The best US lakes for summer vacation are more than just mere picturesque stretches of water. Sure, their sheer beauty is a major attraction – after all, who can resist a lakeside stroll, picnic or just a shoreline seat to watch the sun go down after a perfect day? But, the best US lakes for summer vacation also offer a wide range of activities in, off and away from the water, great places to stay or camp, and excellent places to eat. Here are some choices for your consideration:
1. Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia
With so many wonderful lakes to choose from, it’s difficult to pick out just a few of the best US lakes for summer vacation. However, Lake Lanier, the largest lake in Georgia, is one of the best for vacationers looking to have it all. Just a half hour from Atlanta, this sprawling lake is filled with islands created when the Buford Dam was built. Home to a luxury hotel, campgrounds and houseboats, there are plenty of places to stay. Enjoy views of the nearly 700 miles of beautiful shoreline by renting anything from a small boat to a pontoon or yacht. Enjoy the waterpark, equestrian center, ziplines and golf courses, or just enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing or swimming. With something for everybody, it’s one of America’s best lake vacation spots.
2. Lake Placid, New York
Probably best known as the location of both the 1932 and the 1980 winter Olympics, Lake Placid has something to offer in both winter and summer. Surrounded by the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, it’s a well-known winter destination, but has hundreds of activities for summer travelers as well. Enjoy numerous outdoor activities such as golf, hiking on marked hiking trails, boating or kayaking, biking or fishing. 2-1/2 miles from the lake is the town of Lake Placid, offering anything from rustic to luxurious accommodations as well as a variety of restaurants. It’s no wonder U.S. News & World Report ranked it as one of the “6 forgotten vacation spots” in North America.
3. Caddo Lake, Louisiana & Texas
Caddo Lake is a lake/wetland of over 25,000 acres situated on the border of Louisiana and Texas. Once a steam or riverboat waterway, it is now part of Caddo Lake State Park. Drift in a canoe among the largest cypress tree forest in the world, or enjoy a little bass fishing. Nature lovers will enjoy hiking, horseback riding and biking, and animal lovers will love seeing river otters, owls, alligators, eagles, storks and mink. Take a steamboat tour and visit the Starr Family State Historic site, the childhood home of Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson. If you’re lucky, you might even see Bigfoot, as there have been hundreds of alleged sightings in the area.
4. Lake Tahoe, Nevada & California
With an endless supply of things to do at Lake Tahoe, you could spend weeks there and never experience everything it has to offer. Tall mountains, clear blue waters, nightlife –it’s all there. Take a paddlewheel cruise, or just head out in a canoe to Fannette Island and visit the old tea house. Ride the Heavenly gondola to the 9,000’ elevation observation deck and see miles of scenery. Go gambling at the casino or tour Vikingsholm, a wonderful replica of a Scandinavian castle. Go horseback riding, swimming, hiking, fishing or biking. Stay in a historic rustic cottage or a fabulous resort, the possibilities are endless.
5. Wallowa Lake State Park, Oregon
One mile south of the small town of Joseph lies the glacial Wallowa Lake, surrounded by snow tipped mountains even in summer. On the south side of the lake is Wallowa Lake State Park, as well as a small clutch of houses and a few small businesses. Stay at the campground, or choose the historic Wallowa Lake Lodge. Cabins are also available. Ride the gondola lift up Mt. Howard to an elevation of 8,000' and enjoy miles of views. Enjoy activities such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating and swimming among the abundant wildlife, some so tame they may come up to you. Visit Old Chief Joseph’s burial place at the Nez Perce National Historic Park for some historical perspective on the area. Wallowa Lake is a gateway to the Eagle Cap wilderness and Hell’s Canyon as well.
6. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
In central Missouri lies the serpentine Lake of the Ozarks, created by the Bagnell Dam in 1931. A favorite destination for fishing and golf, it hosts several prestigious golf tournaments as well as world class boating, making it one of the most popular US lakes for summer vacation. It boasts 1,150 miles of shoreline, more than California’s Pacific Coast. Surrounded by numerous accommodations, from camping and rustic cabins all the way to resorts, you can be as laid back or as pampered as you want to be. Activities include fishing, exploring underground caves, parasailing, shopping, swimming and boating.
7. Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona
A welcome sight on a hot Arizona day, Lake Havasu’s 26 miles of shoreline attracts thousands of visitors a year. Its blue-green waters sit below the Chemehuevi Mountains and are a haven for day trippers and overnighters as well. The park offers camping with water, bathrooms, electrical hookups, showers, a fire ring and picnic tables. There are 3 boat ramps. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy a large population of different birds, as well as coyotes, bobcat, rabbits, kangaroo rats, lizards and ground squirrels. Other activities include fishing, swimming, hiking and jet skiing. While you’re there, hike the short Mohave Sunset Trail, or take in the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Center. Take a ride into Lake Havasu City and see the original London Bridge, which once spanned the Thames River in England.
There are so many fabulous US lakes for summer vacation. You may have one close to you that you’ve never even considered as a location for a break. If you think you might not be able to afford to get away this year, check out lakes close to home. Let’s hear from you ladies who have enjoyed some fabulous lakeside vacations. The comment box is waiting!