Oswego, New York
The town of Oswego has it all—historic buildings like the Merriam Barrett Guest House that appeal to history buffs, and natural wonders to tempt more outdoorsy travelers. Come summer, Lake Ontario and the Oswego River, which cuts through this town in Upstate New York, are teeming with kayakers, rafters, and hobby fishermen.
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Named after the real Palace of Versailles, this small town is regal in its own right. Between swimming and boating excursions, sand volleyball matches, and drinks at the popular Coconuts Bar & Grill, this central Missouri town located 15 minutes from the northern shore of the Lake of the Ozarks offers plenty to amuse.
flickr.com via RuntdoggII
Water sports enthusiasts looking for their next adrenaline fix may want to set their sights on this 1,000-person town situated in close proximity to four lakes. Torch Lake, the largest of the four, stretches 19 miles and is as amenable to picnicking as it is to swimming and fishing.
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Warning: A trip to this cool Colorado town may induce envy in your friends when they see your wow-worthy photos of Main Street, the sparkling Dillon Reservoir, and the three imposing mountain ranges that border the town. When you're not behind the camera, you can work up an appetite rowing in the reservoir or pitching your tent at Heaton Bay Campground, then grab some Southwestern-style grub at Silverheels.
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To escape the bustle of tourist-filled Lake Tahoe, head to this slower-paced California town just 15 miles northwest of the famed lake. Truckee's less bustling but no less beautiful Donner Lake features clear and well-stocked waters for weekend fishing along with a paved trail that runs parallel to the Truckee River and affords scenic water views for pedestrians and bikers.
Southeast of Eugene, this often overlooked Oregon town is home to Waldo Lake, one of the purest in the world. If you're skittish around water, hit the nearby Dead Mountain or Alpine trail for a mountain biking excursion or a moonlit hike with a travel buddy.
Related: 20 Must-Visit Mountain Towns Across America
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
From the "Rock the Lake" music festival to parasailing on the eight-square-mile Geneva Lake, there's no shortage of fun for outdoor enthusiasts in this southeastern Wisconsin town. The wooded campsites with showers at nearby Big Foot State Park appeal to those nature lovers who aren't keen on roughing it.
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It's hard to argue with this Texas town's claim that it has the most beautiful town square in the state, what with its panoply of well-preserved Victorian buildings and meandering trails along the San Gabriel River. But the town also abuts one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas. Spanning nearly 1,300 acres, Lake Georgetown boasts ample coastline for swimming, fishing, horseback riding, and those much-talked-about Texas barbecues.
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While away your weekend in this unsung lake town in the highlands of Maine, where you can take a moose-watching tour, boat along Moosehead Lake, and munch on famed lobster rolls at Kelly's Landing. Cap off the evenings gazing at the sunset from Lily Bay State Park, a 924-acre recreational area on the southeastern shore of the lake.
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Devils Lake, North Dakota
There's no better pit stop for pescatarians than this angelic-looking town on the northern shore of Devils Lake, known as the perch capital of the world. Seafood abounds on menus at favorite restaurants like the historic Old Main Street Cafe, but if you'd rather catch your own dinner, grab your reel and head for the lake. Depending on the season, you can enjoy ice fishing or open water fishing, or try your luck from the shore.
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If a trip to Sweden isn't in the cards, settle into this Swedish-influenced town bordered by lakes on all sides. The town was named after Daniel Lindström, a Swedish immigrant who was an important figure in the town's early history. To this day, the town celebrates that nation's culture through monuments and historic sites as well as a yearly festival, Karl Oskar Days. Held in early July, the event, which features street dancing, a parade, and fireworks, celebrates characters from Vilhelm Moberg’s "The Emigrants," a novel inspired by the journey of real Swedish immigrants to America.
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Laconia, New Hampshire
Learn about the industrial history of Laconia on a tour of the Belknap Mill, the oldest original brick textile mill in the country, or watch passing boats on nearby Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam Lake or Lake Opechee, all of which boast crystal-clear water for swimming or fishing.
Travelers looking for directions are no doubt grateful that this tongue-twister of a name, Lake Chaubunagungamaug, is commonly referred to by the more accessible "Webster Lake." Tourists frequent the locale to admire the several islands dotted with picturesque waterfront homes and visit the generous 17-mile-long shoreline fit for ice fishing, pontoon boating, and swimming.
flickr.com via JJBers
Arizona's best-kept secret in lakeside living may be this town of 4,400 residents, which sits on the eastern edge of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Spanning 2 million acres in total, the lush forest beckons to adventure-seekers who come to paddle boat, fish, or swim in nearby Rainbow and Show Low lakes.
Wikimedia Commons via John
The third-deepest lake in Washington is like a personal playground for visitors to this scenic Pacific Northwest town. Spanning 50 miles in length, Lake Chelan is long enough for powerboat or whitewater raft excursions but equally accommodating to those who prefer to dip their toes into the shallow waters by the shoreline.
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Greenwood, South Carolina
Greenwood's annual Festival of Discovery pays homage to the culture and food of South Carolina with a barbecue society and a hash cook-off. There's no better place to scarf down the spoils of these culinary competitions than on the shore of the town's eponymous lake, an 11,400-acre reservoir that in fair weather inspires locals to set off on their boats in search of fish and relaxation.
flickr.com via Jason A G
Blairsville is home to not one but three lakes: Lake Winfield Scott, Lake Nottely, and Lake Trahlyta. The largest of the trio, the 4,180-acre Lake Nottely, is nestled within stands of majestic trees to afford alpine views from the shores, where swimming or fishing are favorite pastimes.
