The 6 Best Lakes to Vacation on in the United States

Written by Megan Martin
Updated: May 14, 2023
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Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or to take advantage of nature at its fullest, the United States is home to a variety of lakes fit for every occasion – including these top 6 best lakes to vacation on. 

Ready to find your next lake-side vacation destination? Keep reading!

Infographic of the six best lakes to vacation on in the United States.
These are the six best lakes to visit for some relaxation and fun in the U.S.!

6. Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake is one of the few lakes in the world filled only with rain or snow melt!


Few lakes offer the unique views and experience for your vacation as Crater Lake in Oregon does.

Found in Crater Lake National Park, many consider Crater Lake to be the cleanest lake in the entire world. This has resulted in nearly crystal clear blue waters that are great for swimming, boating, or relaxing. This spotlessness is thanks to the fact that there are no rivers or streams feeding the lake. Instead, a volcanic eruption created a crater that eventually filled with rain and melted snow, creating one of the best lakes to vacation on in the United States. 

The lake itself is fairly small, at only six miles long and around five miles wide. There are two islands in the lake as well, Wizard Island and Phantom Ship. Although the lake can become crowded in popular months, with over 550,000 visitors in 2020, the scenic views, mild climate, and abundance of activities make it a popular vacation destination for nearly every family.  

5. Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

Kabetogama Lake Minnesota
Kabetogama Lake can be found in Voyageurs National Park.

© Kempf

Lake Kabetogama, also seen as Kabetogama Lake, is a popular lake in Minnesota, inside of Voyageurs National Park to be specific. One of the ten largest lakes in Minnesota, Lake Kabetogama covers a surface area of 25,760 acres. For comparison, that’s the same size as Disney World. The Ojibwe name for the lake is Gaa-biitoogamaag-zaaga’igan, which refers to the fact that Lake Kabetogama is so close to another lake, Namakan Lake.

It also happens to be one of the best lakes to vacation on in the United States! 

When it comes to outdoor recreation, Lake Kabetogama offers it all. First, its warm beaches with shallow water make it a top destination for water recreation. It also hosts a variety of fish species, such as black crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, and lake sturgeon, which makes it popular for fishing. 

Because Lake Kabetogama is so close to the Canadian border, the surrounding forests are mild and popular for hiking. You can also visit the peninsula that separates Lake Kabetogama from Namakan Lake to experience the amazing views and tranquility of the landscape. While camping is popular, there are also several resorts dotting the coast of the lake.

4. Lake Norman, North Carolina

Mountain Island Lake
Lake Norman is one of the most popular vacation spots in North Carolina.

©Karen Fasimpaur / CC BY 3.0 – License

Only 20 miles away from vacation-hotspot Charlotte, Lake Norman has more than earned its place as one of the best lakes to vacation on in the United States. It’s the largest man-made lake in all of North Carolina, and it’s within driving distance of some of the most popular cities in the state. 

If you’re interested in boating, Lake Norman is home to several marinas. The average depth of the lake is 33 feet deep, which makes it perfect for most types of boats. The calm surface also makes it perfect for kayaks and canoes. 

Lake Norman is also considered to be one of the best swimming areas. What makes it perfect for vacations, however, is the warm water showers and changing areas that allow for Lake Norman to be one of many areas you enjoy during your stay. The lake is home to several trails, which you can enjoy before cooling off with a swim. 

3. Lake Clark, Alaska

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
The remote location of Lake Clark makes it the perfect location for serious anglers to catch a wide variety of great fish.

© Perelygin

There are few places you can visit in the United States where you can experience both the beauty of wilderness and culture in one trip. Lake Clark in Alaska just happens to be one of these locations. 

The best way to access Lake Clark is a one-hour flight from Anchorage, Kenai, or Homer. While it may seem strange to take a plane for a lake visit, this is one of the more common means of transportation in Alaska. If you’re not interested in flying, you’ll have to travel by water to reach the lake. This is because there are no roads. Once you’re at the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, you’ll find there’s no shortage of things to do on your vacation. 

First, the lake itself is a sight to see. With crystal clear blue water, Lake Clark is a must-see – even if you may not be able to enjoy water recreation like you may at other lakes. The lake is an important part of local culture and helps keep the ecosystem thriving.

Speaking of local culture, Lake Clark is also home to the Dena’ina people, who call the lake Qizhjeh Vena. Quk’ Taz’un is an outdoor camp in the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve that helps people connect with the culture of the Dena’ina people who have inhabited the lake for thousands of years. 

2. Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu Arizona
Lake Havasu offers both scenic nature views and rich history.

©Pamela Au/

If the cold of Alaska isn’t your thing, you’ll be glad to learn that warm Arizona also sports one of the best lakes to vacation on in the United States. From hiking to boating to lakeside shopping and dining, there’s no end to the adventures you can have here. You can also visit the Lake Havasu Museum of History to learn more about everything from the native culture of the area to the history of steamboats.

Although its 19,300 acres size offers plenty of areas to swim and boat, Lake Havasu is most popular for fishing. This is thanks to the lake’s large population of bass, which are the main catch for the many fishing tournaments held here. 

1. Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain, Vermont
This Vermont lake is one of the best lakes to vacation on in the United States.

©Mark Castiglia/

Lake Champlain is a natural lake, which means that it formed through natural events rather than dams or other forms of human interference. The lake is 120 miles long and crosses the border into Quebec, Canada

One of the best parts of Lake Champlain is the fact that it lacks an overabundance of development. That’s why it’s one of the best lakes to vacation on in the United States if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. A visit to Lake Champlain is anything but boring, however. While it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the natural beauty of the lake, there are also boat tours and other activities to enjoy.

The Featured Image

Lake Norman in the Piedmont of North Carolina

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. I love everything animals and nature related! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to watch documentaries and explore nature.

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