Who says that seniors need to slow down once they retire? For a surprising and exciting region in the American Midwest, take a look at the Ozarks. A mountainous region west of the Mississippi River that spans four states, the Ozarks and their attractions deserve to be better known as a retirement destination. The Ozark plateau runs from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Arkansas River, covering parts of Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and the tip of southeast Kansas. The full region spans roughly 75,000 square miles. As these seven small towns show, retiring in the Ozarks has opportunities for every kind of senior lifestyle.
Kimberling City, Missouri
Kimberling City, with a modest 2,400 inhabitants, provides a quiet, naturally beautiful alternative for one's retirement years in the heart of the Ozarks. Seated in Missouri's southwest corner, a short way from the Arkansas border, the town has been celebrated as a gateway to the Ozark mountains and other natural areas. The town itself lies near Table Rock Lake, with marinas dotting the area, enabling boat rentals and easy access to the lake's waters for fishing and other pastimes. The Ozark Mountain Highroad will delight visiting children and grandchildren with spectacular views. Kimberling City has a more affordable cost of living than Missouri's large cities. The town is the home of Tablerock Healthcare, a nursing home facility, while nearby Branson offers other healthcare sites within easy reach.
The town of Neosho, with 13,000 inhabitants, delivers charm and history for the retirement-minded senior. Like elsewhere in the state's Ozarks region, the town has a number of its buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places. For local lore and a fascinating place for a walking visit, head to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, a grounds that has served as a final resting place since 1855 and includes at least one veteran of the US Civil War.
Despite its modest size, Neosho caters to a variety of senior needs across three assisted living centers, including Oak Pointe of Neosho and Gran Villas Neosho. For light recreation in a small-town setting, green places like Big Spring Park and the Bicentennial Conservation Area provide four-season opportunities to stay healthy and take along visiting loved ones. Neosho has four senior care sites, with more available in nearby Joplin, according to the website Senior Housing Net.
Grove, population 7,200, sits in the Ozark foothills of northeastern Oklahoma. Formerly a part of Cherokee Nation land, Grove completed its incorporation in 1902. The town is a great choice for visitors who want to see Grand Lake, a popular summertime destination. Grove also offers the Lendonwood Gardens, a botanical garden spanning eight acres with over a thousand plant species.
Golf lovers should drive straight for Grand Lake's golf courses, which have a combined 45 holes to play with friends and family. Outside of Grove proper, the Honey Creek area of Grand Lake State Park gives access to Oklahoma's natural beauty. Grove has a half-dozen senior care sites, including INTEGRIS Grove Hospital. A living site, Grove Senior Housing, is affordable for low-income families.
Eufaula, with a population of just 2,800, sits on the banks of a lake of the same name, about 70 miles from the Arkansas state line. The town takes its name from the Indigenous tribe called Eufaula, which once lived in the region. Much of the town's pioneer feel remains. A visitor can check out quaint shops and antique stores here or walk Lake Eufala's shoreline trail. Eufaula's business area is included on the National Register of Historic Places. For a tasty meal while visiting, travelers should seek out local standouts like Dawn's Place Cafe or CodyBob's. Despite the town's small size, it has three senior living sites, their services ranging from assisted living to more intensive nursing care.
The northwest town of Ozark, with just 3,600 residents, derives its name from the term "Aux Arcs," a name that the region's French traders and fur trappers gave the terrain of rolling hills and valleys. The English-language adaptation of the same term — Ozarks — later provided a fresh new moniker to the mountainous zone that would cover parts of four states to the west of the Mississippi River. The town played a key part in the Trail of Tears, the path of forced resettlement for Native Americans in the late 19th century.
Ozark's historic town square combines antique shops, a courthouse, and crepe myrtle trees for a quaint image from the town's former days. The former Franklin County Jail features a stone facade and has often been compared to a medieval castle, which visitors some travel a long way to see. A restored 1911 train depot now serves as Ozark's history museum. The Ozark Nursing Home operates in the northern part of town.
Batesville, Arkansas, has a population of 11,200. The town plays a key part in Arkansas as a transportation hub, itself linked to its historic role in commercial traffic on the White River. Batesville's tourist draws include the Garrott House, an 1840s stately home that is included on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cook-Morrow House, built in the early 20th century, is another historic home included on the national register.
In a sign of Batesville's continuing contributions to local culture, the town's Ozark Foothills Film Festival began in 2002 to promote filmmaking in the area. The Old Independence Regional Museum offers education and the history of the surrounding Independence County. Batesville is home to a half-dozen retirement and senior centers, half of them classified at low-income/affordable levels, according to Senior Housing Net.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Surrounded by the Ozarks' natural beauty, Eureka Springs, despite a population of just 2,200, enjoys an outsized reputation due to its natural springs and the spa economy that sprang up around them more than a century ago. The town's historic downtown is another entry on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1879, Eureka Springs grew to 10,000 residents after just two years.
Today, the site's historical sites include the Municipal Auditorium, opened in 1929, and the onetime home of Carrie Nation, a noted advocate for the abolition of slavery. Other options are the Basin Park Hotel, which opened in 1905 and is still operating today, as well as the Palace Hotel & Bath House. Two senior centers operate in Eureka Springs, notably Prestige Assisted Living, with a full spectrum of health services.
The Ozarks Promise Fun For Retirees and Their Visitors
For seniors who might be interested in the Ozarks as a retirement destination, the region's quaint towns should inspire a visit or longer-term residence. The area caters to active seniors as well as those needing more intensive accommodations and care. From Missouri and Oklahoma to Arkansas and part of Kansas, the Ozarks boast a quality of life that residents at all ages enjoy. Given the Ozarks' range, affordability, and menu of interesting sees-and-dos, the region may just be a viable future retirement destination for all kinds of seniors from all kinds of places.