With their versatile personality, crowd-friendly capacities and social-oriented layouts, pontoons boats have become one of the most popular choices for boaters looking to spend quality time on the water. And one of the most popular regions for pontoons in the country is the Midwest - home to literally thousands of lakes just waiting to be enjoyed and explored.
Looking for a new spot to take your family and friends this summer? Here are five of our favorite, pontoon-friendly paradises scattered throughout the Midwest region.
Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota
Located a short drive from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Lake Minnetonka is a favorite of those looking to escape the city, as well as a popular destination for boaters throughout the Midwest.
Boasting 100 miles of shoreline, Minnetonka is unique in that it’s more a collection of individual bays, 30 of them in fact. Relax in a quiet spot, find glassy water for skiing or venture out into more open water to launch inflatable riders off the nearest waves.
Hungry? Don’t miss the legendary Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge or the expansive Maynard’s. Both are Minnetonka favorites.
West Lake Okoboji, Iowa
Part of the five-lake Iowa Great Lakes chain, West Lake Okoboji is renowned for its beautiful blue waters…and plenty of possibilities to enjoy a day out on the water with your family and friends.
With 20 miles of shoreline, it’s a perfect lake to explore, enjoy a variety of watersports, or if you’re in the mood, party. In fact, West Okoboji’s Miller’s Bay is well known for the huge gatherings that take place on summer weekends, with boats of all types rafting up to form floating islands.
Prefer a more peaceful visit? Pull up to one of multiple state parks on the chain, including Pikes Point, Gull Point and Emerson Bay State Recreation Area.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Midwestern boaters are likely quite familiar with Lake of the Ozarks. Thanks to the Netflix hit Ozark, literally millions more have been exposed to the lake’s natural, wooded beauty.
Located smack dab in the middle of the state, Lake of the Ozarks is actually not a natural lake but a manmade reservoir, created by the damming of the Osage River. As such, the lake extends for 93 miles and has a twisting, turning shoreline that offers almost endless possibilities for exploration.
With its immense size, you can always find a peaceful and serene spot on the Lake of the Ozarks, but it’s famous for its party atmosphere in select locations. The aptly named Party Cove regularly attracts more than 3,000 boats — and 8,000 boaters — on lively summer weekends.
Lake Wawasee, Indiana
Tucked in the northeast corner of Indiana between Fort Wayne and South Bend, Lake Wawasee is Indiana’s largest natural lake and an ultra-popular spot for lake lovers, many of whom have built the beautiful homes that rim nearly every inch of the lake’s 25 miles of shoreline.
Wawasee is a pontoon lover’s paradise, with everything from vintage party barges to modern, high horsepower tritoons regularly sharing the lake and pulling into Wawasee’s signature hot spot, the Oakwood Resort’s Pier & Back Porch.
Watersports, fishing, and just plain cruising are all favorite activities. Looking for a spot to escape the bustle on a busy weekend? Check out the tranquility of Johnson’s Bay.
Table Rock Lake Missouri
With its mostly wooded 800-mile shoreline, Table Rock Lake begs boaters to anchor out for the day in their own private cove, take a relaxing cruise, let everyone splash and play on skis or an inflatable…or cut loose with friends at popular Moonshine Beach.
Table Rock’s proximity to the nearby city of Branson means it’s a favorite for those that want to mix things up, enjoying the beauty of the lake one day and catching a live show in town the next.
For on-water dining, check out the Floating Cafe at Indian Point, the Lakeside Restaurant in Branson West, or get some Midwest barbecue at Danna’s BBQ and Burgers at State Park Marina.
Hit the Road (or in this case, the water)!
Whether your travels take you just down the road (or lake) for the weekend, or on that destination vacation you’ve been waiting all winter to enjoy, check out what the Midwest has to offer on the water.
Just be prepared to want to come back for more…