The Most Beautiful Lake Towns For Summer

The Most Beautiful Lake Towns for Summer

Summertime is usually associated with ocean-front beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and laying on lounges by a pool with colorful cocktails. For many, this is an ideal way to spend a vacation which, however, overshadows an unconventional way to have fun and relax– in a lake town. Lake towns are also less crowded and much cheaper than ocean retreats. Consider spending a week or two in a quintessential American lake town without breaking the bank and having even more fun because you can participate in adventurous activities such as hiking, zip lining, diving, and kayaking.

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.

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.

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

The Coeur d'Alene area is surrounded by dozens of lakes left behind by the glaciers of the ice age. There are more than 55 lakes within easy driving distance, but none of them are more scenic and full of activities than Lake Coeur d'Alene itself. Witness the majestic sunsets and moonrises; see the glowing lights of downtown reflecting across its waters at night; hike the pine-forested hills near the 25-mile long lake; go kayaking, golfing or skydiving. Join a public cruise to soak all the stunning views of the town and visit theme and water parks with the kids.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Charlevoix, Michigan

Enjoy festivals, bonfires along the beach, and late rounds of golf in the city. Charlevoix is an active vacation destination with unique historical attractions such as the hobbit-like Earl Young Mushroom Houses, castle farms, Beaver Island, and many stunning beaches. You won't find any wild consumer developments such as chain stores as locals like to keep its town quaint.

Mammoth Lakes, California

"'No way' is never far away," as locals like to say. Mammoth Lakes is one of those rare places that you have to see. "The size of the mountains, the expanse of the valleys, the incredible number of crystal clear mountain lakes and the endless opportunities for adventure just outside your door" are attracting many tourists in the summer. Go mountain biking, hiking along the Mammoth Crest Trail which overlooks Lake George, and stay in wood cabins with stone fireplaces.

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Bayfield is all about a charming, quaint and harbor town vibe. It is the gateway to the spectacular Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – 22 gem-like coastal islands that are home to lighthouses, sea caves, hiking trails, camping, terrific blue-water sailing, and some of the best kayaking in the world, according to Travel Wisconsin. Summertime fills this Lake Superior port with sailboats, sea kayaks and charter fishing boats. Visit the maritime museum, eclectic retail shops, Victorian B&Bs, and golf courses with remarkable views.

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.

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.

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 serves as a perfect spot for other exciting water sports like tubing and kayaking.

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.

Chesterton, Indiana

Chesterton is a small Lake Michigan town. The Indiana Dunes with the park's spectacular sand beach. You get to explore beautiful hiking trails along the dunes as well. While best known for its world class beaches, the Indiana Dunes and its surrounding areas also offer world class cuisine, breathtaking scenery, eclectic nightlife and exhilarating biking. One of the town's main attractions is its European Market. More than 100 vendors selling fresh produce, plants, and delicacies.