Real Estate

Iowa’s 10 Best Lakes to Live in 2024

From rolling plains and lush cornfields to scenic rivers and blue lakes, Iowa is home to a wide variety of landscapes. And if you’ve always dreamed of owning a lakefront property, there’s a lake town in Iowa to make your dream come true.

To help you get started, Redfin has put together a list of 1o popular lakes in Iowa to live in this year. From the bustling beaches of Big Spirit Lake to the quiet retreat of Lake Rathbun, there’s a lake town in Iowa for your needs. Let’s jump in and see which lakes made the list.

1. Blackhawk Lake (lake view)

Closest city: Lakeview, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $202,000
Population: 1,100
Homes for Sale in Lakeview, IA
Apartments for rent in Lakeview, IA

First up on our list of best lakes to live in Iowa is Black Hawk Lake. A glacially formed lake, Blackhawk Lake is a tranquil retreat for those seeking a peaceful lakeside lifestyle. The lake is a hub for activities like boating, fishing and enjoying the scenic views at sunrise or sunset. There are several parks in the surrounding area, including Black Hawk State Park, with plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Lake View, with its small-town charm, has a few local restaurants and markets, a public library, and a historical museum.

2. Big Spirit Lake

Closest city: Spirit Lake, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $303,000
Average rent for 1 bedroom: $870
Population: 5,000
Homes for Sale in Spirit Lake, IA
Apartments for rent in Spirit Lake, IA

Big Spirit Lake offers a charming atmosphere in Spirit Lake, a community known for its vibrant outdoor life and welcoming atmosphere. As Iowa’s largest natural lake, it is a paradise for anglers, sailors and boating enthusiasts. The nearby town of Spirit Lake offers all the amenities needed for comfortable lakeside living, including casual dining, unique shops, and community events. The lake is on the border between Iowa and Minnesota, where you can find smaller lakes such as Little Spirit Lake and Lone Lake.

3. Saaf Lake (Saaf Lake)

Closest city: Clear Lake, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $294,500
Population: 7,700
Homes for Sale in Clear Lake, IA
Apartments for rent in Clear Lake, IA

Clear lake Ideal for those who enjoy sailing, fishing, or just taking in the views of calm waters. The area has several parks, such as McIntosh Woods State Park and Clear Lake State Park, which have campgrounds, picnic areas, and beaches. Located in the city of Saaf Lake, this area is a perfect place to enjoy life by water. The vibrant community of Clear Lake is known for its music festivals and historic Surf Ballroom, adding a unique cultural touch to this charming town. Clear Lake is the perfect place for those looking for the perfect combination of Outdoor activities and community events.

4. Coralville Lake and McBride Lake (North Liberty)

Closest city: North Liberty, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $330,000
Population: 22,000
Homes for sale in North Liberty, IA
Apartments for rent in North Liberty, IA

North Liberty is home to stunning Coralville Lake and McBride Lake, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The lakes offer a wide range of activities, from hiking and bird watching to boating and fishing, so there’s something for everyone. North Liberty is a suburb of Iowa City and combines city amenities with natural beauty, striking a balance between urban and outdoor living. In North Liberty, you’ll find plenty of local restaurants, community parks, and easy access to landmarks like Devonian Fossil Gorge and Sugar Bottom Recreation Area. Living in Iowa, these lakes offer many options for enjoying the outdoors.

Lake Okoboji in the town of Okoboji, Iowa

5. East Okoboji Lake and West Okoboji Lake (Okoboji)

Closest city: Okoboji, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $249,000
Population: 750
Homes for sale in Okoboji, IA
Apartments for rent in Okoboji, IA

Just south of Big Spirit Lake is the town of Okoboji. Surrounded by the twin lakes of East Okoboji and West Okoboji lakes, Okoboji is a town that epitomizes the lakeside living experience. These glacial lakes, known for their clear water and recreational opportunities, attract both residents and visitors year-round. Okoboji’s community is vibrant, with arts, entertainment, and the annual University of Okoboji Winter Games. You can visit parks like Pikes Point State Park, Dickinson County Nature Center, and more Gull Point State Park, all great places to enjoy the natural beauty of these lakes.

