2991 N. Dillard Road
Birdseye Indiana 47513United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Floating cabins and houseboats on a quiet lake offer a simple, relaxing stay along southern Indiana's Patoka Lake.
One of the things that strikes us about Patoka Lake's appeal is the quiet. Managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Indiana's second-largest lake boasts a completely undeveloped shoreline. Not a single home dots the land leading to this clean, 20-foot-deep lake that begs for simple summertime fun. And while you easily could enjoy the lake by going to the beach and grabbing a picnic table at Patoka Lake State Recreation Area, it's best enjoyed from the water, and that's where Patoka Lake Marina and Lodging comes in. Visitors can rent fishing boats, pontoon boats, houseboats and floating cabins to experience Patoka's tranquility firsthand. Several of the pontoon boats (from $139 for a weekend day) have slides off of the back, an irresistible draw for even grown-up travelers who haven't tried it in years (as we can attest!). Marina staffers do a great job explaining how to run and steer the pontoons. They give you a map of the lake, talk for a bit about the buoys and how to avoid them, and send you on your way to the wide-open water and wind. During our few hours out, we saw fishermen in quiet coves, osprey waddling along the shore, families pulling rafts teeming with laughing kids and swimmers near the beach. When we returned, the scents of fresh baked pizza and ice cream were wafting from the marina's store. At night, the floating cabins (from $199) proved a perfect place to unwind. The two-bedroom, one-bath cabins have little kitchens, living rooms, TVs and Wi-Fi, as well as outside gas grills, picnic tables and Adirondack chairs. We sat out every night until twilight had given way to darkness, listening to the cicadas and the water sloshing against the boats tied up at the marina. We felt a million miles from anywhere, but actually were only short drives from French Lick Resort and the cute towns of Jasper and Huntingburg. We'd go back again in a minute.