12 Best Lakes In Indiana To Visit This Year

We’ve all heard about Minnesota and its 10,000 lakes, but did you know that Indiana is a lake lover’s paradise?

In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get an exact count, as some of these “lakes” are actually man-made reservoirs.

Indiana’s lakes offer stunning views and clear waters, perfect for water-based activities or even just basking in the sun.

In this article, let’s look at the best lakes in Indiana to visit.

The Best Lakes In Indiana

1. Patoka Lake

Known as: The second-largest reservoir in Indiana; the “Jewel of Southern Indiana”

Patoka Lake was initially built as a reservoir to provide a water supply as well as to control floods.

Patoka Lake
Photo Credit: LouisvilleUSACE

Nowadays, it is inhabited by a wide variety of migrating birds, fish, and other wildlife. Its unique ecology means you may find jellyfish in the fresh water, or bald eagles along the shoreline.

Fishing for sunfish, bluegill, striped bass, and walleye is a popular activity, along with swimming and camping on the various campgrounds.

Boating is popular here; rent boats at Hoosier Hills Marina, Patoka Lake Marina, or Gilligan’s Boats.

Essential Information
Address: 3084 N Dillard Road, Birdseye, IN
Best for: Fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, waterskiing, boating, picnicking, hiking, biking, wildlife-watching, birdwatching, camping
Beaches nearby: State Park Beach
Nearby services and amenities: Launch ramps, picnic areas, marinas, general stores, restaurants, ATMs, gas stations, archery range
Where to stay: Campgrounds, cabins, houseboats, resorts
Nearby places of interest: Patoka Lake Winery, Newton-Stewart State Recreation Area
More information: Patoka Lake, Indiana, Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Patoka Lake

2. Clear Lake

Known as: The clearest lake in Indiana

Clear Lake is an 800-acre natural lake that was formed in a depression gouged by the last glacier to cover the region.

The waters of the resulting lake are so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake and see critters like turtles and bottom-feeding carp.

The lake is filled with yellow perch, bluegill, walleye, and rainbow trout that you can fish and cook.

There is a public beach access point, as well as a private access via the Clear Lake Resort.

Rent a boat and venture out to the Kasota Island Nature Preserve. Camping is allowed by permit only, but it is open from dawn to dusk so you can make a day trip and explore this area.

Essential Information
Address: 111 Gecowets Drive, Fremont, IN | 260-495-9158
Best for: Rowboating, fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, sail boating, paddleboarding, sunbathing, biking
Beaches nearby: Clear Lake Public Beach
Nearby services and amenities: Marina, yacht club, resort, cycling shop, fire pits
Where to stay: Resorts, campgrounds, cabins
Nearby places of interest: Kasota Island Nature Preserve, Cedar Lake Wetland Conservation Area, Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve
More information: Clear Lake, Indiana, Town of Clear Lake

3. Barbee Lake

Known as: A chain of seven interconnecting lakes

Barbee Lake was formed by melting glaciers during the Pleistocene era and is actually made of seven lakes: Banning Lake, Big Barbee Lake, Little Barbee Lake, Irish Lake, Kuhn Lake, Sechrist Lake, and Sawmill Lake.

All the lakes have bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow perch, channel catfish, muskie, and black crappie, and thus Barbee Lake is a favorite fishing destination.

Big Barbee Lake, in particular, is popular with the speedboating crowd, as it’s the only one among the seven that doesn’t have a speed limit on boats.

The popular Barbee Hotel is said to have hosted the likes of Al Capone and Clark Gable.

Essential Information
Address: Tippecanoe Township, IN
Best for: Boating, fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, biking, hiking, camping
Public access: Barbee Lakes Public Access, Kuhn Lake Public Access
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launch, marina, golf course, fishing supply store, restaurants, general store
Where to stay: Rental houses, campgrounds, hotels, resorts, cabins
More information: Barbee Lakes Property Owners

4. Tippecanoe Lake

Known as: The deepest natural lake in Indiana

Around 5 minutes away from Barbee Lake, Tippecanoe Lake, affectionately called Lake Tippy by the locals, was formed by the same glacier that made the Barbee Lake chain.

If you’re into fishing, you’re in for a treat: there are over 25 species of fish at this lake. Bluegill, yellow perch, black crappie, and largemouth bass are popular species.

The residents are passionate about preserving the lake and its surroundings, and the results are evident in the beauty of the place.

Essential Information
Address: Leesburg, Kosciuko County, IN
Best for: Fishing, scuba diving
Other Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, sailing, canoeing, water skiing, jet skiing, camping
Public access: Grassy Creek Public Access
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, launch ramps, country club, golf course, restaurants, general stores, bars
Where to stay: Resorts, rental houses, campgrounds, cabins, inn
Nearby places of interest: Potawatomi Park, Edmund & Virginia Bell Nature Preserve, Kalorama Park

5. Lake Wawasee

Known as: The largest natural lake in Indiana; the “Jewel of Kosciusko County”

Lake Wawasee was originally called Turkey Lake and was renamed after the former Miami chief Wawasee.

