As a Missouri resident, I often find myself craving a beach getaway, and I know I’m not alone. Missouri may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the feeling of sand between our toes and a refreshing dip in the water. In this article, I’ll be discussing some of the closest beach options for those of us living in the Show-Me State.
The closest freshwater beaches in Missouri can be found in various state parks and lakes, such as Creve Coeur Lake or Castlewood State Park. These locations offer beautiful landscapes and fun outdoor activities for the whole family. If it’s saltwater beaches you’re after, you’ll have to venture a bit farther. Taking a road trip south for about 11 hours will bring you to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where you can enjoy the warm sand and saltwater waves.
Before you pack your swimsuit and sunscreen, I’ll provide more information on these beaches, as well as some additional spots you might want to consider. So, without further ado, let me share with you my knowledge of the closest beaches to Missouri to help you plan your perfect beach day escape.
Understanding Missouri’s Geography
As someone who has lived in Missouri, I have firsthand experience with the state’s geography and its proximity to various beach options. The state’s diverse landscape ranges from the Ozark Plateau to the bustling cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. In this section, I will discuss some of the beaches and lakes in and around Missouri.
The Osage Beach
Osage Beach is a popular destination within Missouri for water activities and relaxation. Located along the Lake of the Ozarks shoreline, this freshwater beach offers scenic beauty, boating, swimming, and fishing opportunities. Although it’s not a saltwater beach, Osage Beach provides an enjoyable and accessible option for those seeking a beach experience in Missouri.
Kansas City Proximity
Kansas City, Missouri’s largest city, is located on the western edge of the state. While it doesn’t have direct access to saltwater beaches, it is relatively close to several freshwater lakes and beaches. For instance, Smithville Lake, about 25 miles north of Kansas City, offers sandy shores, picnic areas, and a range of water-based activities for visitors. Alternatively, Kansas City residents can head south towards the aforementioned Lake of the Ozarks, about a three-hour drive away, for a more extensive beach experience.
St. Louis Surroundings
St. Louis, another major city in Missouri, is located near the eastern border of the state. While it’s further from the Osage Beach and the Lake of the Ozarks, St. Louis residents still have access to a few nearby freshwater beach options. Creve Coeur Lake, about 30 minutes west of St. Louis, provides a relaxing beach area, walking trails, and picnic facilities. Additionally, Carlyle Lake, a little over an hour east of St. Louis in Illinois, is another option for beachgoers and offers a host of recreational activities.
While Missouri may not have immediate access to saltwater beaches, it compensates by offering a variety of freshwater beaches and lakes for residents and visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re in Kansas City, St. Louis, or elsewhere in Missouri, there are beach and lake options to suit your preferences within a relatively short distance.
Exploring Missouri’s Beaches
One of the popular beaches in Missouri is Fugitive Beach, located in Rolla. This sandy beach has a slide that offers fun for both kids and adults. It’s a great spot to relax, soak in the sun, and spend time with family and friends.
Creve Coeur Lake
At Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, you can enjoy a wide range of both water- and land-based activities. This park has more than 2,000 acres near Maryland Heights, making it the largest in the St. Louis County parks system. Not only does it offer a beautiful beach area, but it also provides opportunities for picnicking, fishing, and trail hiking.
Lake Boutin, found within the boundaries of the Trail of Tears State Park, is another spot for beach enthusiasts in Missouri. This serene, family-friendly location offers both sandy beaches and scenic views of the surrounding forest. It’s an ideal location for a day of relaxation, sunbathing, or swimming.
Public Beach #1
Public Beach #1 is located at Lake of the Ozarks State Park. This beach is well-maintained and offers a wide range of amenities, including picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground for children. This beach invites families to spend a day swimming and enjoying the sun.
Grand Glaize Beach
Grand Glaize Beach, also part of Lake of the Ozarks State Park, boasts a family-friendly environment with amenities like picnic facilities, barbeque grills, and a bathhouse. Its sandy shoreline and clear waters make it an appealing destination for a refreshing summer day.
In conclusion, exploring these beaches in Missouri showcases the diverse opportunities for relaxation and recreation that the state has to offer. Whether you prefer a more secluded location like Lake Boutin or a bustling family destination like Public Beach #1, there’s a beach that appeals to every preference.
State Parks with Beaches
Castlewood State Park
At Castlewood State Park, you can enjoy a picturesque setting by the Meramec River, perfect for swimming and cooling off during hot summer days. While this park may not have a traditional sandy beach, its river access provides a great alternative to immerse yourself in nature. As a bonus, the park also offers hiking trails with scenic views, making it an ideal location for an all-around outdoor experience.
Long Branch State Park
If you’re looking for a classic beach experience, head over to Long Branch State Park. Here, you’ll find a sandy beach with plenty of space for beach towels, chairs, or even a beach volleyball game. Lifeguards are not on duty, so take precautions while swimming. The park also offers fishing, hiking trails, and campsites for a full day of fun.
