Pennsylvania is home to an abundance of natural wonders, and its lakes are among its most captivating attractions. From serene waters nestled amidst picturesque landscapes to thrilling recreational activities, the top three lakes in Pennsylvania offer a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure.

The Keystone State boasts more than 2,500 lakes — both natural and manmade — many of which would make the ideal scene for your summer vacation. We’ve streamlined our list of Pennsylvania’s most summer-worthy lakes down to three of the best the state has to offer. We’ll explore these magnificent lakes in detail, highlighting their unique features and the experiences they offer visitors.

1. Raystown Lake

This particular lake likes to live large. Located in the south-central township of Hesston, Raystown is the state’s largest inland lake: the manmade body of water flows 8,300 acres in length. The reservoir is about a two-hour drive from Baltimore and two and a half hours from Pittsburgh.

Where to Stay

You can choose to rent a houseboat for your entire stay, or, alternatively, Susquehannock Campground is a popular campground. Raystown Lake rentals as well as vacation homes in nearby communities like Martinsburg and Huntington are other avenues for more tailored comfort. There’s also the four-star Lake Raystown Resort which has 400 acres of waterfront property and top-rated accommodations.

Ways to Have Fun at the Lake

The entire family-friendly Raystown Lake region is known for its outdoor activities, so you can easily pack several days with activities like hiking, biking, and fishing at the lake itself:

  • Lincoln Caverns is one of two spectacular crystal caves where you can partake in a tour, including a Black Light Tour for the strong of heart. If you’re feeling both lucky and adventurous, you can go gem-panning.
  • There are a number of public beaches, and the lake has 12 public access spots for boaters, swimmers, and those who just come for the scenery.

Where to Eat

Outdoor dining is taken to a new level here, as pavilions and picnics can be catered, where you can have anything from traditional hamburgers to gourmet fare. There’s also the Marina Café which offers versatile American cuisine in a casual setting overlooking a picturesque marina. Their award-winning Galley Wings are just one of the sumptuous specials that can be enjoyed in-house.

Sometimes you need more than food to whet your appetite. Brookmere Winery & Vineyard Inn is Pennsylvania’s first winery with its own bed and breakfast and has quite a selection of award-winning wines on offer. If you happen to enjoy their delectable selection of wines a little too much, make sure to check in at the inn!

2. Lake Wallenpaupack

Second on our list is none other than the second-largest lake in Pennsylvania. Considered one of the best lake communities in the state, Lake Wallenpaupack is situated in the Pocono Mountains close to the town of Hawley. The inland lake is an expansive 5,700-acre lake and has 52 miles of shoreline, so there’s ample space for outdoor recreation. 

The lake is 74 miles from Newark, NJ, and there are a few regional airports nearby, including Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport.

Where to Stay

Even though you’ll be so busy enjoying yourself, you do need a place to sleep. The award-winning Silver Birches Resort has a collection of thirteen vintage structures with varied histories dating back to the 1920s. The choices for lodging are broken down into three categories, including guest rooms, cottages, and houses. All buildings face nearly 700 feet of shoreline on Lake Wallenpaupack and offer breathtaking views of the lake.

Alternatively, there are plenty of Lake Wallenpaupack rentals to choose from, with rates starting at $132 per night. You can even find cabins and lakefront rentals with a boat dock if you and your friends or family want to splurge on your stay. If all else fails, go wild and pitch a tent at one of their recreation sites, such as Ironwood Point and Wilsonville.

Ways to Have Fun at the Lake

Lake Wallenpaupack caters to a wide range of recreational activities, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy:

  • Boating enthusiasts can take advantage of the lake’s boat rental services or launch their own watercraft from one of the many public access points.
  • Fishing is also a popular pastime, with the lake being well-stocked with various fish species.
  • Additionally, the lake offers opportunities for swimming, jet skiing, and water skiing, providing endless fun in the sun.

There are public beaches located at Tobyhanna State Park, Wilsonville Recreation Area, Promised Land State Park, and the Palmyra Township public beach in Hawley. You can also hike on the many trails surrounding the lake.

Where to Eat

There are more than 30 restaurants within a seven-mile radius of the lake that offer a variety of worldly cuisine, including Der Jaeger if you like German food. The establishment has an antique and artsy vibe that will have you feeling a little more enlightened about the local history by the time you leave — heads up: reservations are definitely required.

The Dock on Wallenpaupack has all kinds of food, from pizzas to steak quesadillas and scallop pesto fettuccine. Their lobster roll is popular, but they also have both vegetarian and vegan options. The outdoor dining makes for some stunning scenery.

3. Treasure Lake

We had to save this treasure for last. People have been drawn to Treasure Lake time and again for its rich history and resort-style feel. Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains, Treasure Lake is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This private community encompasses two pristine lakes, Treasure Lake and Little Flipper Lake, and offers a range of amenities for residents and visitors alike.

This semi-private residential development is located 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, with DuBois Regional Airport less than 10 miles away.

Ways to Have Fun at the Lake

Treasure Lake hosts two of the best golf courses in all of Pennsylvania — the Gold Course was rated as one of the best in the state by Golf Digest.

  • Other treasure troves include tennis courts and swimming pools for those who can’t get enough of that resort feeling.
  • Treasure Lake is designated for motor boats and has a fully stocked marina and 200 rental slips.
  • Families will love the nature trails and Living Treasures “Wild” Animal Park is the perfect attraction for kids in nearby New Castle.

There’s also the Presque Isle State Park, another hidden treasure where you can bike, fish, boat, and the sunsets are star-studded. Two sandy beaches line the shore of the lake, where water skiing, fishing, and swimming are the most popular summer sports.

Where to Eat

The lake has one more treasure up its sleeve. If you’re craving worldly cuisine without having to leave the country, wander over to Conshohocken where in the west part of town, you’ll find authentic Italian food prepared by Tuscany-trained chef Simone Calonachi at the Gypsy Saloon.

Enjoy the Top Three Lakes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s top three lakes offer a captivating blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Whether you’re seeking a serene retreat, an adrenaline-pumping adventure, or a fun-filled family outing, these lakes provide an abundance of experiences to satisfy every visitor.