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30 Best Lakes In Wisconsin: Why I Love Them!

A guide to the most beautiful lakes in Southern and Northern Wisconsin for the perfect lake getaway in Wisconsin

Take a break from the urban hustle and bustle and head to one of Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes.

From crystal-clear, glacial waters in Lake Nokomis to sparking swimming holes on Torch Lake, these take-your-breath-away destinations in Wisconsin make for an ideal summer getaway or escape any time of year.

Whether it’s fishing for bluegills or simply taking in the scenery, Wisconsin has some truly remarkable outdoor places waiting to be explored–and talked about!

So let’s jump right into my round-up of the very best lakes in Wisconsin that you have to visit!

Looking for the perfect destination in Wisconsin? Discover the top lakes that offer plenty of activities and stunning views. From fishing to kayaking, experience the best of nature and create unforgettable memories on your getaway! Pack your bags and explore these amazing Wisconsin lakes now!
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Best Lakes in Northern Wisconsin

1. Lake Chippewa

best fishing lakes in wisconsin, clear blue lake with boat ramp
Boat launch along Chippewa Lake

Lake Chippewa, also known as Chippewa Flowage, is one of the best artificial lakes in northern Wisconsin.

Nestled in a breathtakingly beautiful natural area in the Sawyer County, the lake is easily reachable from New Post and is known as an angler’s paradise.

From lakeshore fishing in the warm season to ice fishing during winter, this place has something to offer to all fishing enthusiasts. Make sure to bring your inflatable fishing kayak with you, it’s the perfect spot!

Dozens of campsites, forests, and walking trails along the lake’s shores attract thousands of outdoors enthusiasts each year. This is also one of the best boating lakes in Wisconsin – just don’t scare the fish away!

Whether it’s just a picnic or a longer trip, Lake Chippewa is undoubtedly one of the best lakes in Northern Wisconsin.

Book Lake Cabins at Lake Chippewa

2. Minocqua Lake

biggest lakes in wisconsin, Rustic wooden trestle across the Bearskin State Trail in Minocqua Wisconsin.
Rustic wooden trestle across the Bearskin State Trail in Minocqua Wisconsin.

Minocqua is known as the City of Lakes and is one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin.

So it’s no surprise that some of the best lakes in Wisconsin can be found in this area.

Spanning over 1,339 acres, Minocqua Lake is another splendid choice in Northern Wisconsin’s Lakeland. Located in Oneida County, it is a popular destination for vacationers all year round.

In addition to enjoying the lakes, there are many great things to do in Minocqua year-round.

Summer activities range from hiking, boating, and fishing to swimming in moderately clear waters. In winter, recreation varies from snowmobiling to skating on the frozen lake.

It’s perfect thus one of the best lakes in Wisconsin for a cabin. And if you’re able to visit in the fall, it’s a great place for seeing fall foliage in Wisconsin!

You’ll find some of the best hikes in Northern Wisconsin nearby to get the most of the colors.

The town of Minocqua, located on an island in the middle of the lake, buzzes with life despite its small size.

From vibrant nightlife in summer to riffle and bow hunting tours in fall, and cross country skiing competitions in winter, it attracts visitors with loads of entertaining events and activities.

If you are wondering where to stay in Northern Wisconsin, have a look at the prettiest resorts in Northern Wisconsin.

Book here your lake cabin in Minocqua at HomeAway

3. Wazee Lake

best lakes in wisconsin for swimming, view over wazee lake
Wazee Lake, Wisconsin

Wazee Lake is one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin. It’s built on a former iron mine quarry and is home to Wazee Lake Recwreation Area, one of the most amazing scuba diving destinations in America.

Diving and snorkeling apart, the lake is also home to an impressive population of fish comprising bluegills, smallmouth bass, trout, and catfish.

Whether you enjoy fishing or just want to spend a quiet afternoon, a boat landing can be used to boat around the lake and admire the scenery.

Numerous campsites along the shores, hiking trails, bike paths, and picnic areas are just some of the other attractions you can expect. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Northern Wisconsin.

Book here the best Northern Wisconsin cabins

4. Petenwell Lake

most beautiful lakes in wisconsin, deer drinking for lake water
Enjoy the wildlife at the shores of Wisconsin’s lakes

Wisconsin’s second-largest lake, Petenwell Lake, was built in 1948 to serve as a hydraulic dam but is now used exclusively for recreational activities.

