When you’re looking for lakeside recreation, Illinois is the place to be. Illinois is filled with many reservoirs and lakes that provide plenty of swimming, boating and fishing fun. From Lake Shelbyville, Rend Lake, Kinkaid Lake, Lake Decatur, Illinois has several of choices for waterfront fun. So pack up your boat or cooler and head on over to one of these beautiful lakes today. Ilinois is indeed a part of the Great Lakes states. It not only has 63 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, but it has dozens of fun and accessible inland lakes and reservoirs.
When looking for a lakeside getaway, consider the type of lake it will be. The size and level of crowds can vary greatly depending on what interests you have as well! We’ve listed some great spots in Illinois:
- The clearest lakes in Illinois
- The best Illinois lakes for swimming
- The best lakes for boating in Illinois
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While everyone’s first thought when it comes to lakes in Illinois is usually the shores of Lake Michigan, the state has much more to offer. There are so many great lakes in Illinois! But which one should you pick for your next Illinois vacation? We’ve selected a few of our favorites to help with your decision.
The best lakes to visit in Illinois
Some of the most popular lakes in Illinois are:
Lake of Egypt, located in Williamson and Johnson County
Lake Glendale, located in Pope County
Kinkaid Lake, located in Jackson County
Clinton Lake, located in DeWitt County
The clearest lakes in Illinois
Lake Carlyle – 15 miles north of Carlyle, as the crow flies. Clear lakes are great for swimming because their clarity allows you to see through the water all the way down to 30 feet! Carlyle Lake is a clear lake surrounded by forested land so it makes a great spot for those who want to go hiking as well as fishing and boating.
Lake Springfield – The largest lake in Illinois with 35 miles of shoreline. This lake along the Kankakee River offers fishing and boating opportunities as well as great hiking and camping trails. It’s perfect for those looking to get away from it all on a lakeside vacation.
The best Illinois lakes for swimming
Lake Shelbyville – A popular spot on Lake Shelbyville is Rocky Point, which has a boat launch and sandy beach.
Lake Iroquois – This lake along the Kankakee River offers fishing and boating opportunities as well as great hiking and camping trails.
The best lakes for boating in Illinois
Lake Kincaid – Open year-round! Near Newton, IL this 5-mile-long lake is home to some fish such as largemouth bass and catfish! Boats up to 30′ are permitted.
Crab Orchard Lake – This lake is an excellent location for boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing. This lake is open year-round! Near Newton, IL it’s 5 mile long and offers some fish such as largemouth bass and catfish! Boats up to 30′ are permitted. It has a beach with a boat launch and sand making it great for summertime activities like swimming or waterskiing.
Other Illinois lakes to consider
There are so many great lakes in Illinois! But which one should you pick for your next Illinois lake vacation?
Lake George – A lake surrounded by a state forest with swimming beaches as well as boat rentals on site. It is located about an hour from football hall of famer Walter Payton’s hometown of Columbia, Illinois.
Lakes Carlyle and Victoria – Two more lakes for boating and fishing on the Kaskaskia River Valley Trail. The trail is a 40-mile stretch starting at Lake Shelbyville and finishing at Lake of Egypt where there are also camping facilities accessible by car or bicycle along the way.
Devils Kitchen Lake – Devils Kitchen Lake is a gorgeous 810 acre lake with great trout and yellow perch. It is located in Williamson County.
Tips for a lakeside vacation
If you’re planning a lakeside vacation with your family in Illinois, check out lakeside resorts that allow dogs so even your furry friends can tag along! There are also resorts that have kayak rentals as well as lakeside lodges that have a pool and other amenities.
The best lakeside vacations for families usually involve a mix of activities – boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking. There are also local restaurants near the resort so you can enjoy a dinner on the water. So whether you live in Chicago or in the Chicagoland suburbs, or you live in neighboring Michigan, Indiana or Wisconsin, if you are planning a vacation or a day trip, this site will let you search for lakes that fit your plans in Illinois.