Everyone has their favorite lake they like to go to. This could be the local lake that makes for the perfect weekend or quick afternoon getaway, or that favorite spot you only get to go to every year or so. What makes these lakes so great? Between the memories attached and the guaranteed fun you’re sure to have, it’s no wonder we like returning to our favorite spots year after year. However, there is something to be said for discovering new favorite locations and having the adventure of going somewhere you’ve never been. We’ve taken the time to highlight five must-go-to lakes throughout the United States that are worth adding to your list of favorite destinations.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Located in central Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks is the perfect destination to bring your pontoon. To start your adventure just launch your boat from one of the nine public access ramps or from one of the lake’s many commercial marinas. From there you can explore more than 1,150 miles of shoreline, and the 54,000 surface acres the lake has to offer. Spend an afternoon exploring inlets and coves and playing in the water.
Rock bluffs, mud flats, gravel bars, coves, creeks, docks, and crappie beds make this location the angler’s dream, offering year-round fishing for a variety of species. If you’re ready to catch a bite, then call on one of the lake’s independent fishing guides, who can take you straight to the “hot spots” and can even provide tackle and bait.
When you and the crew get hungry, come back to shore and enjoy dining with the gorgeous lake and scenery as your backdrop. With over 100 restaurants to choose from around the lake, you are guaranteed to find something everyone will enjoy. And after dark, the fun doesn’t stop. All year round you can find live country, blues, jazz and rock-and-roll bands playing. You can also enjoy romantic moonlight cruises or a night out at a comedy club. With so many options, you are sure to have a good time.
If you are in search of a destination that offers a variety of activities that will entertain everyone, including museums, dining, golfing, and of course boating, then Lake of the Ozarks is the place for you!
Lake Norman, North Carolina
If you are looking for a new exciting area to take your pontoon boat this year, try Lake Norman, also known as the Inland Sea. Located in North Carolina, Lake Norman has 520 miles of beautiful shoreline that will make a great backdrop for your next adventure.
Pontooners will love the Sandbar, a local hotspot on the southern end of the lake where pontoon boats and others can raft up. If you’re looking for a more relaxed and quieter area to go to, try Cocktail Cove. Here you can boat at your own pace and enjoy some of the beautiful scenery.
When it’s time to refuel, stop by the oft-frequented Rusty Rudder. It’s the perfect place to refuel and restock your boat, and it even has a ship store at the docks. Once you’ve fueled your boat don’t forget to fuel yourself and the crew. The Rusty Rudder offers a delicious brunch, lunch or dinner, which you can enjoy on their tiki bar patio overlooking the lake while listening to live music. If you are interested in a little more upscale dining, try North Harbor Club, which can also be reached via water. In the summer you can also enjoy your brunch, lunch, or dinner out on their spacious patio overlooking the lake. And of course you can’t forget dessert! After eating at North Harbor Club, head over to the adjacent Lake Norman Cottage. Here you can enjoy some specialty gelato to go, or even a wine and cheese basket that you can take back out on the pontoon.
If you don’t have your own boat, this is not a problem at Lake Norman. Lake Norman hosts many boat rental shops that will set you up and get you ready for a day on the lake. Just remember, there is no horsepower or speed limit on Lake Norman and you will be sharing the water with kayaks, canoes and even paddleboats.
If you are ready for a fun, friendly, and exciting day out on the lake then try taking your pontoon to Lake Norman in North Carolina.
Lake Lanier, Georgia
Just 45 minutes north of Atlanta is the beautiful Lake Lanier. Here you can enjoy pontooning in southern style. You are sure to enjoy exploring the many inlets and islands that dot Lake Lanier and make it such a unique and interesting lake to explore.
To make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free, head straight to Bald Ridge Marina where outstanding service is provided. Their office staff and dock maintenance crew want nothing less than to help you have a hassle-free boating experience. Their docks are modern, safe and well-maintained. They have the largest and most accessible fuel dock on the lake and they even have an onsite MarineMax where everything from routine service to major retrofits can be done.
Anglers will love to hear that Lake Lanier boasts some of the best year-round striped bass fishing in the southeast. To ensure you have a great day on the lake, let Johnny Outler, fishing guide extraordinaire, take you out and give you the inside secrets to catching striped bass. Pontooners will love to hear what the guide has to say about fishing.
“I tell all of my customers who own a boat and want to learn the lake to fish with me four times the first year and they will have enough knowledge to tackle the lake on their own,” says Outler. “Pontoons, with their inherent comfort level across all seasons, are outstanding fishing platforms on Lake Lanier.”
