If you live in Ohio, lakes are all around you. They are a great place to go for swimming, boating, fishing, and other recreational activities. But lakes are also an ideal destination for travelers coming into Ohio because they offer a variety of activities that everyone can enjoy.

Here’s why taking an Ohio lake vacation is a perfect idea:

  • You’ll have plenty of space to swim without worrying about getting too close to people on the shoreline–our lakes are huge!
  • Boating is always fun at lakes because there’s so much open water with few big waves or currents. We’ll help you find the best lakes for boating in Ohio and if you get tired of being on the boat, paddleboards are available for rent at many lakes.
  • Many Ohio lakes offer lakeside dining and shopping so you can sit by the water at a restaurant and enjoy the beautiful surroundings while eating your meal.
  • Lakes are free to visit, which makes a visit to them a no-hassle, budget-friendly summer getaway. There are plenty of great Ohio lakes for swimming, so bring the whole family!

We’ve compiled a massive list of Ohio lakes large and small below, from the most popular and largest tourist destinations like Lake Erie right on down to the smallest hidden gems in the state that are perfect for a quick swim or an afternoon of fishing.

Find Ohio Lakes Near You

To help you plan your lakeside vacation, we have chosen a short list of lakes that are excellent choices for a variety of activities and preferences.

The best lakes to visit in Ohio

If you don’t see your favorite lake on the list, shoot us a message and let us know!

Lake Erie: Running along the entire Northeast corner of the state, Ohio and Lake Erie go hand in hand. Having access to a great lake means there are all kinds of activities on, in, and around the lake. You can take in the views and enjoy waterfront dining with a big city vibe in Cleveland, or relax on a sandy beach in one of the many small towns along the vast shoreline. With many options for affordable accommodations like lakeside cottages and condos, visitors can easily enjoy a vacation at Lake Erie without breaking the bank.  Lake Erie offers so many activities that it’s hard to fit them all into one weekend.

Buckeye Lake: Located just East of Columbus, Buckeye Lake is one of the first large manmade reservoirs in the country with more than 3,000 acres and spanning over 40 miles. Buckeye Lake is just the right size for boating! You can rent everything from a pontoon to a kayak to enjoy your time on the water. While you’re at it, grab a fishing pole and see what you can catch! When you’re not on the water you can check out the local fish hatchery and winery, two of the more popular local destinations.

Grand Lake St. Mary’s: At more than 13,000 acres, this is the largest inland lake in Ohio. With an expansive shoreline, this lake offers virtually every amenity you would expect from a tourist destination. Take your pick of swimming, boating, bird watching, hiking, camping, fishing, or going for a picnic. As a popular tourist destination, you’ll have a variety of lodging options from boutique hotels to campsites, to boutique bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. You can really make your getaway here into anything you want!

Mosquito Creek Lake: Ohio’s second largest inland lake, and has a large 600-foot beach that’s popular for swimmers. The nearby state park offers a huge variety of activities including dis golf, archery, and a dog friendly area for swimming! If you’re looking to spend time on a lake while camping, this is a great choice in Ohio!  If you want to go fishing or partake in some waterskiing or tubing, this lake is also a great option!

Pymatuning Reservoir: If you don’t have a boat, this is the place to go! Pymatuning Reservoir is a man-made lake on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania and boasts five separate boat rental locations! There is a horsepower limit, however, so you’re not going to be burning around the lake, unfortunately. The lake was formerly a large swamp, but was turned into a lake and is now bordered by two popular state parks.

Ohio lakes offer a variety of lake vacation options and on-the-water activities and accommodations for visitors. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some fishing, boating, or kayaking on Lake Erie or want more tranquility at a more secluded location, Ohio’s lakes have something waiting for you! We hope that this list has helped narrow down your search for the best lakes in Ohio where you can spend your next weekend getaway.