From Salt Fork Lake to Lake Erie, take your next road trip to one of Ohio’s biggest lakes, where you can spend your time boating, fishing, swimming, and camping beneath the stars.
Sharing a border with one of America’s Great Lakes is an obvious perk, but it turns out that
Ohio has no shortage of beautiful lakes within its state lines. With so many picturesque summer destinations to choose from, Ohio’s lakes and reservoirs are definitely worth a look.
There are also tons of activities to enjoy when you go lakeside in Ohio. From towering rollercoasters with a view of Lake Erie to miles of horseback riding trails, there are endless options for you to soak up the great outdoors in the Buckeye State.
To help you narrow down where to visit,
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Lake Erie (6,342,400 acres)
Location: Northern state border
Lake Erie is not just one of the Great Lakes and Ohio’s biggest—it’s the sixth-largest lake in all of North America by surface area. Check out Marblehead Lighthouse as you take in the vast shoreline views at sunset.
Being that Lake Erie is so massive, its waters touch the land border of not only Ohio but Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario as well. Ohio brings the fun to its side with the
Cedar Point Amusement Park and Resort in Sandusky—18 rollercoasters worth of fun. Those who crave a more leisurely pace might prefer heading down to Put-in-Bay for a
kayak and walking tour of nearby Gibraltar Island.
Pymatuning Reservoir (17,088 acres)
Location: Ashtabula County
Okay, let's take it down a few million acres and head to sparkling Pymatuning Reservoir. While most of the state park that borders the lake is part of Pennsylvania, Ohio gets its share of the shore too.
If you love to fish, Lake Pymatuning is hard to beat. Within its waters, fishers will find largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, carp, perch, bluegill, channel catfish, and more for the taking. Keep in mind that if you’re fishing from the shore and not from a boat, you’ll need either an Ohio or Pennsylvania fishing license.
To get some relaxation, set up your umbrella at the Ohio Pymatuning State Park Swimming Beach to picnic, swim, and enjoy the sun.
Grand Lake St. Mary’s (13,500 acres)
Location: Mercer and Auglaize counties
With 52 miles of shoreline, Grand Lake St. Mary’s was the world’s largest man-made reservoir when it was completed in 1845. While Grand Lake remains a crucial link between the Great Lakes and Ohio River, the state park is also a haven for camping, boating, and hiking.
Grand Lake St. Mary’s is a great place to plan your next fishing excursion or swim on a hot day. Plus, there’s a dog park, so bring your furry family members along! If you’re a fan of birdwatching you’ll love what you see—water birds like egrets, herons, and ospreys can be seen feeding at Grand Lake, and in the southwest corner, you’ll find a wildlife refuge that’s home to nesting bald eagles!
Mosquito Creek Lake (7,850 acres)
Location: Trumbull County
Visitors flock to Mosquito Creek Lake each summer to have their fill of boating and swimming, but there’s a lot more in the way of activities at this state park.
Grab your archery gear and shoot arrows at Mosquito Creek’s free range, or challenge your friends to a game of disc golf at the 18-hole Squirrel Run Disc Golf Course. Mosquito Creek Lake also has a bunch of multi-purpose hiking trails—go biking, horseback riding, or snowmobiling when the weather allows.
Indian Lake (5,104 acres)
Spring fishing is at its finest at Indian Lake, located near Ohio’s Miami River. Once an important stop on the American trade route, the Indian Lake area has been traveled by many frontiersmen including Daniel Boone. These days, the lake and its accompanying state park serve as a year-round recreational area for visitors—and there’s plenty to do.
Between its 443 family campsites (that include electric hookups and a laundry facility for us glampers!), two public beaches, and lighted buoys to guide boaters at night, Indian Lake is the total package for your summer getaway.
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Berlin Lake (3,650 acres)
As one of Ohio’s largest inland lakes, Berlin sees a lot of action in the spring and summer months. Boating and fishing are the most common outings, but there are also jet skis, pontoons, paddleboards, paddleboats, and canoes available for rent.
Beside the lake, you will find an 8,518-acre wildlife area consisting of grassland, crop fields, woodland, and swamps.
Hunting is permitted in this area and there’s also a public archery range.
Shenango River Lake (3,560 acres)
Location: Trumbull County
Strap on your waterskis and head down to Shenango River Lake in northeastern Ohio. Similar to other lakes in the area, the majority of Shenango River Lake is located in Pennsylvania, but Ohio gets to enjoy a portion of its waters too.
Besides being a great destination for camping, picnicking, and canoeing, Shenango Reservoir is also the source of water releases during dry seasons to help maintain the water quality for the wildlife that call it home and those who seek out its natural beauty year after year.
Senecaville Lake (3,550 acres)
Location: Guernsey and Noble counties
Several of the lakes on our list so far have had relative proximity to majestic Lake Erie, but now we’re going to make our way down to southeast Ohio, where some of the best state park attractions lie.
Seneca Lake Park is home to the popular reservoir, a huge campground with over 500 campsites, a waterside restaurant, and a swimming beach complete with an inflatable water playground. The regular summer season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
When you want to take a break from the water, check out Seneca’s impressive wooded trails. If you choose to hike the park’s trails be sure to wear the proper footwear, keep your pets leashed, and leave your motorized vehicles elsewhere.
Buckeye Lake (3,173 acres)
Location: Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties
There’s energy abuzz at Buckeye Lake, so jump in and have some fun! Take a swim at Fairfield Beach or Crystal Beach before hopping on one of Buckeye Lake’s scenicboat tours. You’ll have your choice of coming aboard Captain Buck’s Pontoon Tour or diving deep into the lake’s nearly 200-year history on the double-decker paddleboat, Queen of the Lake III.
Come wintertime, you can take advantage of Lake Buckeye’s plentiful ice fishing or iceboating as long as the weather conditions are safe.
Salt Fork Lake (2,952 acres)
Location: Guernsey County
Eastern Ohio’s Salt Fork Lake is a nature lover’s paradise—challenging hiking trails, streams snaking through the hilly forest, and an extensive campground where you’re even allowed to bring your horse. For those who require a touch of human civilization, there’s also an 18-hole golf course, full-service resort lodge, and deluxe overnight cabins.
If you bring your boat, you’re permitted to cruise along Salt Fork Lake in the buoyed-off areas—feel like spending the night? No problem, you can indulge in a little boat camping as long as you’re anchored in a no-wake zone within 50 yards of the shore.
Protecting yourself while you travel
Ohio may be a predominantly landlocked state, but there’s no denying that it’s got some seriously impressive lakes within its perimeter. If you decide to embark on a trip to one of the 10 biggest lakes in Ohio, make sure you don’t hit the road without solid insurance coverage.
If you’re planning a road trip, the last thing you want is to be worried about your car insurance policy. You want to know that you’re covered—whether you get a flat tire, need a tow, or find yourself in an accident.
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