Discover 6 Stunning Lakes in Ohio That Have Great Beaches

Written by Clemence-Maureen Feniou
Updated: November 1, 2023
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Nestled amidst the heartland of the United States, Ohio may not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking of breathtaking lakes with sandy beaches. However, hidden within its diverse landscape lies a collection of stunning lakes that defy expectations and offer a surprising slice of beachfront paradise. Scattered throughout the state, these sandy gems beckon travelers and locals alike to their pristine shores.

6 Stunning Lakes in Ohio That Have Great Beaches
These beautiful Ohio lakes feature sandy beaches for swimming and sunning.

From the tranquil shores of Lake Erie to the picturesque reservoirs nestled in Ohio’s woodlands, these lakes offer a unique blend of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and a tranquil escape from the bustle of everyday life. In this exploration, we’ll explore Ohio’s lakes with sandy beaches, revealing the beauty and allure that makes them a hidden treasure worth discovering.

1. Lake Erie

view from the top of Perry's Monument at Put In Bay. Sandusky, Ohio.

Put-In-Bay is a village in one of the 24 islands of Lake Erie.

©Tori Bradford/Shutterstock.com

Lake Erie, the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes, graces Ohio’s northern border with its stunning sandy beaches. Located in cities like Cleveland and Sandusky, Lake Erie offers some of the most accessible and picturesque beachfront areas in the state. The water temperature in the summer hovers around a comfortable 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and various water sports.

Beaches

In Ohio, there are plenty of beaches to discover along the shores of Lake Erie.

Thirty miles east of Cleveland is one of Lake Erie’s most renowned beaches. The Headlands Beach State Park is one of Ohio’s longest natural sand beaches. With ample space for beachgoers, you can stroll along the beach or lay out a picnic blanket to enjoy the view. For water lovers, Lake Erie offers an excellent setting for a soothing dip or a brisk swim.

Feeling more islandbound? Then, head to the southwestern part of Lake Erie. South Bass Island is home to some of the lake’s most preserved and secluded beaches. You can discover South Bass Island State Park, with a beach that overlooks the serene blue waters. Oak Point State Park, smaller in size, hosts a charming little beach. It’s a perfect spot for a family outing, with picnic tables nearby and a view of Put-In-Bay.

And if one island is not enough, you can head out to Kelley’s Island, also called “The Island Life of Ohio.” This secluded island is an oasis for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. For some time at the beach, head to the State Park Beach on the northern shore or Pebble Beach on the island’s southern coast. Both are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, or simply drenching in the panoramic views of Lake Erie.

If you spend the day with kids, Cedar Point Beach might be the perfect choice. Lying alongside Ohio’s famous Cedar Point amusement park, this beach is a one-mile-wide stretch of beautiful sandy shore. It is the ideal place to enjoy a day in the sun.

East Harbor State Park or Breakwater Beach are also some options to consider.

Recreation

Sailboat Race on Lake Erie

Lake Erie is an ideal spot to learn the basics of sailing.

©Carrie’s Camera/Shutterstock.com

If staying on the beach is not enough, then no worries! Lake’s Erie beaches have plenty of activities to offer.

The vast Lake Erie is ideal for boating, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Enjoy the calm water or the gentle adrenaline rush, depending on your preference. With its dense wildlife, angling enthusiasts can try to catch various fish, including bass, walleye, and perch.

Want to stay on the land? Explore the hiking and biking trails on Kelley’s Island. They lead to beautiful and secluded views of Lake Erie. And you can also try your hand at photography; Ohio is known to have some magical sunrises and sunsets.

If you choose to go to Cedar Point Beach, stopping at the Cedar Point Amusement Park is almost mandatory. Often called “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point Beach is a gateway to a lot of fun. Try the Steel Vengeance, the world’s tallest and fastest hybrid roller coaster. Or you can also hop in the Top Thrill 2, a high-speed roller coaster that gives you a taste of what it feels like to be a racing driver, going from 0 to 120 mph motion in 4 seconds.