With most of its shoreline being an undeveloped forest, a vacation here means immersing yourself into the wildest nature.

Pristine sceneries and lots of wildlife make this lake a popular spot for bird watching, but also fishing and hunting. It’s thus perfect to bring your inflatable fishing kayak!

Recreational parks along both sides of the lake and a campground also make it a perfect choice for sailing, water skiing, hiking, or simply picnicking.

Book a cottage at Petenwell Lake

5. Lake Winnebago

popular lakes in wisconsin, view over lake winnebago at sunset
Lake Winnebago Wisconsin

Winnebago is one of the largest lakes in Wisconsin and also one of the best places in the USA for sturgeon fishing. Stretching on 55,700 hectares, the lake is not only popular for fishing though. 

The High Cliff State Park stretches along the northeast shore and offers a wealth of hiking trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

This popular lake is a great option if you’re looking for romantic getaways in Wisconsin Dells and surrounding areas.

Summer lovers can also enjoy sunbathing on the large public beach, while a small amusement park can entertain kids and adults alike. It’s considered one of the best State Parks in Wisconsin.

There are plenty of great places to visit around Lake Winnebago, the most popular of which is the city of Oshkosh.

You’ll find lots of fun outdoorsy things to do in Oshkosh, WI, and the surrounding area.

Book here the best forest cabins in nearby Kettle Moraine

Best Lakes in Southern Wisconsin

6. Lake Wisconsin

best lakes in wisconsin for fall colors, orange fall trees reflecting in lake wisconsin
Lake Wisconsin in fall

Located on the Wisconsin River, Lake Wisconsin is a popular destination for anglers. A large number of resorts and campgrounds make it a convenient fishing location, but the area has a lot to offer to all outdoors enthusiasts.

It’s thus perfect for a cabin getaway. You can easily book cottages at Lake Wisconsin via Vrbo.

Most tourist attractions are concentrated in the south-central areas of the lake, around Portage, Sauk City, or Prairie du Sac.

Convenient fishing options and plenty of nearby accommodation make Lake Wisconsin an ideal choice for weekend anglers. Plenty of sandbars and islands also give you a number of choices for setting the base, so you can find the adequate vacation spot for the rest of the family too.

The area is extremely scenic and has servec as a location for some of the best movies set in Wisconsin.

Book a vacation rental at Lake Wisconsin

7. Devil’s Lake

best hiking lakes in wisconsin, view over devil's lake from high up
Devil’s Lake views are a must see!

About two miles from Baraboo, in Sauk County, Devil’s Lake is one of the most popular spots for fishing, watercraft, hiking, and climbing, as well as one of the best lakes in southern Wisconsin.

Nestled in a splendid territory, this endothermic lake is situated in a deep chasm with no visible inlets or outlets – hence the lake’s name.

According to the local folklore, the body of water is the place where spirits gather during celebrations. Some legends even say that their voices can be heard near the lake, so this surely isn’t a destination for the faint-hearted. It’s known for being one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.

Legends apart, Devil’s Lake and its State Park, can spoil you with recreational choices. From hikes in the surrounding forests to fishing, there are quite a few activity options for all ages and tastes.

It’s no surprise it’s one of the best things to do in Central Wisconsin.

Book here the best tours in Wisconsin Dells

Best Lakes near Milwaukee

8. Lake Geneva

best vacation lakes in wisconsin, boat launch and boats on lake geneva
Boating on Lake Geneva

Easily reachable from Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago, Lake Geneva has been one of the most popular lake resorts in Wisconsin over the past 150 years.

One of the top spring-fed lakes in Wisconsin, Lake Geneva attracts visitors from all over the world.

Romantic getaways in Lake Geneva are incredibly popular and it’s also one of the best lakes in Wisconsin to live on/

The lake formed thousands of years ago due to glacial activity, it boasts a 21-mile long shoreline and brags with the numerous activities it proposes.

The Big Foot State Park is by far the most popular destination, and one of the best places to go snowshoeing in Lake Geneva in winter.

Several golf courses provide entertainment to those who don’t really like to soak in the sun, while Geneva is also one of the best swimming lakes in Wisconsin, boasting several beaches and swimming spots.

Water sports activities also include kayaking, canoeing, jet-skiing, and water skiing. It’s definitely one of the best lakes in Wisconsin and a great way to explore it is by bringing your inflatable kayak for whitewater.

