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MOST beautiful lakes near Los Angeles

A Guide to The LA Best Lakes

Lakeside Escapes:
Unveiling the Beauty near Los Angeles


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Updated on Apr 28 2024 5:17am

LA's Best Lakes

Amidst Southern California's picturesque landscapes, the lakes near Los Angeles offer serene escapes and vibrant recreational experiences, enticing adventurers with their pristine waters and scenic surroundings.

Amidst the rugged beauty of Southern California, the best lakes near Los Angeles offer a blend of breathtaking scenery and thrilling outdoor adventures. From the iconic shores of Big Bear Lake, framed by the San Bernardino Mountains and immortalized in Hollywood classics, to the tranquil waters of Diamond Valley Lake, where serenity meets the thrill of water sports reminiscent of scenes from "The Notebook," each destination beckons with its unique charm. Cachuma Lake, cradled by the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains, offers a serene mountain escape with ample camping and kayaking opportunities, while Lake Casitas, embraced by the Los Padres National Forest, invites visitors to indulge in hiking and fishing amidst awe-inspiring vistas. Lake Isabella emerges as a picturesque oasis for adventurers seeking respite from the city, boasting a myriad of water sports and scenic trails. Closer to home, Castaic Lake and Pyramid Lake stand as beacons of natural beauty and recreation, their tranquil waters offering an array of activities from picnicking to thrilling water sports, all against the backdrop of Hollywood's cinematic allure. Whether seeking a tranquil retreat or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, these lakes near Los Angeles promise unforgettable experiences for nature lovers and thrill-seekers.

Great LA Lakes
Big Bear Lake, California
Big Bear Lake, California
Big Bear Lake in Southern California

Big Bear Lake - San Bernardino

Surrounded by the towering pines of the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake stands as a captivating jewel of outdoor recreation in Southern California. Situated between the urban sprawl of Los Angeles and the desert landscapes of Barstow and Twentynine Palms, this snow-fed reservoir offers a haven for adventure seekers at an elevation exceeding 6,700 feet. Echoing scenes reminiscent of Hollywood classics like "Gone with the Wind," "Magnolia," "WarGames," "The Insider," "Space Jam," "The American President," "The Parent Trap" (1961), "City of Angels," "The Great Race" (1965), and "Paint Your Wagon" (1969), Big Bear Lake has served as a picturesque backdrop for numerous film productions over the years. Additionally, it has featured in TV series such as "H.R. Pufnstuf," "MacGyver," and "Hill Street Blues." From boating and skiing to kayaking and zip-lining, the array of activities available here ensures there's never a dull moment, with options for both summer and winter enthusiasts alike. Whether embarking on a leisurely paddle boat ride or carving through fresh powder on the slopes, visitors to Big Bear Lake are treated to an unforgettable blend of natural beauty and thrilling adventures, making it a quintessential destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.


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Diamond Valley Lake
Diamond Valley Lake, Riverside County
Diamond Valley Lake south of Hemet

Diamond Valley Lake - Riverside County

Diamond Valley Lake shines as the "Jewel" of the region, drawing in visitors with its expansive waters and stunning surroundings. As one of Southern California's largest human-made reservoirs, it serves as a haven for boating enthusiasts, echoing scenes reminiscent of "The Notebook" as couples cruise along its tranquil surface. Positioned near Hemet, this 4,860-acre reservoir offers a plethora of recreational activities, inviting visitors to partake in the joys of "The Great Outdoors" through boating, camping, hiking, and more. Whether one seeks the adrenaline rush of water sports or the serenity of a leisurely picnic by the shore, Diamond Valley Lake promises an unforgettable escape into nature's embrace.


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Cachuma Lake, California
Cachuma Lake, Santa Barbara, California
Cachuma Lake in Southern California

Cachuma Lake - Santa Barbara County

Cachuma Lake stands as a serene mountain escape, beckoning travelers with its breathtaking vistas and abundant recreational opportunities. Cradled by the majestic Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains, this idyllic retreat, reminiscent of scenes from "The Sound of Music," offers a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Located in the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley, just a short drive from Solvang and Santa Barbara, Cachuma Lake boasts over 400 pristine campsites, each adorned with fire pit rings and picnic tables, ideal for both tent camping and RV excursions. Visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings through activities such as hiking, kayaking, and leisurely lake cruises, evoking the spirit of adventure portrayed in "Generation Gap," a film that once graced these shores. For those seeking a unique lodging experience, the option to stay in one of the charming yurts nestled within the recreational area adds an extra touch of allure to this mountain oasis. With a full range of boat and kayak rentals available, Cachuma Lake promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature's splendor.


