming holes without mentioning Grand Falls, where the waterfall tumbles over a chert ledge that spans the entire width of Shoal Creek—more than 160 feet across! Below the falls, the swimming hole is a delight. There are numerous spots to hunker down for the day—picnicking in the shade along a gravel bar or smooth rocky bank before spending the afternoon swimming in the sunshine.

Safety Tip

Please remember that when you plunge into these gorgeous and remote swimming holes, you’re on your own. There are no lifeguards here! So be safe. Do not jump off cliffs or rocks unless you’re positive the water is deep enough (or... maybe skip that part altogether), and reschedule your swim if the water is especially high or fast. And keep these beautiful places looking great for the next visitors by taking your trash with you when you leave.

Swimming Holes

Want to find out more about swimming holes? Check out our feature about just that to get details, GPS coordinates and more.

Dive In


Boat ride photo
Photo courtesy TGC PhotographyTake the helm and be captain for a day, or let someone else do the steering as you side back and enjoy the ride.

Take a Ride on the Wild Side

Adventuring in the Ozarks doesn’t have to include a hike along a scenic trail or some sort of overnight excursion. sometimes, what you need is just a few hours or even a full day out on the water.

Is there anything better than coving out on a hot day? When your summer adventuring calls for a little time relaxing on the water, there are a few ways you can go about it. If you have a boat of your own, well, you don’t need any help from us; get out there and have fun! But if you don’t, you’ll need to either rent a vessel to drive for the day or embark on a cruise. Luckily for us, Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake are rich with options.

There are numerous marinas on the lake—such as What’s Up Dock? (348 Nautical Cir, Kimberling City, 417-739-4511)—where you can rent everything from a zippy little jet ski to a pontoon-style party boat.

But our lakes are also home to the Spirit of the Lake Catamaran Tour (380 State Park Marina Rd., Branson, Missouri, 417-334-2628) and Table Rock Lake Yacht Charter (380 State Park Marina Rd., Hollister, 620-660-8189), which both let you get some lake time in without having to drive the boat. Branson Jet Boats (7A N. Boardwalk, Branson, 417-334-7683), Main Street Lake Cruises (9 South, N. Boardwalk, Branson, 417-239-3980) and Showboat Branson Belle (4800 MO-165, Branson, 800-775-2628) offer ticketed lake adventures where you can experience on-the-water thrills, a scenic dinnertime tour or a rollicking stage performance, respectively.

Before you hit the water, pack some snack boxes from Springfield Charcuterie (2672 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-379-1555) and some lake-friendly cans from Springfield Brewing Co. (305 S. Market Ave., Springfield, 417-832-8277) to sustain you on your lake adventure.

Be the Captain for a Day

What’s Up Dock?
This marina at Port of Kimberling offers full and partial day rental of whatever suits you: ski boats, waverunners, tri-toons (one even has a slide!) and more.

Let Someone Else Do the Work

Table Rock Lake Yacht Charter
Hop on a 40-foot luxury yacht with a captain who will pick you up at about any dock—so you can focus on coving out.

Sit Back for a Leisurely Tour

Spirit of the Lake Catamaran Tours
This tour leaves from State Park Marina and is stocked with a water slide, kayak and other water accessories for a lake day.

Enjoy a Show on the Water

Showboat Branson Belle
This cruise aboard a huge paddleboat is perfect if you want to be on the water, but not in the water—and you’re in the mood for dinner and a show.

Indulge Your Adrenaline Junkie

Branson Jet Boats
Not for the faint-hearted, these thrilling tours on Lake Taneycomo are all about speed. They’ll have you spinning and sliding across the water.

Turn Your Cruise into a Dinner Date

Main Street Lake Cruises
The 100-foot Landing Princess yacht offers Taneycomo dinner tours that focus on relaxing views of the scenery and good eats.


Alley Spring
Photo courtesy ShutterstockJack’s Fork River that churns out 81 million gallons of water a day.

Embark on Some Spring-Hopping

The cluster of natural springs in southeast Missouri are worth their own weekend trip, and with a great state park in the area, planning is easy too. Visit 417mag.com to find a map of the springs.

Alley Spring

This spring on the Jack’s Fork River that churns out 81 million gallons of water a day is oh-so-photographable. The Spring Branch Trail takes visitors past a pretty old red mill—a great photo op—before you get to the main event. The spring itself is a dark jade color, and a worn path around its perimeter gives you plenty of angles to view it and the surrounding bluffs.

Big Spring

Creativity wasn’t really on the checklist when this spring was named. Big Spring is... well... quite big.  It’s the largest in the state and one of the three biggest in the country, putting out around 280 million gallons of water each day that feeds into the Current River. Take a peek at the Civilian Conservation Corps lodge that’s on-site when you’re there too.

Welch Spring

Welch Spring pours from a cave at the base of a bluff, and it’s home to interesting history. Near it, you can see the ruins of Welch Hospital, built in 1913 for patients with ailments like tuberculosis. The theory was that the pristine air pouring from the cave and cooled by the pure spring water had healing properties. Pre-hospital, the location was originally settled as a homestead and grist mill in 1855.

Blue Spring

As you might be able to tell from the name, this spring near the Current River is known for its vibrant turquoise blue color. Its huge depth of more than 300 feet is what gives it that gorgeous hue. And finding it is a cinch. A super-easy half-mile trail takes you directly to a boardwalk overlooking the spring, which is situated under tall bluffs.