And, not surprisingly it’s one of the best boating lakes in Wisconsin. Rent a boat and spend the day on the water!

Around the lake, the Pottawatomie trail offers a scenic hike, while the densely populated shoreline impresses with centuries-old opulent mansions. In the fall, the view is extra special, which is why Lake Geneva is one of the top Wisconsin fall getaways.

The Lake Geneva Shore Path is also one of the best Southern Wisconsin hiking trails.

Those who just want to relax while enjoying the outdoors can also opt for one of the many lake cruises. If you want something more upbeat, it’s also one of the best party lakes in Wisconsin.

If you are wondering where to stay in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, find here a detailed guide about the best hotels in Lake Geneva, WI and what to do in Lake Geneva, WI.

Lake Geneva also happens to have one of my favorite luxury resorts in Wisconsin.

Check reviews at TripAdvisor for Lake Geneva accommodation

9. Muskego Lake

best lakes near milwaukee, bird standing in lake
Bird admiring himself on Muskego Lake
  • Accommodation Options: The area near Muskego Lake and the neighboring Wind Lake is ideal for a scenic cabin getaway! I absolutely love this romantic B&B Cottage, and if you’re into something fancier, this lakeside home has a gorgeous interior design and a private dock!

Southwest of Milwaukee in the Waukesha County, Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area, is one of the best places to vacation in Wisconsin.

Easily accessible from both Interstate 43 and State Highway 36, the shallow 2,260-acre lake fringed with wetlands and cattail marshes offers numerous recreational opportunities.

It’s also an easy day trip from Milwaukee the whole family can enjoy!

The area is a hot spot for bird watchers who want to spot eagles, great blue herons, osprey, or forester’s terns. A wide lake surface offers many water sports possibilities, including canoeing and fishing.

The area is also a great choice for hunting or wild edibles gathering. While there are no designated trails, most outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy hiking in the area.

The lake is also home to some of the most romantic cabins in Wisconsin. It’s thus a great idea for a couple’s romantic getaway in Wisconsin.

Winter activities include cross country skiing and snowmobiling. No doubt, a great vacation idea in Wisconsin for kids and adults alike.

You’ll find some of the best Milwaukee bike trails and hiking trails nearby.

Book here the best tours in Milwaukee

10. Tichigan Lake

Tichigan Lake might not be one of the biggest lakes in the state, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful lakes in Wisconsin.

Located in Racine County, it is dubbed as one of the best walleye lakes in Wisconsin, although there are many more fishing opportunities.

Vast wetlands, marshes, and forests surrounding the lake also boast impressing wildlife. Whether you want to observe animals in their natural habitat, watch birds or go hunting, there are quite a few recreational activities you can do in the area.

It’s easy to see why Tichigan Lake is one of the best small lakes in Wisconsin!

The Bear Den Zoo and Petting Farm offer great entertainment opportunities for the little ones, while many campgrounds and accommodation options make Tichigan Lake a splendid choice for family vacations. – Check reviews & prices on Airbnb.

If you love animals and plan to vacation with your own, be sure to check out my post on the best pet-friendly cabins in Wisconsin!

Rent an RV in Milwaukee

Best Lakes near Madison

11. Lake Mendota

best lakes in wisconsin to live on, aerial view over madison, wisconsin with lake mendota in background
There’s so much to see in Madison, WI

Conveniently located just off Madison city, Lake Mendota might not be the best choice for outdoor lovers, but it surely is for those looking for a mix between a city break and a camping vacation.

It’s also ideal for a relaxing yoga retreat in Wisconsin.

The city shoreline is dotted with expensive homes and condominiums, as well as some of the best trails for hiking in Madison, WI.

Easily accessible from all areas of the city, Mendota features five public beaches, plenty of lidos, and all modern amenities you’d expect to find in a 21st-century municipality.

It’s thus perfect when looking for beautiful beaches in Wisconsin.

Public boat landings make it easy for visitors to access the lake, and fishing is one of the most popular things to do in Madison, Wisconsin.

Furthermore, you can also enjoy scenic views over the lake, take a walk along the nearly 8 miles of trails, or enjoy a picnic in one of the designated areas.

Lake Mendota is also one of the best party lakes in Wisconsin.

