Lakes in Madison: Your Perfect Lakeside Vacation in Wisconsin

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

If you’re looking for a mix of city living and an escape into nature all in one destination, look no further than Madison, Wisconsin.

Just a stone’s throw from the vibrant city, you’ll find some of the most beautiful lakes Wisconsin offers. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a fishing aficionado, or seeking a peaceful retreat, get ready to discover your perfect vacation destination.

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota, Wisconsin
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Just north of Madison sits Lake Mendota, the largest lake in the city and the eighth largest in Wisconsin. Despite it being located so close to the city, it has managed to keep a strong air of calm and serenity. With Lake Mendota’s 26 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of great spots for outdoor activities and chill-out time, making it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Lake Koshkonong

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After the Indianford Dam was created in the 1930s, Lake Koshkonong took on a life of its own, growing significantly and becoming one of the largest lakes in Wisconsin. Its shallow waters are great for boat races and even a Venetian Boat Parade. When winter sets in, the lake transforms into a playground for ice-skating and snowmobiling, offering year-round entertainment.

Lake Wingra

Lake Wingra, Wisconsin
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Another popular spot for fishing, Lake Wingra combines natural beauty with outdoor recreation flawlessly. Expect to spot large muskellunge, panfish, northern pike, and largemouth bass when casting out on this beautiful lake. On the northern edge of the lake, visitors will find the welcoming Vilas Park Beach, as well as the intriguing, family-friendly Henry Vilas Zoo and tranquil Wingra Park.

Lake Waubesa

Lake Waubesa, Wisconsin
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Just a short drive from downtown Madison, Lake Waubesa is a large lake that features a 15-mile shoreline and endless recreational activities. Thanks to the clear waters, Lake Waubesa is an excellent destination for swimming, while the nearby Goodman Park is home to miles of scenic hiking trails.

Lake Kegonsa

Lake Kegonsa, Wisconsin
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Lake Kegonsa is Madison’s most southern gem and offers 3,200 acres of calm waters. Far less populated than the other lakes in the region, it’s an ideal destination for those seeking some solitude. Close by is Lake Kegonsa State Park, where visitors can enjoy peaceful fishing, thrill-seeking water sports, and beautiful bike rides.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake, Wisconsin
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Carved by the Pecatonica River and cradled in the heart of Yellowstone Lake State Park lies Yellowstone Lake, a 455-acre body of water just 50 miles southwest of Madison. No matter the time of year you visit, you’ll be spoilt with lake activities. In the warmer months, take a dip in the refreshing water, or in the winter, enjoy a spot of ice fishing before jumping on a snowmobile.

Rock Lake

Rock Lake, Wisconsin
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Fan of mysteries and conspiracies? Make sure to visit Rock Lake, just 20 miles from Madison. Hidden underneath the surface of this deep lake lie rock piles that many claim to be pyramids built at a time when water levels were much lower. Mounds that are also shaped like pyramids can be found three miles east of Rock Lake, too.

Lake Wisconsin

Camping by lakes
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Famed for its recreation and picturesque view, Lake Wisconsin is a prized Midwestern getaway. It beckons boating and fishing enthusiasts with diverse fish species and numerous marinas. After a full day of fun on the water, hunker down for the night in the local campgrounds, offering everything from rustic tent camping to comfortable RV hookups.

Devil’s Lake

Devil's Lake, Wisconsin
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Despite its name, Devil’s Lake is a lovely spot for family trips and offers stunning views. Ideal for fishing, boating, and climbing, it’s a must-visit for hiking enthusiasts, too. Part of Devil’s Lake State Park, there are 29 hiking trails, all with varying degrees of difficulty, making it a perfect destination for both novice and expert trekkers!

Lake Monona

Lake Monona, Wisconsin - Lakes in Madison
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Maybe most famous for being the site of Otis Redding’s unfortunate aircraft accident, Lake Monona is still a great destination for those looking to get back into nature. It’s a popular angler hub thanks to a wide variety of fish whilst the shores are ideal for runners and bikers to explore.

Rice Lake

Kayak at sunset
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Less built up than many of the lakes on this list, Rice Lake is a secluded paradise that is perfect for all types of vacationers. For those who enjoy some adventure, head out kayaking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter. If you’re looking for a little more relaxation, enjoy Silverwood County Park for picnics and camping under the stars.

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Apostle Islands
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Havasu Falls
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Olympic National Park Hoh Rainforest
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