If you’ve had enough of city life and you want to head somewhere cleansing and remote for a few days, consider traveling to a lake destination for your next family vacation. Each of these lake destinations offers a wide range of activities that suit all ages, from parasailing and canoeing to hiking, wildlife watching, fishing and leisurely boating.
1. Crater Lake, Oregon
This stunning lake is 1,943 ft. deep, making it the deepest in North America. Originally formed by a collapsed volcano nearly 8,000 years ago, today Lake Crater is a must-visit destination.
There aren’t any streams or tributaries running into Crater Lake, so you’ll be able to swim, scuba dive and canoe in water uniquely pure, clear and fresh.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, try hopping on one of the boat cruises or shuttle tours to the iconic Wizard Island that lies in the middle of the lake. Most trips allow you to spend several hours on this ancient cinder cone, and you’ll have more than enough time to hike up to the summit and peer into the 90 ft. crater.
2. Lake Chelan, Washington
Those wanting to get away from Seattle or Spokane for a long weekend should visit this glacier-fed lake in the middle of Chelan County. Kids will love water skiing and parasailing on this 50-mile long waterway, while adults will appreciate the many high-quality wine tasting opportunities nearby. More than 20 vineyards surround Lake Chelan, and many local wineries produce excellent award-winning vintages.
Hikers and ramblers will find plenty of well-marked and maintained trails that weave through the trees and along the shores of Lake Chelan. Fishing season is open year-round at Lake Chelan, but the best time to catch largemouth bass is late summer when the water is the perfect 70°F and the bass are at their most active.
3. Lake Clark, Alaska
If you and your family want to follow in the footsteps of Jack London and John Muir, head up to the Great White North and spend some time in the remote, unforgiving and stunning natural environment that surrounds Lake Clark.
You’ll experience calmness and wonderment as you walk through the lush boreal forest that lines the lake. During the summer months, visit the nearby Newhalen River to catch sight of thousands of sockeye salmon returning to Lake Clark as part of their annual migration.
4. Lady Bird Lake, Texas
The Lady Bird is a reservoir that passes through the middle of downtown Austin. There are plenty of fun recreational activities you can take part in, from paddle boarding and canoeing to walking your dog through the lakeside Auditorium Shores Dog Park.
If you’re visiting Lady Bird Lake anytime between March and November, make sure to catch a glimpse of the colony of free-tailed bats emerging from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge every night. You can hire a canoe or paddle board to sit on the water for a close-up view, or you can pick a suitable spot on the boardwalk that runs alongside the lake.
Those searching for a more leisurely activity should book a boat cruise that takes you along the reservoir, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Austin skyline.
5. Shasta Lake, California
Shasta Lake is another reservoir, lying at just over 1,000 ft. above sea level. You should visit this area to check out the remarkable Shasta Dam that lies across the Sacramento River and foots nearly 40 miles of freshwater lake.
While you may travel here to take in an architectural wonder, you’ll stay for the breathtaking natural sight of 14,000-ft. Mt. Shasta, a dramatic and sharp peak that towers over the lake.
Angling enthusiasts will find ample fishing opportunities on offer here, with plenty of bass, sturgeon and panfish. Shasta Lake in spring is peak fishing season, and the lake is always well-stocked. Make sure to take a variety of bait, including crawfish, a perennial favorite for small and largemouth bass. Parents can also teach their kids how to catch catfish as they stand on the lakeshore and dangle their bait in the water’s depths.
If you’re looking for something different, take your family to the foothills of Mt. Shasta, where you can tour the Lake Shasta Caverns, a stunning collection of 250 million-year-old caves that lie underneath the lake.
6. Flathead Lake, Montana
This 27-mile-long lake contains lots of lake trout and smallmouth bass, so you can spend the day reeling in a gorgeous fish to pan fry or oven-cook for friends and family. If it is your first time fishing for bass, talk with the local rangers for tips on the best spots to fish and to find out what the bass are eating so you can choose the right bait.
If you visit Flathead Lake during August, head to the nearby village of Bigfork to experience the Bigfork Festival of Arts. You can buy paintings by local artists, meet crafters and listen to live music.
The Riverbend Concert Series runs throughout the summer in Bigfork. Head down to the Everit L. Sliter Memorial Park on a Sunday, and you’ll find a local band or artist entertaining the crowds.
7. Lake Placid, New York
Those trying to escape the hustle and bustle of New York City should head to this iconic mountain town that lies at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains, around 300 miles north of downtown Manhattan.
You can take the family snowshoeing or go for a quiet meander through the woods and over the hills surrounding this area of New York State.
If you’re not in the mood for hiking, head to one of the many high-quality restaurants in this resort. Smoke Signals offers delicious handmade sandwiches and house-smoked BBQ, while The Breakfast Club, Etc. makes a delicious Bloody Mary and serves high-quality iced coffee.
Craft beer fans should visit the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery and try a pint of their complex and creamy Ubu Ale. If you want something less malty, opt for the New York State of Mind Pale Ale or a nuanced, hoppy Moose Island pint.
There are hundreds of thousands of lakes dotted across America, each one providing you with a unique holiday experience you won’t forget. You could travel to Austin to enjoy a vacation paddle boarding along the Lady Bird Lake and going to raucous live music gigs, or you could head up north to Alaska to spot a mass migration of wild salmon or explore the white, harsh wilderness. Whichever lake destination you choose to visit next, you’ll find ample opportunities for watersports, hiking and wildlife watching.
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