America's 17 Greatest Lake Towns In The Summer

Rangeley, Maine

Just about 99 percent of the area in and around Rangeley is forest and water. Maine's western mountains and the six Rangeley Lakes are nearby. The town is historically known as a fisherman's paradise. Summer in the old-fashioned New England place is an adventure, as opportunities for boating, kayaking, canoeing, and seeing places you can't access otherwise, are endless.

Rock Springs, Wyoming

Compared to more popular destinations in Wyoming like Jackson Hole or Grand Teton, Rock Springs — known as the "gateway to the Flaming Gorge Reservoir" — is somewhat of a hidden gem. Flaming Gorge is celebrated for its serene tranquility and is also considered one of the best lakes for cold-water fishing in the entire country. Plus, even if fishing isn't your forte, this lake also serves as a perfect spot for other exciting water sports like skiing, tubing and kayaking.

Grand Rivers, Kentucky

Known as "The Village Between the Lakes," Grand Rivers is home to both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The quaint  town boasts two resort marinas each with waterfront cottages and condos and unlimited access to water sports and outdoor activities including fishing, sailing, golf, kayaking and wildlife viewing, just to name a few.

Wasilla, Alaska

Hike in the Independence Mine State Historical Park or take a helicopter tour of the nearby glaciers to enjoy the natural beauty of the sixth largest city in Alaska. You can easily find lodging with views of the water. You have plenty of tours to choose from – kayaking, nature and wildlife, fishing, as well as ATV and off-roading.

Chelan, Washington

Not only is this perfectly picturesque lake town known for averaging about 300 days of sunshine per year, but adrenaline junkies love Chelan for its access to thrilling activities like zip lining, parasailing and skydiving. Plus, in addition to breathtaking scenery and plenty of outdoor recreation, the area is surrounded by more than 20 wineries and was dubbed an official American Viticulture Area in 2009.

Seneca, South Carolina

The man-made Lake Keowee reservoir covers an almost 30 square miles, and boasts 350 miles of shoreline. With much of the coast undeveloped, everything there feels as natural as can be. Add the fact that the lake is just by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and you've got some of the most scenic views in the region. Camp in the South Cove County Park, which also has boat launching, tennis courts, and pavilions. Go fishing or see why paddle sports are so fun; and visit the beer station at the end of the day for an incredibly diverse brew selection.

Lake George, New York

Lake George has long been a popular vacation spot for lovers of outdoor recreation. Commonly referred to as the "Queen of American Lakes," it easily fits in among the top lake towns, especially for vacationing in the summer. Water activities include everything from swimming and fishing to boating, jet skiing, tubing and even diving. With so many adventures to choose from, it's truly an exceptional destination for summer travelers of all ages and interests.

Elmore, Vermont

The town of Lake Elmore calls itself "The Beauty Spot of Vermont."  Located in the southeastern part of Lamoille County, Elmore is mostly forested and agricultural land. Lake Elmore, which is 219 acres, and Elmore Mountain, which rises almost from the lake's shore, are prominent features. Hike along the Mountain Brook Nature Trail and see unique wildflowers and 18th-century homesteads. Relax by kayaking the glassy lake or go camping.

Grand Lake, Colorado

Described as a quaint lakeside setting, Colorado's largest natural lake is home to charming cabins and summer homes that make for an adventurous and picturesque summer escape. The historic town is known for its lively boardwalk with more than 60 shops, restaurants and galleries. Plus, the lake is of course open to boating, sailing and fishing, and with the Rocky Mountains nearby there's certainly no shortage of opportunities for even more outdoor adventuring.

Crystal Bay, California

Crystal Bay actually borders the California/Nevada state line and visitors can literally straddle the two states as they wade in the cool waters of North Lake Tahoe. That's not all, though. The Tahoe Adventure Company offers a wide range of expeditions to choose from including kayak tours of the lake, SUP rentals, mountain bike, hiking and rock climbing tours, high ropes courses, multi-sport adventures and even custom-designed tours tailored to your favorite activities.

Sandpoint, Idaho

Considering that Sandpoint is nestled between three mountain ranges on the magnificent 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille, you can imagine how much fun spending a whole summer there would be. With a wide variety of outdoor recreation, plus arts and cultural events happening weekly, Sandpoint is an incredible place to go for a vacation. Don't miss a chance to hike the high alpine country.

Bigfork, Montana

From fishing charters and farmer's markets, to horseback riding and countless water sports, Bigfork boasts big adventures among some of the most stunning landscapes in Montana. The town's slogan reads "where Flathead Lake beings," and, in addition to superb lakeside recreation, Bigfork is known for hosting fun summertime concert series and art festivals.

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

Established in 1770, this is America's oldest summer resort. Living near Lake Winnipesaukee is like being on vacation year-round. It is the largest lake in the state and the third largest in New England – 71 square miles. The small town has a population of about 6,000 people, but in the summer it goes up to 30,000.

Mesa, Arizona

Not many would expect to find flourishing bodies of water in the middle of desert-like terrain, which is why Arizona is commonly overlooked as a destination for lake vacations. However, Mesa shares a border with the Tonto National Forest: home to Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. Visitors here can enjoy all sorts of water activities like wake-boarding, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and even a more typical beach experience along the sandy shores of Jones Beach at Saguaro Lake.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio

The island offers a lot of entertainment, history, and vacation appeal in the summer season. One of the best known attractions is the Antique Car Museum, which showcases a collection of Model T Fords and vintage snowmobiles. Watch a parade of them every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. South Bass Island is home to the world's largest geode, otherwise known as Crystal Cave on Put-in-Bay. Don't skip the Heineman's Winery, which has been making wine on the island for more than a century.

Okoboji, Iowa

The biggest attractions of the Okoboji area are the glacier-carved lakes. The gorgeous chain of lakes ranges from the Minnesota border southwest several miles and covers approximately 15,000 acres. In addition to enjoying all kinds of water sports, you can go hiking, fishing, sailing and even hunting. The spring-fed West Lake Okoboji is a beautiful shade of blue and is 134 feet deep. There are interesting museums you can visit, lots of live music events to enjoy, and several amusement parks to explore.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

Grand Marais, located on a tranquil stretch between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains, is the country's coolest small towns, according to Budget Travel Magazine. This quaint, friendly harbor village, with about 1,300 people has several other prestigious awards. It made the Top 100 Adventure Towns by National Geographic Adventure Magazine; and the Grand Marais Art Colony was chosen as one of the top 10 artist colonies in America by Coastal Living Magazine. Biking, kayaking, fishing and whale watching are popular activities. You may even see the Northern Lights from the Lighthouse.