Lake County lies north of San Francisco in an area surrounded by beautiful hills and extinct volcanoes. Because of its position inland from the Pacific Ocean, fog does not temper its warm Mediterranean climate, and it receives an abundance of sunshine for much of the year. Lovely Clear Lake, which scientists believe to be the oldest lake in North America, dominates the region. Enjoy boating, fishing, and water sports on the lake as well as hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and wildlife observation in the surrounding hills. The region also has a number of natural hot springs where you can relax and unwind. Here are some of the top locations for vacation rentals in Lake County.

1. Lakeport

Lakeport, the county seat, is on the western shore of Clear Lake. It’s a popular place to enjoy activities on the lake such as swimming, sailing, jet skiing, windsurfing, and fishing. To the west, explore 120 miles of trail by motorcycle or four-wheel drive vehicle at the South Cow Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area. In town, the Courthouse Museum and Historic Schoolhouse Museum offer fascinating exhibits on Native American history, early pioneer history, and local geology. Lakeport hosts a number of annual events, including the Art and Wine in the Park Festival and the Taste of Lakeport festival.

2. Clearlake

The city of Clearlake lies at the southeast end of Clear Lake. Several parks along the lakeshore offer picnic tables, grills, and beautiful views of the pristine lake waters and surrounding hills. During the summer, the lake water warms up and provides a relaxed swimming experience. If you want to catch and cook your meal, take a boat out onto the lake and fish for largemouth bass, black bass, catfish, and rainbow trout.

3. Lower Lake

Lower Lake is just south of Clearlake at the southern tip of the lake. It is the gateway to Anderson Marsh State Historic Park, a protected area with several habitats including woodlands, grasslands, and marsh wetlands. The park features miles of hiking trails where you can watch for great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, egrets, white-tailed kites, and red-shouldered hawks. You may also spot some wildlife such as river otters, raccoons, minks, gray foxes, and opossums.

4. Hidden Valley Lake

The lovely town of Hidden Valley Lake is surrounded by hills alongside its namesake body of water. For a panoramic view of the valley with its vineyards of wine grapes and orchards of pear trees, you can go hot air ballooning. The town’s 18-hole golf course, with its perennial sunshine and emerald lawns is the perfect place to play. Housed in the oldest building in Lake County, the Stone House Museum offers an interesting look at local history. Around the lake, Big Beach Park, Little Beach Park, and North Shore Park offer sandy beaches with swimming, picnic tables, and play areas. A special fishing pond near the lake’s dam spillway is a great place for fishing from the shore or from fishing piers built out over the water.

5. Cobb/Whispering Pines

The villages of Cobb and Whispering Pines lie within a mile of each other between Cobb Mountain and Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest. Both mountains are extinct volcanoes, and Cobb Mountain is the tallest mountain in California’s Mayacamas Mountains. The state park has 14 miles of trail that are great for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding through meadowlands and stands of oak, pine, fir, and dogwood trees.

6. Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is just north of the village of Cobb and southeast of Lower Lake. It’s a small mountain resort set amidst a lovely forest of Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and black oak. Nearby is Loch Lomond Vernal Pool Ecological Reserve, which protects rare species of plants. Besides observing the wildflowers and other plant species, you may spot wildlife such as deer, gray foxes, and coyotes.

7. Kelseyville

Vacation rentals in Kelseyville on the western side of Clear Lake offer great views of the lake and the surrounding hills. The town’s main street is a great place to stroll and check out the shops, restaurants, and wine-tasting rooms from the numerous surrounding wineries. The Ely Stage Stop and Museum has exhibits highlighting the agricultural history of Lake County.

8. Soda Bay

The village of Soda Bay lies on the western shore of Clear Lake. It is adjacent to Clear Lake State Park, which offers a multitude of outdoor recreational activities. Its swim beach is equipped with picnic tables and showers. There’s also a boat launch and a small marina. You can enjoy canoeing, tubing, paddle-boating, and windsurfing on the lake. The Indian Nature Trail, the Dorn Trail, and the Kelsey Creek Trail allow you to view local plants and enjoy panoramic views of the lake and its environs. You might also see black-tailed deer, river otters, raccoons, and muskrats.

9. Nice

The quiet, laid-back town of Nice is on the northern shore of Clear Lake. Its vacation rentals offer an unparalleled view of the lake, and it’s a great spot for relaxing, fishing, and exploring the surrounding hills.

10. Lake Pillsbury

Lake Pillsbury lies north of Clear Lake in the midst of the Mendocino National Forest. Popular activities around the lake include power boating, sailing, and hang gliding. You can also fish for black bass, steelhead, and trout. A number of hiking trails allow you to explore the forests around the lake on foot or on horseback. Wildlife you may observe in the wilderness includes black-tailed deer, black bears, and mountain lions. The north shore of the lake is the home of a herd of tule elk, the largest land animals in California.

11. Clearwater Oaks

The town of Clearwater Oaks is on the eastern shore of Clear Lake, and its vacation rentals feature spectacular views of the lake and majestic Mount Konocti across the water. It’s a great place to access the many recreational activities on the lake and in the nearby hills. It’s also close to fascinating Borax Lake, one of the most significant archeological sites in the western United States. If you explore the lakeside, you may come across some ancient obsidian spearheads or arrowheads.

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