Looking to stay more than just one day at Lake Erie? Then think no further. Several campgrounds and RV parks are situated near the lake, allowing you to fall asleep to the gentle lullaby of the waves. Camping enthusiasts can choose from options like East Harbor State Park and Geneva State Park for a memorable lakeside experience.

Plants and Wildlife

Lake Erie is also an epicenter for recreation and wildlife. The lake is home to over 300 species of birds, including rare bald eagles and blue herons. Migratory birds also often pause their journey around the lake and its islands. They can easily be observed around the lake, making Lake Erie one of the best spots for birdwatching.

The lake waters are also vibrant. They house an assortment of fish, including perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass, making it a sanctuary for fishing enthusiasts. Other aquatic life coexist in Lake Erie, like frogs and turtles.

Some areas of Lake Erie are also unique for their flora. Headlands Beach State Park has a fantastic ecosystem home to many rare plant species. Walking through the park, you might spot an elusive Eastern Prickly Pear, Ohio’s only native cactus. Despite its prickly exterior, its yellow flowers bloom beautifully in the summertime.

Or you can also spot a Lake Erie Water Willow. A unique aquatic plant thrives in the fresh waters around the coastline. Its delicate white flowers add a touch of elegant beauty to the beach surroundings.

2. Alum Creek Lake

The scene at Alum Creek in central Ohio.

In 2005, Alum Creek Dam’s reservoir reached its highest level.

©duane Shoemaker/Shutterstock.com

Alum Creek Lake, situated in Central Ohio, is a large man-made reservoir nestled amidst lush Ohio greenery. The Army Corps of Engineers built it in the early 1970s. The lake’s was completed and filled by the summer of 1976. 

Beaches

North of Colombus, the Alum Creek Lake is known for its State Park Beach. The 3,000-foot sandy beach is one of the largest in the state. This is the ideal spot for children building sandcastles, beach enthusiasts soaking in the sun, and anyone with a fondness for a sandy stroll.

Additionally, the lake boasts multiple coves along its shores that are perfect swimming holes during the summer. During the warmer months, the temperature varies between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27 degrees Celsius), ideal for a refreshing swim.

Recreation

Known for its exceptional water quality, this man-made reservoir offers a boatload of fun. With a marina boasting 286 docks, any boating enthusiast would feel happy about a day on the lake. Plus, it is effortless to rent one around the lake.

Fishing enthusiast? Look no further. Alum Creek Lake provides some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. Largemouth bass, panfish, and saugeye are also abundant species.

Other water activities are available, such as canoeing, jet skiing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Various rentals are available around the lake. Swimming is also an everyday activity around the lake’s shores. Not feeling like going in the water? Alum Creek Lake has everything for you. There are countless hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails weaving through the encompassing Alum Creek State Park.

Virtually untouched and majorly uncrowded, this lake is a perfect place to experience a lake day and escape city life.

Wildlife 

Surrounded by lush greenery, Alum Creek Lake has abundant wildlife. Deers wander in the surrounding forests, but these elusive creatures are usually hard to spot. The lake is also home to many beavers. At dusk and during the night, visitors can spot them while building their dams across the lake streams.

The lake waters are home to various fish like the smallmouth and largemouth bass, panfish, saugeye, and many other aquatic species. In the waters are also found multiple species of turtles, including the snapping turtle. This species should not be approached, let alone touched; they have a powerful bite force.

Alum Creek Lake is also a good spot for birdwatching, with eagles, sparrows, and more to observe.

3. Caesar Creek Lake

Caesar's Creek

Caesar Creek Lake is a flood control reservoir managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

©Brendan Russell/Shutterstock.com

Caesar Creek Lake, located in southwestern Ohio, centered between Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus, is renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches, boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities.

Beaches

Best to visit in the summer, Caesar Creek Lake offers excellent beaches. These include Wellman Meadows Beach and Harveysburg Road Beach, which provide a picturesque setting for sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the serenity of the lake’s shores. The sand is fine and soft, making it an ideal spot for building sandcastles and playing beach games with family and friends. The beaches are well-maintained, with clean restroom facilities and picnic areas nearby, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable beach experience for all.

