3 Best Lakes in the US for Boating
An epic day on a lake calls for the very best lakes in the nation. You need something jaw-droppingly beautiful, with lots of space for boating activities, but also has calm and quiet coves to reflect, fish, or birdwatch from your boat.
While it was difficult to pinpoint the three best lakes out of 117 million in the United States, here they are. Check out our top three lakes in the United States by region:
- Lake Michigan
- Lake Tahoe
- Lake Coeur d’Alene
1. Midwestern region: Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan touches Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana; and nearly touches Canada!
It’s one of the five Great Lakes and serves as a natural escape and a vital shipping lane.
At approximately 307 miles long and 118 miles wide, it is the fourth largest lake in surface area (14,339,503 acres), and by far the largest lake contained entirely within one country.
Lake Michigan offers rich habitats bound to impress even the most experienced birder or botanist. Its well-maintained shoreline provides numerous scenic sites ideal for visitors looking to view unique landscapes while camping or boat touring.
Avid boaters love this lake because it is boundless and diverse. Parts of the lake are loaded with fun and friendly people, like near Chicago, while other regions are nearly less populated, like the Upper Peninsula area or Beaver Island.
Despite its size, you never feel too far from the shore, thanks to its numerous inlets, harbors, bays, and islands that give you plenty of choices for anchoring your boat for the night.
Want more on this lake?
- Lake Michigan Boating Guide
- 8 Best Marinas in Chicago
- Chicago Boating Guide: Everything You Need to Know
2. Pacific & Western region: Lake Tahoe
With its crystal clear alpine lake waters, jewel-green forests, granite cliffs, and surrounding snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountain peaks, it’s no wonder why people love this lake.
Throughout this 12,616-acre lake, you have several marinas available for docking and a network of public access points that provide excellent fishing and sightseeing locations around the lake. Plus, the lakeside towns are full of life, culture, and amazing cuisine.
Trout, salmon, catfish, and bass are abundant here, making this a dream boating vacation for anglers of all ages, experience levels, backgrounds, and interests!
This lake is also ideal for trying out stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, water skiing, and scuba diving! Your boat is the hub of all adventure and excitement.
Want more on this lake?
- Fishing in Lake Tahoe Guide
- Things to do in Lake Tahoe With a Boat Rental
- Our 5 Favorite Fall Activities to Enjoy in Lake Tahoe
3. Western region: Lake Coeur d’Alene
Lake Coeur d’Alene (also known as Coeur d’Alene Lake) is a giant 31,880-acre lake right beside the town of Coeur d’Alene in the panhandle of Idaho. Here you have the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains and some of the most beautiful and pristine views of still-wild Idaho.
Besides making a quick trip to Spokane, Washington, which sits only thirty miles east, thrill seekers will love the wind that cuts through the lake in the mountains— it’s the perfect location for parasailing, sailing, watersports, waterskiing, tow toys, scuba diving, snorkeling, and open-water swimming.
For the quiet types, there are about 135 miles of shoreline to discover, surrounded by massive mountains, millions of evergreen trees, and trickling tributaries, and it’s teeming with wildlife like elk, moose, deer, eagles, birds of prey, bobcats, mountain lions, and even wolves.
Want more on the best lakes in the US?
- 9 Best Lakes in Dallas to Swim
- 6 Best Lakes near Charlotte, North Carolina
- 8 Lakes near New York City
- 6 Best Lakes in Washington State
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.