And of course, what is better than lakeside dining? Try the Dockside Grill at Aqualand Marina where you can enjoy handmade burgers on their large patio deck all year round. Looking for something casual? Try Fire & Ice at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. This walk-up stand pairs frozen cocktails with delicious hickory smoked brisket and pulled pork barbecue.
Pontooners are sure to have a hassle-free, good time adventure at Lake Lanier.
Lake Monroe, Indiana
Not only is Lake Monroe Indiana’s largest inland lake, but it is also surrounded by the Hoosier National Forest, the state’s only national forest. This incredible backdrop sets the scene for one gorgeous lake, and makes it the perfect destination for the all-around outdoor enthusiast who loves boating, camping, fishing and hiking.
To start your trip, begin by visiting Fourwinds Resort & Marina. Here they have two fully-stocked ship stores and can accommodate almost any size boat. Fourwinds Marina will make getting your pontoon ship-shape and ready for a fun day on the lake quick and easy. But if you don’t have your own boat, don’t let that stop you from visiting Lake Monroe. Head to Lake Monroe Boat Rental, where they will set you up with the perfect pontoon for your time on the water.
Once you’ve left shore, enjoy the scenery and exploring the lake’s 23,500 acres. You can also enjoy lakeside access to trails and camping in the forest. With a total of 312 campsites and marked trails—ranging in difficulty from easy to moderate—around the perimeter of the lake, you will get to enjoy Lake Monroe from both the water and the land.
If you and the crew get hungry, come ashore to one of Lake Monroe’s many picnic locations. There is easy access to tables and grills, which can be found in the State Recreation Areas surrounding the lake. If you are looking to dine in, then try Scenic View Restaurant. Open all year, they serve delicious brunch, lunch, and dinner, which you can enjoy out on their patio while listening to local live music on select nights.
Anglers will be interested to know that bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, walleye and hybrid stripers give fishermen the most activity.
Lake Monroe also has three public swimming beaches and one private. These beaches will make for the perfect sunny afternoon for the whole family.
When you’re ready for a fun-filled lake vacation amongst the Hoosier National Forest, come to Lake Monroe.
Lake Havasu, Arizona
If you are looking to visit a place that has completely embraced a boating lifestyle, then Lake Havasu is the place for you. From boat-in beaches, camping, attractions and dining, Lake Havasu truly has become a pontooner’s paradise. It’s warm at Lake Havasu almost all year long, which means there is no limit to the fun you can have while exploring sandy beaches and coves or canyons and cliffs. Also, water temperatures ranging from 75-85 degrees make this the perfect lake for water recreation and swimming.
Lake Havasu also boasts many attractions that are perfect to explore via pontoon. For example, check out the famed and historical London Bridge. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Arizona, the bridge was purchased from England and reconstructed right over Lake Havasu.
Another attraction that is unique to Lake Havasu are the 24 miniature lighthouses that dot its shoreline. These lighthouses, built by The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, are scaled-down replicas of famous lighthouses from all around the country. They are working lighthouses used to improve nighttime navigation for boating on the lake, and many can be reached via water.
Other attractions that make this lake a must-see destination are Balance Rock, Copper Canyon, and Sleeping Indian. These natural attractions make Lake Havasu a truly unique and beautiful location to visit.
The waters of Lake Havasu are sparkling clear and warm, making it one of the best boating lakes in Arizona. There are no size restrictions or speed limits on the lake, with the exception of the no-wake zones clearly posted where a more conservative speed is appropriate. Unlike many other inland bodies of water, Lake Havasu remains at a near constant elevation that rarely varies more than four feet, providing boaters with ideal conditions year-round.
On shore there’s ample access to lake beaches and other beautiful natural areas with amenities such as barbecue grills, portable restrooms, and shaded picnic tables. There are also restaurants of all types, including Pirate Cove and the award-winning Pirate Beach Bar and Restaurant that is easily accessible by boat.
Lake Havasu really is an oasis in the desert, and pontooners looking to have some fun in the sun will love boating here and checking out all the local attractions.
No matter where you choose to go this season you are guaranteed ample options that will make your experience a memorable one. It doesn’t matter if the fishing, water recreation, dining, or sightseeing is most important to you, because you are sure to find the perfect lake to fit your needs. If you can pull yourself away from your go-to lake long enough, then you are sure to enjoy the adventure of discovering your new favorite lake this season!