Lakes often can inspire quiet reflection, as in the case of Henry David Thoreau, the renowned poet who sought peace and tranquility in the backwoods of Massachusetts. These freshwater beauties are especially spectacular come autumn time, when summer crowds have dispersed so that you can seek out ample space for some one-on-one time to rest, renew, and restore, surrounded by beautiful fall leaves.
It’s easy to slow life down for a day or a weekend or even a couple weeks by living and loving life on a lake—and lucky for us, there are lake vacations for every season and activity, no matter where in the nation you happen to be. From the Northeast to the Southwest, there are between three to four million bodies of water across the United States, ranging from duck ponds to wonders like Oregon’s Crater Lake. Ditch the ocean breezes by opting for a lake house getaway come September. Here are seven fall lake getaways in the U.S.
Celebrate Fall At These 7 Beautiful Lakes In The U.S.
It’s clear, it’s blue, and it’s a true classic. Yes, it’s Lake Tahoe, the all-American lake getaway in California that can be as plush and luxurious as it is easy going, low-key, and easy on the wallet. Get ready for paddle boarding, for sunset sailing, and for feeling the nirvana of high altitude snow sports (6,225 feet!). There are seven major winter resorts all along the lake, including Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics took place, as well as Heavenly, which boasts a peak at the top of its mountain that provides a snow-mantled panorama of the entire basin.
Snuggle up beside a warm fire in a lakeshore café, ride the Sky Express, hike along snowy forest trails, and just enjoy the simple pleasures of life this fall. California’s Lake Tahoe area has much to offer you and the entire family.
Dreaming of waking up on a cloudless morning and then diving off from a houseboat into the wild blue waters of Lake Powell? Head on over to southern Utah, where you can float along cool waters and have lazy Saturdays everyday as you find your way around spectacular red-rock gorges and flooded canyons. The area is well known for being ideal for desert house boating and has even reached Hollywood fame by having been the filming locations for blockbuster films from the original Planet of the Apes to Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
The lake, by itself, is drop-dead-gorgeous and full of high-adventures, especially since it was created by Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona and stretches for a vast 200 miles into uninhabited southern Utah, all while including more than 80 side canyons. It’ll be just you, your boat, and the calm surrounding waters. Bliss.
History buffs very well know that this New York hotspot has played a major part in three major American conflicts: The French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. Vacationers on the other hand, simply see the iconic body of water as a perfect lakeside getaway that happens to house such treasured national sites as the Ticonderoga and Crown Point Forts on the New York side, as well as Mount Independence and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum on the Vermont shore.
Try staying at the The Sagamore on Lake George, or maybe head over to Vermont for a steamer ride atop the Moonlight Lady for a four-day history cruise along the 121-mile-long lake. There’s no wonder why Lake Champlain has often been deemed the “Sixth Great Lake,” offering plenty of outdoor family activities, an array of lake cabin rentals, cottages, and houses, and basically the best East Coast autumn lake getaway one could ever hope for.
Take advantage of the last few days of sunshine by escaping to this lake for some end-of-season swimming, paddling, and bass fishing. With more than 60,000 acres of water and 1,150 miles of shoreline spanning across the entire man-made lake, the possibilities for a stellar family lake vacation are definitely endless.
Water sports are especially popular, as well as relaxing options where wellness can meet up with wilderness. Try out Swedish massages or organic green-tea wraps at Spa Shiki on the shores of Missouri’s sprawling backwoods. You’ll be pampered with exotic treatments from head to toe, all while getting easy access to other fun Ozark activities like boating, biking, hiking, and waterfront golf.
For a family lake vacation, head on over to the clear-blue waters at this Traverse City getaway, where adults and kiddies alike will get a taste of the tropics even as autumn begins to roll in. Your munchkins will love playing at the beach, biking and hiking, as well as sailing and kayaking across the over 1,600 miles of shoreline.
Lake Michigan offers more beaches than any other American lake—one for every sort of taste. Whether you’re looking for pastoral shores in Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula, or those big-city strands that front Chicago, there’s something for everyone. Find wild rolling dunes in northern Indiana, or a more festive, fun, and carnival-like atmosphere along the Traverse City Boardwalk. Sun, sand, and beach await this fall.
6. Crater Lake
Oregon's turquoise jewel is the deepest lake in the United States and truly a must-visit spot. It’s also the best for scuba diving, as it offers the chance to dive in a flooded volcano that also happens to be the ninth deepest in the world. Explore along crystal clear shallows natural wonders such as lava formations, wildlife (trout and salmon), and underwater moss meadows. You can even do some hiking along the 700 vertical feet of Cleetwood Cove Trail or the more moderate 6-mile West Rim Trail, which is especially uncrowded in the autumn time. Make sure also to take a Wizard Island boat cruise around the crater’s island—it’ll provide awesome lakeside memories for sure.
7. Walden Pond
The forest-covered shores of pioneer environmentalist Henry David Thoreau’s favorite spot looks much as it did in the 1840s. Though urban chaos and suburbia may have crept its way through much of the woodlands west of Boston, this kettle hole Massachusetts lake remains as beautiful and beloved as ever, serving even decades later, as a place for utter reflection—an oasis of calm for collecting your thoughts.
Spend some time this fall in a cabin overlooking a small glacial body of water. Do some fishing, swimming, and canoeing. Even trek out onto the various array of nearby trails that’ll lead to even more tranquil spots around the shore. It’s perfection indeed.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.