Major tourist cities
- Buffalo National River In northern Arkansas is an unpolluted and free-flowing river in the heart of the Ozarks. It has both swift water and calm streaches.
The Ozarks is a plateau that covers 50,000 sq. miles. There is also an Ozark culture which embodies the people that live in this region. The area has rolling hills, mountains that have eroded over time along with many man-made lakes. All of this makes the area attractive for outdoor activities including fishing, hunting and hiking.
The Branson area became a popular tourist attraction overnight with Harold Bell Wright's 1907 novel, "The Shepherd of the Hills". His novel told a story about the mountain country and hill people nearby Branson, Missouri.
Eureka Springs was settled in the late 1800s after stories of its healing springs circulated. In the 1900s, it gained famed as a artists colony, and attracted writers, painters and other creative types. Today it is known for its gorgeous scenery, well-maintained springs, Victorian architecture and vibrant art scene.
The hill people of the Ozarks have their own way of talking and a set of terms that you might not hear outside the region. For example some of the common terms are; "Toad Strangler" or "Gully Warsher" both of which mean a heavy rain. You might hear some way say "You look mighty peakid, are you a-fixen to be sick?" Others are "Rosanears" is corn on the cob, "yourn" is yours "Is that yourn?", a "branch" is a creek, "pritnear" is almost like ""I'm pritnear done with this". The hill people of the Ozarks were called hillbillies for many years; it is not a term to take lightly. As with other racial or ethnic slurs, the hillfolk may call themselves hillbillies, but others are not encouraged to use the term as it may be seen as offensive and deragotory.
- Interstate 44 runs across the Missouri Ozarks from St. Louis to Tulsa.
- Interstate 40 runs East-West along the southern edge of the Ozarks
- Interstate 70 runs East-West along the northern edge on the Ozarks.
- Also historic Route 66 runs from St. Louis to Tulsa in the Ozarks.
The best way to get around is to drive. You will also get a good fill of the scenery driving the hills of the Ozarks. Spring and fall are stunningly beautiful, and summer is green everywhere; the back roads can be deadly in winter when ice or snow pack the winding and steep gravel/dirt roads. (There are no guardrails.)
On the other hand, the serpentine highways of the region are very popular with motorcycle riders, and a bike tour through the region offers thrills and challengers that can only be had on two wheels. Be wary of crossing the center line, though--most fatal wrecks in the area happen on sharp curves where someone veers into the other traffic lane.
- Roaring River State Park,  in southwest Missouri has a fresh water steam with trout fishing, camping and hiking.
- Branson, Missouri with world class entertainment and access to Table Rock Lake for Bass fishing and Lake Taneycomo for lake trout fishing.
- Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a small, friendly town highlighted by local craft shops, art galleries, antique stores, good food and shopping. Close to Beaver Lake with fishing, water skiing, swimming and other water sports. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (big cats) is here, and it's a short drive to hear Opera in the Ozarks during the summer. Eureka Springs School of the Arts is a growing arts/crafts school set in the lush woodlands outside of town, and the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is located a short drive away in Bentonville.The city also has an amazing 1600 acre city park with swimming, camping, hiking and other outdoor fun available.
- Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri
- Harry S. Truman Lake in central Missouri
- Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri
- Stockton Lake in southwest Missouri
- Pomme de Terre Lake in southwest Missouri
- Lake Tanneycomo in southwest Missouri
- Grand Lake O' the Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma
- Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas
- Bull Shoals in northern Arkansas & Southwestern Missouri
- Lake Norfork in northern Arkansas
- Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri
- St. Francois Mountains in Southeastern Missouri
- Boston Mountains in northern Arkansas
- Cookson Hills in eastern Oklahoma
Visit the Lake of the Ozarks area
Canoe one of the clear, clean rivers of the Ozarks, to include: the National Scenic Jack's Fork or the Current rivers, Elk River, Meramec, Big Piney, Gasconade, or the Huzzah. For the fishers, all contain good populations of smallmouth bass.
A number of natural attractions exist in Mark Twain National Park in southeast Missouri. Among these, Taum Sauk Mountain offers nice hiking starting near the highest point in Missouri. In 1.2 miles the trail reaches the Mina Sauk falls, which is splendid to see in the wet season. A little to the west are Johnson's Shut-Ins, some rock bluffs lining a river where the water is channeled in-between the rocks and can develop a nice little current. There are a few spots that are nice for swimming. Elephant Rocks State Park to the north also has some interesting rock formations, and driving a little farther on Highway 21 one comes to Hughes Mountain which has interesting rock outcroppings at the top called the Devil's Honeycomb.
Many campsites, rivers, and trails are to be found in this area. There are also some caves open for tour groups. The Onondaga Cave is of particular interest.
While frog legs,catfish, vension, beans and cornbread, and green tomato relish are some examples of the foods that nourished the original settlers--and are still available at some restaurants today--there are also some very good restaurants in most big Ozarks cities where you can find excellentsushi and Vietnamese and Thai items, remarkably good Italian food, lip-smacking barbecue, and vegan and vegetarian restaurants, as well.
- Baxter's Lakeside Grill, 2124 Bagnell Dam Boulevard Lake Ozark, MO 65049, ☎ (573) 365-2669, . Not very cheap food and drinks, but watching the sun set over the lake from the patio is priceless! Good service. edit
Tornadoes are also a very dangerous surprise to watch for as well as deer that frequently jump into the road.