Whether for a summer vacation, a cozy winter retreat, or a place to call home, lake towns thrive year-round with charm and outdoor fun. Lake life boasts simple pleasures with stunning views that draw people in for its laidback lifestyle and abundance of nature. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best lake towns throughout the country to enjoy boating, swimming, hiking, endless lake views, and more.
Lake Arrowhead, California
Tucked into the San Bernardino National Forest, Lake Arrowhead’s adorable village is filled with dining, imbibing, shopping, and plenty of outdoor activities. Nicknamed the “Alps” of Southern California, Lake Arrowhead boasts incredible views from nearly every vantage point, whether you’re staying at the town’s renowned Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa, sipping a beer at Lake Arrowhead Brewing Co., enjoying a wine flight at The Grapevine, or taking a cruise on the lake itself.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Home to the 72-square-mile Lake Winnipesaukee, the lake town of Wolfeboro considers itself “The Oldest Summer Resort in America.” A visit in the summer is filled with fun on the lake, and farmer’s markets and festivals welcome guests as well. As the days cool, October is rich with autumnal flare, which can be enjoyed in all its glory with a nearby hike up Mount Major. A stay at Wolfeboro Inn provides cozy luxury, and the inn’s Wolfe's Tavern is not to be missed.
Dating back to the post-Revolutionary War era, Vergennes can’t help but ooze historical charm. History buffs will relish visits to the town’s landmarks, like the Vergennes Opera House and the 1793 Stevens House. For lakeside enjoyment, a stay at the Basin Harbor Resort puts visitors up close to picturesque Lake Champlain. After a day exploring, indulge in date night with farm-to-table fare at Black Sheep Bistro.
A small town filled with jaw-dropping nature, Greenville sits on Moosehead Lake. The area is rich with hiking opportunities, moose safaris, dog sledding adventures, and more. Visitors should take advantage of a cruise around the lake on Maine’s last remaining steamboat, the Katahdin. Renting a lakeside cabin offers visitors a rustic lodging experience with quick access to the great outdoors. Dine at Kelly’s Landing for delicious New England seafood staples.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Take a break from reality and step into a storybook setting with a visit to Mackinac Island, surrounded by Lake Huron. The lake town bans motor vehicles, with horse-and-buggy, walking or biking the optimal options for getting around. The sprawling waterfront lawn of Mission Point Resort is a big draw. Take a ride over to Great Turtle Brewery & Distillery, Mackinac Island’s first and only craft brewery and distillery, and be sure to grab a bite with the locals at Millie’s on Main.
South Lake Tahoe, California
The turquoise waters and towering trees of South Lake Tahoe create a fairytale setting that draws visitors from all over. Summer entices with boating adventures, hiking, mountain biking, and dockside dining at places like The Boathouse. Winter is its own type of wonderland, with plentiful opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. A stay at Edgewood Tahoe Resort will put you in the lap of luxury on the shores of Lake Tahoe.
Situated near the sparkling, crystal clear waters of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Bigfork thrives in the summer. Renting a cabin on the lake ensures all the water activities are within reach. Bigfork combines wild west resort town vibes with a modern arts scene that come together to create an eclectic experience. Check out Traditions Restaurant at the Bigfork Inn for fine dining in an old-timey atmosphere.
White Lake, North Carolina
Tourists flock to White Lake in summer to enjoy the natural spring and rain water of the 1,200-acre lake. The lake’s crystal clear waters and white sandy bottom make it a marvelous spectacle. When people aren’t swimming, boating, wakeboarding, jet skiing or water skiing on the lake, they can often be found on the gorgeous 18-hole golf course or at one of the nearby amusement parks. Check out Camp Fear Vineyard and Winery, where you can drink, dine, and stay overnight.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
The idyllic town of Grand Marais is located between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains. The tiny town has a surprising number of activities, including an amazing arts culture, unique shops and galleries, delicious dining opportunities, and more. A visit to the 19th-century Grand Marais Lighthouse at night is a must to see the northern lights. Check out the beautiful taproom at Voyageur Brewing Company, and don’t miss harborside fare at Birch Terrace Supper Club.
Grand Lake, Colorado
Situated at over 8,000 feet above sea level, the town of Grand Lake is home to the serene shores of the largest natural lake in Colorado, and the breathtaking Rocky Mountain National Park. Moose sightings are plentiful, including Bruce the Bull Moose who strolls through town and walks along the beach. Rapids Lodge and Restaurant draws in visitors for its luxury guest rooms and supreme cuisine.
Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newslettertoday!