Recreation

Caesar Creek Lake is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering various recreational activities to suit various interests. Boating is a popular pastime, with the lake boasting several marinas and boat ramps for easy access to its waters. Kayaking and canoeing are also favored activities, allowing you to explore the lake’s scenic coves and inlets.

Fishing is excellent, with the lake teeming with bass, catfish, and crappie, making it a favorite spot for anglers.

For those who prefer to stay on land, Caesar Creek State Park provides a network of hiking and biking trails that wind through the lush woodlands surrounding the lake. These trails offer opportunities for wildlife observation and breathtaking views of the water. Birdwatchers will appreciate the diverse avian species that call the park home, including bald eagles and ospreys.

Wildlife

Caesar Creek Lake is a hub for recreational activities and a wildlife sanctuary. The lake’s natural surroundings support a diverse ecosystem, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers. The wooded areas around the lake are home to white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and various small mammals, providing ample opportunities for wildlife observation.

Birdwatchers will be delighted by the presence of numerous bird species, including migratory waterfowl that stop at the lake during their journeys. Keep an eye out for great blue herons, kingfishers, and a variety of songbirds that grace the park with their presence.

Anglers also share the lake with an array of aquatic life, from sunfish to channel catfish and frogs to turtles. This diversity of wildlife makes Caesar Creek Lake a recreational hotspot and a haven for nature enthusiasts keen on experiencing the beauty and biodiversity of Ohio’s natural landscapes.

4. Clarence J. Brown Reservoir

view of the shoreline of Clarence J. Brown Reservoir within Buck Creek State Park.

Buck Creek State Park was home to both Native American and early settlers.

©Yinan Chen / Public Domain CC0 – License

Clarence J. Brown Reservoir is located within Buck Creek State Park in Springfield. This natural haven offers diverse outdoor activities and pristine sandy beaches. This park encompasses over 1,900 acres, including a 2,120-acre lake, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.

Beaches

One of the park’s highlights is its beautiful beaches, which provide a perfect escape during the summer months. The main beach area, located near the park’s campground, features a long stretch of sandy shoreline along the shores of the reservoir. This sandy oasis is ideal for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or lounging by the water’s edge. Lifeguards are often on duty during peak hours, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.

Recreation

Buck Creek State Park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Water-based activities take center stage, with swimming being a favorite pastime during the summer. The lake’s water quality is well-maintained, making it suitable for a refreshing dip. Boating is also a popular activity, with a designated area for launching boats, making it easy for visitors to explore the expansive lake. Anglers can cast their lines into the lake to catch various fish species, including catfish, bass, and bluegill.

For those who prefer land-based activities, the park offers an extensive network of hiking and biking trails that wind through the lush woodlands and around the lake. Birdwatchers will find ample opportunities to observe local avian species, including ospreys, eagles, and waterfowl.

Wildlife

Buck Creek State Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers. The park’s diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, woodlands, and open water, provide a habitat for an array of wildlife. Birdwatchers can spot migratory birds and waterfowl throughout the year, while the wooded areas are home to deer, raccoons, and various small mammals. The park’s lush vegetation, especially during the spring and summer, adds to its scenic beauty, making it a tranquil retreat for those seeking solace in nature.

5. Indian Lake

kayaking sunset silhouette

Kayaking is a popular activity on Indian Lake.

©Grace Greer/Shutterstock.com

Indian Lake, located in west-central Ohio, is a freshwater paradise renowned for its sandy beaches and recreational opportunities. The water temperature in summer typically ranges from 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27 degrees Celsius), making it inviting for swimmers and water sports enthusiasts.

Beaches

Indian Lake, located in west-central Ohio, is renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches that dot its shoreline, offering visitors a delightful way to enjoy the water. Two of the most popular are the Indian Lake State Park Beach and Old Field Beach. The Indian Lake State Park Beach, with its soft sands and designated swimming areas, provides a family-friendly environment for sunbathing and water play.

Old Field Beach offers a more serene atmosphere, perfect for those seeking a quieter beach experience. Both beaches have well-maintained facilities, including restrooms and picnic areas, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable day by the water.

