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The best lakes in California

(CNN) — California, lake country?

While known for its Pacific Ocean beaches and chic coastal towns, the Golden State is also home to many pristine lakes and reservoirs where visitors can soak up the sun and cool off.

Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake is located just north of Redding, California.

Shasta Lake is located just north of Redding, California.

Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in California at 30,000 acres wide. The lake is in Northern California and is a three and a half hour drive from San Francisco. With 370 miles of shoreline, it's no surprise renting a houseboat is a popular activity.

Depending on their location, visitors can bask in the view of Mt. Shasta, which has snow on its peak year-round. Shasta Dam on the west side of the lake is was built between 1938 and 1945 as part of the Central Valley Project.

Castaic Lake

Castaic Lake is located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains.

Castaic Lake is located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains.

Brian Baer/Courtesy of California State Parks, 2019

Castaic Lake is located northeast of Los Angeles, so it is the perfect outdoor escape from the smoggy city. There are two main areas, the Upper and Lower lakes, and each one has its own set of activities.

The Lower lake is reserved for canoeing, non-power boating and swimming from mid-May to mid-September. The Upper lake is where power boats are allowed, along with other activities such as fishing and Jet Skis.

Big Bear Lake

Visitors can hike Gray's Peak Trail to see sweeping views of the lake.

Visitors can hike Gray's Peak Trail to see sweeping views of the lake.

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Big Bear Lake is another great option for those wanting to take a day trip from Los Angeles. It takes only two hours to get there from downtown Los Angeles. Animal lovers can stop by the Big Bear Alpine Zoo to get an up-close look at the lake's namesake.

The lake also has many hiking and biking trails along with plenty of fishing spots. Visitors can rent boats and gear at half a dozen marinas around the lake's edge.

Lake Havasu

California is located on the western side of Lake Havasu.

California is located on the western side of Lake Havasu.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Lake Havasu is split along the border of California and Arizona and is an oasis in the desert. It's a five hour drive from Los Angeles and a two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas. Visitors can fish or go boating on the lake that was formed from the Colorado River.

Lake Havasu City sits on the Arizona side of the lake and has the original London Bridge, which was shipped brick-by-brick from England. They had to number the bricks to reconstruct it correctly, and some of the numbering can still be seen today.

Mono Lake

Tufa formations rise up out of Lake Mono.

Tufa formations rise up out of Lake Mono.

Citizens of the Planet/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Mono Lake is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains and spans more than 70 miles. It's a five hour drive from either Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Visitors into fishing should head to a different lake because this body of water does not have any fish. It's a saline lake, which means that it's filled with saltwater and is two to three times saltier than the ocean. Limestone formations are also scattered throughout the lake and are called tufa towers.

Clear Lake

Clear Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake located completely inside California.

Clear Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake located completely inside California.

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Clear Lake is located in the heart of Wine Country and features more than 100 miles of shoreline. Bass fishing is especially popular along with kayaking and boating.

Those wishing to immerse themselves in the outdoors can camp at one of Clear Lake State Park's four campgrounds. There are plenty of wineries in the area for wine connoisseurs to visit as well. Some wineries include the Brassfield Estate Winery and the Gregory Graham Winery.

Lake Tahoe

Camp Richardson is along the edge of South Lake Tahoe.

Camp Richardson is along the edge of South Lake Tahoe.

Courtesy Camp Richardson Resort

You didn't think we'd leave out Lake Tahoe, did you? It straddles the border between California and Nevada and offers a variety of outdoor activities, from kayaking to horseback riding. It's three and a half hours away from San Francisco and is under an hour drive from Reno, Nevada.

The lake itself is more than 2 million years old, and its deepest point is over a quarter mile to the surface. The lake is into two halves, North and South Lake Tahoe, but both offer their own sets of trails, beaches and water sports -- and most importantly, what is also almost past description is its crystal blue waters, mirroring the surrounding mountain peaks.

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