Make sure to bring your Wisconsin hiking guidebook in order to explore the best trails in the area. – Check rates & reviews here

Book here the best tours in Madison, WI

12. Rock Lake

best small lakes in wisconsin, rocky shore of a wisconsin lake
Rocky shoreline of a Wisconsin lake

Rock Lake is one of the oddest Madison WI lakes. Alternately named Tyranena, this body of water is known for its pyramids and monster.

Yes, that’s right. It might be far away from Scotland, but Rock Lake has its own Nessie, known as The Terror and affectionately called Rocky by the locals.

While this Nessie’s quite shy, what you can see through the moderately clear waters is the pyramids on the bottom, believed to have been built by the same natives who also built Aztalan.

If you’re not really scared about the monster nor too interested in history, Rock Lake is also a perfect spot for fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Rent an RV in Madison, WI

13. Yahara River

best lakes in wisconsin for a cabin, two men in a small motor boat fishing on the lake
Relaxing day out fishing on the lake

The Yahara Chain of Lakes Wisconsin dots the area along the Yahara River. All lakes are linked by parks, beaches, nature trails, and picnic areas.

Cherokee Lake is the first in the chain, surrounded by wetlands and popular for bird watching, canoeing, and kayaking. Next, Lake Mendota impresses with its 22-mile long shoreline, fine sand beaches, and 18 miles of hiking trails.

Located almost in the heart of Madison city, Lake Monona is the most easily accessible. Surrounded by cottages and residences, it’s a popular summer destination and a hot spot for water sports.

Nature lovers will most likely fall in love with Lake Wingra, the last in the chain. Small and underdeveloped, it’s one of the cleanest lakes in Wisconsin.

There are no motorboats allowed on it, which means it’s great for swimming. It’s one of the best small lakes in Wisconsin if you want to avoid the crowds.

Furthermore, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum also offers plenty of hiking opportunities.

Buy here the ultimate itinerary for Wisconsin

14. Lake Waubesa

best vacation lakes in wisconsin, kayakers on the lake
Kayaking on the lake
  • Accommodation Options: Lake Waubesa is heaven for fans of cabin getaways! My favorite one in the area is this Vacation Home with a private dock and gorgeous sunset views. This lake home comes with a more luxurious feel and is perfect when traveling in a larger group.

One of the biggest lakes in Madison, Lake Waubesa, impresses with 15 miles of shoreline and outstanding recreational options. For those lucky enough to find one, it’s one of the best Wisconsin lakes for cabins.

It’s located at a stone’s throw away from Madison downtown and is surrounded by 11 parks, a public beach, and four public boat landings. Permissive fishing regulations and a large population of musky fish make it one of the best muskie lakes in Wisconsin.

If you don’t like fishing, the Goodman Park on the western shore is one of the oldest parks in Dane County and includes miles of trails, several picnic areas, and plenty of entertainment options such as a horseshoe pit and designated sports areas.

An unsupervised swimming spot and good water clarity also make it one of the best lakes in Wisconsin for swimming.

Ideal for everyone, the lake area also attracts with its Native American Archaeology Trail, wildlife pond, look-out tower, and off-leash dog exercise area.

Book here the best vacation rentals on Lake Waubesa

15. Lake Kegonsa

Lake Kegonsa is one of the best-kept secrets in Madison. Surrounded primarily by agricultural areas, the lake is one of the shallowest in Wisconsin, yet it still offers a variety of recreational possibilities.

Surrounded by prairies, forests, and wetlands, it gives access to miles of hiking trails, a campground, and a public beach.

The park also offers a boat landing, swimming and fishing spots, as well as all facilities needed for sailing and water-skiing.

Book here the best walking tours in Madison

Best Fishing Lakes in Wisconsin

16. Big Saint Germain Lake

best lakes in wisconsin, view of a lake lined with fall trees
Wisconsin Lakes are great fall destinations

If your ideal lake vacation is synonymous with musky fishing, then Big Saint Germain Lake should top your bucket list. Located in northern St. Germain, the 1,600-acre lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Wisconsin.

Not only it offers plenty of space for muskies to grow to brag sizes, it’s also surrounded by mesmerizing territories. – See lake cabins on

Boat fishing is the best here, but due to the lake’s size, it’s recommended to hire a guide if you want to increase your chances of walking home with a trophy.

