Best Lake House Vacations
Forget the oceanfront hotel. We’re all about a stunning lake house this summer. Okay, so we’re not totally against the beach. But there’s another type of vacation that was made for America: a classic summer cottage on the lake. Or a cozy cabin. How about an eight-bedroom summer lodge for a full-family affair?
You get the point.
America boasts some of the best lake destinations in the world for outdoor recreation, incredible scenery, and action-packed adventure. In other words: the perfect combination of activities for a thrilling (or relaxing) summer escape.
A summer lake house often comes with kayaks, canoes, paddleboards or even your own personal boat for use (assuming you have a license)! You’ll stay just steps to the water—or hiking trails—and enjoy substantial privacy.
But with so many great lake house options, where should you choose? Enter FlipKey. We’ve bypassed the touristy, crowded lakes—nobody wants to share the bay with other jet skiers, after all—and instead identified 11 amazing summer lake retreats that aren’t quite as…occupied. You’ll find affordable summer cottages and cabins in each of these spots just waiting for you to make new lifelong memories.
Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake has everything you could dream of in a summer vacation. The surrounding towns of McHenry, Oakland and Swanton all offer lake house rentals of various types. Get the adrenaline pumping with whitewater rafting or opt for more leisurely pursuits in fly-fishing, a scenic kayak ride, horseback trek or walking through Deep Creek Lake State Park. A summer lodge, complete with outdoor patio and barbecue grill, is the perfect home base after the day’s adventure. As night falls, spark up the fire pit and gaze at the stars.
As its name would suggest, this Maine gem has abundant wildlife. When you aren’t fishing for landlocked salmon or trout, keep your eyes peeled for moose and other four-legged friends that roam the land. A summer cottage on Moosehead Lake puts you just steps to unlimited water recreation. And the lake is especially good for canoeing and kayaking, boasting tons of hidden coves, inlets and islands to explore. Lake houses are mostly located in the towns of Greenville and Rockwood, both offering rentals from charming summer cottages to classic log cabins. Some properties even come with personal ATVs – the trails around the lake are ripe for off-roading.
Part of the “Lakeland” area of Northern Wisconsin, Minocqua is a small town as cozy as the summer cabins themselves. There’s the aptly named Lake Minocqua, plus Blue Lake, Kawaguesaga Lake and Tomohawk Lake all in a short vicinity of each other. If you’re seeking a peaceful summer escape, look no further. Vacation rentals here are fewer than some other popular lake spots, meaning your summer cottage will have the utmost privacy. Enjoy a morning coffee on the porch while watching water skiers slice across the clear waters. Choose to join them with some aquatic adventures, or simply take another sip as the sun warms the air.
This 32-mile-long “Queen of American Lakes” is chock-full of summer lodging, attractions, eateries and just about any form of recreation you can name. Take your pick: parasailing, fishing, diving, jet skiing, hiking, golfing, mini-golf, horseback riding and more. If you’ve got kids in tow, you can spend a day at the Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, New York’s largest amusement park. Hikers gravitate to Prospect Mountain, which offers panoramic views from the top. Among the cleanest and clearest of major US lakes, Lake George is as splendid today as when Thomas Jefferson described it as “…without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw.”
Take your family to Grand Lake and enjoy stunning Shadow Mountain scenery with the tranquility of a private summer lake house. Spend a lazy afternoon lounging on the hammock, or rent a pontoon boat for leisurely lake cruising – just don’t forget to bring the cooler! Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park offers great hiking trails, often shared with deer, elk and foxes.
Lake Champlain is one of the Eastern United States’ most beautiful attractions. It stretches almost the full length of Vermont, separating the Green Mountain State from neighboring New York. Summer lake houses are abundant in many of the surrounding towns, most notably Shelburne, Colchester, Burlington and the Grand Isles (VT); and Plattsburgh, Keeseville and Willsboro (NY). Lake Champlain is great for families, offering calm waters and great outdoor recreation. For a unique cabin experience, stay in a Burlington rental right on the lake. You’ll be close to the charming downtown area of Church Street (shops, bars, restaurants and live music), yet have adventurous activities like hiking, kayaking, paddle-boarding, boating and swimming right at your fingertips.
Meredith is New Hampshire’s go-to lakeside destination, with Lake Winnipesaukee offering incredible summer lodges, cottages and cabins for groups of all sizes. Popular with 20- and 30-somethings, Lake Winnipesaukee visitors are often a lively bunch, enjoying the water sports and warm weather to the fullest. Though there’s still plenty of privacy to be had, as many rentals have their own docks at secluded areas along the lake.
Heading to The Last Frontier? You’ll soon be basking in the dramatic, diverse terrain of wide-open spaces, mountains and forests, with wildlife galore and many small towns. If it’s a summer lake house you seek, just follow the Kenai River! The gorgeous body of water runs westward from Kenai Lake to the Cook Inlet, through the towns of Sterling and Soldtona. A summer rental here is as close to nature as you can get without actually camping. It’s truly a mesmerizing experience, capped by the “midnight sun” – when the sun sets around 12:00am due to the long daylight hours during summer season.
Talk to anyone about a Virginia vacation and you’ll hear about Williamsburg’s rich history or the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. But avid summer vacationers would be wise to consider a different destination, some 240 miles away from the ocean. We’re talking about Smith Mountain Lake, the state’s popular lakeside retreat though not as frequented by the outside masses. A summer cottage on “SML” means sunshine, scenery and s’mores all week long. The lake is surrounded by beautiful mountain landscape, with most rental accommodations in the community of Moneta.
If we were giving out nicknames, Lake Coeur d’Alene would get “that of many bays.” Summer lodges are cozily tucked within numerous bays across the lake, like Bennett Bay, Windy Bay, Sun Up Bay, Kokanee Bay and Rockford Bay, to name a few. This means plenty of privacy and calm, kid-friendly waters. But Coeur d’Alene is notable for more than its stunning lake: it’s a unique combination of five-star resort town (fine dining, theaters, golf courses and spas) and natural wonder (unspoiled hiking trails, scenery for days). An affordable cabin gives you the best of both worlds – sunshine free of charge.
Mount Desert may better be known as the side of Acadia National Park that doesn’t include Bar Harbor, which makes it the perfect uncrowded, relaxing escape for a summer lake house. Echo Lake and Long Pond Lake are the two staples for outdoor recreation or leisurely sunbathing. Picture this: you’re eating breakfast on your private patio looking out over the vast clear waters. The kids are readying for a day of swimming, canoeing or kayaking. Maybe even a ride on the pontoon boat. As evening falls, the family enjoys a home-cooked meal before a nightcap in the hot tub. Pure bliss.
This post was originally published on the TripAdvisor Rentals blog. FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company.