Big Spring State Park in the Mark Twain National Forest is our favorite. Great campground, great hosts and easy access to float the spring-fed Current River. It makes a big horseshoe bend around the park which means you can walk to the water, float and walk back. Our son loves it (he's six) and my wife's family has gone every summer for 40 years!
Just your average family trying to unplug every now and then!
I have to say Missouri has some awsome State Parks, we hope to have visited all of them before we get too old to camp. And are working on our 4th Camper's Award. Make memories...it is what it is all about.
Garry and Julie
2008 Jay Series 1207
Dodge Ram 1500
Looking to Make Memories
400 miles from KC covers all of Missouri, half of Iowa, half of Arkansas, a third of Nebraska, and most of Kansas and Oklahoma.
Within that range, for family activities, I would choose:
Branson area, and Table Rock Lake, any of many public (COE) and private campgrounds give access to activities in Branson. You can be right by Silver Dollar City, if you want.
Grand Lake O' the Cherokees in NE Oklahoma, state parks at Honey Creek and Bernice give access to facilities around Grove. Spavinaw SP for Disney, Langley and Grand Lake Towne.
Lake Dardanelle on the Arkansas River near Russellville, a couple of state parks and several COE facilities for camping.
Actually, most of the Arkansas River system reservoirs in NE Oklahoma, SW Missouri, and NW Arkansas are within that reach, but Branson and Grand Lake are the most developed with commercial family amusement.
I've heard good things about Mark Twain Lake but haven't been there. I do like Hannibal, taken the kids and grandkids a couple of times. For another commercialized area, there is Lake of the Ozarks, which has a big vacations following among folks from KC and St Louis, but it has become overdeveloped for my tastes (but I have to say the same about Branson).
More quiet places, camping and outdoor activities but not shopping, theater and amusement parks, I recommend Tenkiller Ferry Lake (several COE and state parks, both sides) and Greenleaf Lake State Park, a tiny jewel on a tiny reservoir with recreational facilities extending into a large military training area, if the Guard is not using it.