The best lakes in Alabama

Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, but Alabama’s beautiful waterways might rival the Midwestern state. In the south we live for a sea weekend. All year round we dream of those hot summer days when we can spend hours non-stop on the water – fishing from the dock, swimming in the cool lake and whizzing around on jet skis. And the piece of resistance from the ideal lake weekend? A pontoon cruise at sunset. Bonus points if it comes with a bottle of wine, some pimiento cheese, and your music just loud enough. If you get a weekend invitation to a friend’s lake house, or are lucky enough to own your own, then pack your travel bag and hit the road! If not, no problem. There are many waterfront inns and homes for rent where you can plan your next lakeside vacation. Ready to dive in? Here are eight of our favorite lakes in Alabama.

Lewis Smith Lake

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Better known as Smith Lake, this 21,000-acre stunning lake on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River is known for being one of Alabama’s cleanest, clearest lakes. So for the skeptical swimmers, this is the perfect place to take the plunge. One of the best places to do this is Indian Head Rock, a large outcrop popular with divers. To stay in the middle of the action, visit Smith Lake Park, a massive park with pools, campgrounds, a beach, and year-round events.

Lake Martin

Photo: Michael Hanson

One of America’s largest man-made lakes, Lake Martin is a favorite second home for many Alabamans looking for a waterfront getaway. Located in and around Alexander City, the 44,000-acre lake is surrounded by a forested shoreline, making it a great place to spot birds and other native wildlife. When you go, do as the locals do and dine at casual lakefront restaurant Kowaliga or treat yourself to upscale Southern cuisine at SpringHouse.

Logan Martin Lake

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The 280-mile Coosa River traverses the eastern half of Alabama, spawning lakes in all directions. One of its most popular outlets is Logan Martin Lake, which is 30 miles east of Birmingham. Logan Martin Lake is a center for water recreation in many places due to its depth of more than 100 feet. The lake is particularly popular with bass fishermen who love exploring the lake’s abundance of inlets and tributaries.

Guntersville Lake

Lake Guntersville State Park.

Lake Guntersville State Park /Facebook

Alabama’s largest lake, Guntersville Lake, is approximately 69,000 acres. Located in Northeast Alabama, the lake is best visited at Lake Guntersville State Park, where you can do everything from fishing and boating to water skiing, kayaking and hiking. The park is right down the street from charming downtown Guntersville, where you might want to spend an afternoon shopping and exploring the local dining scene.

Pickwick Lake

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Located in three states, Pickwick Lake joins Yellowhammer State at Florence. The 80 km long lake is known for its excellent fishing for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and mock bass, with the center of activity being in the Shoals section of the lake, which is just downstream of Wilson Dam to the end of Seven-Mile Island.

lay lake

Tara Massouleh McCay

This 12,000-acre reservoir is smaller than many other lakes in Alabama, but just as beautiful. Located just 35 minutes south of Birmingham, the lake is a popular spot for day trippers and weekend visitors alike. With seven public areas, five of which have docks for boats, there’s plenty of room to explore the well-stocked lake.

white lake

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Often referred to as the “Crappie Capital of the World,” Weiss Lake is one of the best spots in the country for fishing for crappie and largemouth bass. The 30,000-acre lake is formed by the Chattanooga River, Coosa River, and Little River. Its shores are dotted with campgrounds, motels, and rental cabins, giving you plenty of options to set up as a home base.

Tuscaloosa Lake

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This lake was created in 1970 by the damming of the North River in west-central Alabama. Since then it has been a popular destination for all types of water recreation. From fishing and boating to swimming and tubing, the 5,800-acre lake offers plenty of space to roam. Famed Alabama soccer coach Nick Saban owns a home on the lake, so don’t be surprised if you see him driving by during the off-season!