When the weather heats up and you need a respite from those dog days of summer, you can’t get a more classic American vacation than a trip to the lake. With quaint towns lapping up their shores and cool clear waters to explore, a lake can be the perfect place to swim, paddle, or just unwind. Here are 7 of the best lakes to frolic or relax to your heart’s content this summer.

Lake Superior

Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin

The name doesn’t lie. Lake Superior is truly superior in that it is the world’s largest freshwater lake. With 2,700 miles of shoreline, it lends plenty of coastline for a summer escape. Resembling more of an ocean, it’s the largest of the Great Lakes. You’ll find that the natural wonders abound on its shores, from 200-foot sandstone cliffs to endless beaches to waterfalls and even sea caves on the Apostle Islands. Toss in charming lighthouses and even a shipwreck or two and you have the makings for an all American lake escape.

Grand Lake

Colorado

Spread out across 50 acres, Grand Lake in Colorado is proud to be the largest natural lake in the state and one of the best spots to cool off in the summer. You can boat, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and much more on the largest and deepest natural body of water in the Centennial State. It’s surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park on three sides (offering breathtaking views) and also has an ideal beach for swimming. In addition to Grand Lake, the town also includes a historic boardwalk dating back to the Wild West days. If you are in town mid-August, you can catch the Grand Lake Yacht Club’s Regatta Week. The yacht club is considered the highest altitude registered yacht club in the world.

Echo Lake

Acadia National Park, Maine

Perched right in Maine’s Acadia National Park, Echo Lake proves idyllic in the summer months thanks to its 70-degree water. Located on the west side of Mount Desert Island, the lake even has a designated swimming area with a lifeguard, making it perfect for families. Spanning 237 acres, Echo Lake has a water visibility of 30 feet so you’ll want to pack your goggles. As you cool off, you can appreciate the backdrop of Beech and Mansell mountains. The area also affords loads of hiking trails for when you get a bit waterlogged.

Lake Chelan

Washington

Set in the town of the same name, Lake Chelan has become an American lake staple with its crystal clear water. In fact, it’s one of the best lakes in the country for snorkeling and scuba diving. Spanning 50.5 miles, the lake has a number of beaches and protected swimming areas. Activities on site include boating, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, wakeboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding. Bonus: After your dip in the lake, you can enjoy more than 24 wineries and vineyards that speckle its shoreline.

Lake Michigan

Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois

Can’t quite decide which lake to visit? Lake Michigan makes it easy as it finds a home in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. With more than 1,600 miles of shoreline, Lake Michigan boasts more beaches than any other lake in the country. Thanks to its sheer size, you can really pick the type of lake vacation you want from the big city beaches of Chicago to the rolling dunes of Indiana to the classic Americana shores of Wisconsin. It’s the only one of the 5 Great Lakes that’s entirely within the US.

Lake Placid

New York

If it’s calm and peaceful you seek in a US lake vacation, Lake Placid by its very name delivers. Settled into the Adirondacks of upstate New York, Lake Placid takes up 2,173 acres and boasts a maximum depth of 150 feet. With three marinas, boating is a popular summertime activity along with swimming, as water temperatures remain in the high 70s. Most families hang out on its sandy beaches or explore the underground springs.

Redfish Lake

Stanley, Idaho

Right in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountain Range, Redfish Lake dazzles with its glacier-carved lake and views of the snowcapped mountain range. Popular for summer recreation, the lake also boasts a north shore beach for swimming. Great for fishing, boating, and swimming, Redfish Lake takes its name from all of the salmon that used to populate the lake.

Where will you be diving in to escape the summer heat? Share your favorite lake with us in the comments below.

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.