Summer is synonymous with "beach", but if you’re only looking to America’s coasts to dig your feet in the sand, you’re missing out on the most quintessential of warm-weather destinations: its lakes.
Not only do lakes make the perfect swim spot, especially for families looking for calmer waters, but they’re also often ideal spots for fishing, kayaking, and camping. Plus, the freshwater means you won’t have any sting in your eyes or funky taste in your mouth. Here are 10 must-visit lakes across the country.
Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe is more than a ski destination: It’s also North America’s largest alpine lake. Nestled among the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of California and Nevada, visitors generally head to North Lake Tahoe for Sand Harbor Beach, or Tahoe South, where Regan Beach is a family favorite. The lake sees 300 days of sunshine each year and offers 24-hour casinos for when the sun sets.
Newfound Lake, New Hampshire
Nearby Lake Winnipesaukee may have more name recognition, but Newfound Lake holds its own, laying claim to some of the cleanest water fed by eight underground springs. Though at seven miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide it’s not the state’s largest lake, Newfound Lake is one of the deepest. And with 22 miles of shoreline, it’s plenty big enough to find your own little slice.
Lake Texoma, Texas & Oklahoma
As its name indicates, Lake Texoma straddles two states. It’s also one of the largest reservoirs in the country and one of the most developed. More than 6 million people head to the lake’s shores each year, about an hour north of Fort Worth. But with a surface area of 89,000 acres, there’s room for everyone. Besides jumping off a boat, Eisenhower State Park’s beach is the ideal spot for swimming, tucked away in a cliff-backed cove.
Lake Chelan, Washington
The 50.5-mile Lake Chelan is Washington’s largest natural lake and is surrounded by the Cascade mountains and vineyards. About 100 glaciers continue to drain into the lake during summer. The lake’s surrounding towns and state parks (Willow Point is a local favorite) protect numerous swimming areas, a must when the Lake Chelan Valley sees 300 days of sunshine each year.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
The state’s largest lake destination, the Lake of the Ozarks has more than 1,150 miles of shoreline. Created by a dam in the 1930s, the lake shores are indented by coves, creating quiet inlets. Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers two sandy public beaches.
Green Lake, New York
The Finger Lakes draw more attention as far as upstate New York lakes go, but Green Lake and neighbor Round Lake offer two lakes for the price of one and more swimming opportunities. Green Lake and Round Lake, a National Natural Landmark, are both located in Green Lakes State Park. Sitting at the base of a gorge, the glacial lakes and surrounding area are remnants from the ice age.
Rainy Lake, Minnesota
The land of 10,000 lakes is perhaps the country’s best spot for a lake vacation. One of the top concentrations of the state’s lakes is in Voyageurs National Park. Among the park’s 84,000 acres of water, 655 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 500 islands is Rainy Lake. Since the lake straddles Canada, ensure you understand border crossing rules for boats.
Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina
Located predominantly in the Nantahala National Forest and surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, Lake Santeetlah has a 76-mile shoreline that’s limited on development and high on seclusion. Cheoah Point offers a swimming area, in addition to camping, and a hiking trail that connects to the Appalachian Trail.
Flathead Lake, Montana
The largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi in the lower 48, Flathead Lake offers up 185 miles of shoreline. Flathead Lake State Park is made up of six units offering recreation opportunities, including swimming: Big Arm, West Shore, Wayfarers, Finley Point, Yellow Bay, and Wild Horse Island.
Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
Arkansas has 23 state parks with water access, but just eight offer a sandy spot to park yourself. Lake Ouachita State Park is one of them. One of the state’s Diamond Lakes, Lake Ouachita is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and is the state’s largest manmade lake with 975 miles of shoreline.
Credit to Smart Travel website.