Cave Spring

If you’re feeling brave, you can paddle your canoe off the Current River and right into the bluffside cave opening that Cave Spring pours from. To find it, keep an eye out between miles 20 and 21 on the river during your float. You can also reach the spring via a strenuous 4.5-mile hike. But we recommend the water route.

Round Spring

Another super green-blue spring that’s a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Round Spring forms a pristine circular pool before feeding into the Current River. It’s easy to access via a paved trail and is surrounded by rugged wilderness, and you can also tour Round Spring Cave while you’re in the area.

Make a Whole Weekend of It

Where to Stay
Echo Bluff State Park

There’s a nice lodge, cabin and camping options and an amazing riverside bluff view, making this a great home base as you visit the nearby springs.

Where to Eat
Dairy Shack

Take a detour into town to get a treat at this cute walk-up ice cream shop. It serves savory items like burgers, too.

Echo Bluff Pizzas
at Echo Bluff State Park

If you'd rather stick to the state park, the on-site pizza parlor offers dine-in and take-out pies.


Round Out Your Plans

Fill in the days between your big adventures with some small mini-excursions to local outdoors attractions and events.

July 24 to August 8

Moonlight Madness at Silver Dollar City
$47 kids, $74 adults; 9:10 a.m.–10 p.m.; 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy., Branson,
Imagine experiencing your favorite thrill ride in the dark as you ride under the moonlight. Take our word for it; it’s extra thrilling! We love that Silver Dollar City stays open late during this stretch of summer because less sun means cooler weather and a summer nights vibe that we just can’t get enough of.

Ongoing

Sunset Drive-In Theater
1601 Church St., Aurora
Step into the past at one of the handful of drive-in movie theaters left in the state. Open only during the warm months, Sunset Drive-In shows double features every weekend, starting with a more kid-friendly option and followed by something for the older among us. A recent rivalry-themed  lineup included Tom and Jerry and then Godzilla vs. Kong.

Dates TBA

Night Water at White Water
$28 kids, $47 adults; 3505 State Highway 76, Branson
This annual event keeps White Water open later than the usual park hours, which means you can zip over waterslides, bob around in the wave pool and fall down the KaPau Plummet plunge well into the night. It provides a cooler experience both in terms of temperature and the overall vibe. Plus, you can use less sunscreen.

Ongoing

Ziplining
$69.99, 501 N. Wildwood Dr., Branson
With close proximity to Highway 76, it’s easy to find a thrill here during a day in Branson. There are seven zipline tracks to soar down and three rope bridges to teeter across while you’re there. While the lines are definitely fun for daring adults, small kids as young as 3 can join the adventure too when they ride tandem with their grown-up.

Ongoing

Tubing at Wolfe Mountain Snowflex Park
$29.99 kids, $34.99 adults; 2339 Highway 65, Walnut Shade
The Snowflex synthetic snow tubing run looks innocuous enough—until you’re flying down it at a much faster clip than you expect, heart pumping and shrieking with glee. This is seriously fun! And it’s great for both kids and adults. While you’re there, don’t miss Branson Zipline, also located at Wolfe Mountain.

July 29 to August 7

Ozark Empire Fair
$3–10 admission plus ticket prices, 3001 N. Grant Ave., Springfield
Thrill is the name of the game with this particular adventurous outing. The thrill of a carnival ride. The thrill of winning a midway game. And the thrill of challenging your body to consume all the fried things served on sticks. This annual fair is great for blazing hot daytime fun and the twinkling lights of a summer night.

Ongoing

Golf at Ozarks National
various locations, Branson
Just one of several scenic and challenging golf courses that have sprung up in Branson in recent years, Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge offers sprawling views across 18 holes. You’ll see rolling hills, dense woods, a 400-foot bridge and the rippling water of a nearby creek. The appeal is as much in the scenery as the golf.

Ongoing

Runaway Mountain Coaster
$10–16; 935 State Highway 165, Branson
This hillside Alpine-style roller coaster uses gravity to propel you along a tree-lined track at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. You control how fast you go, though, using hand brakes inside the car. There’s a small four-track zipline on site as well, in case you need more thrills.

Recurring

37 North Expeditions Horseback Riding + Winery
$83; start at Farmers Park, 2144 E. Republic Road, Springfield
This popular trip takes place a few times a month and includes a two-part adventure. Guests start by embarking on a trail ride on horseback that’s suitable for all skill levels. Then, the group visits Bear Creek Winery to wind down with red and white wine tasting and great eats like freshly made pizza.

Ongoing

Branson Ferris Wheel
$6.95 kids, $10.95 adults; The Track Family Fun Parks, Track 4, 3345 Highway 76, Branson
Tamp down that niggling fear of heights because you won’t want to miss this view. The historic (it used to reside at Chicago’s Navy Pier) 150-foot-tall Branson Ferris Wheel overlooks the city and its surrounding hills and is lit spectacularly at night with 16,000 choreographed LED lights.

Ongoing

Springfield Cardinals
$9–55, Hammons Field, 955 E. Trafficway St., Springfield
Instead of heading forth on your own adventure, grab a stadium hot dog and watch the Springfield Cardinals take on their own challenge. Watch your favorite minor league team face off at home all summer long. You can find game days and times as well as promotions and specific ticket prices on the team’s website.

Hear 417 Magazine Publisher Logan Aguirre talk about the Outdoor Adventures issue on KY3’s The Place.