A trip to a small lake community is an ideal way to wash away the woes of the world. If you desperately need a break from the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and political commercials, let the healing waters of Stockton Lake take you away.
Stockton, Mo., is a 2.5-hour drive from Kansas City and an hour away from Springfield, Mo. The tiny town is an easy place to social distance with a population of less than 2,000. For a weekend getaway, pack a swimsuit, shorts, and a cooler.
If you don’t like to rough it, rent a spiffy cabin at the Cabins at Stockton Lake. The popular cabin resort offers 32 fully furnished, tricked out cabins that rent from $100 to $350 depending on the season and size. Whatever you forget to bring, you can pick up at Woods Supermarket or Hammons Black Walnut Emporium, which is the town’s quaint coffee, ice cream, and gift shop.
If the nightly rental prices at The Cabins of Stockton Lake make your wallet pucker, consider renting a more primitive cabin at State Park Marina for $60-$70 a night. Most cabins sleep four and are air conditioned.
Thanks to the US Army Corps of Engineers rules forbidding shoreline developments, the Stockton Lake is clean, safe, and one of Missouri’s best-kept secrets. Many Kansas City families spend every summer week on the lake enjoying its 298 miles of shoreline and three marinas.
If you’re a foodie, plan half day to Springfield where you can dine at any of 1,000 restaurants. Springfield is an hour away from Stockton and is quietly making itself a foodie destination with these new restaurants.
As for eating out in Stockton, your choices are few. Of the dozen restaurants there, here’s the lowdown on my favorite four. For biscuits and gravy you can’t beat the Corner Café, If you’re in the mood for meat and potatoes, head to the Boat House for a steak, ribs, or the Yacht – a smoked potato the size of a boat.
For a burrito fajita style or chicken con mole poblano, go to Enriques Mexican Grill (warning: the don’t serve margaritas because they don’t have a liquor license, but Enrique’s food makes up for it).
Finally, for a more upscale experience, go to Orleans Trail Restaurant for garlic and rosemary pork, blackened tilapia tacos, or a candied bacon club. Orleans Trail has a chef and it shows. O.T., as the locals call it, has a great bar overlooking the lake. It’s a great spot to enjoy a pitcher of beer and some wings.
If you need an iced latte, carmel mocha, or Stockton souviner, drop in Hammon’s Black Walnut Emporium. Hammon’s also serves pastries, ice cream, soup and sandwiches.
Time on the Water
Nothing helps you reset like a couple hours of kayaking along the pristine shorelines. If you’re a guest at The Cabins at Stockton Lake, you can rent a kayak for $15 an hour. Stockton marinas will rent you one for $20 for two hours.
During my last kayaking experience on the lake, I saw four herons, one box turtle, two snakes, and two jet skiers. There were so few boaters I could cut across the main channel safely.
If jet skiing is your jam, State Park Marina rents jet skis for $50 an hour. A pontoon rents for $150 for four hours and a fishing boat rents for $190 a day.
Off Season at The Cabins at Stockton Lake
During off season (mid-Sept. through Memorial Day), you’ll find the best prices at the Cabins of Stockton Lake. Though there’s less to do at the lake during winter, you can still enjoy a book, fire, or Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for the family in this Winter Wonderland.