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Lakes & Rivers
Best Lakes and Rivers for Boatloads of Fun
Know you want to vacation near the water, but not sure where to go? If being out on the water is your happy place, we know the feeling. When people picture vacations on the water, they often imagine the ocean. But the U.S. is chock full of beautiful, fun-filled rivers and lakes to explore. Whether you hike along the shore, paddle downstream in a kayak, or find a new favorite fishing spot, there is plenty to do while admiring the beautiful waterside scenery. So grab a rod, paddle, or picnic basket, and get to exploring.
Most Beautiful Lakes
There are probably plenty of lakes only a short drive from your home. But if you want the best of the best – breathtaking views, crystal clear water, and pure beauty – make sure to visit one of the most beautiful lakes in the US. Explore an incredibly large lake that’s more like an ocean, with sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, islands, and sandy beaches. Or grab your scuba gear and dive into an extraordinarily clear, deep lake surrounded by rugged terrain and pierced by dramatic islands. And gorgeous views aren’t just for summer. Visit a picturesque lake with amazing beaches that also has world-class ski slopes with incredible views down to the lake.
Best Lakes for Boating
Sometimes being near the water isn’t enough – you need to be on the water. But not every lake allows boating or motorized water sports. Always be sure to check local regulations when boating is an important part of your vacation. Once you’ve selected the perfect boat-friendly lake, it’s time to get out on the water. Cruise at full speed for the endorphin-filled rush, then cut the engine and do some floating. Tie on a tube or hang tight and balance as you’re pulled along on waterskis. For a more mellow boating experience, grab a refreshing drink and cast a line into the clear, deep water.
Best Lakes for Family Vacations
Lakes make the perfect location for a relaxing family vacation. Soak in the sun on the sandy shore, splash around in the crystal clear water, or rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and leave the shoreline in the distance. Stay waterfront on a small, private lake for a quiet vacation where you can reconnect with nature and easily enjoy the water. Or venture to a larger lake where you can hike and bike the shoreline, and explore the lake through fishing, boating, watersports, sailing, and diving. Enjoy waterfront dining with gorgeous sunset views, then make s’mores over a roaring fire as the light fades on a perfect day.
Best Rivers for Floating, Fishing, and Fun
Lakes are beautiful but don’t discount rivers for a fun vacation. Grab the inner tubes and enjoy a carefree, lazy float down a natural waterway with calm waters and the occasional rapid to spur you along. Pack a cooler with refreshing drinks and snacks to keep your crew happy as you float along (always check local laws to see what’s allowed). Or rent a kayak, paddle against the current for a challenging workout, and then downstream for a leisurely return trip. Spend the day fly-fishing from the bank, then catch and release or take your fresh catch home to your cozy vacation home for a delicious meal.