Find the best pet-friendly cabins in Wisconsin

17. Eau Claire Chain of Lakes

popular lakes in wisconsin, small waterfall feeding into a lake
Eau Claire Lake Shores

If you’re looking for the best fishing lake in northwest Wisconsin, the Eau Clair Chain of Lakes could be your best bet.

The chain consists of 11 lakes and streams spanning over 10,000 acres, and exploring them is one of the best things to do in Eau Claire, WI.

Upper, Middle, and Lower Eau Claire are the most popular for recreational fishing, while a series of smaller hidden lakes appeal to professional anglers.

No matter which lake you choose, here you’ll have the opportunity to fish a smallmouth bass, musky, crappie, or bluegill.

The Eau Clair lakes are also some of the best Wisconsin lakes for cabins.

Book here the best accommodation on Eau Clair Lakes

18. Black Earth Creek

sand bottom lakes in wisconsin, creek full of rocks
Rocky creeks

Protected from urban sprawl and known for its quality habitat maintained by conservation groups, the Black Earth Creek is the best for trout fishing.

Located in the middle of the state, the creek lays 20 minutes away from Madison and is also famous for its clean waters that earned it a spot among the clearest lakes in Wisconsin.

Woods and prairies surrounding the 27-mile creek offer numerous recreational opportunities to those who’re not really interested in fishing.

Buy here your perfect Wisconsin itinerary

19. Jute Lake

best small lakes in wisconsin, trees lining jute lake
  • Accommodation Options: The area near Jute Lake and High Lake has some of the most scenic cabins! This beachfront cabin has some of the best sunset views and this lakefront cottage comes with a dock, kayaks, canoe, and snowshoes.

Juke Lake is a quiet spot nestled in Boulder Junction, but it turns out to be an impressive fishing spot for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Mostly clear water also attracts musky and panfish; no doubt, an angler’s dream.

Surrounded by forests and wild vegetation, Jute Lake is a hidden gem that’s best navigated with a guide due to its remote nature.

If you’re planning a trip with your family, know that the area is also a bird-watching hot spot, and also offers many hiking opportunities.

It’s no surprise this is one of the best Wisconsin vacation ideas.

Book here the best Northern Wisconsin cabins

The Largest Lakes in Wisconsin

20. Lake Superior

best vacation lakes in wisconsin, The sea caves of Devils Island in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior
The sea caves of Devils Island in the Apostle Islands

Lake Superior is one of the five Great Lakes in Wisconsin, and undoubtedly one of the best lakes in the state.

Part of it is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a place renowned for its wild beauty, pristine sceneries, and excellent camping spots. Spanning over 28,074 hectares, the area is made up of 21 islands and is home to sandstone caves, lush forests, lighthouses, and amazing wildlife.

There are enough amazing things to do in Apostle Island to fill up an entire vacation.

Fishing, camping, hiking, and discovering historic sites are just some of the activities you can tackle here, and the area is perfect for all types of visitors, including couples, groups of friends, and families.

There are also several of the best waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin nearby that you have to take time to visit.

Book here the best Apostle Island cabins

21. Lake Michigan

biggest lakes in wisconsin, a misty lake michigan at sunset
Lake Michigan at sunset

Topping the preference charts in the Great Lakes vacation trends, Michigan lake is a major tourist attraction and has some of the top beaches in Door County and Wisconsin as a whole.

Activities here include sailing, kite surfing, and diving, among others.

It is also a great place for fishing, while a number of spectacular beaches make it a great choice for sunbathers.

Along the shores, the magnificent Whitefish Dunes State Park offers numerous hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities.

You’ll find some of the best hikes in Door County within the park.

For those who love the outdoors, Lake Michigan is one of the best lakes in Wisconsin to live on.

Lake Michigan is great for a lake getaway. If you visit in autumn, make sure to check out Oktoberfest in Sheboygan. It’s one of the best fall festivals in Wisconsin.

I recommend visiting Door County in October to make the most of the stunning fall colors!

This is definitely one of the top places to see the fall colors in Wisconsin.

If you’re looking for the best places to stay on Lake Michigan, check out my posts on the best Airbnbs in Door County, the best resorts in Door County or the best resorts on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.

During winter in Door County, take one of the best snowmobile trails in Wisconsin along the lake for magical winter views!

Book here vacation rentals near Lake Michigan.

Best Swimming Lakes in Wisconsin

22. Black Oak Lake

clearest lake in wisconsin, black lake with bright sunset on horizon
Beautiful sunsets all to yourself!

Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers looking for the best lake vacation may be mesmerized by Black Oak Lake. It boasts the clearest water of all lakes in Wisconsin, and that’s something to brag about in a state that counts over 15,000 bodies of water.

A number of beaches and swimming spots make it suitable for all water sports enthusiasts. Not only you can swim in its water, but paddling is also awesome thanks to the water clarity.

Located far away from the traffic but still close enough to big cities, the Black Oak Lake is also a great destination for hiking, biking, bird watching, or snowmobiling.

Book here the best Northern Wisconsin accommodation

23. Blue Lake, Oneida County

prettiest lakes in wisconsin, clouds at sunset reflecting in lake
Rent a waterfront cabin and soak up the sunsets

Located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest, the Blue Lake is perfect for family trips. Just like the Black Oak Lake, it impresses with crystal clear waters and entertains visitors with a wealth of recreational activities.

From swimming to boating and other water sports, to excellent hiking and fishing, there are plenty of things to do in the area.

Bird and wildlife-watching are other top activities, while fine golf courses and entertainment opportunities can keep you busy even during a longer stay.

Book here the best cabins in Northern Wisconsin

24. Bardon or Whitefish Lake, Douglas County

best lakes in north wisconsin, bushy trees with lake peeking through from the background
Time for a swim!
  • Accommodation Options: To fully disconnect and enjoy the beautiful area, renting a cottage or a cabin is ideal. This Lake House comes with amazing views and a private dock. If you love something more rustic, this log cabin comes with its own boat, sauna and campfire.

Bardon Lake is one of the 3 lakes in Wisconsin named Whitefish, but unlike its peers, this one brags with the title of the clearest lake in Wisconsin with 26.3 feet of visibility. So it’s not surprisingly that it’s also one of the cleanest lakes in the state.

More than 100 feet deep at its deepest point, yet still impressing with crystal clear waters, it’s perfect for swimming and diving. Due to the little to no water vegetation, the lake is often preferred by families, while the clarity of the lake also makes it a photographer’s dream at sunrise and sunset.

Some sources claim this as being the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin, but that title seems to be held by Green Lake, which is 327 feet at it’s deepest!

While it’s not the most accessible water body in the land of lakes Wisconsin, planning a vacation here is definitely worth the hassle.

Buy here the best guidebooks for Wisconsin

25. Lee Lake, Oneida County

Another excellent swimming spot in the land of lakes WI is Lee Lake. Located in Oneida County, it impresses with clear waters and endless recreational opportunities.

Clear waters make it perfect for snorkeling and diving. A large population of fish attracts anglers across the country, while the surrounding forests and wetlands await with miles of trails and awesome wildlife watching opportunities.

Book here the best cabins in Oneida County

26. Fence Lake

Accommodation Options: Renting out a threebedroom Beachside Lake House is a great opportunity to kick back and enjoy some amazing views over the lake. Alternatively, this remodeled cabin is perfect for a larger fun-filled family vacation on Fence Lake.

If you are in Northern Wisconsin, you should definitely stop by Fence Lake. 

Fence Lake is a 3,483 acre lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin. This is one of the best lakes in Wisconsin for fishing as the water is almost completely clear, making it easy to find fish. There are multiple types of fish present in the lake, including trout, panfish, smallmouth bass and northern pike.

If you can find one to purchase, Fence Lake is also one of the best lakes in Wisconsin to own a cabin. This beautiful and serene lake is great for fun family vacations, or for a quiet retreat in nature.

Book here the best Northern Wisconsin cabins

27. Lake Pepin

View of Lake Pepin Wisconsin on a sunny spring day

Accommodation Options: Enjoy gorgeous sunset views across Lake Pepin and access from your backyard in this beachfront condo! Or, upgrade to a suite at the Historic Getaway with amazing views on Lake Pepin.

This naturally occurring lake actually sits INSIDE the Mississippi River. In fact, if you don’t know to look for it, you might not even realize it’s a lake. The lake is located between the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Known as the birthplace of water skiing, it’s no wonder this is one of the best vacation lakes in Wisconsin for those who love water sports. And it’s certainly a beautiful place to water ski!

Even if you don’t like water sports, this is one of the best lakes in Wisconsin for family vacation due to its proximity to multiple places.

You can take a day trip to Minneapolis to explore the museums or go hiking in Five-Mile Bluff Prairie State! No matter what your family likes to do, you’ll find it nearby!

