7 Beautiful Lakeside Getaways Across the U.S.

A weekend getaway at one of these lakes is good for the soul.

Sunset on Lake Michigan at Saugatuck, Michigan

There are plenty of dockside destinations worth exploring in addition to Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes.

Photo by Michael Deemer/Shutterstock

When was the last time you leaped from a dock into the deep blue waters of a lake? Spent an afternoon in a hammock, reading a book? Gathered around a firepit with family and friends, toasting the endless stars above with perfectly chilled beers? Canoed into the sunset?

For smaller crowds and a wide array of nature-focused fun, leave the clamor of the big city and the bustling coastal beaches behind this summer and opt for a lakeside getaway.

Explore these seven lakeside locales in the United States and prepare to be hypnotized by the sound of waves lapping at the shore—and fall into an utterly relaxed state.

1. Lake Michigan

Saugatuck, Michigan

Bordered by four states—Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin—Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes. Saugatuck, Michigan, located less than 150 miles from Chicago, is the capital of Lake Michigan’s Art Coast: Home of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ox-Bow School of Art, artists have long summered here, inspired by azure Lake Michigan and its grassy, lakefront dunes. Numerous galleries, studios, and public art installations dot this attractive town, which also hosts the annual Waterfront Invitational Art Fair and the Village Square Art Fair. In between making art and appreciating Saugatuck’s creative scene, spread a beach blanket on one of six pristine public beaches and soak up the sun.

Where to stay

Hotel Saugatuck’s deluxe rooms with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs make for a romantic lakeside retreat. Every morning begins with a gourmet breakfast delivered directly to guest rooms.

Crater Lake, Oregon, USA

At nearly 2,000 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country.

Photo by Varadh Jain/Unsplash

2. Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the nation at 1,949 feet, formed about 7,700 years ago when a series of eruptions led to the collapse of the mouth of ancient volcano Mount Mazama. Known for its clear waters, the lake is the sparkling star of its namesake national park, Crater Lake National Park (the only national park in Oregon). Enjoy the lake by car—the Rim Drive circles the lake with 30 outlook stops with incredible views—or by foot, as more than 90 miles of trails wind around the lake. Park ranger-led boat tours highlight Crater Lake’s unique geographical features that are remnants of its volcanic past, which include cinder cones and craters.

Where to stay

Situated on the lake’s rim inside the national park, the historic Crater Lake Lodge immerses guests in the spectacular scenery. Cool summer evenings here call for cozying up by the massive stone fireplace in the lodge’s dining room, where locally sourced cuisine showcases the flavors of southern Oregon. In-park accommodations can fill up months in advance; NPS recommends several out-of-park stays and campgrounds if you can’t get a reservation.

Seneca Lake building in Watkins Glen, NY, USA

More than 40 wineries and vineyards can be found around Seneca Lake.

Photo by Carter Cortelyou/Unsplash

3. Seneca Lake (Finger Lakes)

Geneva, New York

Eleven long, narrow, glacial lakes define New York’s Finger Lakes region. Known for its natural beauty and grapes, the region boasts its own official appellation, the Finger Lakes American Viticultural Area. Wine trails lead visitors through the woods and along the lakes to world-class wineries, where rieslings, pinot noirs, chardonnays, and cabernet francs rival their California cousins. Swim, paddleboard, or soak in the sun on Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, at Seneca Lake State Park, or sail the lake and sip local wines and brews aboard Captain Bill’s schooner.

Where to stay

Check into a circa 1885 castle for the ultimate romantic stay on Seneca Lake: Listed on the National Register of Historic Properties, Belhurst Castle hosts an in-house winery and full-service spa.

Morning fog on Table Rock Lake, Missouri

Table Rock Lake offers around 800 miles of shoreline for lake vacationers.

Photo by Tara Ballard/Shutterstock

4. Table Rock Lake

Branson, Missouri

Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, is an ideal lake vacation destination for travelers with kids. The Ozark Mountains escape is home to a 61-acre, 1880s-themed amusement park, Silver Dollar City, a scenic railway, and several deep caverns to explore. Hop on an old-fashioned showboat and sail Table Rock Lake aboard the Branson Belle, fish for bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill from a rental fishing boat, or have a picnic along the lake’s more than 800 miles of shoreline.

Where to stay

The Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center sits on a hill overlooking Table Rock Lake amid the rolling Ozark Mountains. After a busy day in Branson, unwind at the in-resort Spa Chateau, or relax with a cocktail and soak in the lake vistas at the scenic outdoor pool.

Wisconsin Sunrise on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest inland lake, is located near cities like Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.

Photo by capturelifemoments/Shutterstock

5. Lake Winnebago

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s largest inland lake at 137,700 acres, Lake Winnebago is a year-round retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. Its many shallow reefs make it a top fishing destination for walleye and bass; its steady winds and shallow waters make it a popular getaway for both low-key paddleboarders and high-octane windsurfers. On the lake’s northeast shore, High Cliff State Park offers camping and hiking trails, and a magnificent 12-foot statue of Winnebago Indian Chief Red Bird stands high on a massive granite rock overlooking the lake. Popular among bird-watchers, the many wildlife refuges surrounding the lake offer prime opportunities for spotting migratory birds and waterfowl.

Where to stay

In the heart of downtown Fond du Lac, on the southern end of Lake Winnebago, historic Hotel Retlaw offers a glimpse into the 1920s with all the amenities of the 2020s. The hotel’s elegant Lobby Bar is a Fond du Lac social hub with handcrafted cocktails and live piano music on select evenings.

A unique view of a rock path leading towards a cabin on Moosehead Lake, in Rockwood, Maine.

More than 80 islands can be found on Moosehead Lake.

Photo by Izzy Bouchard/Shutterstock

6. Moosehead Lake

Greenville, Maine

The second-largest lake in New England, Moosehead Lake is beloved for the many moose that live along its shoreline and in the surrounding Maine Highlands. Moose outnumber people three to one here, and visitors can even set off on a moose safari. The lake’s clear, deep waters hover around the mid-70s in the summertime, making it the perfect place to cool off. Hike Mount Kineo, with its 700-foot cliffs rising straight up from the lake, for a 360-degree view of the lake from the summit.

Where to stay

The romantic rooms at the Lodge at Moosehead Lake feature jetted baths, fireplaces, views of the lake and surrounding mountains, and a daily, to-die-for, multicourse breakfast.

Lake Jackson, Colter Bay Village, United States


Photo by Seth Cottle/Unsplash

7. Jackson Lake

Moran, Wyoming

Surrounded by forests and the towering Teton Range, Jackson Lake, a natural lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, is a playground for lovers of the great outdoors. Fishing is a big draw along the shores of the 15-mile-long lake, and trout, salmon, and pike are plentiful in its clear alpine waters. More than 25 miles of trails in Grand Teton National Park attract both beginners and experienced hikers. Cruise the lake in a rental boat, kayak, or canoe, or set off on a swim from Colter Bay swim beach.

Where to stay

Set up camp for a night under the starry sky at the lakeside Colter Bay Campground, or check into Jackson Lake Lodge, a historic hotel in the heart of Grand Teton National Park.

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