10 Beautiful Lakes In Wisconsin, USA, For A Dreamy Vacation - Updated 2023

lakes in wi
Natália Cagnani
Natália Cagnani 

If you enjoy being surrounded by nature and all that peaceful environment, then Wisconsin is your paradise. There are amazing treehouse hotels and vacation rentals in Wisconsin that offer unique stays. More than 15.000 beautiful lakes with crystal calm waters also build the landscape throughout the state. Whether you plan a trip to refresh the summer days or take a boat tour whatever the season is, Wisconsin gives many options for your dream vacation. If you prefer a quiet scene with natural beauty, the Northwoods area is the right spot to be. If the proximity to a city is a check on your list, the lakes around Madison (in the south) should be a perfect match. Start planning your trip through these beautiful lakes in Wisconsin, USA!

1. Minocqua Lake

Lake minocqua trestle
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Squirrel lake used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Starting in northern Wisconsin, Minocqua Lake tends to be a popular destination of pure water bliss through all seasons. From water skiing, boating, fishing, and swimming in the summer to snowmobiling and ice fishing in the winter, many outdoor activities are made available for you here. While the spring can be accompanied by bird-watching, lots of hiking trails amongst the colorful autumn leaves await to be explored. Located in a large chain of lakes, you can create lifelong memories at this peaceful “lakeland” area of Wisconsin.

Website: Minocqua Lake

2. Lake Winnebago

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Royalbroil used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Close to cities like Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Madison, where you can book a rental, Lake Winnebago is spread over 131939 acres (53393.8 hectares). It is definitely the largest lake in Wisconsin and one of the largest inland lakes in USA. There is a public beach for swimming, besides 13 public parks to plan a picnic, a visit to limestone cliffs, and a hiking path through the rich forests around. In the lake, you can explore islands, coves, and reefs in a canoe or kayak, besides fishing and enagaging in water sports.

Website: Lake Winnebago

3. Castle Rock Lake

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Yinan Chen used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

In the central area of Wisconsin, you will find this beautiful lake to plan your vacation near the water. Considered the fourth largest lake in Wisconsin, Castle Rock Lake is a man-made reservoir and covers 12981 acres (5253 hectares). With sandy shorelines and blue waters, it’s a great spot for swimming, skiing, sailing, and boating. While it’s a world apart with its natural beauty and spectacular sunsets, Castle Rock Lake is also conveniently close to major cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Madison.

Website: Castle Rock Lake

4. Lake Pepin

Pepin Marina
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AlexiusHoratius used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Right at the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota, you can visit Lake Pepin. There are two interesting things about the place you should know before packing for your trip. The waters of Pepin is the birthplace of water skiing, created by Ralph Samuelson in 1922. Besides, it’s home to the only lighthouse of Mississippi that is still working. It’s a popular destination for swimming, boating, fishing, and bird watching. Furthermore, the highway around has bakeries, wine bars, and gift shops.

Website: Lake Pepin

5. Lake Monona

Madison, Wisconsin skyline from Lake Monona Dec04 IMG 3003
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY 2.0

Close to Wisconsin’s capital city Madison, Lake Monona is the second largest in the Yahara chain of lakes. With 3359 acres (1359 hectares), and the Capitol dome as the backdrop makes the landscape even more stunning and unique while you enjoy any water sport or sit on a park bench. It’s the recreational centerpiece of the area, where locals and tourists engage in activities, explore the public beaches or hike and bike the trails around.

Website: Lake Monona

6. Petenwell Lake

Petenwell Dam
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Royalbroil used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Following Winnebago, Petenwell Lake is the second largest lake in Wisconsin, with 23173 acres (9378 hectares). In the north of Castle Rock Lake, a dam was created in 1948. Nowadays, the waters of this reservoir attract visitors from inside the state and out for recreational activities. Skiing, sailing, and fishing are the most popular things to do while visiting on a vacation or a weekend getaway. The west shoreline of the lake even has a campground for adventurers, surrounded by wilderness.

Website: Petenwell Lake

7. Wazee Lake

Wazee 007
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Elkman used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Wazee Lake is one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin with a maximum depth that can reach 350 feet (106.7 meters). Built on a former iron mine quarry, the clear waters of the lake is a haven for scuba divers. If you prefer the surface, there are boats to fish or take a tour around the lake while enjoying the scenery. Along the shores of Wazee Lake, you can find a beach, hiking trails, bike paths, and campsites with picnic areas and scenic views.

Website: Wazee Lake

8. Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota at sunset
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user MrCarbohydrate used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Close to the beautiful Lake Monona, Lake Mendota is the largest of the four lakes in Madison. With expensive condominiums and homes around the shoreline and Governor Nelson State Park in the northwest, this spot in Wisconsin is famous for its five beaches. Three of them even have lifeguards. Besides, you can plan a romantic picnic in one of the areas available for this! You can also bring children to play in the playground, or call your friends for hikings, fishing, and watching the gorgeous sunset views.

Website: Lake Mendota

9. Lake Chippewa

Town Line Lake and Woods
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aaron Carlson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

There is an artificial lake heading north, that was created in 1924. Known for its spectacular natural scenery and undeveloped islands, Lake Chippewa is the third largest lake in Wisconsin, spread over 14593 acres (5905 hectares). Forests with walking trails and campsites for picnics are an invitation to stop by after a busy day, for a weekend getaway, or even a long trip. Fishing and bird watching are great activities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Website: Lake Chippewa

10. Lake Wingra

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Yinan Chen used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The city of Madison is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in Wisconsin, USA. This one is not only close but within Wisconsin’s capital. Surrounded by Vilas Park Beach, Henry Vilas Zoo, and Wingra Park to the north and The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum to the south, lies the small Wingra Lake. Whether it’s a whole weekend or just an afternoon, it’s a lovely place to have a good time and enjoy an urban environment.

Website: Lake Wingra

Start planning your lakeside vacation in Wisconsin

Whether you are a nature lover or a sports addict looking for the perfect shoreline to explore, relax, and enjoy your deserved vacation, Wisconsin offers you all. With lots of natural and artificial lakes, ocean-like beaches, miles of hiking trails, and fishing spots, there are endless possibilities for you in Wisconsin, USA. Don’t forget to share them with your friends on social media!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hey, I'm Naty! A freelance writer, travel addict & photography lover based in Brazil. Japanese culture and K-pop music make my eyes light up as much as when I am writing, traveling or building some...Read more

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