Technically a reservoir formed by the Pyramid Dam, Pyramid Lake's bright blue waters fill a picturesque valley in the San Emigdio Mountains. It looks more like Switzerland than Southern California, and even though it's only about an hour north of the city next to the I-5 Grapevine, it's unknown to many Angelenos. An $11 parking fee gets you full access to the beach, and it's perfect for barbecuing, personal watercrafting, boating, sunning and swimming in the cold, fresh water. The area includes top-notch Los Alamos Campground, with a spectacular view of the lake. Water-use rules enforced by on-site authorities can be pretty strict, and sometimes swimming isn't allowed (make sure you call before you go). But if you show up late in the day, the rangers may be gone and you can park for free and swim all you want. —Isaac Simpson
43100 Pyramid Lake Road, Lebec, 93243. (877) 444-6777, water.ca.gov/recreation/locations/pyramid.