As summer begins, much of the country sees rising temperatures along with family vacation time. Around now, we all start to long to be near water! Who doesn’t associate summer with the quintessential seasonal elements of water and sun? Whether you are traveling with your family, friends, or partner, it’s high time you enjoy living the lake life. The great news is that sandy lakeside beaches, swimming, jet skiing, tubing, picnicking, fishing, campfires, boating, and beautiful views are easy to find in many parts of the U.S. From the West to the East, let’s check out the best lake vacation spots in America. Let’s face it– you’re overdue for some relaxation!
The state of Kentucky is famous for its fried chicken, horse racing, bluegrass music, and bourbon whiskey. Yet, you may not know that Kentucky is a fantastic place to plan a relaxing, lakeside escape. Kentucky Lake, for example, is one of the largest manmade lakes in the country. It’s often called the South’s Great Lake. Along with Cadiz-Trigg County’s Lake Barkley and Land Between the Lakes, you can enjoy endless pristine beauty and leisure activities. The area offers over 218,000 acres of fresh lake water. Do you like sport fishing? A multitude of marinas and access points provide white bass fishing, largemouth bass fishing, seasonal catfish, and more. And Kentucky Lake and the Land Between the Lakes tout plenty of family-friendly lakefront cottages and cabins. You can feel at home while enjoying easy access to beach amenities.
Garrett County, Maryland
Have you heard of Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland? Deep Creek Lake is the biggest lake in Maryland. It offers all the fun of summer lake life, such as swimming, tubing, kayaking, fishing, and recreational boating. Glistening Deep Creek Lake also has a long history of rich seasonal fishing culture. Deep Creek Lake State Park features over 1,800 acres of raw beauty, adjacent to the Deep Creek Lake Natural Resources Management Area. Relaxing while enjoying a beautiful meal or lakeside cocktail is easy in Garrett County. If you need a little city adventure, the area is just a few hours away from Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Baltimore. Be sure to check out the stunning Muddy Creek Falls, the highest free-falling waterfall at 53 feet!
The state of Wyoming is full of rustic, natural views, stunning landscapes, and glittering lakes. This is a lovely destination if you want to spend lazy lakeside days swimming, laying in the sun, reading, cooking over a fire, tubing, kayaking, or canoeing. Wyoming may become your new favorite getaway spot!
The serenity of Cody Yellowstone Country is undeniable. Trout fishing is a featured local pastime. There are a variety of lakes and reservoirs to enjoy. Beartooth Lake, Island Lakes, Lily Lakes, and Monster Lake are some notorious fishing spots. They offer abundant rainbow, brown, brook, and golden trout, mountain whitefish, splake, grayling, and a variety of cutthroats. Monster Lake gets its moniker from the fact that rainbow trout up to 24 inches are abundant there. Catching up to 20 fish in one day is not uncommon.
Bighorn Mountain Country is another picturesque vacation spot to partake in lake life. Explore Bighorn Lake, Bighorn Mountain Alpine Lakes, Lake Desmet, Park Reservoir, Ranchester City Reservoir, Sibley Lake, and Tongue River Reservoir, to name a few. Camping, fishing, and water sports are easy for you and your loved ones to access. Carbon County, Wyoming features pristine alpine lakes and reservoirs full of rainbow, walleye, and cutthroat trout.
Upstate New York
New York is full of pretty lakeside hot spots where locals celebrate Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and summer birthdays. If you love remote fishing destinations, New York has those magical destinations, too. Whether it’s a weekend resort trip or a long couple of summer camping weeks, you will have plenty of the best lake vacation spots as options. If you love wineries and farm-to-table food along with lake life, consider Cayuga in the Finger Lakes. An hour from Albany, Fulton County features 44 lakes. Be sure to partake in some of the best fishing in the state, along with over 70,000 acres of forest and trail.
Oswego County fishing and camping is also known throughout the state. Whether you fish for it or seek a local farm-to-table meal, taste the local salmon or trout, perhaps alongside a locally brewed ale. Be sure to check out the Underground Railroad Museum while in Oswego County as well. The Adirondack Coast’s Lake Champlain is another refreshing vacation destination, featuring 120 miles of stunning shoreline. Another wonderful lake resort area option is Utica-Rome-Verona & Sylvan Beach. Enjoy Turning Stone Resort Casino and the sandy shores of eastern Oneida Lake, along with delicious local restaurants and breweries.
Mount Hood Territory, Oregon
Mount Hood, Oregon is full of breathtaking snow-capped mountain views, fields of western wildflowers, and clean, glimmering waterways. There are more than 150 lakes throughout Mount Hood National Forest. The area has no shortage of tourist accommodations either. You can wake up swim-ready and access your relaxing lakeside view. Imagine living lake life this summer with painting-like, majestic mountains in the background.
Burnt Lake is a beautiful place to hike several miles via trail for a semi-private picnic and swim. Smaller Trillium Lake features warm water, and is great for canoeing and paddle boarding, though motor boats are not permitted. Check out Timothy Lake for glorious views of snowy Mount Hood. Lost Lake offers some vivid, natural views that are perfect for social media feeds. If you are vacationing with kids, be sure to see Frog Lake, full of tadpoles in June which transform into toads by mid-July!
Tenessee’s Smoky Mountains
If you think of the Smoky Mountains, you may conjure up images of mountain views, Tennessee whiskey, or Memphis-style barbecue. The area is notorious for delicious Southern-Appalachian cuisine and its raw, natural beauty. The legendary Smoky Mountains are additionally full of clean, glistening lakes to enjoy summertime.
If you camp, consider the campsites along Lake Santeetlah’s more than 75 miles of shoreline, surrounded by Nantahala National Forest. Fontana Lake is the best-kept secret in the Smoky Mountains, with deep, cold waters that make it a treasure trove for fishers. Another remote option for hiking adventurers is Nantahala Lake, situated at 3,000 foot elevation, above a gorge within the National Forest.
Glacier Country, Montana
There are over 100 lakes in Glacier Country, Montana. You and your loved ones can boat, sail, fish, canoe, kayak, or paddleboard with crisp views of snow-capped mountains in the background. Montana cares for their waterways with extra attention to ensure that the environment remains clean and vibrant. In addition to beautiful natural lakes like Lake Como, Seeley Lake, Flathead Lake, Whitefish Lake, and Lake McDonald, Glacier Country has high-alpine glacier-fed lakes, pools, rivers, and creeks. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, Glacier Country offers resorts, campgrounds, and cabins to accommodate all types of travelers. Fresh food, plentiful local seafood, and local wineries and breweries will make your vacation delicious.
Book Your Lakeside Escape Today
As it gets hot, remember that there are gorgeous lakeside summer escapes to explore. After the fresh air, beautiful views, and soothing water, you’ll return home feeling renewed. Check out our Free Travel Guide resources as you plan. You deserve some soothing time besides cool waters to help reset your mind and spirit during this upcoming vacation season.