Top 25 Most Beautiful Lakes in the USA

Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Are you planning a vacation? Instead of traveling to exotic international locations, why not go down to a local lake? Don't be put off by the ordinary language we've used to describe 'local' lakes.

The are hundreds of prettiest lakes in the US spread out over varying geographical backgrounds, and all of them are beyond compare.

Most of the lakes are gorgeous with sun-filled backdrops, breezy winds, looming mountains, and emerald-clear waters filled with a range of sea life.

If you want a wonderful vacation, all you have to do is find a lakeside cabin alongside any of the beautiful lakes in the USA, and you are guaranteed a great time.

We've listed our top 25 clearest lakes in the US that are a must-visit if you are in the area.

Most Beautiful Lakes in the US

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1: Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake is one of the most scenic lakes in the USA

Crater Lake is unique as it formed when Mount Mazama erupted nearly 8000 years ago. The crater formed by the mountain eventually filled up with water creating a land-locked lake that is now called Crater Lake.

As the lake is filled with rain and snowmelt, it remains pristine and crystal clear all through the year. The clear waters allow sunlight to penetrate nearly 400 feet down in the 1943 feet deep lake.

This makes the lake a great place to swim, fish, and scuba dive. Nearly 2000-foot cliffs surround the lake, and the scenery around the lake is awe-inspiring.

Address: Crater Lake National Park, OR 97604

Visit Website

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Oregon

2: Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Lake Tahoe is a crystal clear blue water lake in the US | Flickr/ClatieK

Lake Tahoe is one of the prettiest lakes in the USA. It is a favorite destination for tourists due to the several ski resorts overlooking the river banks.

The crystal-clear alpine lake is famous for its clear waters, and the panorama of the surrounding mountains reflects on the water, making it a photographer's dream.

The mountain and lake scenery are top attractions all through the year, and tourists also love the national parks bordering the lake.

Most of the lake and the area surrounding it are devoted to tourism. There are restaurants, clubs, and casinos all around the lake that cater to these guests.

For sporting enthusiasts, the area also offers winter sports like skiing, snowmobile riding, snowshoeing, along with water sports, hiking, and bicycling.

Address: 3066 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do In and Around Lake Tahoe

3: Lake Michigan, Wisconsin/Michigan/Illinois

Lake Michigan, Wisconsin/Michigan/Illinois
Flickr/VV Nincic

Lake Michigan is arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the USA and the only great lake located entirely in the United States.

The lake is spread over more than 307 miles, and it is stunning. It has several cities located on its shores and thousands of beaches as well.

Most beaches exhibit soft and off-white sand, and they have islands like Beaver Island, Fox Islands, Northerly Island, and Manitou Islands located just off the borders.

The Lake is also famous for its several national parks like the Hiawatha National Forest, Manistee National Forest, Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, and Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Address: Lake Michigan - WI, MI, IL

Also Read: 20 Best Places to Visit in Wisconsin

4: Finger Lakes, New York

Finger Lakes, New York
Flickr/Sue Reynolds

The Finger Lakes is a popular tourist destination located in Upstate New York. The lakes are so-called as they are long and narrow, resembling fingers. The eleven lakes are enormous, and tourists can do dozens of things throughout the year.

The lakes have picturesque waterfalls, magnificent parks, gorgeous beaches, one-of-a-kind museums, and resorts all along the borders.

The Finger Lakes area is also New York's premier wine-producing region, with more than 100 different vineyards and wineries located on the lake borders.

Address: Finger Lakes, New York

Visit Website

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New York State

5: Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona

Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona

The impossible deep blue waters of Lake Powell have stunned almost every visitor. On top of that, this is a man-made lake, and it is utterly surprising that the lake turned out so beautiful.

Of course, there was a considerable hue-and-cry when the Glen Canyon was dammed and the Canyon filled with the waters of Colorado River, but it turned out to be worth it.

Visitors can see the red sandstone river banks through the pristine, sapphire-hued river water. The river is lined with gorgeous beaches, and tourists flock to the area during the peak summer season.

The lake also offers sport fishing and water sports for interested visitors. If you are in Arizona, a short drive to this man-made wonder is a must.

Address: Lake Powell, UT 86040

Also Read: Top 20 Tourist Attractions in Utah

6: Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Wikimedia/Ben Jacobson

The Lake of the Ozarks is located in the heart of Missouri, and it is America's most beautiful lakes and one of the premier tourist destinations in the state.

The lake is bordered by world-class resorts that offer water sports like boating, swimming, scuba diving, and sports fishing.

You can also find world-class golfing facilities spread out near the lake borders, with the most famous being the Lodge of Four Seasons, The Shawnee Bend Golf Course, and the Osage National Golf Course.

State parks also border the lake, and hiking and camping are available to visitors during peak tourist season.

Address: 5815 Osage Beach Pkwy, Osage Beach, MO 65065

7: Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota

Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota
Flickr/Tony Webster

Lake Mille Lacs is a sports fishermen's dream. The lake offers shoreline break fishing, shallow reef-top fishing, and multi-species fishing, making it very popular with sport fishers.

The lake is open for fishing throughout the year, with large fish houses building on the lake for walleye, perch, and tullibee fishing in winter.

Apart from the fishing, the lake is beautiful with a lovely backdrop that reflects the seasonal changes in weather. The two islands in the center are also a significant attraction as they house the Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.

Address: HCR 67, Box 195, Brainerd, MN 56359

Also Read: 15 Most Beautiful Lakes in Minnesota

8: Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu, Arizona
Flickr/Michael Theis

Havasu Lake is one of the prettiest lakes along the Colorado River. It is famous for the London Bridge. This historical point of interest is one of the main attractions on the lake, but the natural scenery around the lake is beautiful as well.

You can enjoy water sports, hiking, camping, and cultural events held around the lake. The lake is also famous for its fishing, boating, and unique wildlife.

You can further explore the diverse geology of sand dunes, rugged canyons, wilderness areas, abandoned towns, and numerous roads and trails located all over the area.

Address: 1550 London Bridge Road, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

Also Read: 20 Best Attractions in Arizona

9: Lake Norman, North Carolina

Lake Norman, North Carolina
Flickr/Tracie Hall

Lake Norman is about 34-miles long, and it has three picturesque towns of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville perched on its banks. The man-made lake offers excellent fishing and boating, but it is equally famous for its sporting facilities and resorts. Of course, the lake is gorgeous and one of the best swimming lakes in the US.

Address: Lake Norman State Park, Charlotte, NC

Also Read: Top 25 Tourist Attractions in North Carolina

10: Lake Chelan, Washington

Lake Chelan, Washington
Flickr/Dan Nevill

Lake Chelan is one of the prettiest lakes in the US and truly deserves a spot on this list. Not many people know about tiny Lake Chelan, and it is a well-kept secret. The beautiful 50.5-mile lake is the largest natural lake in Chelan County, and it is spectacular.

The glacier-fed lake has deep clear water, and it is surrounded by beautiful resorts, vineyards, wineries, and gourmet restaurants. However, the entire area has a small-town feel, which makes it a great place to visit with family.

Address: Lake Chelan Marina, Chelan, WA 98816

Visit Website

Also Read: Top 20 Tourist Attractions in Washington State

11: Lake Eklutna, Alaska

Lake Eklutna, Alaska

Lake Eklutna is in Alaska, less than an hour north of Anchorage.

The lake has more than fifteen miles of shoreline and is one of the clearest lakes in the US because it is right next to the Eklutna Glacier.

When you visit the lake, you can fish for salmon and trout. There is also a campground nearby if you would like to stay overnight and picnic areas for spending a day at the lake.

Boating is allowed on the lake, and you can rent kayaks from the boathouse. Finally, there is a trail that runs parallel to the lake that is open for biking.

Address: Eklutna Lake, Anchorage, AK

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Alaska

12: Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

Lake Ouachita is in central Arkansas. The lake was created after a dam was built at Blakley Mountain.

Besides being one of the prettiest lakes in the US, Lake Ouachita is the largest lake in the state. It is spread across 40,000 acres.

You can enjoy a wide variety of activities at the lake including boating, kayaking, and swimming.

You can also fish for many kinds of bass and other species. Scuba diving is also allowed in the lake, and it is a great place to do so since the water is so clear.

There are campsites and picnic areas at the lake, so you can spend a day or a night admiring its beauty.

Address: Lake Ouachita, Hot Springs, AR

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Arkansas

13: Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Dreamstime/Jon Bilous

Lake Winnipesaukee is in the very center of New Hampshire. It is one of America's most stunning lakes and the largest lake in New Hampshire.

