An adirondack chair sits on a dock looking out on sailboats on a lake.
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Experience Lake Life in Indiana’s Cool North

Indiana’s Cool North is a haven for lake lovers. If you’re a fan of beautiful, pristine waters and shorelines that offer an abundance of fishing, hiking, beaches, and camping—plus all sorts of other incredible outdoor recreation—it’s a perfect destination any time of year.

And when you’ve finished an exciting day on the water, there are even more awesome activities near and around the lakes. Read on for an overview of five lovely lakes to help you plan your visit to Indiana’s Cool North, with exciting experiences and attractions near each.

 

Tippecanoe Lake

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Found in Kosciusko County, about two miles from North Webster, Tippecanoe (also known as Lake Tippy) is one of the most popular destinations for water-related recreation in Indiana’s Cool North.

This large, glacial lake is Indiana’s deepest (about 123 feet deep), and connects to the Barbee Lakes chain of seven interconnected natural lakes. Fish are abundant, and you can angle for over 25 different species. There are also three marinas, a country club, golf course, resort, and several bars and restaurants.

While the lake is surrounded by residential properties, there are several parks, wetlands, and public access points with boat launches, and a beautiful beach for swimming.

If you’re traveling south from Elkhart or Goshen on the I-13, Bart’s Water Sports—with the largest selection of water sports equipment and boating accessories in the Midwest—is on the way. Gear up with everything from paddleboards, towables, inflatables, kayaks, and even trampolines. Find all nearby recreation activities on water (or land) here.

 

Worster Lake

Centered in the sprawling 3,800-acre Potato Creek State Park, Worster Lake, at 327 acres, couldn’t be in a better location.

The lake sits surrounded by the state park’s fields, woodlands, restored prairies and diverse wetlands—each offering endless opportunities for observing nature and wildlife, and discovering a unique area of Indiana’s Cool North.

While the park offers plenty of land-based fun around the lake with hiking, biking, picnicking, bridle trails, and camping, there’s lots to do on the water, too. Relax on the beautiful beach, or cruise in a rowboat, paddleboat, kayak or canoe (all of which are available to rent). For the anglers, there are fishing piers and a fish cleaning station, plus you’ll find public boat launches, but only electric trolling motors are permitted.

The lake and state park are just a few minutes from North Liberty, where you’ll find a charming downtown with lots of shops and even more green space, and you’ll also be within easy driving distance of several other exciting communities in South Bend Mishawaka.

 

Winona Lake

Fun on the water plus history, shopping, and incredible dining on shore. Winona Lake features a gorgeous lake for boating and fishing, and you can conveniently rent canoes and kayaks from the Winona Lake Parks Department.

If you’d rather explore on land, nestled along Lake Winona’s shoreline you’ll find a bustling shopping destination at the Village at Winona, where over 20 Victorian homes that have been turned into eateries and eclectic artisan shops. You’ll also find multiple museums and golf courses nearby.

 Shop for handcrafted items like pottery, paintings, jewelry, and baked goods, then relax in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Try to decide which of over 20 flavors of premium ice cream you’ll cool off with at Kelainey’s Ice Cream, or enjoy a gourmet salad and sandwich.

The Village also hosts several festivals and exciting events all year, including the Fat & Skinny Tire Fest, Art Fair, Porsche Festival, Canal Days and Oktoberfest.

 

Lake Maxinkuckee

Named for the Potawatomi word Mog-sin-ke-ki, meaning “big stone country,” Lake Maxinkuckee is found in the southwest corner of Marshall County.

As the second largest natural lake in the state of Indiana, Lake Maxinkuckee covers 1,864 acres and is a popular fishing destination year round. Common species you can reel in include Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Catfish, Walleye, Bream, and Bluegill. Public access to the lake is found on the western shore.

Nestled along Lake Maxinkuckee’s northwest shore is the beautiful town of Culver, where you’ll find shopping, amazing restaurants, beaches, water sports, boating, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Culver and Lake Maxinkuckee sit in the crossroads of U.S. Route 30 and 31, which connects with South Bend, Indianapolis, and Chicago, making it a perfect place to visit while exploring Indiana’s Cool North.

Be sure to swing by The Original Root Beer Stand for drive-up diner classics. Also on the shore of Lake Maxinkuckee are the redbrick buildings of Culver Academies, a 1,700-acre campus with military features like turrets and parapets. Schedule a tour of this beautiful, storied campus in advance of your visit.

The Culver Marina, on the lake’s southeast shore, offers a board shop, the BoardWalk Bar & Grill, boat showroom, sup and kayak rentals, boat storage, and gas. You’ll find an award-winning service department and ship store, and they even offer lake tours and dinner cruises to pair a delicious meal with a beautiful sunset.

 

Lake Wawasee

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Over 100 lakes shape Kosciusko County’s culture and geography. Near Syracuse in the northeast corner is Lake Wawasee, the largest natural lake in Indiana.

With more than 25 miles of shoreline and over 1,000 lakefront homes and condos, it’s one of the most popular vacation destinations for people visiting Indiana’s Cool North—and for good reason. Several marinas, a yacht club, and restaurants line the shore, and more fun recreational activities can be found nearby in Syracuse.

If you’re timing a visit in the summer, Lake Wawasee’s biggest event is the Fourth of July. Floating barges heavily stocked with fireworks will light up the night sky, synchronized with music played on a local radio station.

While celebrating Independence Day you’ll also be able to enjoy a flotilla of decorated boats parading the lake, kicked off by the Wawasee Wooden Boats’ Thunder Run, a series of dozens of beautiful historical wooden boats. While most participants reside on or near the lake, the Thunder Run attracts boat enthusiasts (and many spectators) from out of state.

Independence Day is a huge celebration, but if you’re visiting any time of year and looking for a great place to stay with a perfect view on Lake Wawasee, check out Oakwood Resort. They also offer boat tours—one of the most popular ways to get out and discover the lake.

Summer is dominated by swimming, fishing, boating, and skiing, but the fun doesn’t stop in the colder months. Lake Wawasee and surrounding areas are also popular for skating, ice fishing, snow skiing and snowmobiling.

Now that you’ve got five lovely lakes to discover, it’s time to plan the rest of your adventure in Indiana’s Cool North! Check out all of the eclectic things we’ve got to see and do.