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flickr.com via Stephen Rahn
An isthmus that cuts through a chain of 11 lakes, Windermere puts a network of natural pools right at your feet. While the lakes are prized for freshwater fishing, landlubbers might prefer the treasures above the sea, including the eclectic restaurants of Main Street and the stately celebrity-owned homes that dot the landscape.
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flickr.com via Steven Martin
Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina
Determined to change their reputation after being ranked among the least healthy towns in North Carolina, this community of 1,440 initiated the "Take the Walk" challenge, a free fitness event held annually on the town's eponymous 8,938-acre freshwater lake. Whether you opt to swim across it, paddle about in it, or walk around it, the oval-shaped oasis promises plenty of natural beauty along the way.
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flickr.com via Shankar Gallery Richard Lazzara
Fishing is off-limits at Lake Phoenix, this town's most notable natural wonder. But other outdoor pleasures abound in the spring-fed lake, where you can scuba dive or snorkel to explore its depths, which range up to 65 feet. When you're ready to come up for air, book a stay at one of the region's quaint bed-and-breakfasts, such as Brunswick Mineral Springs or The Grey Swan Inn.
flickr.com via David Clow
Creatives converge in this historic hamlet with a historic district that glitters with art galleries and music venues, including the more than 100-year-old Smyrna Opera House. If you'd prefer to experience the wilder side of town life, pack a picnic and pop over to Lake Como, or head to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to snap a selfie surrounded by the seemingly endless tidal salt marsh.
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Tucked between Pasadena and Waterford roads in this town 12 miles north of Annapolis lies the action-packed Lake Waterford Park. The 12-acre lake adjacent to the park offers opportunities for waterfowl spotting and fishing, and other wholesome outdoor entertainments.
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flickr.com via Matthew Beziat
The 587 residents of this tiny town near the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line share Pymatuning Lake with the neighboring towns of Hartstown, Harmonsburg, and Adamsburg. But the 17,000-acre swamp turned lake affords more than enough shoreline and water to quench your thirst for the outdoors, whether your pursuit of choice is boating or angling.
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flickr.com via Ornoth
Summersville, West Virginia
Boasting a relatively temperate climate, Summersville is a major draw for vacationers in search of a respite from the Southern heat. If that's not enough to keep you cool, dip your toes into the 4,219-square-mile Summersville Lake, or don your scuba gear and dive right in to explore the boat that was deliberately hidden in its depths for divers to find.
If you hie yourself to this Dixie town to cruise the waters of Lake Guntersville by boat or on water skis, keep your eyes peeled for the graceful eagles that have been known to soar overhead. The woodland surrounding the state's largest lake features campgrounds, golf courses, eateries, and vacation homes with killer water views.
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Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
While the local Lake Martin is chock-full of wading birds, fish, and even alligators, the town of Breaux Bridge itself is bursting with Cajun culture. Many locals speak Cajun French, and the shops, lodgings, and restaurants brim with Creole-inspired antiques and cuisine.
flickr.com via Tom Head
Glen Allan, Mississippi
Shutterbugs who gravitate toward architectural subjects will find plenty to photograph in this Mississippi town on the eastern bank of Lake Washington. Glen Allan is awash in stately mansions and historic buildings like St. John’s Episcopal Church, a 188-year-old chapel that's one of the most photographed sites in the state.
flickr.com via Michael McCarthy
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Water worshippers are spoiled for choice in this Ozark town that's situated near three lakes. The closest, Lake Leatherwood, is a mountain biker's paradise, Table Rock Lake is a dream diving destination, and Beaver Lake takes the cake for fishing.
Have a hankering for history? Take a trip down memory lane in this town on the banks of Table Rock Lake that's crammed with theme parks and performance venues, including the 1880s-themed Silver Dollar City amusement park and Dolly Parton's Stampede, a celebration of trick riding, patriotism, and friendly competition. Or, take a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway for a glimpse of railroad features from the olden days.
Home to a network of lakes known as the Iowa Great Lakes, Okoboji boasts prime pools for water skiing and paddle boating. For the younger set, Arnolds Park Amusement Park, an Iowa tradition since 1889, offers funnel cakes, family attractions, thrill rides, and a roller coaster that dates back to 1927.
The Selkirk, Bitterroot, and Cabinet mountain ranges on the outskirts of this panhandle community form a scenic backdrop for the state's largest lake, Lake Pend Oreille. Wakeboarders, jet skiers, and sailors are all encouraged to make a splash in the 43-mile-long lake.
Garden City, Utah
From watching the boats go by on Bear Lake to sampling the local harvest during the annual Raspberry Days celebration, you'll have your pick of family-friendly fun (and all the berries you can eat) in this quirky Utah town.
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flickr.com via On.My.BigfOot
Although it's one of the most sparsely populated towns in the United States, the 328-person community of Westmore may have one of the highest rates of fun per capita in the country. Replete with shops, restaurants, and breweries, the town also offers easy access to a public beach at Lake Willoughby and the campgrounds of Willoughby State Forest.
St. Marys, Ohio
The largest artificial lake in the world built without machinery, the 13,500-acre Grand Lake occupies an important place in St. Marys past and present. Though it was constructed as a reservoir for the Miami-Erie Canal, today anglers, kayakers, and other outdoors types throughout the Midwest have come to know and love the lake for its glimmering waters and rustic campgrounds.
flickr.com via J. Stephen Conn
Take the kids on an "edutaining" wildlife scavenger hunt at the 560-acre Lake Miola Park, home to waterfowl, zebra mussels, and bluegill fish. The annual Kids and Cops Fishing Tournament, held on the lake, gives your little angler the opportunity to reel in her own prize catch.
Wikimedia Commons via Ichabod
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