The 5 Best Indiana Lakes For Swimming

Lake Michigan, Michigan City, Indiana
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Written by Kyler Matthews

Updated: May 30, 2023

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So, you find yourself in the middle of Indiana this summer (visiting with family and friends of course), and you’re looking for the best place to relax and go swimming for the day. The question is, where is the best place to go? What are the best lakes for swimming in the state of Indiana?

Perhaps you’ve never been to Indiana before, or maybe you’re looking for something new. No matter your position, in this article we’ll cover some of the best lakes for you to go swimming in the great state of Indiana. That way, you can spend less time online and more time on (or rather in) the lake!

Indiana Dunes National Park at Lake Michigan has numerous beaches to choose from.

Introducing the top lakes for swimming in Indiana:

Now let’s get to reviewing them!

White Rock Park

Located just 45 minutes from Indianapolis in St. Paul, White Rock Park caters to those particularly adventurous individuals out there living among us — those who love the art of cliff jumping in particular. The main lake has four different cliff-jumping spots with different heights. The tallest is 25 feet — which is 12 feet higher than I’m comfortable jumping from, personally. But it is a great lake for those who enjoy jumping off the cliff’s sides.

You can also try the rope swing or the two nice zip lines. If you enjoy scuba diving, you can also dive deep down into the lake for all kinds of underwater discoveries, including a motorcycle, a car, a boat, and a school bus! However, if you’d rather watch or just drop into the water without the thrilling height, there are also three stationed docks and six floating docks scattered throughout the lake. Many visitors enjoy floating along the lake in a raft or tube. White Rock Park also has two additional fishing lakes and areas for camping.

man jumping from cliff

One of the highlights of swimming at White Rock Park is the many different cliff-jumping opportunities.

©Benjamin King/

Monroe Lake

One of the largest lakes (if not the largest lake) in Indiana is Monroe Lake. This lake is not a naturally occurring body of water, but a man-made reservoir near Bloomington. It has a surface area that almost reaches 11,000 acres and several protected forest and wilderness areas. You can enjoy swimming in the lake in the Fairfax Recreation Area and the Paynetown Recreation Area from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are even showers and restrooms in these areas so you can go swimming and then clean up for a picnic!

Perhaps because of its size, there are also many different things to do at (or on) the lake other than swimming. This makes it a great spot for larger groups or families who have to accommodate different interests within a group setting. Some of these different things include camping, fishing, boating and hiking, and just hanging out on the beach. Monroe Lake has three amazing beaches for swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, and playing frisbee or volleyball. The lake also has nine different launch ramps and three places for renting boats. You can rent speed boats, canoes kayaks, paddleboards, pontoons, fishing boats, tubes, skis, wakeboards, and many other types of watersport equipment.

Monroe Lake Bloomington Indiana

Monroe Lake is 10 miles outside of Bloomington, Indiana.

©Dawson Tang/

Patoka Lake

One of the best recreational areas in southern Indiana is Patoka Lake. With 8,800 acres, 10 boat ramps, and two marinas, there is lots of fun to be had here. The water is clean and clear, and the lake is usually not very crowded. Patoka Lake also has pretty smooth water, which is great for fishing, waterskiing, and swimming. It is also very scenic, with forested areas and lots of wildlife, including ospreys, bald eagles, and freshwater jellyfish. There are designated beaches for swimming at Patoka Lake, but there are no lifeguards on duty. If you want to do more than just swim at Patoka Lake, there are several campground areas, cabin rentals, hiking trails, fishing, and a nature center.

Sunset with cloudy sky viewed from the shore of Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake offers a beautiful recreational area in Indiana.

Image: Andrew de Bie, Shutterstock

©Andrew de Bie/

Brookville Lake

Located at the center of the Whitewater River Valley, Brookville Lake is one of the most scenic lakes in Indiana. It’s a great lake for swimming and boating, and there are playgrounds and campgrounds close by. The lake is over 5,000 acres and has four marinas and 10 boating ramps. There are also several hiking trails for exploring near the lake, tons of historical landmarks, a few prehistoric burial grounds, and ancient fossils from the Ordovician era.