Recreation

Indian Lake is a recreational haven catering to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts. The lake’s expansive surface area allows for various water-based activities such as boating, water skiing, jet skiing, and fishing. Whether you bring your own boat or rent one from a local marina, the lake provides ample opportunities for aquatic adventures.

Kayaking and paddleboarding are also popular pastimes, with calm waters and scenic views making it ideal for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Anglers can cast their lines in search of species like catfish, bass, and bluegill, making Indian Lake a favored fishing destination. Additionally, the lake features several marinas where you can rent equipment, refuel, and enjoy lakeside dining.

Wildlife

Indian Lake is a hub for water recreation and a thriving ecosystem teeming with wildlife. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of waterfowl and migratory birds throughout the year. Ospreys, herons, and bald eagles are avian residents calling Indian Lake home. The lake’s natural beauty extends beyond its shores, with the surrounding woodlands providing hiking trails and opportunities for wildlife observation.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the nearby Indian Lake Wildlife Area, where wetlands and marshes host diverse fauna, including turtles, frogs, and deer. The serene waters of the lake reflect the changing seasons, making it a picturesque setting year-round.

Indian Lake benefits from conservation efforts to maintain its ecological balance and natural beauty. Local organizations and government agencies work together to protect the lake’s water quality and preserve its surrounding habitats. Initiatives include shoreline restoration projects and programs to mitigate pollution and invasive species. Visitors are encouraged to respect the environment and adhere to leave-no-trace principles, ensuring that future generations can enjoy Indian Lake’s unspoiled beauty.

6. Buckeye Lake

view of Buckeye lakeside houses in Ohio

Buckeye Lake is the perfect small town to own a lakeside home.

©Dan Keck / CC0 – License

Nestled in central Ohio, Buckeye Lake is a unique and historical destination known for its calm waters, charming sandy beaches, and rich cultural heritage. Just a short drive from Colombus, it is the perfect place to escape city life and spend a day enjoying the lake.

Beaches

Buckeye Lake has two small beaches where you can head out for a lovely day near the water. Head to the northern shore to enjoy Crane Lake Beach. On the opposite side of the lake, Fairfield Beach offers a picnic area and a sandy shore perfect for sunbathing or sandcastles. Visitors can also take a dip in the lake’s fresh water.

Activities

Buckeye Lake is known to have very calm waters. This is the perfect spot to enjoy swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding in safe surroundings. With many fish species, anglers can enjoy fishing activities in and around the lake.

Nature lovers will find ample hiking and birdwatching opportunities along the lake’s shorelines and the nearby Buckeye Lake State Park. Additionally, picnic areas, barbecue grills, and shaded spots make it convenient for visitors to enjoy a full day outdoors.

Buckeye Lake is also a top spot for stargazing at night, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to stay and observe the stars.

Wildlife

Buckeye Lake’s ecosystem supports a diverse range of wildlife. Birdwatchers can spot various waterfowl, including herons, ducks, and eagles. The lake’s marshy areas and surrounding woodlands provide a habitat for deer, foxes, and various other mammals. In addition to the terrestrial and avian life, the lake is home to aquatic creatures like turtles, frogs, and various fish species.

The lake’s ecological health is maintained through conservation efforts, including water quality monitoring and wetland preservation. These efforts help ensure that the area’s rich biodiversity continues to thrive, offering a glimpse into the natural world for those who visit.

Summary of the 6 Stunning Lakes in Ohio That Have Sandy Beaches

NameCounties
1Lake ErieAshtabula, Cuyahoga, Erie, Lake, Lorain, Lucas, Ottowa and Sandusky
2Alum Creek LakeDelaware
3Caesar Creek LakeClinton, Greene, and Warren
4Clarence J. Brown ReservoirClark
5Indian LakeLogan
6Buckeye LakeFairfield and Licking

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Showcase Imaging/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Clémence-Maureen is a writer at A-Z animals primarily covering geography, locations and travel. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Southern California, which she earned in 2023. A resident of Hawai'i, Clémence-Maureen enjoys hiking, surfind and volunteering in taro farms.

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