The Five Best Ohio Lakefront Vacation Spots

If you’re looking to cool down and enjoy nature on your next solo or family vacation, a lakefront escape is just the thing. And what better place to enjoy a lakefront vacation than in the state with shores on one of the Great Lakes: Ohio.

Ohio boasts an impressive number of lakes. Apart from Lake Erie along its northern border, there are 110 naturally occurring lakes throughout the state, as well as an additional 113 man-made ones. You may feel overwhelmed by the choices that selection offers you for your next holiday, so here are five of the best spots you can consider.

1. Tappan Lake

Two hours south of Cleveland and two hours west of Columbus, Tappan Lake boasts 500 campsites and 11 vacation cabins.

The lake has 399 horsepower limit, making it a prime spot for those seeking a little more of an adrenaline rush to their vacation. Boat and marina space are available for rent, with water skiing and wake boarding being popular activities. If you prefer a slower pace, peddle boats, pontoons, kayaks, and paddle boards are also available.

Brian Rawson-Ketchum from Springfield, MI, US [CC BY-SA 2.0]

On top of the fishing and hunting permitted on the Tappan Lakes 2,300 acres, there are 14 miles of trails, and a variety of museums as well as the 250 Speedway located nearby.

2. Indian Lake

Indian Lake, located just over an hour northwest of Columbus, features recreational activities all year long. Whether on the lake’s 30 miles of shorelines or the several developed islands within the lake’s 5,000 surface acres, there are countless activities to spend your time enjoying.

This man-made reservoir features plenty of outdoor pastimes such as camping, fishing, boating, cycling, and swimming. If those activities aren’t enough to keep you occupied, the area boasts plenty of local flavor and unique dining experiences as well as golfing, thrifting, and antiquing. Nearly every weekend features some sort of local event as well, from boat shows to Jimmy Buffet festivals.

Real estate opportunities also exist at Indian Lake Ohio, where you can keep the fun going all year round with your own waterfront home or vacation rental investment.

3. Lake Harsha

A half hour west of Cincinnati, Lake Harsha is nestled at the heart of the East Fork State Park. Another man-made reservoir, Lake Harsha was built to control flooding in the surrounding areas in the late seventies. Now, it features six boat ramps and a 1,200 foot sand beach.

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Around the lake’s perimeter, you can get a complete view of the lakefront on a 32 mile round trail or explore 46 miles of brush trails through the park’s backcountry. You can travel on foot or on horseback on another 57 miles. If you need an escape from nature, you can also enjoy a movie at a nearby drive-in movie theater or enjoy several local eateries.

4. Lake Logan

Just 45 minutes southeast of Colombus, Lake Logan is a day-use only park nestled in the Appalachian foothills of Hocking Valley. A quieter retreat with its 10 horsepower aquatic vehicle limit, the lake remains a hot-spot for fishing, hiking, and family fun.

Sixflashphoto [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Rental options include funky avian peddle boats, as well as kayaks, canoes, and small fishing boats. A swimming beach spans the north side of the lake, and during the winter months, visitors can enjoy ice fishing and bobsledding.

Several state forests can be visited nearby, and there is even a working historic passenger train operating within the area that will take you and your family on a scenic tour of the valley.

5. Salt Fork Lake

Salt Fork Lake is located in Ohio’s largest state park, an hour and half west of Columbus. Home to 236 campsite ranging from primitive to full hook-up, visitors can choose to rough it outdoors or stay at the park’s Salt Fork Lodge.

J. Stephen Conn/Flickr

The 148 room facility features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an 18 hole championship golf course, and tennis, basketball, volleyball, and shuffleboard courts. When a break from the outdoors is needed, the Stone House museum operates year round within the park, documenting much of the park’s history as well as that of the surrounding area.

Local legends claim that Bigfoot has also been sighted within the park on multiple occasions, making this lake an especially ideal vacation spot for cryptid hunters.

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