Some Americans have easy access to one of two oceans in which to play in the summer. More folks live closer to one of the thousands of lakes in the U.S. So dig out your swimsuit and peruse this piece on the 2o best summertime lake towns:
Priest Lake, Idaho
15 miles from Canada, you’ll find Priest Lake. Stay at Hills resort and enjoy the 19-mile freshwater lake. Pick up treats at Lucinda’s Woodland Bakery. Play pickleball with the locals, hike the beach trail and explore Indian Rock, where you’ll see prehistoric pictographs.
Door County, Wisconsin
Stop at Fred & Fuzzy’s in Sister Bay and sample the cherry margaritas. See a band play the lakeside amphitheater. Take the ferry to Washington Island. Visit the secluded Newport State Park and dine on fresh Door County whitefish at the Shoreline in Gills Rock.
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AKA the “twin towns,” they are 45 minutes from Grand Rapids. Here you can soak up the sun at Oval Beach, hike in Mount Baldhead Park, fish on Lake Michigan then kick back with a beer at Sand Bar, or dine at Bowdies Chop House.
McHenry is situated around Deep Creek Lake. Rent a log cabin. Party on a pontoon boat. Visit Wisp Resort, a ski destination and theme park that offers white water rafting, a mountain coaster, and more. Enjoy wood-fired pizza at the craft-brew pub Mountain State Brewing Co.
Found in the center of the state’s most distinctive wine regions, this spot averages 300 days of sun annually. Over 20 vineyards and wineries surround Lake Chelan. Enjoy parasailing, skydiving, and zip lining then stop at Local Myth Pizza for artisanal calzones and pizza.
South Lake Tahoe, California
The Cali side of Lake Tahoe is about more than alcohol-fueled parties and the popular Hot Body Contest at Zephyr Cove. You can take a cruise on Emerald Bay, play golf, go mountain biking, go zip-lining or cross the border into Reno and gamble.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
America’s oldest resort town rests on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. If you miss Lobster Day at Hunters IGA Foodstore, there are other festivals, free concerts, and farmers markets to experience. Visit Lone Wolfe Brewing Company and sample a blueberry tart at the Stellaloona bakery.
Seneca, South Carolina Lake
Keowee is a man-made reservoir found at the foot of the popular Blue Ridge Mountains. Pristine and isolated, it’s seven miles from Clemson University. Crash one of the boat parties in one of the numerous coves. Rent jet skis or a floating raft.
Just 12 miles from Canada, is the popular Delaware-sized Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It’s actually an inland sea with wooded islands and 1,200-year-old cedars. Visit the Root Beer Lady Museum, Dine on fresh fish at Ely Steak House or the Northern Grounds café.
Lake Placid, New York
A five-hour train ride out of NYC, Lake Placid offers year-round opportunities. Stay at Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. Stroll along Mirror Lake or hike the Adirondack Mountains. Explore Main Street. Suck down a pint of famous Ubu Ale at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Lake Havasu is “the best party lake” in the U.S. After spring break, LHC becomes a great place for vacationers of all ages. While it does get hot you can cool off swimming or scuba diving or just gamble in the air-conditioned casino.
Grand Lake, Colorado
The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Its water reflects the nearby mountains. Some say it’s best seen via horseback. It’s just one mile away from Rocky Mountain National Park. The city has an Old West theme complete with authentic saloons and boardwalk.
Situated on Rangeley Lake, this is the best summer destination in the state. Camp in Rangeley Lake State Park and kayak, canoe or boat on any of the six lakes. Hike up Saddleback Mountain for the view. Browse the shops and dine at the seafood restaurants.
This old mining town is the gateway to popular Hatcher Pass which leads to the Independence Mine State Historical Park and features great views of the Talkeetna Mountains. Go glacier-spotting, visit the live reindeer farm and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race headquarters and museum.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
This town has many highlights including the bar Fat Cats and historic Baker House. Take a boat tour and hike the 23-mile lakeshore path. Across town is the Abbey Resort, and nearby Williams Bay has the Green Grocer to get a bite to eat.
Situated on South Bass Island in famous Lake Erie, this is the Midwest’s premier party place. Along with restaurants and clubs, this spot boasts the longest swim-up bar in the world. See Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial and the South Bass Island State Park too.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
See the bathhouses made famous by Babe Ruth. Visit the eponymous national park and go mountain biking. Attend the all-documentary film festival, visit the church designed by former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice E. Fay Jones. Finally, head to Sam’s for pizza on the water’s edge.
Fish for delicious lake trout in Flathead Lake. Take a hike then enjoy the Riverbend Concert series in Riverbend Park. Time your visit right and you can attend the Bigfork Festival of the Arts or catch a live show at the popular Bigfork Summer Playhouse.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
You can set up camp and go birdwatching, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and rock climbing here. Explore the town’s art scene if you like and grab a bite to eat at World’s Best Donuts and Sven & Ole’s Pizza. See the iconic lighthouse at Artists’ Point before you leave too.
Table Rock Lake is a family-friendly spot. In town, you’ll discover Silver Dollar City which boasts Earth’s largest spinning roller coaster–the Time Traveler. Stroll down the strip to the Boat-shaped Titanic museum which is reportedly the most comprehensive in the nation. Stop for souvenirs at the unique Dicks 5 & 10 too.