When I was a kid growing up in Muncie, everyone always talked about heading up to "The Lake."

"We're going to The Lake this weekend." "We've got a cabin at The Lake."

At age 10, I thought there was only one lake in the entire state of Indiana, and everyone went to it during the summer.

When I moved to Syracuse, Indiana, home of Lake Wawasee, I was convinced that everyone was coming to that lake, and they were all driving in front of me.

Lake Wawasee in Syracuse, Indiana. This is what a typical weekend looks like. Lake Wawasee in Syracuse, Indiana. This is what a typical weekend looks like.Of course, Indiana has a lot of lakes, and depending on where you live in the state, you have your own "The Lake" you visit. But have you considered trying any of the others? Here are a few of the bigger lakes around Indiana.

  • Lake Wawasee: I'll mention it first since it was "my" lake, having lived there for 12 years. (In a house, not in the lake. I'm not Aquaman.) Located in north central Indiana, just 20 minutes north of Warsaw, Wawasee is the largest natural lake in Indiana. At 8 – 9 miles long, and 2 miles across, it has swimming, boating, and fishing available. Wawasee is part of the Lakes Region of Indiana
  • Winona Lake: Also in the Lakes Region, but it's big enough that it has its own city. (Also, not in the lake.) Seated right next to Warsaw, Winona Lake is also the home to Grace College and the Billy Sunday Home Museum.
  • The Lakes Region: Actually, a big percentage of Indiana's lakes are right in North Central Indiana, and many of them are in or around Kosciusko County. Syracuse Lake, which is connected to Wawasee through the Main Channel, Tippecanoe Lake (home of Camp Crosely, my childhood summer camp), Barbee Lake, Lake Webster, and Lake Papakeechie. There are also 15 lakes in nearby Steuben County — Barton, Crooked, and Clear to name a few, as well as any number of large and small lakes in between.
  • Lake Maxinkuckee: The second largest lake in Indiana, this one is located in southwest Marshall County, near the town of Culver (home of Culver Military Academy). You'll find many of the amenities you would expect to find on a lakefront town, plus the fact that there are no interstates that run directly to the lake (like most lakes in the state) means that you get to enjoy a more secluded feeling, assuming you're not there for Labor Day or Memorial Day weekend.
  • Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman: Another of Indiana's twin lakes, these are near Monticello, Indiana, in northwest Indiana. Not only do they have good fishing, boating, and several resorts, but they're also close to Indiana Beach amusement park
  • Lake Monroe: Of course we have lakes in southern Indiana too. Lake Monroe is one of the biggest ones, and one I'll never set foot in again. When I was about 11, my parents took me and my sister to Lake Monroe in Monroe County (Bloomington). We rented a boat, and went swimming off the side. My father told me much later that while my sister and I were swimming, he spotted a water snake nearby. (I have a deathly fear of snakes.) He decided not to say anything, since it was swimming away from us, and he never told us until two years ago. So, some of the more foolhardy people may enjoy boating and swimming on Lake Monroe, as well as the different resorts and nearby hotels, but I won't be sticking a single toe in the water, because I think that snake is still waiting for me.
  • Patoka Lake: I had a chance to take my family for a visit to Patoka Lake in Orange County a few years ago in southern Indiana. What's notable about Patoka is that other than a couple of marinas (one of which rents house boats), there is absolutely no development on the waterfront at all. It reminded me of fly-in fishing trips I took in Canada several years ago. Up there, we would have a cabin and a lake all to ourselves, about 100 miles away from the nearest tiny town, with no one else around. I was reminded of the peace and beauty of those trips as I took my son around Patoka Lake on a small boat on our last morning there.

There are 94 or so lakes in the entire state of Indiana, all with their own dining, fishing, boating, and lodging options (you can see an entire list of them here on Wikipedia), so I certainly couldn't cover them all. But I at least managed to cover my favorite ones, the ones I've had a chance to enjoy at some point in my life.

Plus the one that had the large man-eating dragon small water snake in it.

Photo credit: Just Jefa (Flickr, Creative Commons)