Explore the Lakes of Pennsylvania

1. Lake Erie

The Lake Erie shoreline in Pennsylvania looks more like an ocean beach than a freshwater basin which is why it is one of the best vacation lakes to visit in the state. The easiest access to Lake Erie is from Erie, Pennsylvania on the northwest tip of the state.

Relax on some of the 11 miles of sandy beaches at Presque Isle State Park and take a dip in some of the warmest waters you'll find among the five Great Lakes.

Lake Erie has some of the best swimming opportunities, which is one of the top reasons people hit this waterway, but you will find plenty of other water recreation availability for kayaking, fishing, boating, and canoeing. It is easy to find water sports rental locations in Erie or hire a guide for a water excursion.

You can also take a sightseeing cruise to catch a great Lake Erie sunset, or hire a fishing charter to target walleye, perch, and steelhead in what is one of the top angling spots in the state.

2. Lake Wallenpaupack

The second largest inland, man-made lake in Pennsylvania is Lake Wallenpaupack, located in the Pocono Mountains in northeast Pennsylvania near the town of Hawley. The expansive 5,700-acre lake has 52 miles of shoreline, so there is plenty of space for boating activities or shore-based recreation. It is one of the best lake communities in the state, so there is always something festive happening, from festivals to fireworks.

Lake Wallenpaupack has four boat launches around the lake, and boat rentals are available. There are public beaches located at Tobyhanna State Park, Wilsonville Recreation Area, Promised Land State Park, and at the Palmyra Township public beach in Hawley.

Water sports and fishing are popular things to do on the lake, with several rental companies in the area. You can also hike on the many trails surrounding the lake or stop into the town of Hawley for indoor activities like museums, small boutique shops, and restaurants.

3. Raystown Lake

One of the best lakes in Pennsylvania, and the largest inland lake, is Raystown Lake because with more than 8,300 acres of water, you can actually reside in a houseboat for your entire stay. Raystown Lake is in Hesston in south-central Pennsylvania. The lake has 12 public access spots for boaters, swimmers, and those who just come for a picnic and the scenery.

The man-made Raystown Lake has a number of public beaches and a popular campground (Susquehannock Campground). It is easy to rent a houseboat for the week, or a vacation home in nearby communities like Martinsburg and Huntington.

The entire Raystown Lake region is known for its outdoor activities, so you will have no problem filling several days with activities like hiking, biking, and fishing at the lake.

4. Lake Harmony

The beautiful Lake Harmony in the Pocono Mountains is one of the pristine and cleanest natural glacial lakes in the state. The clear water coming from the mountains is one of its main draws. The lake is located near the resort community of Lake Harmony, where you will see many cottages and waterfront homes.

It is a popular lake for boating and jet skiing. The fishing is prime, too, due to the natural waters, so you will see many anglers reeling in bass, trout, and perch.

Lake Harmony is 2.5 miles long, and it is privately owned, but you can access it if you plan to stay in one of the vacation rentals or at Split Rock Resort. The lake has a beach for swimming and a marina and boat launch area. There are other activities nearby in the area, like Hickory Run State Park, which is popular for hiking, golf courses, the Pocono Raceway, and an indoor water park.