Spanning 3,400 acres and with 25 miles of shoreline with plenty of bays, Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake in the state.

It’s probably the most commercialized lake in this list, with 90% of the shoreline developed and having over 1,000 residential and commercial establishments.

Essential Information
Address: Turkey Creek Township, Kosciusko County, IN
Best for: Sailing
Other Activities: Swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, jet skiing
Beaches nearby: Lake Wawasee Public Access
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, fishing pier, yacht club golf courses, fishing supply stores, restaurants, coffee shops, general stores, churches, gas stations, ATMs
Where to stay: Resorts, bed and breakfasts, rental houses, hotels, condos
Nearby places of interest: Morrison’s Island, Ogden Island
More information:

6. Lake James

Known as: One of the lakes in Indiana with the best water quality; largest lake in Steuben County

Lake James
Photo Credit: Chris Light

Lake James is on the northeast corner of Indiana and is the fourth largest natural lake in the state.

This lake is well known as a swimming and waterski lake, and it has a sandbar in one basin that’s popular for weekend party-goers and tourists.

You can also fish for largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and yellow perch in the waters.

Essential Information
Address: Angola, Steuben County, IN
Best for: Swimming, fishing
Other Activities: Boating, water skiing, jet skiing, waterboarding, paddleboarding, kayaking, sunbathing, picnicking, camping, hiking, horseback riding
Beaches nearby: Potawatomi Inn Beach, Public Beach and Playground, Bledsoe’s Beach
Nearby services and amenities: Marina, boat houses, yacht club, fishing stores, launch ramps, hiking trails, restaurants, bait & tackle shops
Where to stay: Campgrounds, inns, rental homes, resorts
Nearby places of interest: Pokagon State Park
More information: Lake James Association

7. Lake Michigan

Known as: Home of the Indiana Dunes State Park

Lake Michigan is one of the 5 Great Lakes, touching 4 U.S. states, namely Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

It may be a bit of a stretch including Lake Michigan in this list, but its southern tip does lie in Indiana, and more importantly, the Indiana Dunes State Park lies on its shoreline.

Lake Michigan

The Indiana Dunes State Park features sand dunes, as well as wetlands, prairie, river, and forest ecosystems.

The Dunes cover 15 miles of shoreline, with a half-mile swimming beach and 2.5 miles of nature preserve.

These sands along Lake Michigan are known as the singing sands because of the sound they make when you walk barefoot on them.

Hike along the trails in the state park and enjoy spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

Sailing and power boating are popular on Lake Michigan. There are no marinas, boat rentals or boat launches within the national park, but there are services available in the surrounding counties.

Essential Information
Address: Indiana Dunes State Park | 1215 N State Road 49 Porter, IN | 219-926-2255
Best for: Boating (except motorized boats), fishing, hiking
Other Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, biking, camping, picnicking, birdwatching, wildlife watching
Beaches nearby: Indiana Dunes State Park, Michiana Shores, Long Beach, Washington Park Beach, Beverly Shores, West Beach
Nearby services and amenities: Country clubs, hiking trails, restaurants, bars and nightlife, gas stations, ATMs, general stores, churches
Where to stay: Bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds, cabins, cottages, rental homes
Nearby places of interest: Pottawattamie Park
More information: Indiana Dunes State Park

8. Brookville Lake

Known as: One of the cleanest, quietest, and prettiest lakes in Indiana

Brookville Lake started out as a reservoir for flood control and stormwater management. Nowadays, it’s part of the Brookville Lake-Whitewater Memorial State Park Complex.

It boasts more than 11,000 acres of natural habitats for plants and wildlife, as well as plenty of recreational opportunities, thanks to two state recreation areas. In fact, this lake is so popular that it boasts 2 million visitors annually.

Fishing is a popular activity here, particularly for walleye, which grow large in this lake. In fact, fisheries biologists harvest walleye eggs from female walleyes in this lake to grow into fry and supply other lakes in Indiana.

Other species of fish that are abundant here are bluegill, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, trout, and white bass.

Essential Information
Address: Brookville, Franklin County, IN
Best for: Boating, walleye fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, paddle boating, water skiing, canoeing, hiking, picnicking, camping, hunting
Beaches nearby: Brookville Lake Beach, Whitewater Memorial State Park, Mounds State Recreation Area, Quakertown State Recreation Area
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, boat launches, archery range, shooting range, hiking trails, restaurants, grocery stores
Where to stay: Campgrounds, cabins, resorts
Nearby places of interest: Whitewater Memorial State Park
More information: Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Brookville Lake

9. Lake Maxinkuckee

Known as: Indiana’s second-largest natural lake

Lake Maxinkuckee is located southeast of the town of Culver, where the first inhabitants were Mound Builders, most probably the Potawatomi.

