We will be visiting Osage Beach for the 2nd time. Any suggestions for day trips about 1 to 1.5 hours away? Looking for hiking, or other scenic activity.
Though it's not far away, I trust you've been to Lake of the Ozarks State Park? Lots of hiking there and no development, in contrast to the rest of the lake. There are also cave tours in Ozark Caverns (May-Sept).
If you like caves, another is in Onondaga Cave State Park, and is open April-October. It's less than two hours away, and also has some pretty nice hiking within the park.
Jefferson City is about 45 minutes away. Check out the Runge Nature Center when there - they have demonstrations and exhibits of Missouri flora and fauna and a fire tower that you can climb and learn about history of wildfire spotting and finding. The Capitol is there, as is the old state penitentiary, which offers tours (one of the most popular attractions in Jeff City).
South past Camdenton is Bennett Spring State Park. It has some nice hiking as well as the spring itself which is pretty cool to see. Missouri is riddled with springs of all sizes. Most are a bit outside your range - though if you want a longer day trip, head to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to see caves, springs, waterfalls, and more. It's really the most beautiful part of the state.
We are traveling down to Osage Beach from Wisconsin the 1st week of May. What kind of weather can we expect? I hope to bring my boat , do some fishing and bikes to ride on (off road) trails. Can we expect "water access" restaurants to be open and running that time of the year? Any suggestions will be appreciated.
By May weather tends to be more consistently pleasant, though IMO the water hasn't caught up yet, if that's your thing. As a northerner, YMMV :) Most if not all waterfront places should be open.
Yes nearly all waterfront business will be open, it can however, be chilly on the water (even for a northener lol). Many outdoor pools won't yet be open.
Backwater Jacks has the best grouper sandwich (with swim up bar for adults) and live music on weekends.
Our favorite on the water places are:
1 Captain Ron's Bar and Grill-has a nice sandy beach, outdoor bar and eating area, sand volleyball court, adirondack chairs on the beach (some with beach umbrellas-first come, first served on those) and also indoor seating at restaurant/grill.
2 Frankie and Louies Beachfront Bar-great pizza, has an arcade, often has live music on weekends, ice cream shack down on beach by water (kids love this).
3 Horny Toad complex has great food, but wee bit more expensive/upscale (for the lake). We don't usually come by water here (too far for us) so can't speak to beach/waterside amenities.