10 Best Family Lake Vacations
There's just something about summer trips and spending time on the lake. Here are our favorite spots to go when we want to kayak, canoe or just splash around in the fresh water.
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Lake Tahoe, CA
For a relaxing family lake vacation, opt for the north shores of Lake Tahoe. Soak in the rays, rent a kayak, or splash around in the crystal-clear lake waters at Sand Harbor State Park. Hikers will love the short climb to the top of Eagle Rock in Tahoe City for the most dreamy lake views. Book a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and reserve time at the new Lake Club, which boasts an outdoor whirlpool, stand-up paddleboards, beach access, and a private pier.
Lake Champlain, VT
From biking and hiking to exploring the coastal wine trail and visiting a teddy bear hospital, there’s a lot to see and do both on and off the water near Lake Champlain. Book a sightseeing cruise on board the Spirit of Ethan Allen III for picturesque views and narration on the history of the lake. Island hopping is also quite popular, enabling you to paddle or sail to multiple islands, including Woods, Knight, and Burton Islands. Book a stay at the Hotel Vermont in Burlington to be close to all the action.
Lake Erie, OH
Lake Erie touches multiple states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, but the real fun can be found on its shores in Ohio, just west of Cleveland. Plan to go island hopping, relax on the sunny beaches, even get in a few thrill rides at Cedar Point in Sandusky. Take the ferry to Marblehead Lighthouse Park, then zoom across the lake on a jet ski or Waverunner. A stop at Toft Dairy is a must too, if only for the super-size scoops of homemade ice cream. Try the new Lake Erie Cookie Island Monster flavor for blue ice cream mixed with chocolate cookie pieces.
Lake Placid, NY
Lake Placid is a fantastic lake vacation destination thanks to multiple lakes for fun, including Saranac Lake, Mirror Lake, and of course, Lake Placid. Book your stay at Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, the only hotel located right on the water. Walk out of your room and you’re steps from kayaks, paddle boats, and stand-up paddleboards, as well as a sandy beach for little ones. When not on the lake, take the gondola to the summit of Little Whiteface Mountain for inspiring views or do a waterfall hike at nearby High Falls Gorge.
Lake Superior, MI
Enjoy the picturesque beauty of Lake Superior from the beaches of Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the south shore of the Upper Peninsula. Go kayaking, explore the sandstone cliffs and waterfalls, or hike along more than 100 miles of nature trails within the park. Kids will love fishing at Little Beaver or Grand Sable Lake. Complete the activities in a Junior Ranger activity booklet to earn a badge or a patch, and don’t forget to have your National Parks Passport stamped while at the park. At night, plan on stargazing before settling into a campsite.
Lake Powell, AZ
Book a houseboat for three days or a week at Wahweap Marina in Page to stay right on the water and enjoy all that Lake Powell has to offer, including swimming, fishing, water skiing, and of course, iconic views of the American West. Off the water, tour the slot canyons at Antelope Canyon and take in the incredible views at Horseshoe Bend. In Page, you can also sign up for a family-friendly half- or full-day rafting trip at Glen Canyon Dam.
Lake McDonald, MT
Located adjacent to the west entrance of Glacier National Park is Lake McDonald, the largest glacier-created lake inside the park at 10 miles long and 472 feet deep. Take in the lake views on a one-hour, scenic boat cruise on-board a historic wooden boat, which sets off from the dock just behind the Lake McDonald Lodge. A horseback trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters is another great way to explore the lake. Or simply relax on the lake’s rocky shores. Book a room or campsite inside the park or stay in nearby Whitefish at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.
Lake Coeur D'Alene, ID
In Northern Idaho, Lake Coeur D’Alene is the place to go for summers on the lake. After a fun-filled day of boating, water skiing, and swimming, make time to relax on one of the lake’s sandy beaches. Next, book a lake cruise, get in a round of pickleball, or go whitewater rafting along the Spokane and Clark Fork Rivers. For even more family fun, look to Silverwood Theme Park, the largest amusement park in the northwest with more than 70 rides, and Triple Play Family Fun Park, which boasts a wave pool and a children’s lagoon.
Big Bear Lake, CA
Just two hours east of Los Angeles is Big Bear Lake, offering a quick and easy escape from the urban grind. Set in the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake has a lot to offer kids and families year-round. In summer, hours of family fun can be had fishing, kayaking, jet skiing, and wakeboarding, as well as swimming at the beach. Rent a pontoon boat or sign up for the pirate ship lake cruise at Holloway’s Marina. Off the lake, take the Scenic Sky Chair to the top of Snow Summit or ride the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain.
Lake George, NY
Kick off your stay in Lake George with a scenic boat cruise with Lake George Shoreline Cruises to see first-hand what makes Lake George such an incredible family lake vacation destination. Next, plan to go parasailing, rent your own boat, or take in the rays from one of the sunny beaches surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains. Every Thursday during the summer, enjoy a fireworks display at 9:30pm from Lake George Village. Before you head home, get in a round of mini golf and ride a roller coaster or two at The Great Escape.