Buy here your Like a Local Guide to Wisconsin

28. Castle Rock Lake

Unlike Pepin Lake, which is naturally occurring, Castle Rock Lake is a completely man-made drainage lake on the site of an ancient glacial lake bed. It’s also one of the biggest lakes in Wisconsin – the fourth largest, to be precise.

Despite being man made, it’s full of local flora and fauna. The varied amount of fish species makes it one of the most popular lakes in Wisconsin for fishing.

During the winter, the lake is refuge for bald eagles, so you might spot one if you visit at that time. For bird watchers, this could be a great winter getaway in Wisconsin.

Castle Rock Lake has one of the best Wisconsin cabins with hot tubs for those wanting to go ALL OUT on their accommodation.

Book here the best pet-friendly cabins in Wisconsin

29. Green Lake

A sandhill Crane (grus canadensis) alongside a lake in springtime

Green Lake is one of the top spring fed lakes in Wisconsin, and a much more relaxed and quieter alternative to Lake Winnebago. 

This is one of the best lakes to live on in Wisconsin if you want to be part of a small community. The town of the same name has a population of less than 1000 people, and a lot of character.

The lake itself is also impressive. Greek Lake is the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin with a depth of approximately 237 feet. And if you enjoy fishing, the lake has 40 documented species of fish!

Book here the best cabins in Kettle Moraine Forest

30. Lac Courte Oreilles

Accommodation Options: Stay right on the river and take in the view with a sunset meal at the Riverside Motel. Nearby Hayward is also home to some of the best luxury cabins in Wisconsin. You can go all out with the Executive lakefront home, which can accommodate up to 18 people and has games, a bar, flat-screen TV and anything else you might desire!

Lac Courte Oreilles is a freshwater lake in Northwest Wisconsin which shares its name with an Ojibwe band. In fact, the lake surrounds the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, and is the largest one in the area.

When French fur trappers first arrived in the area, they falsely believed that the Ottawa Anishinaabe peoples living there cut off parts of their ears. Because of this, they referred to the band as Courte Oreilles, meaning “short ears” and named the lake Lac Courte Oreilles (lake short ears).

Lac Courte Oreilles is a popular fishing spot, and one of the prettiest lakes in Wisconsin.

Don’t forget your Wisconsin Guidebook from REI

How many lakes in Wisconsin can you count?

beautiful lakes in wisconsin, view of trees and sunset reflecting in Wisconsin lake
Beautiful Lake in Northern Wisconsin

We all know that this state has a lot of lakes, but have you ever wondered what is the exact number of lakes in Wisconsin?

I’m sorry to spoil it for you, but you’ll really be overwhelmed with options when planning a lakeside vacation in this state. Indeed, Wisconsin boasts a whopping 15,074 documented lakes! Quite a few to choose from, don’t you think?

If you want to narrow down your list, check out the 25 fabulous options below… and what I love about these fabulous Wisconsin lakes.

Buy here your Like a Local guide to Wisconsin

Whether you’re a passionate angler, a swimming enthusiast, or just an outdoorsy looking for the perfect vacation spot, the best lakes in Wisconsin welcome everyone. Just pick your favorites from this list and start planning the trip of your dreams.

FAQ about the Best Lakes in Wisconsin

What is the cleanest lake in Wisconsin?

There is no definitive answer, but Bardon or Whitefish Lake, Lake Wingra and Black Oak Lake all claim to be the cleanest lake in Wisconsin.

What is the deepest lake in Wisconsin?

Lake Superior is the deepest lake in Wisconsin. It has an average depth of 483 ft, but gets as deep as 1,333 ft. And at approximately 237 feet, Green Lake is the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin.

What is the biggest lake in Wisconsin?

Lake Superior is also the biggest lake at 31,700 square miles.

Map: Best Lakes in Wisconsin

best lakes in wisconsin map

James Blinka

Monday 1st of March 2021

I think you missed one fantastic water option. The Flambeau chain, with Fence Lake taking the lead, is over 10,000 acres of amazing clean/clear water. While the number of resorts has dropped over the years, staying at the Lake of the Torches casino can be a really fun option, with many opportunities to rent water craft.


Monday 1st of March 2021

Hi James, thank you so much for your kind comment! Oh I didn't know this one! I will definitely include it as I update the article. Thank you so much!