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Best Tri Race-cations: The Ozarks

This southern gem offers tons of outdoor opportunities to swim, bike, and run.

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There’s no vacation like a race-cation. That trip nominally planned around your favorite triathlon—but really about so much more. For your dream itinerary, we’ve put together ratings and tips on where to bring your friends, family, and training buddies; how to organize your trip; and which races to schedule around. View our race-cation guide to start making plans for your best tri trip yet.

Planning your race-cation in The Ozarks

Family Fun: ★★★★

Vacation Vibe: ★★★

Travel Ease: ★★★

Race Quality: ★★

Races

How to Get There

“The Ozarks” is a fairly tough-to-pin-down area, the boundaries of which often vary depending on whom you ask. But for all intents and purposes, northwest Arkansas to southwest Missouri—including Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Branson, Missouri—are a pretty safe bet. The nearest major airports include Kansas City, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma—both about a two- to three-hour drive from Fayetteville, which is also home to this year’s Gravel Tri National Championship.

Things for Friends & Family to Do

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, is a huge family draw (and not just because of the popular Netflix show Ozark). There, you’ll find fantastic vacation rentals, waterparks, and classic summertime activities like mini golf and bumper cars. Branson, Missouri, is also well-known for its attractions and live shows, while Fayetteville, Arkansas, has more low-key stops like the 86-acre Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Of course, there’s also two national parks in the area—the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri and the Buffalo National River in Arkansas.

Lake of the Ozarks
(Photo: Getty Images)

Why It’s a Great Race-cation

Even though the Ozarks is a wide swath of area with tons of outdoor opportunities to swim, bike, and run, it’s Fayetteville specifically that’s playing host to the inaugural Gravel Tri National Championship in an effort to showcase the area’s excellent trail systems. Featuring 38 miles of unpaved, natural-surface trails within the city limits, you can also find trail running and off-road riding in the threateningly named Devil’s Den State Park. Looking for an open-water swim? Locals head to Beaver Lake about 40 minutes east of Bentonville, Arkansas.


Check out other race-cation destinations: