15 Lakes in Wisconsin That’ll Take Your Breath Away

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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.

Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of Wisconsin’s lakes, a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

From the vast expanse of Lake Michigan to the family-fun activities offered by Lake Minocqua, these freshwater gems cater to every interest.

Embark on a journey with us as we explore the history, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and breathtaking scenery found at 15 of Wisconsin’s most impressive lakes!

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Michigan
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Marvel at the vast expanse of Lake Michigan, the second-largest Great Lake and the largest freshwater lake in America. Bordering four states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, its diverse shoreline, from sandy beaches to rocky outcrops, offers a variety of outdoor activities, from charter fishing to recreational boating to simply relaxing on its sandy shores.

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota, Wisconsin
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Welcome to Lake Mendota, the northernmost and largest lake among Madison’s quartet of lakes. Surrounded by busy cities like Madison, Middleton, and Shorewood Hills, it serves as a great spot for lakeside activities and relaxation. The expansive Lake Mendota, whose name is believed to signify ‘large’ or ‘great,’ beautifully encapsulates the harmony of Wisconsin’s natural abundance and rich history.

Green Lake

Paddleboard during sunset
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Plunge into one of Wisconsin’s deepest lakes, Green Lake, offering a full spectrum of water and land-based activities year-round. This aquatic wonder, with its diverse shoreline and distinguished sailing school, plays host to a variety of water sports, from kayaking and paddleboarding to jet skiing and sailing. For those who prefer land to water, hire yourself a mountain bike and take the adrenaline-fueled ‘Loop the Lake’ trail.

Lake Winnebago

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin
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Journey into Wisconsin’s largest inland lake, Lake Winnebago, where the Fox and Wolf Rivers meet for 137,700 acres of freshwater fun. From shoreline concerts and pleasure boating rallies to windsurfing and ice racing, this popular spot offers an array of activities for any traveler. The extraordinary fishing experiences, particularly for its prized walleye, alongside breathtaking trails and camping in High Cliff State Park, make Lake Winnebago a must-visit destination if you’re in Wisconsin.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior Michigan
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Navigate the sheer breadth and depth of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. Its waters witnessed the tragic loss of vessels like the SS Cyprus and SS Edmund Fitzgerald. Lake Superior offers both a thrilling adventure playground and a tantalizing underwater history. From sailing its smooth waters to exploring the revered shipwrecks within the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve, Lake Superior has something for every type of vacationer. 

Minocqua Lake

Minocqua Lake, Wisconsin
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There’s always something to do when you visit Minocqua Lake, a freshwater natural lake found in Oneida County. With year-round fishing, exciting water sports, and relaxing public beaches, you’ll never get bored of spending summer days at Minocqua Lake. For those snowbirds, in the winter months, you can enjoy snowmobiling across the region’s scenic trails or ice fishing before cozying up in front of the fireplace.

Wazee Lake

Wazee Lake, Wisconsin
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Embrace the allure of Wazee Lake, known as ‘tall pine’ in Ho-Chunk. This man-made lake has transitioned from a taconite mining quarry into one of Wisconsin’s most popular bodies of water for scuba diving. Now part of the Wazee Lake Recreation Area, it’s a magnet for divers who revel in the clear waters, vibrant fish species, and intriguing underwater remnants of its mining past. Wazee Lake is a testament to nature’s ability to reclaim, renew, and create a space for adventure and relaxation.

Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin, Wisconsin
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Here’s a fun fact for you: Did you know that water skiing was invented on the waters of Lake Pepin? Back in 1922, Wisconsin native Ralph Samuelson created the sport, with the nearby Lake City known as “the birthplace of waterskiing.” It’s a must-visit destination for those who enjoy the sport, with a yearly festival, Waterski Days, held on the last weekend of June to celebrate all things water skiing!

Petenwell Lake

Man fishing
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Created in the 1940s, Petenwell Lake is a great destination for families looking to create some wonderful memories together. As one of Wisconsin’s most popular lakes, it offers a wealth of outdoor activities, from sailing and pontooning to fishing for walleye and catfish. With its miles of shoreline abundant with peaceful bays and inlets, and waterfront restaurants offering diverse culinary delights, you’re guaranteed to leave Petenwell Lake with a smile on your face and memories to last a lifetime.

Castle Rock Lake

Man fishing on boat
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Dive into the vast expanse of Castle Rock Lake, the fourth largest lake in Wisconsin, where the lure of water sports and fishing mixes with prolific wildlife. The lake’s lush environment, home to walleye, white bass, crappie, and many other fish species, offers a compelling blend of adventure and tranquility. With the surrounding area serving as a habitat for a range of amphibians, mammals, and reptiles, Castle Rock Lake is the ideal spot for wildlife lovers!

Lake Monona

Lake Monona, Wisconsin
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Discover Lake Monona, a popular fishing hub home to an array of fish species. The beautiful lake, nestled amidst Madison and Monona, offers a unique blend of recreational activities. Its historical significance, marked by the unfortunate plane crash of soul singer Otis Redding, adds a distinctive character to the lake, where natural beauty meets American cultural history.

Geneva Lake

Geneva Lake, Wisconsin
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Traverse the tranquil waters of Geneva Lake, a glacially-formed lake nestled in southeastern Wisconsin next to the city of Lake Geneva. Offering a diverse range of attractions, from the vibrant Lake Geneva Yacht Club to the historic Yerkes Observatory, this freshwater body promises activities as captivating as its history. With a public shoreline that winds around the lake, following an ancient Potawatomi Indian route, Geneva Lake provides a unique mixture of recreational adventure and cultural richness.

Chippewa Flowage

Chippewa Flowage, Michigan
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This one is for the adventurers! Lake Chippewa is a vast artificial lake created in 1923, offering over 15,000 acres of exploration and countless islands. Nestled within the Chippewa Flowage, the lake teems with possibilities, from exploring its untouched 200-mile shoreline to attempting a record walleye catch. With its rich history, a diverse range of popular activities, and beautiful views, Lake Chippewa promises an unforgettable wilderness experience.

Lake Wingra

Lake Wingra, Wisconsin
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Nestled within the bustling city of Madison, Lake Wingra is a compact yet stunning body of water, with the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum gracing its southern and western shores. Prized for its variety of fish, Lake Wingra is particularly renowned for its teeming population of large muskellunge, accompanied by a plethora of panfish, northern pike, and largemouth bass. On the northern edge of the lake, visitors will find the welcoming Vilas Park Beach, adjacent to the intriguing Henry Vilas Zoo and tranquil Wingra Park.

Lake Waubesa

Lake Waubesa, Wisconsin
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Situated just a short distance from downtown Madison, Lake Waubesa is a big lake featuring an impressive 15-mile shoreline and an array of recreational activities. It’s not only ideal for cabin living but also stands out as a top muskie fishing lake in Wisconsin, thanks to its relaxed fishing regulations and abundant musky population. The lake’s clear waters make it a premier swimming spot, while the nearby Goodman Park offers miles of scenic hiking trails and entertainment options, contributing to Lake Waubesa’s popularity.


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Miami Beach
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Ann Arbor for MSN
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