Indiana Lake Escapes

Dock Holidays: Our July 2018 Lakes Package
Lake Webster
Lake Webster

Photo by Tony Valainis

Indiana is absolutely swimming in great lakes. But if you’ve spent enough weekends on Lake Michigan or Lake Monroe, the larger bodies of water may feel a little too familiar. For those who have Wawaseen it all, here are 10 gorgeous Hoosier lakes that sometimes get overlooked—and the best rental houses on their shores.

For those looking to enjoy the abundance of Lake Wawasee without the abundant boat traffic, neighboring Syracuse Lake offers a quiet alternative. Connected by a channel, the latter is a fraction of Wawasee’s size, but has access to the same dining, festivals, and real-estate voyeurism.

With more than 100 lakes in Kosciusko County, the Barbee chain doesn’t get a lot of attention. Six of the seven small bodies of water in this group appear interchangeable with so many puddles in northeastern Indiana.

To paraphrase the crow in Indiana Beach’s commercials, there’s more than an amusement park at Lake Shafer. Sure, roller coasters dominate the western shore. But this body of water in Monticello, formed by a dam in the Tippecanoe River, also boasts nearby breweries, a charming drive-in theater, and a Pete Dye golf course.

It may be Indiana’s second-largest public reservoir, but there’s nothing second-rate about Lake Lemon. A nature-lover’s paradise, the body of water spans 1,650 acres and 24 miles of shoreline inhabited by bald eagles, great blue heron, egrets, muskrats, and more.

Of the five lakes that make up the Indian Chain in the northern part of the state, Witmer may be the most beautiful. Situated near the small town of Wolcottville, it’s also one of the cleanest in Indiana.

More than 1,200 acres and three basins combine to form this glacial lake, the largest body of water in a chain stretching into Michigan. With so much water to cover, it’s a good thing you have your pick of equipment.

Kurt Vonnegut spent his boyhood summers on Lake Maxinkuckee, and the author couldn’t have fabricated a more scenic locale in his novels. Indiana’s second-largest natural body of water offers shoreline restaurants, well-lit trails, and a small town full of boutiques.

What this secluded body of water lacks in sophisticated shopping and dining, it makes up for with pristine wilderness. Surrounded by forests and cornfields, Bass Lake is a 15-minute drive from the nearest small town.

Several smaller lakes were flooded in the 1830s to create Webster, a favorite of serious fishermen. The 640-acre lake ranks as one of the best in the state for muskie, but it’s home to perch, bluegill, and crappie as well.

This sleepy pond became a destination in 1887 when farmers built a resort hotel, roller coaster, and racetrack nearby. Those attractions are long gone, but tourists still flock to its shores.