One of the best parts about summer is getting out on the water, and embracing lake life is one of our preferred methods. We’ve rounded up seven of the best lakes around the U.S., perfect for lounging next to, boating on, or finding quintessential summer activities nearby.
Cayuga Lake, New York
One of the 11 lakes that make up New York’s quaint Finger Lakes region, Cayuga is the longest and second-most deep. With the charming town of Aurora nestled along its shores, the lake is a laid-back East Coast retreat where you can hop from vineyard to vineyard via bike on the scenic Cayuga Wine Trail.
Lake Tahoe, California
The largest alpine lake in the U.S., Tahoe’s pristine waters are as pretty as the snowcapped peaks that surround them, and the lake is an easy addition to our list. Stand-up paddleboards are a great, heart-pumping way to explore this 191-square-mile lake—or, kick back and charter a boat to really take in Tahoe’s postcard-worthy views.
Lake Powell, Arizona
This manmade lake is one of the most jaw-dropping on our list. Tucked among the red rocks of Arizona and stretching up into southern Utah, it’s an oasis in the midst of the desert. And activities are myriad, from traversing the world’s longest stone bridge at Rainbow National Monument to squeezing through the ever-photographed Antelope Canyon.
Flathead Lake, Montana
Montana’s largest freshwater lake is fed by glacial runoff, and its pristine waters are considered some of the clearest in the world. On its surface, boats appear almost as if to float in mid air—kayaking or canoeing on the lake affords incredible views under the water, which looks much more shallow than its 371-foot maximum depth.
Lake Michigan, Michigan
This quintessentially Midwestern lake is where Chicagoans flock to escape the sweltering heat of summer. Stay in charming Harbor Country, a region of southwest Michigan tucked along the lake’s sandy shores. There, you can explore Warren Dunes State Park, where the lake’s iconic sand dunes await—climb to the 260-foot top of them and catch a sunset.
Jenny Lake, Wyoming
With the picturesque, jagged peaks of the Tetons framing the backdrop, Jenny Lake within Grand Teton National Park outside of Jackson is one of the most scenic lakes in the country. Rent a canoe or kayak from one of the park’s authorized outfitters, or opt for a hike on one of the myriad trail’s surrounding the lake with jaw-dropping views.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Nestled among the rolling hills of Missouri’s Ozarks region, Lake of the Ozarks is one of the best recreational lakes in the Midwest, known for its great fishing and more than 1,100 miles of shoreline (more than the entire state of California). Find a secluded stretch for a family picnic or to throw down towels and soak up the sun.