The lake is at the base of the White Mountains, and within the lake, there are more than 250 islands, some of which are smaller than a quarter acre. The largest island is Long Island.

Many boats offer tours to the islands on the lake and others that offer dinner cruises. In the summer, visitors can swim, fish, and even ride a scenic train around the lake. 

On the island and the mainland, off the lake are hiking trails, picnic areas, and three nature preserves.

The lake is surrounded by several charming towns and one of the quaint towns is Meridith that provides all the small town charm with fantastic food and shopping options.

Address: Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New Hampshire

14: Lake Martin, Louisiana

Lake Martin, Louisiana

Lake Martin is a swamp in south-central Louisiana, just east of the city of Lafayette.

There are over 9000 acres of swampland that is a staple landscape of Louisiana. Many animals live in the lake, including alligators, bullfrogs, cottonmouth snakes, and many species of birds like egrets and herons.

If you are interested in seeing the animals, specifically alligators, many boat tours will take you through the swamp.

These tours include boats like pontoons that have a whole group with a tour guide. There are also options to rent paddleboats where everyone is in their boat.

There is also a boardwalk and boat launch area if you want to take your boat on the swamp to explore, but be cautious of the wildlife. The animals in the swamp can be dangerous if you are not with a trained guide.

Address: Lake Martin, Breaux Bridge, LA

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Louisiana

15: Geneva Lake, Wisconsin

Geneva Lake, Wisconsin
Dreamstime/Hannah Babiak

Geneva Lake is in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. The lake spans across 5000 acres and is one of the most beautiful lakes in the US.

The lake is in a quaint town with many shops, beaches, and restaurants, so it is a popular place to visit in the summer when the weather is warm in Wisconsin, especially for boat owners.

The most significant activity on Geneva Lake is boating. Many people rent or own lake houses and dock their boats on the lake.

There are also public boat launches for you to spend the day at the lake on your boat. Additionally, there are a lot of beaches at the lake which allow for public swimming and sunbathing.

Address: Lake Geneva, WI

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Wisconsin

16: Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

Yellowstone Lake is a part of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

It is the largest lake in the park, and one of the largest highly elevated freshwater lakes in North America.

In the winter, the lake freezes over, except for some of the nearby hot springs. Even in the summertime, the lake is very cold, so swimming is not allowed.

If you want to explore the lake, you can take a boat out. Motorized boats are allowed, and so are kayaks and canoes.

With a boat, you can safely enjoy the lake's beauty and can do fishing. There are only two species of fish in the lake: cutthroat and lake trout.

Address: Yellowstone National Park, WY

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Wyoming

17: Lake Lanier, Georgia

Lake Lanier, Georgia
Dreamstime/Sandra Burm

Lake Lanier is in northern Georgia. The lake covers almost 40,000 acres and is a result of the construction of the Buford Dam.

More than ten million people visit the lake every year, and the 1996 Summer Olympics held some events at the lake.

Lake Lanier is one of the clearest lakes in the United States; the water is vibrant and crystal blue in color. You can take a boat out on the lake; both motorized and kayaks are allowed.

Outside of the water, there are more than twenty different beaches. There are even more beaches on the islands located in the lake. For an overnight visit, there are a few unique hotels to stay at.

Address: Lake Lanier, Buford, GA

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Georgia

18: Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas

Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas
Dreamstime/Valentin Armianu

Lady Bird Lake is in the city of Austin, Texas. It is a man-made lake, formed in 1960 by carving out the river.

It was primarily made to accommodate a power plant, but it is now a popular recreational place for locals and tourists alike.

Even though the lake is artificial, there are fishes in the lake, and fishing is allowed with a license.

Many people visit the lake for recreational use. Canoes and kayaking are allowed on the lake, but no motorized boats are allowed.

Swimming is also not allowed due to the water being polluted. Next to the lake are beautiful trails that you can use for hiking and biking.

Address: Lady Bird Lake, Austin, TX 78701

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Austin

19: Avalanche Lake, Montana

Avalanche Lake, Montana

Avalanche Lake is located in Glacier National Park in Montana. The lake is one of the best lakes in America. To access the lake, you must hike two miles on the Trail of the Cedars.

The lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and the water is reflective of them. The water in the lake is melted from one of the glaciers surrounding it.

The lake is in the very northern part of the state, so the lake gets very cold in the winter.

