My 6-year-old steering the yacht, while Captain Omer watches. Photo Credit Becky Davenport/Budget TravelingMom

Traveling on a budget does not mean you have to give up the fun – it just means you have to watch where and when you spend your travel money.

Before I visit a location, I usually make a list of things that I would like to visit, and decide TMOM Travel Disclosurewhat I am willing to splurge for and where I am going to cut cost, so that I can afford to splurge.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, gives you the perfect mix of “splurge-worthy” and budget friendly stops.  Here is a list of places that I would easily say save up your money and go have some fun.


1. Be brave and go crazy at Big Surf Water Park.

With a three story drop from the Zambezi Falls and 375,000 gallons of water in Wave Pool this place is worth the stop.  You get what you pay for at Big Surf Water Park – the facility is clean, fast paced, and there is something for all ages.  We easily spent six hours at Big Surf Water Park and our ride back to the condo was very quiet as my 6 year passed out and his snoring harmonized along with the radio.

Big Surf does offer several price breaks, they offer a daily Facebook Deal, a second wave discount (half price after a certain time) and Military discounts.

2.  Laugh until you cry at Main Street Music Hall.

Entertainment for the whole family – age 2 to 102 (or older) could find themselves rolling in the floor laughing at the crew of Main Street Music Hall.  The Main Street Music Hall performs year around including special shows around the holiday.  They give a discount for kids, and 4 and under get in free.

3. Sail away with Captain Omer and the crew on Tropic Island Cruises.

While my legs are made for land or at least I think they are, this the Tropic Island Cruise is absolutely priceless if you have small children.

Most of the cruise you are just riding around in a large boat looking at houses, talking to other guest, maybe sipping a soda, and feeling the wind in your face – then all of a sudden Captain Omer calls you to cabin – and you get to drive the boat!   Yep, he lets children under 12 take control (or hold the wheel) of his 125 passenger yacht – and to me folks the smile on their faces is just priceless.

4. Kid-friendly cave tour – is that possible? Yes, at Bridal Cave!

I have visited Bridal Cave three times over the past five years and I am never disappointed, the staff is always very attentive, hands on, and they even take time answer those never ending questions that little ones seem to come up with.

Bridal Cave does offer a discount for kids and a discount for group rates – they also offer a wedding package in case you get in the mood to get married in cave.

5. You can’t go home without some kid-friendly hot laps at Gran Rally Go Karts.

This was on my 6 year old’s travel bucket list.  He insisted that we go to the Go Kart Race Track, so I made a deal with him, if they behaved all week mommy would splurge and take him to the Go Karts.  It worked, he earned his hot laps and I have added Gran Rally to my list of things that I will splurge for.

6. Let the kids go crazy at Miner Mikes – Buster.

Depending on the age of you child, Miner Mikes should be on your list.   Miner Mikes is for little kids – I would say 10 and under, the place has small amusement rides, a playground, and fun games.  Busters is for the bigger kids and adults too!  I have never visited the Busters, but what I can see from the outside it is loads of fun!

7. Swim indoors year around at Timber Falls Indoor Water Park.

Not quite as big as Big Surf Water Park, but it is open year around.  Timber Falls is located inside Tan Tar A Resort, but can be visited by anyone.   Only 600 feet of water slides – so be prepared to get wet!