Wakonda State Park
Wakonda State Park is home to several sand-bottomed swimming lakes, offering a beach-like experience right in the heart of Missouri. Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing swim, a picnic by the water, or some quality time soaking up the sun, this park has it all. Moreover, the park also offers camping and hiking options, helping you make the most of your visit.
St. Joe State Park
St. Joe State Park offers a little bit of everything, including two designated swimming beaches on its lakes. These sandy beaches are perfect for cooling off on hot summer days, while the park also offers other recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and ATV trails. With over 8,000 acres to explore, St. Joe State Park is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for the closest beach experience to Missouri, these state parks offer a variety of swimming and beach-like settings to enjoy. Whether you prefer river swimming, lake beaches, or traditional sandy shorelines, there’s something here for every beach lover.
Activities at Missouri Beaches
Swimming and Sunbathing
One of my favorite ways to enjoy Missouri beaches is by swimming and sunbathing. With numerous beaches around the state such as Moonshine Beach and the ones at St. Joe State Park, you’ll never run out of options for a relaxing day by the water. The sandy shores of these beaches provide the perfect spot for soaking up the sun and taking a refreshing dip in the lake.
Boating and Kayaking
If you’re looking for more of an adventure, boating and kayaking are popular activities at Missouri beaches. Many lakes, such as Table Rock Lake, offer a variety of options for visitors. Whether you prefer a leisurely ride on a pontoon boat or exploring the shorelines while kayaking, there’s something for everyone. Some beaches also have boat rentals, making it easy for anyone to give these activities a try.
Hiking and Biking
Many of Missouri’s beaches are surrounded by beautiful trails, providing ample opportunities for hiking and biking. For instance, Smithville Lake is just 20 miles from Kansas City and offers great trails for hiking or biking. Exploring the nature around these gorgeous beaches is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and take in the stunning landscapes Missouri has to offer.
Volleyball and Other Activities
Lastly, beach volleyball is a fun way to enjoy the sandy shores of Missouri beaches. Many of the beaches, like those at St. Joe State Park, feature volleyball nets, picnic tables, and grills, making it an excellent spot for some friendly competition and relaxation. Beyond volleyball, some of the beaches also offer activities like scuba diving or fishing, ensuring there’s always something to do for everyone.
Amenities at Missouri Beaches
I’ve found that many Missouri beaches offer picnic areas for visitors to enjoy. Some even come equipped with tables and grills, making it convenient for families and friends to gather for a meal. For example, Moonshine Beach located at Table Rock Lake has picnic spots available for visitors.
For families with children, playgrounds can be a significant attraction at beach destinations. Although I cannot provide specific examples, several Missouri beaches do offer playground areas for kids to have fun and stay entertained.
Restrooms and Showers
When spending time at the beach, access to restrooms and showers is essential. Many of Missouri’s beaches, such as those in Thousand Hills State Park, provide these facilities for beachgoers’ comfort and convenience. The beach park at Thousand Hills State Park even offers beach rules to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Boats and Marinas
Boating activities are often an essential part of a beach visit. Missouri beaches offer various water activities, including boat rentals and marinas for those who own boats. In Thousand Hills State Park, visitors can enjoy Forest Lake’s cool waters for swimming and wading, as well as participate in boating and fishing activities.
Hotels and Accommodations
Finding suitable accommodations near the beach is crucial for travelers. Missouri has several beach resorts and hotels for vacationers to choose from. For instance, Mallard Point Resort offers a beautiful location for a wedding or a relaxing getaway near the beach, providing visitors with a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
Planning Your Visit
Best Time to Visit
In my opinion, the summer season is the best time to visit beaches in Missouri. The warm weather and sunny days make it ideal for swimming and sunbathing. If you prefer a saltwater beach, consider visiting the northern Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama, which can be reached within 10 to 12 hours by car from Missouri.
I recommend visiting Creve Coeur Lake or Castlewood State Park for a freshwater beach experience close to the St. Louis metropolitan area. For a longer trip, consider exploring Moonshine Beach in Branson, which is situated on the beautiful Table Rock Lake and offers amenities such as picnic areas and a volleyball court.
Traveling with Children
When traveling with children, it’s important to choose a beach that offers suitable amenities and activities for the entire family. Several family-friendly beaches in Missouri are located around Lake of the Ozarks, providing opportunities for swimming, fishing, and water sports.
A road trip is an excellent way to explore Missouri’s diverse beach offerings. I recommend starting with a visit to the freshwater beaches in the St. Louis area and then continuing south to the saltwater beaches on the northern Gulf Coast, ensuring a variety of experiences along the way.
Before embarking on your beach trip, consider the following tips:
- Check weather forecasts ahead of time, to avoid unexpected rain or storms.
- Visit local visitor centers for up-to-date information on beach conditions and local activities.
- Apply sunscreen and stay hydrated to ensure a safe and enjoyable beach experience.
- Adhere to posted safety guidelines, such as swimming in designated areas and properly disposing of trash.