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Lake Casitas, California
Lake Casitas, Ventura, California
Lake Casitas in Southern California

Lake Casitas - Ventura

Amidst the rugged beauty of Ventura, California, lies Lake Casitas, a picturesque 2,700-acre expanse bordered by imposing mountain ranges. Surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Los Padres National Forest, Lake Casitas offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure amidst breathtaking scenery. With its winding coves and captivating island, the landscape evokes scenes reminiscent of the awe-inspiring vistas portrayed in "Holes." Set against the backdrop of the Laguna Ridge of the Santa Ynez Mountains, the views from Lake Casitas inspire wonder and awe in equal measure. Within the recreation area, visitors can indulge in a variety of amenities, including a snack bar, boat and bike rentals, and a convenient grocery store, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience. While swimming in the lake is prohibited, there's no shortage of activities to enjoy, from camping and picnicking to fishing and biking, making Lake Casitas an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.


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Lake Isabella, Kern County, California
Lake Isabella, Southern Sierra Nevada, California
Lake Isabella, Sequoia National Forest in Southern California

Lake Isabella - Kern County

Lake Isabella emerges as a picturesque oasis, spanning 11,400 surface acres, beckoning adventurers from far and wide to its serene shores. This reservoir, reminiscent of cinematic landscapes, serves as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking respite from the bustle of nearby Los Angeles. Whether you're drawn to the thrill of water sports like skiing and jet-skiing or prefer the tranquility of hiking and camping, Lake Isabella offers an array of activities to suit every taste. Moreover, with summer winds reaching speeds of 35-50 miles per hour, it becomes a playground for windsurfers and kite-boarders, echoing the adventurous spirit immortalized in the tales of "California's Gold".


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Castaic Lake, Los Angeles County, California
Castaic Lake, Sierra Pelona Mountains, California
Castaic Lake in Southern California

Castaic Lake - Los Angeles

Castaic Lake, a stunning state water reservoir just north of Santa Clarita off Interstate 5 Freeway, stands as a beacon of natural beauty and recreational opportunities in Los Angeles, California. Boasting over 11,000 acres, Castaic Lake State Recreation Area is not only one of the largest but also one of the most breathtaking state water project reservoirs in the state. Echoing scenes reminiscent of Hollywood blockbusters like "War of the Worlds" (2005) and "Midway" (1976), the lake beckons visitors with its tranquil waters and expansive surroundings. From picnicking under the shade of towering trees to thrilling water sports like jet skiing and wakeboarding, the park offers a myriad of amenities and activities to suit every taste. Additionally, television shows like "Fear Factor," "Emergency!," and "The Rockford Files" have captured the essence of adventure and drama against the backdrop of Castaic Lake's picturesque landscape. Whether enjoying a serene hike along its scenic trails or participating in exciting events like Movies at the Lake or Night Float Tube Fishing, Castaic Lake promises an unforgettable escape into nature's embrace.


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Pyramid Lake, San Emigdio Mountains, California
Pyramid Lake, LA County, California
Pyramid Lake in Southern California

Pyramid Lake - Los Angeles

Pyramid Lake, cradled within the rugged canyons of Los Angeles, California, unveils its majestic beauty across 21 miles of shoreline and 1,360 acres of sparkling surface area. Evoking scenes reminiscent of epic adventures like "The Beastmaster," this tranquil oasis offers a playground for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. From the thrill of jet skiing and water skiing to the tranquility of canoeing and fishing, Pyramid Lake caters to a wide array of outdoor pursuits against the backdrop of steep canyons and expansive waterways. Television series such as "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." have also captured the allure of this scenic locale, showcasing its dramatic vistas and adventurous spirit. Whether embarking on a leisurely paddleboarding excursion at Vaquero Beach or delving into the depths of its crystal-clear waters for a refreshing swim, Pyramid Lake promises an unforgettable escape into the heart of nature's grandeur.


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Best Outdoor Activities in Los Angeles
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