6. Lake Manoa (Council Bluffs)

Closest city: Council Bluffs, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $199,500
Average rent for 1 bedroom: $1,422
Population: 62,000
Houses for sale in Council Bluffs, IA
Apartments for rent in Council Bluffs, IA

Lake Manawa is a quiet retreat nestled in the bustling town of Council Bluffs. The lake is a favorite among locals due to its tranquil environment and variety of activities like fishing, hiking and picnicking. Lake Manoa State Park has campgrounds, picnic areas and trails – all perfect for enjoying the lake. Council Bluffs is full of history and culture, with museums, art galleries, and historic sites like the Dodge House-Historic General and Union Pacific Railroad Museum. The city’s abundance of green spaces also makes it a great place to find a home in a city with a small-town feel.

7. Red Rock Lake (yellow)

Closest city: Yellow, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $355,000
Average rent for 1 bedroom: $645
Population: 10,000
Homes for Sale in Pella, IA
Apartments for rent in Pella, IA

Lake Red Rock, located near the charming town of Pella, is an attractive destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The lake is a popular spot for boating, fishing and bird watching, providing a peaceful escape. You can find parks around the lake such as Whitebreast Park, Elk Rock State Park, and Cordova Park, which have a variety of activities such as hiking trails and horseback riding. Pella is known for its Dutch heritage and annual Tulip Time Festival, which showcases its community spirit. The city’s historic downtown, beautiful parks, and museums like the Pella Historical Village & Vermeer Windmill, make it an attractive place for lakesiders to live in Iowa.

Silverville Lake in Iowa

8. Rath Bin Lake (Sufiana)

Closest city: Mystic, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $90,000
Population: 320
Homes for Sale in Mystic, IA
Apartments for rent in Mystic, IA

Rathbun Lake, located near the small community of Sufiana, is an ideal destination for those seeking solitude and natural beauty. The lake offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating and camping. You can also find many parks such as Honey Creek State Park, Island View Park, and Buck Creek Park. Sufiana is a charming village with a few local stores, so you’ll be staying in a more remote area. However, the lake is close to Centerville, where there are more shops, restaurants and events throughout the year.

9. Silverville Lake (Johnston)

Closest city: Johnston, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $363,000
Average rent for 1 bedroom: $1,234
Population: 23,000
Homes for sale in Johnston, IA
Apartments for rent in Johnston, IA

Saylorville Lake is a reservoir located near cities such as Polk City, Ankeny and Johnston, making it a central location for those living in Polk County. The lake’s marina, beaches and trails offer endless outdoor activities, whether you’re spending the day on the water or at parks like Jester Park or Big Creek State Park. Johnston is located at the southern end of the river and has a suburban feel with the amenities of a big city. You’ll find plenty of parks, local restaurants, and museums like the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum. It’s also about 10 miles from Des Moines, a great option if you want to stay by the lake, but need to commute into the city.

10. Storm Lake

Closest city: Storm Lake, IA
Median Home Sales Price: $150,000
Population: 11,000
Homes for Sale in Storm Lake, IA
Apartments for rent in Storm Lake, IA

Storm Lake is the last place on our list of lakes to stay in Iowa. There is a lake. Known for its clear waters and recreational opportunities, such as fishing, cross-country skiing, biking, hiking, and boating. The city of Storm Lake has a wide range of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Buena Vista University adds to the city’s lively atmosphere, hosting events throughout the year. If you’re looking for a charming community with spectacular views, Storm Lake is a great lakeside town to call home.

Note, this list is not comprehensive of all lakes in Iowa. Average home sales price data from Redfin Data Center through April 2024. Population data obtained from April 2024 United States Census Bureau.

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