A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. – "Walden, Or Life In The Woods" by Henry David Thoreau, 1854.
No matter where you live, there is probably a lake relatively near home – and most offer a vacation for every season – so start taking advantage! Lakes not only offer a myriad of activities, but also can inspire quiet and profound reflection. Whatever you are seeking in a getaway, a lake trip is sure to be able to offer something for everyone. Here’s a list of some of Rand McNally’s favorite lake getaways:
Though just about an hour and a half north of Boston, this large and beautiful lake feels like nature has been totally preserved here and offers ultimate relaxation. Nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains, Lake Winnipesaukee (pronounced win-ee-puh-SAW-kee) is New Hampshire’s largest standing body of water, with 178 miles of shoreline, making it the perfect place to take a drive for great views and explore all the quaint towns.
Delighting visitors for generations, the lake offers an array of outdoor activities that are fun for the whole family. In warmer seasons, rent a boat and cruise the lake, take a refreshing dip, hike the endless nearby trails, or if you’re feeling daring test out the multiple zip lines and ropes courses in the neighboring woods. And don’t limit your vacation to just summer! Winter visitors are greeted by a wonderland of snow and can enjoy skiing, ice fishing, and other cold weather activities.
Nearest towns: Belknap County and Carroll County, New Hampshire
High up in the Sierra Nevada range where California and Nevada meet, you’ll find the dazzling sapphire waters of Lake Tahoe. Known for its summertime lake fun, and award-winning winter skiing, this destination is a must-visit all year round.
This alpine pure lake is the main attraction to the area, but the endless ski slopes and the recreational areas and forests ensure that there is always something to add to your itinerary. With an average 300 days of sunshine annually, you’ll feel instantly uplifted and refreshed during your stay.
Nearest towns: Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada
With a maximum depth of 21 feet, this Wisconsin lake’s fresh waters warm up quickly in the summer – so much that they feel downright tropical. So, hop in the car and take a trip Lake Winnebago, a paradise for water sports lovers.
As Wisconsin’s largest lake entirely within the state, there are plenty of places to windsurf, paddle board, kayak, boat, and fish. There are also activities off the lake such as golfing, spas, and top-quality restaurants – so everyone can find something to enjoy.
In the winter, ice fishing is popular and according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, it is not uncommon for 10,000 cars to park on the lake during ice fishing season.
Nearest town: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
With a depth of nearly 2,000 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of its most picturesque places to visit. Nestled in Crater Lake National Park, its clarity and the intense blue color of the water are caused purely by glacial runoff and precipitation, and it is simply awe inspiring.
Because it’s a national park, lodging and food options are limited – but what it lacks in amenities it makes up for in unrivaled splendor and history. Learn about its formation 7,700 years ago caused by a volcanic eruption, drive or hike to stunning look-out points, or if you’re feeling up to it take a dip in the water – but be warned, it only reaches about 55 degrees so be prepared for a chilly swim.
Nearest towns: Prospect, Oregon
With endless sunshine, warm waters, and thousands of miles of shoreline, it’s no wonder that more than 2 million people make Lake Powell their vacation destination every year. Located in northern Arizona and stretching up into southern Utah, this man-made reservoir on the Colorado River is the ultimate playground and an amazing place to explore the spectacular scenery of the west.
With the warm sun and the cool waters, Lake Powell offers a variety of fun activities to make your vacation memorable. Boat tours, hiking trails, dam tours at the Glen Canyon Dam, fishing excursions, and horseback riding are just some of the activities offered all year round.
Nearest town: Page, Arizona
Lake George, a year round beauty aptly nicknamed Queen of American Lakes, is tucked away in the sprawling Adirondack Mountains of New York. It beckons travelers with the allure of brilliant scenery, diverse events throughout the year, and plenty of lodging. For more than 200 years, people have been coming to this lake, paving the way for what is today’s all-encompassing vacation.
Hit the beach and splash in the lake, hike the pristinely kept hiking trails up to mountain summits, explore amusement parks to ride historic rollercoasters, and more! Finish the day with gourmet waterfront dining and idyllic luxury accommodations. This really is a place to pioneer your own adventure.
Nearest town: Lake George, New York
Lake Travis is a little slice of heaven, situated just 20 miles northwest of Austin, TX. Crystal clear blue waters meet rolling hills making it a picture perfect freshwater haven. As the “Crown Jewel” of the Central Texas Highland Lakes, it is one of the most popular recreational destinations in the state.
With 65 miles of coastline, and 4.5 miles at its widest, Lake Travis is a great spot for all things outdoors. Rent a sailboat, catch a trophy fish, scuba dive, horseback ride, go hiking, and the list goes on. It’s an ideal place to spend a breezy summer day and enjoy the Texas sunset.
Nearest town: Leander, TX