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. Corner Landing (3945 N 300 W, Angola, 260-833-2112) stocks motorboats, while SUP 101 (3260 W. Shadyside Rd., 260-624-2878) rents stand-up paddleboards.
If you can pull yourself away from the public beach at Pokagon State Park, the park along Lake James’s eastern shore also includes miles of hiking and horseback trails. Those with a little more adrenaline will gravitate to the nearby 37-acre paintball field at Apocalypse Games (302 W. Gilmore St., 260-668-1022).
Angola boasts more downtown storefronts than many small lake towns. Not Too Shabby (40 N. Public Sq., 260-667-7200) sells vintage furniture that lives up to its name. Multiple national award-winning artists contribute to 4 Corners Gallery, Studio & Pottery (3765 N. 300 W, 419-769-4271). And The Bent Fork (90 N. Public Square, 260-624-3675) fills its shelves with pieces for both your wardrobe and home.
For pints, the outdoor beer garden at Chapman’s Brewing Company (300 Industrial Dr., 260-319-5495) competes with the excellent selection at Mad Anthony’s Lakeview Ale House (4080 N. 300 W., 260-833-2537). Just down the road, 6 Autumns Food & Spirits (3855 N. State Road 127, 260-624-3644) serves up aged bourbon and live music. The Hatchery (118 S. Elizabeth St., 260-665-9957) is the town’s upscale option, with a scratch-made cheesecake that will ruin your swimsuit body.
While most of the action on the lake occurs during summer, history nerds will want to make a return trip September 21–23 for American History Days (299 S. John St.). Civil War reenactors fill Commons Park in what has become one of the community’s biggest events. Then again, who needs an excuse to visit Lake James more than once a year?