Wisconsin is home to some of the most beautiful scenic lakes and parks in America. The state has a remarkable 15,000 lakes scattered throughout its lush plains, wetlands, and forests. Any visitor traveling to this discreet yet breathtaking Midwestern region must detour to Wisconsin’s Lake Country in Waukesha County. The name couldn’t be more suitable, either.
Lake Country itself has over 250 lakes for visitors and residents to enjoy. So there are plenty of lakes to choose from, whether you are looking for the next best motor-free fishing spot or trying to find a place to bust out the water skis.
The number of lakes in Lake Country can be overwhelming, as each is known for its unique personality and characteristics. So let’s take a closer look at five of the more highly-favored lakes in Lake Country.
#1: Lac La Belle
Lac La Belle, which means “lake the beautiful” in French, embodies its name. The charming area includes four beaches and is a great summertime location.
City Beach, for example, is a hotspot from Memorial Day in May through Labor Day in September. Individuals flock to this beach for recreational activities, like swimming, boating, water sports, picnics, play areas/playgrounds, sand volleyball, and much more.
City Beach also hosts events and performances throughout summer in the bandshell, such as free Friday night concerts on the beach. The water contains panfish, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.
When your stomach starts growling after a day under the sun, you can take a pit stop at Buddy’s Beach Bungalow for delicious Wisconsin bratwurst or ice cream. Buddy’s also makes it easy to enjoy the water as they offer full or half-day pontoon rentals, perfect for exploring the lake with a group.
If you’re enjoying Lac La Belle at City Beach or another public spot such as Bender Beach, you’ll need to grab a beach band from the guardhouse for a small fee.
You can also enjoy Lac La Belle during cooler seasons, i.e., taking a long stroll with family and friends or cycling along a popular bike path around Lac La Belle through the town of Oconomowoc. Or, you could always play a round of golf at one of America’s oldest golf courses; stop by the Historic Club at Lac La Belle, founded in 1869.
#2 Pewaukee Lake
The longest lake in Lake Country is Pewaukee Lake, a total length of 5 miles and one mile wide. Pewaukee hosts national regattas during the sailing season from spring to fall, and it’s a hotspot for yachters from across the U.S.
Pewaukee Lake is also an angler’s dream come true, as it harbors some seriously massive muskies, Wisconsin’s official state fish. The “Beachside Boat and Bait” shop rents out pontoons, fishing boats, kayaks, etc. They also sell bait and fishing equipment to ensure a perfect day on the lake.
If fishing and boating aren’t your things, you can still get out in the fresh air and enjoy the lake or its shores. Koha Yoga, for example, offers stand-up paddleboard lessons and rentals and revitalizing yoga classes on Pewaukee Lake. VeloCity Cycling also provides residents and visitors with rental bikes to take on the paths in surrounding areas nearby.
Pewaukee Lake is an excellent place to get your body moving; many take advantage of its scenic and serene atmosphere and plenty of activities to exercise and stay healthy. It also offers plenty of opportunities for indulgence and relaxation, like the beach at Lakefront Park. The best place to swim, lounge with your toes in the sand, or slowly stroll the boardwalk.
You could also grab a bite at The Chocolate Factory, which ironically sells sandwiches, and head back to the park for a sunset picnic. With westward-facing views over Pewaukee Lake, it’s an excellent place for a remarkable sunset view.
Gastropubs surround the lake, including the four-generation, family-owned “5 O’Clock Club”, where you can find an award-winning fish fry in a restaurant that looks like a vacation home with spectacular lake views.
If you head up to the northern side of Pewaukee Lake, you’ll find Doc’s Dry Dock, a gem that serves up mouth-watering pizzas and beers lakeside right near the docks.
#3 Lake Nemahbin
Lake Nemahbin is divided into Upper and Lower, offering visitors something unique. Upper Nemahbin is a fishing fave, with species such as bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. Upper Nemahbin is also famous for water skiing.
While this lake isn’t quite as sandy and doesn’t have the typical beaches some neighboring lakes have to offer, it’s still an excellent place to get out on the water and explore by boat. In addition, the lake connects to multiple bodies of water, such as Bark River and Upper/Lower Nashotah Lakes, making navigating these numerous waterways quite exciting and entertaining.
Pontoon, kayak, and paddleboard rentals are available right on the lakefront by Noman Board Sports. If you’ve always wanted to try paddleboarding but don’t know where to start, Nomad Board Sports also offers guided excursions on the lake.
The Panga Bar & Grill is a popular stop for visitors enjoying Upper Nemahbin Lake. Cold Wisconsin brews combined with a traditional fish fry are all that is left to complete the full Lake Country experience.
#4 Nagawicka Lake
Nagawicka Lake is smaller and is close to Pewaukee Lake. However, the two have entirely different vibes. Something so charming about Lake Country is that each lake has its particular mood. There’s genuinely a lake for everyone in Lake Country.
While many lakes in Lake Country are popular summer destinations, Nagawicka is a year-round hotspot, even when it’s freezing. In Winter, this lake is frequently visited and used for ice-fishing, thanks to the deep freeze and extra-large walleye and pike.
Every other season is excellent for anglers at Nagawicka, and it’s often referred to as one of the best fishing lakes in south-central Wisconsin. You can find it all, largemouth bass, crappie, perch, bluegill, smallmouth bass, etc.
Of course, any time of year you visit Nagawicka, you can always hit the Seven Seas Seafood and Steak or Fishbone’s Cajun and Creole Restaurant for some delicious food with a view.
Naga-Waukee Park is the ideal spot to access the lake. You’ll find everything you need, from family-friendly beaches to concessions, restaurants, and a boat launch. Naga-Waukee also contains a portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail for those who love to hike, or you can enjoy an overnight stay right on the lake; remember to reserve a campsite ahead of time.
#5 Fowler Lake
Fowler lake is a smaller lake in Lake Country, surrounded by enchanting shops, inns, and historic neighborhoods. Its welcoming, quiet, and quaint atmosphere is just one reason it’s such a popular spot. Fowler Lake is a fantastic area for fishing and boating. Compared to other lakes in Waukesha County, it is small; but that doesn’t mean it’s disappointing.
There are plenty of benches and seating to stop, sit, and relax with an ice cream cone or a cold craft beer. Visitors recommend stopping by around sundown to enjoy an exceptionally stunning and peaceful view of the sunset on the lake. Athletes can enjoy tranquil canoeing, kayaking, or running around the lake to work out while taking in the stunning scenery that surrounds them.
The small but picturesque lake is also close to downtown Oconomowoc, so you can shop or grab some refreshments and food. Fowler Lake is known for its family-friendly environment, with a playground, restrooms, and plenty of rest/picnic areas. Parents can also unwind and stop by one of the local coffee houses or bars.