Home For Travelers "Best of" Lists 8 Beautiful Little Lake Towns Across America

8 Beautiful Little Lake Towns Across America

Kids jump into the water from a lakeside dock.

A lazy lakeside getaway boasts all the fun of a tropical beach vacation… without the sting of saltwater in your eyes, crabs pinching at your toes, and seagulls nabbing your snacks.

From a sleepy town perched high in the Rockies to a classic New England escape, we’ve uncovered eight of America’s most beautiful little lake towns. One thing’s for sure: overdone beach trips will be a distant memory after visiting these glorious destinations. Plus, find the perfect rental on FlipKey and enjoy extra space and privacy during your trip. Where will you go for your next getaway?

Chelan, WA

Vacationers enjoy time at the pool along the shores of Lake Chelan, Washington.

Need a break from your hectic schedule? Head to Chelan, a scenic lake town nestled along the edge of the Cascade Mountains in Washington. The area features world-class outdoor activities, inviting vineyards, and endless opportunities for relaxation. Still, there’s no better way to see Chelan then by hopping in a kayak and drifting with the tide. Book a modern condo right on the lake and wake up to breathtaking views and utter tranquility every morning.

Eat: Sorrento’s Ristorante

Play: Slide Waters Waterpark

See: Rio Vista Winery

Stay: See all Chelan vacation rentals

Put-in-Bay, OH

Aerial view of Put in Bay's marina and Perry's Victory International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay on South Bass island.

The crystal blue waters of Lake Erie lure visitors to the shores of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. Rent a kayak and paddle around the bay, cruising past the towering limestone cliffs of nearby Gibraltar Island. When it’s time for a well-deserved rest, pull up on the beach and dig your toes into the sand for a lazy afternoon under the sun. Away from the water, the easiest way to get around Put-in-Bay is by golf cart. Rent one to explore the town or simply retreat to your waterfront home to relax.

Eat: The Boardwalk

Play: Kayak the Bay

See: Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center

Stay: See all Put-in-Bay vacation rentals

Rangeley, ME

Stunning sunset in Rangeley, one of Maine's most scenic areas.

From snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter to swimming and fishing during the summer, Rangeley offers vacationers four seasons of fun. The beautiful little town is situated in Western Maine with convenient access to six nearby lakes, including its namesake Rangeley Lake. For the perfect getaway, choose from charming lakeside cottages and cozy, away-from-it-all cabins.

Eat: The Rangeley Tavern

Play: Rangeley Region Lake Cruises

See: Rangeley Lakes Trails Center

Stay: See all Rangeley vacation rentals

South Lake Tahoe, CA

A late winter image of the South Lake Tahoe shoreline and mountains.

Once you’ve set foot in South Lake Tahoe, however long you’re staying here won’t be enough. This picturesque destination sits on the California-Nevada border and the lake is known for its deep blue waters and  majestic mountain setting. If you want to enjoy the lake, rent a boat or book a parasailing excursion for a bird’s eye view of its 72 mile shoreline. On land, depending on the season, hike, bike or ski with the pristine Lake Tahoe as your backdrop. With luxury homes, affordable condos, spacious lodges and more, there’s a rental for everyone in South Lake Tahoe.

Eat: Cafe Fiore

Play: Himmel Haus

See: Van Sickle Bi-State Park

Stay: See all South Lake Tahoe vacation rentals

Meredith, NH

A dock stretches into Lake Winnipesaukee at sunset.

Finding it difficult to narrow down which lake is for you? Meredith is located in the heart of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and a getaway here puts vacationers a short drive to Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Winnisquam, Squam Lake and more. Whether you choose a condo right on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee or a secluded home with private beach access, Meredith promises serenity and outdoor adventure. Toast to a blissful vacation at a local winery, conquer the surrounding White Mountains on foot, or just unplug for awhile. It’s up to you!

Eat: Lago

Play: Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads

See: Hermit Woods Winery

Stay: See all Meredith vacation rentals

Burlington, VT

People gather to watch the boats along the water at the Burlington Marina while pedestrians walk the Island Line Trail along the waterfront.

A trip to Burlington offers everything needed for the perfect lakeside getaway: a stunning landscape, vibrant downtown area and plenty of wonderful places to stay. Skirt along the Lake Champlain waterfront via bicycle following the Island Line Trail or watch the boats come and go at the Burlington Harbor Marina. Prefer to stick close to home? Cast your fishing line and let the hours slip by as you relax on your private dock. In the evening, fall asleep to the soothing sound of Lake Champlain washing over the shore just outside your vacation rental.

Eat: Pizzeria Verita

Play: ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

See: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Stay: See all Burlington vacation rentals

Bryson City, NC

Overlooking the vast mountainous region around Fontana Lake near Bryson City, North Carolina.

Fontana Lake is a brief 30-minute drive or a leisurely float down the Tuckasegee River from Bryson City. Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the lake is a southern slice of paradise that beckons anglers to its cold, deep waters throughout the year. Stock up on bait and tackle in Bryson City before making your way to the lake to reel in a keeper. The town’s laid-back vibe is guaranteed to please everyone, whoever you’re sharing your vacation with. With so many Bryson City rentals to choose from, you’re sure to find a place that ticks all your boxes.

Eat: Bojangles’

Play: Nantahala Brewing Co.

See: Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

Stay: See all Bryson City vacation rentals

Grand Lake, CO

Lakeside in Colorado.

Park yourself on the shores of Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest natural body of water, and indulge in a worry-free vacation. A historic town, Grand Lake is home to the highest-altitude yacht club, an old-fashioned boardwalk dating back to the Wild West days and boatloads of adventure. Find a family-friendly rental close to the lake for ultimate convenience or choose a remote cabin nestled among pine trees. Whatever your preference, this pretty little lake town bursts with natural beauty and should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

Eat: Sagebush BBQ & Grill

PlaySarah Chabot Massage Therapy

SeeRocky Mountain Repertory Theatre

Stay: See all Grand Lake vacation rentals