With the Berkshire Hills to the west, the Connecticut River Valley in the center, and the coastal plain and Cape Cod to the east, Massachusetts offers a variety of scenic backdrops for its abundant lakes. When you stay at one of many lakeside Massachusetts vacation rentals, you can enjoy easy access to the water for boating, fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities. Without further ado, here are the best lakes in the state of Massachusetts.

1. Lake Onota

Lake Onota
Source: Flickr/gigi_nyc

Beautiful Lake Onota lies on the western side of the city of Pittsfield in western Massachusetts near the border with New York. On the east side of the lake is Burbank Park, which has a public swimming beach, a picnic area, grills, a fishing pier, and a public boat launch. At the lakeside, Onota Boat Livery rents sport boats, fishing boats, kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats. The shop also stocks an array of fishing tackle to help you angle for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, and other species. Fishing derbies occur frequently throughout the year.

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2. Lake Cochituate

Lake Cochituate
Source: Flickr/Corey Leopold

Lake Cochituate is in the town of Natick, situated a few miles west of the city of Boston in eastern Massachusetts. The lake is comprised of three sections designated North Pond, Middle Pond, and South Pond. All three sections are part of Cochituate State Park, which has swimming areas, picnic tables and grills, a boat ramp, and a scenic hiking path called the Snake Brook Trail. Boating is popular on the three ponds, but only South Pond allows sports such as water skiing and wakeboarding. Natick Boathouse rents sailboats, canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboards.

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3. Lake Quannapowitt

Lake Quannapowitt
Source: Flickr/kbrookes

Located north of Boston in the town of Wakefield in northeastern Massachusetts, Lake Quannapowitt features a peaceful encircling four-mile walking and cycling path interspersed with parks, flowerbeds, and benches. At the town common beside the lake is a historic bandstand from the 1800s. The lakeside often is the site of festivals, celebrations, marathon races, and other activities. Sailing and boating on the lake are popular activities, and Wakefield Boathouse rents kayaks, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboards.

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4. Spy Pond

spy pond
Source: Flickr/ptwo

Beautiful Spy Pond lies in the town of Arlington at the northeast edge of Boston in eastern Massachusetts. Spy Pond Park on the north shore has a playground, a picnic area, and a boat ramp for canoes and kayaks. Rent canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards from the Arlington Recreational Department at Pond Lane in Spy Pond Park. In the midst of Spy Pond is two-acre Elizabeth Island, an undeveloped tract with a small boat landing and walking paths for observing Canadian Geese, swans, ducks, and other wildlife. Grab some gear at Arlington Bait and Tackle to fish for species such as largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, carp, and crappie. Adjacent to the pond is the Minuteman Bikeway, a ten-mile scenic and historic cycling trail. The Bike Stop in Arlington rents bicycles for use on the trail.

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5. Crystal Lake

crystal lake
Source: Flickr/Aurélia, Luc, Jennifer and Philippe Le Hégaret

Charming Crystal Lake sits within the city of Newton southeast of Boston in eastern Massachusetts. On the southwest end is Crystal Lake Park, which has a swimming beach, benches for contemplating the tranquil lake, and pleasant walkways. Adjoining the park is Lewiston Cove, where you can observe bird species such as great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, cormorants, ospreys, and Canadian geese. Cronin Cove on the north side has a boat launch for hand-carried boats. Pick up the gear you need at Bait Bucket Fishing Tackle in nearby Waltham, and fish for rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, pickerel, and bluegill on Crystal Lake.

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6. Lake Cochichewick

birds in water
Source: Flickr/spablab

Lake Cochichewick lies in North Andover in northeastern Massachusetts near the border with New Hampshire. At the southeastern end of the lake is a boat launch for small motorboats, rowboats, canoes, and kayaks. The lake’s fish population includes largemouth bass, yellow perch, and pickerel, and you can pick up gear at OJ’s Fishing Tackle and Bait Shop in Andover. Weir Hill Reservation, which sits on a ridge above the western shore of the lake, has hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails offering a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding countryside.

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7. Quabbin Reservoir

quabbin reservoir
Source: Flickr/Roger LeJeune

Located in the center of Massachusetts, Quabbin Reservoir, the largest inland body of water in the state, covers almost 39 square miles of area. At the south end is Quabbin Park, which includes a visitor center, hiking trails, an observation tower, and a lookout point with panoramic views of the massive lake and the forested hills around it. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation rents boats with motors and rowboats at boat launching sites for fishing on the lake. Alternatively, fish from the shore for trout, salmon, and other species.

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8. Big Cliff Pond

nickerson state park lake
Source: Flickr/Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Big Cliff Pond is the largest in a cluster of ponds that lie within Nickerson State Park on the east side of Cape Cod in southeastern Massachusetts. Other nearby ponds include Flax Pond, Higgins Pond, Eel Pond, and Little Cliff Pond. The beach at Big Cliff Pond is great for swimming and sunbathing. The park also has a nature center, a playground, and a boat ramp. You can fish for trout from a boat or on the shore. Rent bicycles at nearby Brewster Bike, and explore the miles of trails through the forested areas around the ponds.

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9. Walden Pond

walden pond
Source: Flickr/ashokboghani

Walden Pond, made famous through the literary memoir by Henry David Thoreau and designated as a National Historic Landmark, is in the town of Concord, which is northwest of Boston in eastern Massachusetts. Walden Pond State Reservation surrounds the pond. Don’t miss a visit to a replica of Thoreau’s original cabin on the pond’s north end. Popular activities include fishing and walking around the pond on the pleasant footpaths. If you want to go boating on the pond, Paddle Boston rents and delivers canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.

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10. Lake Attitash

lake attitash
Source: Flickr/David Power

Beautiful Lake Attitash lies between the towns of Merrimac and Amesbury in the extreme northeastern corner of Massachusetts. On the southwest shore, Indian Head Park in Merrimac has a pleasant swimming beach. The State Boat Ramp in Merrimac offers access to the lake. Obtain the gear you need at Crossroads Bait and Tackle in nearby Salisbury to angle for northern pike, largemouth bass, white perch, and chain pickerel.

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