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Waterways

Best Riverside Picnics in the Ozarks

Use this guide to find the local riverside picnic spot that's perfect for you. Then pack up your favorite snacks and maybe a few lawn chairs, and enjoy the view.

By Katie Pollock Estes

May 2020

Grand Falls in Joplin, MO
Photo by Open House MediaPack a picnic and head to Grand Falls in Joplin, MO. Bonus, you can go for a swim while you're there.

If you want just a picnic:

Peckers Beach in Springfield

Find It: In Springfield, take Hwy 65 to Battlefield, go east to Farm Road 164. Access is north on Farm Road 193.
Officially known as Crighton Access, this spot along the James River is well-loved for fishing and swimming. The roadside access is small but does have a picnic table or two. 

Riverside Inn Park in Ozark

Find It: 2629 Riverside Rd, Ozark
What was once the property where Riverside Inn (a longstanding Ozark restaurant known for its fried chicken) sat is now an access point on the Finley River that’s great for both swimming and picnicking. Maybe pack some fried chicken in your basket for this one?

If you want a picnic and activities:

Hike and picnic at Busiek State Park on the Yellow Trail

Find It: Access is off the east side of Highway 65, about midway between Branson and Springfield.
The 4.2-mile yellow trail loop is great for a moderate hike, but you don’t have to go far to find the creek if you’re just there for the water. Venture off-trail just past the bridge and you’ll find plenty of places to throw down a blanket on the gravel bar and enjoy the view.

Hike and swim at Grand Falls in Joplin

Find It: 5400 S. Riverside Dr., Joplin
The 163-foot-wide Grand Falls waterfall spans the width of Shoal Creek and flows into peaceful shallows perfect for post-picnic wading. Bring chairs to stake out your favorite spot to take a dip, and be careful on the slippery rocks as you explore the area.