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10 Best Lake Vacations For the Entire Family

July 25, 2022 6 min read

Spending time at the lake with the family: a classic summer scene that you wish would last all year long. It’s the particular combination of sunshine, natural surroundings, floating atop cool freshwater, and sipping on your favorite bev that makes a lake vacation hard to beat.

It doesn’t get much better than that, especially if the whole family can make it.

The question is, which lake are you and the fam destined for next? Is Lake Superior truly the most superior? Exactly how scary is Lake Erie? Do the Finger Lakes have fingers?

You have options: there are roughly 117 million lakes in the world to choose from. We’ve helped give you a jump start on your next trip to paradise by narrowing it down to ten lake vacations that the whole family will love.

The Best Lakes for Scuba Diving

Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe (California and Nevada) is known as one of the best locations for lake scuba diving in the USA. Not only that, it makes a phenomenal vacation destination as well.

Divers from all over travel to Emerald Bay to explore the underwater scenery and fascinating artifacts to be discovered. You can follow along the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail and discover colossal granite walls, underwater trees, and old cabin remains among other submerged artifacts.

When you’re not underneath the blue waters, you have 360 views of breathtaking mountains. In the winter, it may be a bit cold for scuba diving, but there are several first-class mountain resorts for skiing and snowboarding. The views of the lake from the ski hills are unlike anything else.

The Ultimate Lakes for Surfing

Lakes don’t typically work for surfing because the waves aren’t big enough. It’s more common to find wakeboarding, paddle boarding, and windsurfing at a lake than it is actual surfing.

If you have your heart set on surfing a lake, the Great Lakes are your best chance. There’s a reason they’re called the Third Coast of the US: the miles of shoreline of the Great Lakes cover more ground than both the East and West coasts combined. The massive size of the Great Lakes is what makes waves and surfing possible. It’s like nature made her own water park.

Lakes With the Best Beaches

Lake George in New York is where you’ll find some of the best lakeside beaches. Million Dollar Beach is one of them. Sounds pretty good right?

It’s named that because the area was a favorite vacation destination for 19th century tycoons such as the Rockefeller’s and the Vanderbilts. If it’s good enough for them, it’s probably not too bad.

It has everything you could want from a lakeside beach; you’ll find a boat launch, campground picnic tables, fire pits, and plenty of sand to pass between your toes. You can also do all your favorite water activities from water skiing to boating, and floating with the fam in an inflatable disco dome.

The Most Relaxing Lake Getaway

You can relax at just about any lake. Just bring your inflatable chaise lounger or mesh float and relaxation will be nearly impossible to avoid.

But if lakeside relaxation is what you’re after, then Austin, TX may be your vacation rental destination. Stay at the Lake Austin Spa Resort; your whole vacation can revolve around your utmost comfort and lakefront relaxation.

The spa is 25,000 square feet. It features numerous treatments, water sports, fitness opportunities, and other fun activities like jewelry-making classes, photography sessions, and more.

The Best Historical Beaches

If your family likes learning the history of the places you visit, you may be hard-pressed to find a better lake vacation than Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain had a big role in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812.

If you forgot what those are, you could Google it, or, you could plan your next family vacation there and find out the old fashioned way!

Coolest Lakes in a National Park

Dad insists on crossing another National Park off his list, but Megan refuses to go on family vacation unless she can chill by the water with her headphones in. What do you do? The solution is simple and clear: You’re going to a National Park with an unbelievable lake.

Bear Lake in Rocky Mountains National Park is known as one of the most beautiful lakes in a National Park full of them. It also has hiking trails, wildlife, and fresh air — all the things that National Parks are known for. Even Megan will have a great time once she gets there and sees how beautiful it is.

Best Lakes for Houseboat Rentals

You’ve heard of boat rentals, but have you heard of houseboat rentals?

A houseboat is a unique family vacation that ensures everyone will be spending a lot of quality time together. Although it may be unique, there are actually many options for staying in a houseboat on your lake vacation.

Lake Berryessa is a top choice for many. Less than an hour from Napa, CA, Lake Berryessa has ideal temperatures basically year-round. Experience the outdoors, cast a line, spot an eagle, and float atop the lake on a giant inflatable swan.

Make sure you grab some wine from Napa’s famous wineries before climbing aboard the houseboat (and maybe afterwards to bring home as well).

The Top Fishing Lakes in North America

If your family loves to fish, a lake vacation is right up your alley. Chances are you already have a favorite destination and a handful of fishing stories you could share. But maybe there’s something special about this year, maybe you’ll take the family to a new fishing spot; maybe you’ll catch more fish than you’ve ever caught before!

Here are some of the top fishing lakes in North America and what you’ll catch there.

  • Grand Lake, Colorado — lake trout, Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, brook trout
  • Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota — walleye, northern pike, muskie, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass. Fun fact: the largest lake in the USA is in Minnesota. Lake Michigan-Huron.
  • Lake Istokpoga, Florida — black crappie, largemouth bass
  • Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas — largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill
  • Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire— bass, trout, sunfish, perch, salmon, pickerel
  • The Most Exotic Lake Vacation Destination in the World

It’s hard to say which lake makes the most exotic lake vacation. However, if you have to pick a winner, it just might be Lake Pehoe, located on the southern tip of South America. The location itself is pretty exotic (and not the easiest to get to). The lake is nothing but breathtaking views of the Patagonia mountains as far as the eye can see.

There is something even more exotic to discover when you get there. You’ll find the Penguins National Monument, a colony of more than 60,000 adorable Magellan Penguins (named after the explorer who saw them in 1520).

The Lake Closest To Home

You don’t have to travel across the country or the world to find a lake you and the family can enjoy. The lake vacation you need might not be far away at all. Even if it’s not the most exotic location or doesn’t have an all-inclusive resort overlooking the water, you still make some sweet memories.

The bonus part about your local lake is that it’s affordable, great for short trips, and close by so you can invite all your friends as well.

Bring along an inflatable yacht, a beach towel to lay out on, and a tote bag packed with snacks and sunscreen. It’ll be impossible not to have an amazing day at the lake. Easy and close to home fun is always good to keep handy!

Sandy Beaches and Natural Beauty

If you’re looking for the perfect lake vacation spot, you’re definitely on the right track. It’s hard to miss when you’re going on a lake vacation with the family. It really just comes down to how far you’re willing to travel and what kind of activities you’re looking forward to.

There certainly is no shortage of fantastic lakes out there to discover. While you’ll never reach them all, each lake you visit with the family will be the home to a slew of special new memories and stories to share at future family dinners. Between kayaking, biking, and vibing on a boat tour (complete with live music), there’s a lakeshore for you.

Good on you for taking the family to the lake! It’s where families have been gathering for generations to strengthen family bonds, enjoy nature together, and have the best time ever!

Just make sure to take some cute family photos and be good stewards of the lake so people can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

Sources:

Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail - California State Parks | California Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Great Lakes Have the Most Miles of Coastline in Contiguous US | Mlive

10 Ways To Keep Lakes Clean | Freshwater Society

117 Million Lakes Found in Latest World Count | UVA Today

Top 10 Fishing Lakes in the US | TakeMeFishing


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