Covering the south-central and southwestern parts of the state, from a few miles/kilometers south of Kansas City and Jefferson City to the Arkansas border, the Ozarks offer lovely scenery of rolling hills, winding rivers, large glassy lakes and thousands of caves (more than two dozen of the caverns are open for tours). The area's popularity as an outdoor recreation area has caused a number of attractions to spring up. The best known is Branson, a small Ozark town that has ballooned into a tourist mecca because of its live-entertainment shows and other family-oriented activities. Springfield is also a center of activities in the Ozarks.
But the best reason to see the area is to revel in its natural beauty. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways (headquartered in Van Buren) is an extensive range of natural springs, streams and a river. The area is perfect for leisurely float trips as well as fishing, canoeing, boating, swimming—just about anything you can do in the water. The Lake of the Ozarks region has a number of fine resorts (more than 200) and cabins in such communities as Bagnell, Camdenton, Eldon, Greenview, Hurricane Deck, Lake Ozark, Laurie, Linn Creek, Osage Beach, Sunrise Beach and Versailles. Lake of the Ozarks State Park and nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park both offer the watery recreation you'd expect, as well as a few surprises: a 1920s castle in Ha Ha Tonka and the Ozark Caverns in Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The Ozarks begin 175 mi/280 km southwest of St. Louis.
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