For boaters, the toughest part of planning a vacation in the Midwest isn’t deciding what to pack or where to stay… it’s deciding which lakes to explore! With tens of thousands to choose from, the region’s extended list of possibilities can be daunting. From the deep, meandering lakes of Indiana to the picturesque, jagged shorelines of Missouri, the central states of the U.S. offer up a stunning array. So, to help narrow it down, we’ve compiled the following list of must-see spots.
Tappan Lake, Ohio
Surrounded by more than 5,000 acres of lush pine forests, the scenic Tappan Lake reservoir offers plenty to do and see, with a healthy fish population maintained by the Division of Wildlife. You’ll also have easy access to hiking trails through the Tappan Wetlands. Two public ramps are available to launch your Boston Whaler, and more than 500 campsites and 11 vacation cabins provide rustic accommodations.
Lake Wawasee, Indiana
Located southeast of Syracuse in Kosciusko County, Wawasee is the largest natural lake within Indiana’s borders. It’s surrounded by beautiful lakefront homes that contribute an inviting aesthetic. Several lakeside marinas are available, offering supplies, fuel and services, and nearby walking, hiking and cycling trails oﬀer a place for boaters to get out and stretch their legs.
Chicago residents have long considered this a popular summer destination for its many fisheries and the sprawling Oakwood Resort. After you’ve seen Wawasee in the summertime, consider a return visit in the winter months: As the lake freezes over completely almost every year, residents and visitors enjoy snowmobiling, ice fishing and other tests of bravery.
Lake Okoboji, Iowa
This spring-fed lake is the most magniﬁcent shade of blue, but that’s not the only thing that makes it one of Iowa’s greatest vacation destinations. At 134 feet deep and covering more than 3,800 acres, Lake Okoboji is well suited to boating activities from ﬁshing to watersports to long, leisurely cruises. It is one of the three principal lakes among the Iowa Great Lakes, a glacier-carved group in Northern Dickinson County.
For entertainment of a totally diﬀerent ﬂavor, nearby Arnold’s Park amusement park is replete with thrill rides, a roller coaster, mini-golf, food stands, and Ferris wheel views to take it all in.
Lake McConaughy, Nebraska
Nebraska’s largest reservoir, Lake McConaughy, oﬀers boating, ﬁshing and camping opportunities galore, along with white sand beaches perfect for pausing to soak up the sun. (Head to the designated swim beach located at Martin Bay for the best swimming.)
More than 100 miles of shoreline and 34,700 acres of water, accessible via several public boat ramps, provide ample space to roam on your Whaler. If you want to spend some time on land as well, the lake is home to a water interpretive center with an aquarium and the Kingsley Dam. One thing to keep in mind: The state takes boat education very seriously and requires you to possess proof of completing a boating safety course.
Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota
With dazzling waters and more than 25,000 acres of forest and surrounding area to explore, Lake Kabetogama is an outdoor-lover’s paradise. As one of the 10 largest inland lakes in a state with more than 10,000 of them, Kabetogama is ideal for ﬁshing and cruising. Even though summer is a short-lived season here, the bordering wilderness makes the ride a picturesque aﬀair. No matter which Midwestern locale you and your Whaler splash down in, plan on taking lots of photos!