Michigan may be the Great Lakes State and Minnesota the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but Illinois also lays claim to some pretty spectacular bodies of fresh water. In fact, we’d venture to say that the best lakes in Illinois aren’t only the finest in the state, but also some of the most extraordinary lakes in the country! From the endlessly dazzling (and massive) Lake Michigan to small, cerulean blue inland lakes — and pretty much everything in between — here are 14 of the best Illinois lakes you simply must experience.

There’s nothing more marvelous than a day on the water, and we hope the above list of the best lakes in Illinois inspires you to get out and explore this beautiful state of ours!

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Best Lakes in Illinois

What are the clearest lakes in Illinois?


The Land of Lincoln might not be known for having a tropical climate or waters like the Caribbean. However, like in the Caribbean, you can find some incredibly clear water around the state. With some of the clearest water in Illinois, Lake Le-Aqua-Na is a worthwhile body of water to go for a swim. Lake Le-Aqua-Na is a manmade lake known for having some of the clearest water in Illinois. The water is so incredibly pristine due to good watershed practices, and it is a pristine place to experience any time of year -- but especially summertime. Among the fun you can have at Lake Le-Aqua-Na is boating, fishing, and swimming. And there is an accessible fishing pier located at the park's east end.

How many lakes are there in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Prairie State is home to (are you ready?) more than 2,900 lakes, 84,000 ponds, and three large reservoirs. Now that's a lot of water. To narrow down your aquatic adventures, we recommend checking out the above list of best lakes in Illinois!

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