The best time to visit is in the summer. There are many campsites near the lake so you can stay overnight.

However, Grizzly Bears roam near the lake and the surrounding trails, so use caution while visiting Avalanche Lake.

Address: Glacier National Park, MT

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Montana

20: Lake Willoughby, Vermont

Lake Willoughby, Vermont

Lake Willoughby is one of the most beautiful lakes in the USA and is rated one of the best attractions in New England. The lake is north of a state park, and many hiking trails surround the lake.

There are a couple of beaches on the lake, and swimming is allowed. One of the beaches on the southern part of the lake is a nude beach.

In the winter, the lake freezes, and you can ice fish there. Fish that you can catch include different types of trout, yellow perch, and chub.

There are campgrounds for overnight stays in the summer, and some vacation rentals including cabins and lake homes are available year-round.

Address: Lake Willoughby, East Burke, VT

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Vermont

21: Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
Dreamstime/Susan Leggett

Lake Jocassee is a man-made reservoir located in the Appalachian Mountains. The lake gets its water comes from the rivers that flow through the mountains.

The water at the lake is so clear giving you an opportunity to explore underwater life while you swim or dive. Many waterfalls are located around the lake too.

Fishing and boating are also allowed on the lake, and some of the areas are completely surrounded by mountains, so you can only reach them on a boat.

Address: Lake Jocassee, Oconee, SC

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in South Carolina

22: Lake George, New York

Lake George, New York

Located in the northeastern part of New York state, Lake George is one of the popular and beautiful US lakes.

The best time to visit the lake is the summer months. Among the favorite activities at the lake include swimming, boating, fishing, and even whitewater rafting.

There are many places to stay for an extended visit, including resorts and campsites, depending on your preference.

You can hike on miles of trails, see many wild animals, and shop and dine in the nearby towns. In September, there is a hot balloon festival at the lake too.

Address: Lake George, NY

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New York State

23: Maroon Lake, Colorado

Maroon Lake, Colorado

Maroon Lake is in western Colorado. The lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the US. It is completely surrounded by mountains adding to its majestic beauty.

The lake has a very high elevation since it is located in a mountain range. The mountains surrounding the lake are high peaks called the Maroon Bells.

If you want to visit Maroon Lake, you can hike to the lake or take a bus from the Aspen Highlands.

Hiking is great if you're going to camp near the lake so you can easily access the nearby campsites.

The hiking trails do not fully circle the lake because of the mountains, but you can still get beautiful views of the lake while hiking on them.

Address: Maroon Bells, Aspen, CO

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Colorado

24: Santeetlah Lake, North Carolina

Santeetlah Lake, North Carolina
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

Santeetlah Lake is located in the most western part of North Carolina. The lake is part of a town by the same name and is surrounded by Nantahala National Forest.

The lake is a result of a dam created in 1928 when the area needed hydroelectric power. The area is rich in natural beauty as much of it is uninhabited.

Boating is allowed on the lake, and there are rentals available for boats like kayaks, ski boats, and pontoons.

Fishing is also permitted on the lake, and there are many varieties of fish that can be caught, like trout, bass, and bluegill. You can also camp near the lake, have a picnic, or go for a swim at the beach near the campground.

Address: Santeetlah Lake, Robbinsville, NC

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in North Carolina

25: Mono Lake, California

Mono Lake, California
Dreamstime/Edwin Verin

Mono Lake is one of the best lakes in America. It is located near the eastern border of California near Nevada.

The lake is estimated to be more than 760,000 years old. Some unique animals live in the lake's extremely saltwater, including brine shrimp. Surrounding the lakes are many alkali flies and birds that eat the shrimp and flies.

You can rent boats or take your own out on the lake. Surrounding the lake are miles of biking and hiking trails that offer amazing views of the lake.

You can also swim in the lake on some of the beaches. There are no campsites near the lake, but there are many areas for day and picnic use.

Address: Mono Lake, CA

Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in California

Visit one of the beautiful Lakes in the US soon!

There are thousands of lakes in the United States, but these are some of the most beautiful lakes in the US.

They are located all around the country and are great for exploring different seasons and climates.

You can visit these lakes if you want to boat, fish, swim, hike, or just relax on the beach.

If you are looking for a great place to spend a day or even a night, these are the best lakes in the US, and you should check them out for beautiful views and a fun time with family and friends.

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