Peaceful Lake Vacation Destinations Across the U.S.

When it comes to counteracting the stresses of everyday life, pretty much everyone can agree that hitting the road in search of unpopulated wilderness is the way to go. Of course, some people aren't keen to camp on the cold, hard ground, so a small population with some tourist amenities is nice, and in both regards there are many lake communities across the U.S. that can deliver. So if you're looking for a locale that will provide you with hassle-free living and a peaceful communion with nature, here are some of the best lakes to visit.

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1. Lake Tahoe. This mountain lake straddles the border of California and Nevada, but really bears the best-known hallmarks of neither. It lacks both the arid heat and the crowded atmosphere that have come to characterize these two states, which makes for a welcome respite for residents. Situated at over 6,000 feet above sea level in the Sierra Nevada range, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the U.S. This means that there is plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the view and the scent of pine. Although plenty of people from neighboring states head to the lake for mild
temperatures in the summer (around 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and skiing in the winter, and there are quite a few residents around the lake, it's one of the most beautiful and relaxing vacation spots in the United States. Plus, if you're so inclined, there are all kinds of activities to entertain you, including nearby casinos on the Nevada side.

2. Lake Norman, North Carolina. This low-lying lake may be manmade, but you won't know the difference when you dip your toes in the stream-fed waters. Populated by fish, this serene lake makes for an excellent locale to head out in your boat as the first rays of the morning sun are highlighting the eastern shore. Just be aware of "event" weekends; both the International Jet Sports Boat Association and the Lake Norman Yacht Club are known to hold races here periodically.

3. Wallowa Lake, Oregon. This state is known for rampant rainfall, so it's hard to believe that residents would spend the few sunny days each year jumping into a body of water. But this lake, situated near the town of Joseph, is both gorgeous and pristine, drawing visitors in for hiking and swimming since the late 19th century (when the first businesses were built to support gold miners). Visitors can stay at the Wallowa Lake Lodge (formerly the Wonderland Inn) for a dose of history (built in 1923, it used to house an amusement park). And the hiking trails surrounding the lake will offer you a breath of fresh air, some time to commune with nature, and astonishing vistas of the lake and surrounding landscape.

4. Lake Sacandaga, New York. Smaller and less crowded than nearby Lake George, this body of water nonetheless exemplifies the Adirondack region. With ample outdoor recreation and kitschy mom-and-pop shops in the quaint lakeside community you'll find plenty to amuse you during your visit. But if it's a little R&R you're looking for, sit back and relax on the grassy expanses surrounding the lake (which acted as flood plains prior to the dam being built in 1930). You'll have no trouble unwinding when you rest in one of the wide-backed, low-slung lounge chairs that the Adirondacks are famous for.

5. Lake Vermilion, Minnesota. In the land of 10,000 lakes, it's got to be hard to nab the title of "Minnesota's Most Beautiful Lake", but Vermilion definitely lives up to the lofty moniker. Fed by seven distinct tributaries and characterized by a placid surface and scads of deciduous trees that deliver a riot of color come fall, this body of water will put you in mind of Henry David Thoreau (although he was from New England). Your large backyard may facilitate the installation of lake fountains that you can enjoy throughout the year, but nothing will measure up to the beauty and tranquility of sitting on the shores of Lake vermilion and watching one of the storied sunsets that have helped it to earn its title.


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