The 5 Best Lakes in Illinois to Visit


Illinois. It is the Prairie State, and it is mostly known for its famous international city: Chicago.

But, there are plenty of natural sights for those looking for an escape from this city. About 110 million people tour Illinois every year, so where do they all go outside of Chicago?

These are five of the best lakes in Illinois to visit.

1. Busse Lake

This lake is located within minutes of O’Hare International Airport by Chicago. It is a lake that is known for sport fishing, we three different main pools for people to take their shot at catching a fish.

For those that want to relax and fish, this is a great lake for you. However, it is generally not recommended to swim here because it is located within a reserved reservoir.

2. Lake Opeka 

Lake Opeka is a small lake, only about 40 acres in total, that is located in Des Plaines. It is an area that is very easy to get around and for those that want to relax in a beautiful location, there is also a recreational marijuana dispensary that is within minutes of this lake.

Plus, Lake Opeka has an 18-hole golf course that is part of this area. So, for those in your group that like to take some time to play the sport, this can be a convenient location for you to do so.

3. Lake Shelbyville

Located in Shelbyville, this lake has been servicing tourists for over 50 years. It has about 11,000 acres for tourists to enjoy along with plenty of other activities to do.

Besides fishing and swimming, tourists can discover the local history with the Chevy BelAir Museum, local culture with the Roxy Theatre, and there is even a wedding chapel in the area for those looking for places to tie the knot.

Of course, you can enjoy golfing, hiking, water sports, and more here as well.

4. Sankoty Lakes 

Located in East Peoria, this is not only a beautiful area for tourists to get away but also offers Sankoty Lakes Resort accommodations for families to relax and enjoy. You can enjoy traditional activities such as fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, and more here.

Plus, there are restaurants around the area for you to enjoy, including ones with spectacular outdoor views of the lakes.

You can learn more at

5. Lake Michigan 

This is arguably the most famous lake in the state, partially because it is actually located in five different states. It has about 22,000 acres for tourists to enjoy, and the part in Illinois has cruises from Chicago available for you to sit back and relax.

Best of all, there are 26 miles of beaches along the Chicago shoreline that are part of Lake Michigan. Plenty of them have free admission, so it can be a great day escape from the hustle and bustle of Chicago.

Discover More Lakes in Illinois

These are five of the best lakes in Illinois. Did you find one that you were interested in on this list or one that you have already been to?

Read more of our Travel articles to find your perfect Illinois vacation.


Latest article