Top 10 Beautiful Lakes in Tennessee for Vacation with Families

Tennessee is home to several beautiful lakes, offering various recreational activities and stunning views. The state features a diverse landscape that includes mountains, valleys, fertile plains, and winding rivers. You can include a map of the Lakes in Tennessee for your trip planning.

Here are some notable lakes in Tennessee:

1. Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake - Beautiful lakes in Tennessee
Kentucky Lake – Beautiful lakes in Tennessee

Kentucky Lake is a large reservoir located along the western border of the state of Tennessee and the southwestern border of the state of Kentucky in the United States. It is formed by the Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River and is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world in terms of surface area. The lake covers approximately 160,300 acres (650 square kilometers) and has more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) of shoreline.
Kentucky Lake is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of recreational activities such as fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, camping, hiking, and birdwatching. Kentucky Lake hosts numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year.
There are several resorts, campgrounds, and marinas along the shores of Kentucky Lake that cater to tourists and visitors, providing amenities and services for a comfortable stay and easy access to the water.

2. Norris Lake

Norris Lake - Vacation in Tennessee
Norris Lake – Vacation in Tennessee

Norris Lake is situated in northeastern Tennessee, near the town of Norris and not far from Knoxville. The Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the river and created the lake in 1936 to control flooding, provide electric power, and store water for nearby residents. Today Lake Norris is famous as a popular recreation area for families. Several conservation lands surround the lake, including Cove Creek Wildlife Management Area, Chuck Swan State Forest, and Norris Dam State Park.
Norris Lake is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and offers a wide range of activities, including fishing, boating, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The lake’s clear waters and diverse fish population make it a favorite spot for anglers.
If you want to swim over at Norris Lake, head over to Loyston Point Recreation Area. This recreation area features a swimming beach, heated shower, flush toilets, picnic tables, grills, and a small playground.

3. Cherokee Lake

Cherokee Lake - Best Lakes in Tennessee
Cherokee Lake – Best Lakes in Tennessee

Cherokee Lake is another notable reservoir located in eastern Tennessee. It was formed by the Holston River and is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system of lakes. Formed by the construction of the Cherokee Dam in 1942. The dam serves multiple purposes, including flood control, hydropower generation, and recreational benefits.
Cherokee Lake is a favorite spot for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for fishing, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, camping, and boating. The lake is known for its excellent fishing, especially for bass, crappie, and catfish.

4. Douglas Lake

Douglas Lake - Big Lakes in Tennessee
Douglas Lake – Big Lakes in Tennessee

Douglas Lake is one of the many TVA lakes in East Tennessee. This Lake is located in eastern Tennessee, near the town of Dandridge, and is not far from the city of Knoxville. Douglas Lake is well known for fishing and serves as a lovely spot for water-based activities such as water skiing and swimming.
There are several lakeside parks and campgrounds around Douglas Lake that offer amenities like boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, and camping sites, making it an excellent place for outdoor activities and family gatherings.

5. Center Hill Lake

Sunset in Center Hill Lake Tennessee
Sunset in Center Hill Lake Tennessee

Center Hill Lake is considered one of the best lakes located in the central part of Tennessee, near the town of Smithville. It is not far from popular cities like Nashville and Cookeville. The lake covers approximately 18,200 acres and has over 400 miles of shoreline.
The Center Hill Dam was completed in the 1950s as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. The dam serves various purposes, including flood control, power generation, and water supply.
The lake’s deep and clear waters make it a great spot for fishing, particularly for bass, walleye, and trout. Other activities in this lake such as boating, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming.
Center Hill Lake also know as a unique feature of floating houses or houseboats. These floating properties offer a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors who want to stay right on the water.

6. Percy Priest Lake

J Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee
J Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee

Percy Priest Lake is a reservoir located in central Tennessee near the city of Nashville, making it easily accessible for residents and tourists in the region. This artificial lake has a surface area that covers approximately 14,200 acres and measures 42 miles long.
Nashville residents and visitors frequent the lake in summer for fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, sailing, and picnicking. Some popular swimming areas on the lake include Anderson Road Recreation Area, Nashville Shores, and Cook Day Use Area.
There are several parks and recreation areas around the lake, offering amenities for family-friendly activities such as boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, campgrounds, and marinas.

7. Watts Bar Lake

Watts Bar Lake in Eastern Tennessee
Watts Bar Lake in Eastern Tennessee

Watts Bar Lake is situated in eastern Tennessee midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga. It is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system of lakes made in the year 1942.
The lake features several marinas and boat ramps that provide easy access to the water for boaters and water sports enthusiasts.
Popular recreation such as boating, sailing, jet skiing, tubing, water skiing, knee boarding, swimming, fishing, and more. With mostly mild temperatures year-round many of these activities can be enjoyed all year long. The lake’s waters are teeming with various fish species, making it a favorite destination for anglers.

8. Reelfoot Lake – Beautiful Natural Lake in Tennessee

Reelfoot Lake - Natural Lake in Tennessee
Reelfoot Lake – Natural Lake in Tennessee

Reelfoot Lake is a unique natural lake located in the northwest corner of Tennessee, near the borders with Kentucky and Missouri. Unlike many other lakes in the region, Reelfoot Lake was not formed by a dam but rather by a series of earthquakes that occurred in the early 19th century. These earthquakes caused the ground to sink, creating a shallow, swampy lake with a fascinating history and abundant wildlife such as bald eagles, and ospreys.
This lake has a surface area that covers approximately 15,000 acres and is home to a variety of fish, such as crappie, bass, and catfish, making it a popular spot for fishing.
The best things to do in Reelfoot Lake such as fishing, boating, birdwatching, kayaking, camping, and wildlife photography. The lake’s quiet and tranquil atmosphere makes it a peaceful retreat for those seeking to connect with nature.
The lake is dotted with beautiful bald cypress trees, creating an otherworldly landscape that attracts photographers and nature enthusiasts.

9. Old Hickory Lake

Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee
Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee

Old Hickory Lake is situated in northern Tennessee, with parts of the lake extending into Davidson, Wilson, Sumner, and Trousdale counties. It is not far from the city of Nashville.
This Lake offers various recreational activities, including fishing, boating, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, and swimming.
The lake hosts various fishing tournaments throughout the year, attracting anglers who come to test their skills on the lake’s abundant fish population. A world record 25-pound walleye was caught here in 1960.

10. Tims Ford Lake

Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee
Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee

Tims Ford Lake is situated in southern Middle Tennessee, near the towns of Winchester, Tullahoma, and Lynchburg. It is approximately 65 miles southeast of Nashville. The lake is named after an early settler in the region, Timothy Ford.
Tims Ford Lake is a popular destination for outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, water skiing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The lake’s waters are known for their clarity, making it a favorite spot for swimming and snorkeling.
This lake has six islands, including Leatherwood Island, Big Island, Little Island, Maple Bend Island, Goose Island, and Devil’s Step Island. It’s also home to the 3,546-acre Tims Ford State Park.
This is a huge fishing destination because in this lake there are many fish such as smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, and walleye.

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