Much of the area around the lake is also protected by the federal government for wildlife. Brookville Lake is one of the few places where walleye fish grow big enough for fisheries biologists to carefully harvest eggs for other lakes in Indiana.

Boating In Indiana - Boating on Brookville Lake in Indiana, USA.

Brookville Lake is picturesque and a great place to go swimming and boating.

Image: Anne Kitzman, Shutterstock

©Anne Kitzman/

Lake Michigan’s Many Indiana Beaches

Within the great state of Indiana, there is a behemoth natural body of water called Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is just over 300 miles long and 118 miles wide (at its widest point). If you think about it, that’s a massive lake body of naturally occurring freshwater! And in fact, Lake Michigan is only one of the five Great Lakes. There are 45 miles of Lake Michigan in Indiana with many beaches, parks, and a national park.

The waters of Lake Michigan are crystal-clear, but you should also prepare and understand the rip currents found here. These bad boys can be deadly, even for the most experienced swimmers. If you come across any “Rip Current Warning” signs along Lake Michigan or see some massive crashing waves, you probably shouldn’t go in the water.

Here are some of the best beaches for swimming at Lake Michigan in Indiana:

Lake Michigan at Washington Park

With warm sandy beaches and the cool water of Lake Michigan, Washington Park is a great place to go for a swim. The beach has lifeguards on duty on Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Washington Park covers 99 acres with beautiful scenery, so you can enjoy a walk along the beach, relax in the sun, build sandcastles, and take a boat out on the lake. In addition, Washington Park is located in Michigan City with many other fun activities available close by. There are lots of great places to go to for dinner, plenty of stores and boutiques for shopping, and even a zoo.

Views of the Michigan City Lighthouse from Washington Park, Michigan City Indiana.

There is so much to do at Washington Park. You can go swimming in the morning, grab some lunch at a bistro, and visit the zoo in the afternoon!

Image: Jaclyn Novak, Shutterstock

©Jaclyn Novak/

Lake Michigan At Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is an oasis of sandy shorelines along Lake Michigan’s clear waters. Here are some of the park’s best beaches for swimming in Lake Michigan:

  • West Beach is the only part of Lake Michigan in Indiana that has lifeguards (but only from Memorial Day to Labor Day). You can enjoy a crisp and refreshing swim in the cool waters of Lake Michigan here, and relax along the large stretch of sandy beach. The water of Lake Michigan is super clear with tons of stunning views, and West Beach also has public restrooms. There are lots of hiking trails on the sand dunes that offer breathtaking views of the lake.
  • Porter Beach is a great place to swim and splash around in Lake Michigan. It also has public bathrooms as well as many sand dunes for exploring and bird watching. There are no lifeguards at this beach.
  • Dunbar Beach has seasonal restrooms available and a small parking lot. The swimming here is beautiful, but there are no lifeguards. In addition to swimming, there are five historic homes you can see from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, including the flamingo-pink Florida Tropical House and the all-glass House of Tomorrow.
  • Central Avenue Beach does not have any lifeguards, but there are seasonal restrooms. In addition to swimming, this beach is great for hiking with a sand-buried forest and fields of flowers, woodlands, and marshes. If you visit during the spring or summer, you might be able to watch the bank swallows nesting in the sand dunes.
  • The water of Lake Michigan at Kemil Beach is as blue as any you’ll see in Indiana. It is open all year long and has public restrooms, but there are no lifeguards. For those who prefer to stay out of the water, there are many scenic hikes along the stunning natural landscape here as well.
indiana dunes national park

The Indiana Dunes National Park has tons of sand dunes along the beaches of Lake Michigan.

©Delmas Lehman/

Summary Of The 5 Best Indiana Lakes For Swimming

1White Rock ParkSt. Paul
2Monroe Lakenear Bloomington
3Patoka LakeSouth of the towns of French Lick and West Baden
4Brookville LakeWhitewater River Valley
5Lake MichiganNorthwest part of the state

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About the Author

My education is in psychology and social anthropology, and I love watching nature documentaries. I have an overall passion for learning about wildlife wherever I can — both human and animal cultures alike.

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