Its name comes from the Potawatomi word Mog-sin-ke-ki, which means “big stone country.”

Today, it’s a recreational lake where walleye fishing is a popular activity. Other fish you can expect to find include bluegill, catfish, and bass.

Essential Information
Address: Union Township, IN
Best for: Walleye fishing
Other Activities: Scuba diving, boating, swimming, sunbathing, cycling
Beaches nearby: Culver and Union Township Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, boat launches, golf course, country club, coffee shops, restaurants, bar & grills, general stores, churches, ATMs
Where to stay: Rental houses, campgrounds, inns, condos, hotels, bed and breakfasts
Nearby places of interest: Town of Culver
More information: Lake Maxinkuckee, Culver & Lake Maxinkuckee Visitor Center

10. Lake Lemon

Known as: One of the most underrated lakes in Indiana; seventh-largest public reservoir

Lake Lemon was initially built as a water source for Bloomington.

Nowadays, it is both a private and a public lake, with part of it being owned by homeowners and the rest being maintained by Riddle Point Park.

The lake serves as a habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife. The largemouth bass is a popular fish, and other fish that can be found here include crappie, bluegill, and flathead catfish.

Wildlife around the lake include beavers, muskrat, heron, and even bald eagles.

Essential Information
Address: Unionville, IN
Best for: Boating, fishing for largemouth bass
Other Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, sailing, rowing, water skiing, wildlife watching, picnicking
Beaches nearby: Riddle Point Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, boat launch, yacht club, picnic areas, hiking trails, boat supply shops, restaurants
Where to stay: Campgrounds, resorts, rental homes, inns
Nearby places of interest: Indiana University Aquatic Center, Little Africa Wildlife Viewing Area, Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Yellowwood National Forest
More information: Lake Lemon Conservancy District

11. Monroe Lake

Known as: The largest lake that sits entirely in Indiana

Monroe Lake is 4,300 hectares spread across Monroe and Brown counties, making it the largest lake that is entirely within Indiana.

Fishing is highly popular here, with bluegill, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, and crappie available almost all year round.

With multiple recreation areas, over 300 campsites, well-maintained beaches, miles of hiking trails, and a vast area for boating and fishing, it’s no surprise that this lake attracts millions of tourists each year.

Essential Information
Address: 4850 S State Road 446, Bloomington, IN
Best for: Boating, fishing
Other Activities: Water skiing, swimming, sunbathing, hiking, camping, picnicking, hunting, birdwatching, wildlife watching
Access points: Paynetown State Recreation Area, Lake Monroe Spillway, Salt Creek State Recreation Area, Fairfax State Recreation Area, Hardin Ridge Recreation Area
Nearby services and amenities: Boat ramps, marina, resorts, picnic areas, hiking trails, restaurants
Where to stay: Campgrounds, cabins, hotels
Nearby places of interest: Charles C Deam Wilderness, Hoosier National Forest, T.C. Steele State Historic Site
More information: Monroe Lake

12. Cecil M. Harden Lake (Raccoon Lake)

Known as: Respite from busy Indianapolis

Cecil M. Harden Lake, formerly known as Mansfield Lake and now commonly known as Raccoon Lake, was built as a flood control project in 1956.

Because it’s only a short drive away from Indianapolis but still close enough to cities and amenities, Raccoon Lake is a great destination for couples and families wanting a break from the busy urban life.

Fishing for largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie, bluegill, and walleye is popular here, as well as trout in the tailwater.

It’s also home to plenty of wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, rabbits, muskrats, snakes, and many more.

Essential Information
Address: 1588 S Raccoon Parkway, Rockville, IN
Best for: Fishing, wildlife watching
Other Activities: Boating, swimming, water skiing, hiking, hunting, camping, birdwatching
Main access point: Raccoon State Recreation Area
Nearby services and amenities: Boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, archery trail, grocery store
Where to stay: Campgrounds, cabins, lakeside lodge
Nearby places of interest: Mansfield Roller Mill State Historical Site, Portland Mills Covered Bridge, Turkey Run State Park
More information: Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Cecil M Harden Lake (Raccoon Lake), Raccoon Lake

Which lake in Indiana are you going to visit first?

As I’ve mentioned, there are many more lakes in Indiana, but hopefully, our list proves to be a great start and a big help for planning your next lake getaway.

Other places to visit in Indiana

If you’re taking a trip to Indiana to vacation in one of these scenic lakes, check out our list of the best things to do in Indiana, or aim to visit Indiana’s famous covered bridges.

Have you been to any other lake in Indiana? How was the experience? Or if you haven’t, which one of these ones I’ve listed are you planning to visit first? Share it with us in the comments!

Go Out and Explore