There are thousands of lakes across the nation, with a variety of ways to enjoy them. From the chilly shores of the Great Lakes to the more temperate waters of the South, you can find a lake for any activity you like, such as fishing, boating, kayaking, or wakeboarding.

With so many lakes to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to go. So, we narrowed the field by having a panel of experts nominate their 20 favorite lakes across three categories. Then, readers voted for their top picks over a period of four weeks – and the results are in.

Click on each category below to see the full winners list:

Best Lake: Lake Cumberland in Kentucky

Lake Cumberland has been voted by our readers as the best lake in the nation — Photo courtesy of Lake Cumberland Tourism

The southern reaches of Kentucky play host to Lake Cumberland, a 102-square-mile reservoir that’s split between five counties. Though originally created as a source of hydroelectric power, the body of water has become a top spot for outdoor recreation over the years, providing ample opportunity for both boating and fishing.

Full list of winners: Best Lake »

Best Lake for Swimming: Lake Ouachita in Arkansas

Swimmers in the know head to Lake OuachitaSwimmers in the know head to Lake Ouachita — Photo courtesy of EvgeniiAnd // Getty Images

Created in the 1950s as a source of hydroelectric power, Lake Ouachita doubles as a massive outdoor recreation spot, spanning 40,000 acres just outside the city of Hot Springs. While boaters and fishers can be found in abundance across the lake, it’s also a haven for swimming and scuba diving.

Full list of winners: Best Lake for Swimming »

Best Lake for Water Sports: Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks is the place to be for water sportsLake of the Ozarks is the place to be for water sports — Photo courtesy of Lake of the Ozarks CVB

Missouri’s Ozarks are renowned for their spectacular natural beauty, and the aptly named Lake of the Ozarks is a top destination for some warm-weather outdoor adventure. There are over 1,100 miles of shoreline to explore across the region, inviting visitors to swim, kayak and even cruise up to Party Cove, an iconic destination that’s become famous for its raucous gatherings.

Full list of winners: Best Lake for Water Sports »

Congratulations to all these winning nominees! Remember to visit daily to vote in our Readers’ Choice contests.

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