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. Which one will be your perfect for your next getaway?
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.
Play: Slide Waters Waterpark
See: Rio Vista Winery
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
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
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
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!
See: Hermit Woods Winery
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
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.
Play: Nantahala Brewing Co.
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