It’s summertime and what better way to get the most out of the long hot days than a day at the lake? This pastime has been a quintessential summer activity forever. So relax, bring a book, let the kids splash around (and take a dip yourself!) at any one of these beautiful U.S. lakes.
1. Lake George - Lake George, NY
The lake's beaches offer great space to relax in the sun in addition to its picturesque views of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains. While there are several places to swim around Lake George, the most popular beach is the state-run Million Dollar Beach, where lifeguards are on duty and admission is free! After a day spent sun bathing and swimming, ride one of the lake's historic steamboats. Its famous boats include the Minne-Ha-Ha, one of the last steam paddle wheelers in the country which boasts a visible engine room, and the Mohican, which launched in 1908 and is the oldest continuously operated tour boat in the U.S.
2. Redfish Lake - Stanley, ID
Once the site of such a thriving salmon population, the water actually appeared red, hence the name. Today, this Idaho lake is still a popular fishing destination (catch and release only) as well as a beautiful place to swim, boat, and hike. The nearby town of Stanley is a vibrant community, with plenty of outdoor activities and events year round, including a popular music festival in the summer.
3. Lake McConaughy - Lemoyne, NE
Lake McConaughy is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. This expansive lake is the largest reservoir in Nebraska, and due to the many active water sports and boating it hosts, it’s advised to stick to the designated (though unsupervised) area of Martin Bay for swimming. Birders take note! Ranked as one of the top three areas in the country for bird watching, this is well worth a visit to catch a glimpse of any of the 360 species that make this area their home.
Trip Tip: History buffs will enjoy a walk through the nearby town Ogallala, founded in 1884.
4. Lake Winnipesaukee - Wolfeboro, NH
This gorgeous glacial lake, particularly popular among residents of the northeast escaping the summer heat, attracts visitors from near and far. Covering 69 square miles, Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire and the third largest in all of New England. Over 258 islands speckle the lake's blue waters, making it an especially beautiful spot for swimming, water skiing, and paddle boarding.
Trip Tip: Treat yourself to a scoop of delicious ice cream at the local favorite, Bailey's Bubble.
5. Echo Lake - Acadia National Park, ME
Echo Lake in Acadia National Park, Maine, is a perfect family vacation spot. For swimming, there is a designated area with a lifeguard, and at it’s deepest point, the water depth is only 66 feet. Echo Lake Beach is the best for swimming, and is staffed with a lifeguard during the summer months. Boasting spectacular views and surrounding trails for hikes, it’s a photographers dream. Be sure to visit the nearby town of Somesville for some quaint and authentic Northeast charm, as well as to see the only fjord on the East Coast.
6. Lake Chelan - Chelan, WA
Located in the town of the same name, Lake Chelan is known for its crystal clear water, a perfect snorkeling and scuba opportunity! Purchase snorkel gear at any number of local shops, and scuba equipment is available for rent. The area is also an up and coming wine region (officially becoming an AVA in 2009). Local wine shops take great pride in their offerings and love to welcome newcomers to the area's wines! A number of delicious restaurants can also be found, such as Sorrento’s offering upscale Italian fare, or for a more casual set up, try Watson’s Alpenhorn Cafe.
7. Lake Red Rock - Marion County, IA
Red Rock is a hopping town in Iowa, and the lake is a hub for outdoor water sport enthusiasts. Maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, the lake is Iowa’s largest at 15,000 acres. The best swimming area is North Overlook Beach, situated along the Volksweg Trail. Check out the nearby town of Pella, established by Dutch immigrants in 1847, and maintaining much of it’s original Danish heritage today.
Trip Tip: Stop by Jaarsma Bakery, awarded by Iowa Tourism for Outstanding Retail, for a pastry!
8. Fallen Leaf Lake - El Dorado County, CA
Located in South Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake is the epitome of a hidden gem. A tiny town offering the essentials gives it a close knit community feel, yet the remote location creates the perfect amount of isolation for those seeking some Sierra peace and quiet. Most of the residences surrounding the lake are private, but there are homes available to rent closer to Lake Tahoe proper if you don’t mind the drive. Camping is also available around the lake.
Trip Tip: Be sure to get an ice cream at the General Store!
9. Lake Carlos - State Park, MN
Formed thousands of years ago from the melting of glacial ice, Lake Carlos is one of the most picturesque lakes for swimming. It is also a photographer's dream, with tons of wildlife, gorgeous views, and fascinating topography. The surrounding area is full of hikes and tons of other fun activities.
Trip Tip: Visit Carlos Creek Winery to relax with friends and enjoy great, local wine. Its vibrant Grape Stomp Festival each September attracts over 15,000 visitors.
10. Spring Lake - Santa Rosa, CA
A popular family destination in Santa Rosa, Spring Lake, part of the vibrant and popular Howarth Park, offers a beautiful, relaxed atmosphere. The surrounding trails are non strenuous and the lake has designated areas for swimming and other water sports. It’s a wonderful place for wildlife spotting, so bring your camera! Situated right off of picturesque Highway 12, it’s an easy stop to or from historic Sonoma Square, or the many wineries along the highway.
Trip Tip: If you’re staying in Santa Rosa, grab a delicious coffee at local spot Aroma Roasters in the historic Railroad Square, an area well worth exploring!
This article was written by Samantha Scott and edited by Tripping.com Content Specialist Lexi Perman.