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Imagine waking up to the sound of water softly lapping against the lakeshore. A dive into the lake, cool but not cold, laying on the warmth of a wooden dock. Many of my own cherished childhood memories are rooted in our annual family trips to Moosehead Lake in Maine.
Lake trips are places of relaxation and adventure. There, we swim, canoe, catch crayfish, and connect with loved ones. Nestled amidst nature’s tranquility, our family had the best time while unwinding and focusing finally on each other. Fireworks over the water, s’mores over a campfire, and countless games of Uno … these are the family vacations the whole family could use a little more of these days.
We’ve rounded up the best family lake resort vacation destinations in the United States based on feedback from family and friends and our own experiences, including my beloved Lake Champlain and nearby Lake George. We’ve gone west to Lake Tahoe and homed in on Wisconsin and Minnesota. Whether your family is seeking a luxury lakeside resort or a cozy cabin retreat, we hope these fun family resorts inspire your family to create your own timeless summer vacation on the lake.
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Lake George, New York
Whether you went to sleepaway camp when you were a kid or have watched The Parent Trap a million times, Lake George is the perfect place to live out summer dreams. Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, this charming destination offers days of boating, fishing, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, volleyball, and hiking. There is an outdoor pool and even a couple of nostalgic amusement parks. Add in a little regional history along with the idyllic lakeside villages to explore, and you’ve got a brilliant recipe for cherished family memories.
Where to Stay in Lake George
Check out the beach-themed Surfside on the Lake Hotel and Suites. This family lake resort has awesome all-inclusive family packages and family-friendly guest rooms. No nickel-and-diming here – just an easy, breezy getaway that includes dining and admission to local attractions. There’s a private beach, watersport rentals, and a rooftop cabana bar that looks out over Lake George – the best place to park yourself at sunset.
Chain of Lakes, Wisconsin
Live out your Little House on the Prairie fantasy – with modern amenities, of course! – in the Chain of Lakes area in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. There are 28 interconnected lakes that are the ideal spots for boating, fishing, and swimming. Grab ice cream in the local villages, hike scenic trails in the hopes of glimpsing Wisconsin wildlife, or sit back lakeside and revel in the freshest air around. We’ve included a couple of our favorite lake retreats here, but this is just the starting point for numerous resorts that offer everything from horseback riding to water slides.
Where to Stay in Eagle River, Wisconsin
Wild Eagle Lodge is a spacious choice for families who want to spread out and feel at home. Their two-bedroom lodge homes, perfect for four to six guests, are 1,120 square feet with a king bed, two twins, and a queen-size sleeper sofa. Plus, enjoy your own complete kitchen, lake views from a patio or balcony, and a charcoal grill. Ask for a unit with laundry facilities! All guests have access to a variety of thoughtful amenities for families, including a heated indoor pool and kiddie pool.
Where To Stay in Elkhart River, Wisconsin
For an AAA Four-Diamond experience, check in to the Osthoff Resort. There are 245 spacious suites with kitchens, dining, and living rooms. The full-service vacation destination boasts a variety of amenities. It features both indoor and outdoor pools, a beautiful beach, volleyball, and tennis. Other attractions include bonfires on the beach, evening pontoon cruises, a cooking school, a fitness center, watersports rentals, and the fabulous Osthoff Resort’s Kids Club, which offers a lineup of kid-centered and family-friendly activities. Don’t miss the horse-drawn hay wagon rides and golf courses. Also, nearby June Vollrath Park provides all sorts of fun with a basketball court, volleyball, and a horseshoe pit.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
When we say you won’t run out of things to do at Lake Tahoe, we’re not exaggerating. With North Lake Tahoe spanning both California and Nevada, the region encompasses Reno and Tahoe South. The sheer girth of the area means you can have a unique experience on each visit. For instance, you can take a lake vacation here one year and return the following summer for a completely different experience.
Though the lake is large, the towns around it give a quaint, close-knit community vibe. Swim and splash all day long, hit the golf course, go biking and hiking – then round out the “summer at the lake” vibe with a musical festival.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Generations of families have long-loved Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort, where every activity and amenity has been designed to maximize quality time with those you love. Don’t miss the Cable Car Ice Shop across the street before, during, or after the beach (or all three!). A zipline adventure park is nearby, as is Kings Beach Miniature Golf.
Also in the area, the family-friendly Granlibakken Tahoe offers both hotel rooms and a cabin-style lodge. Additionally, free continental breakfast is included. We all know how convenient that is when traveling with kiddos.
Wherever you’re coming from, be warned – when you vacation at Elk Lake in Northern Michigan, you’re going to want to throw caution to the wind and move “up north” permanently. This is where vacation goes to show off. Discover a world of natural beauty featuring crystal-clear, sparkling waters, rushing rivers, majestic dunes, and serene birch groves. Explore charming beach towns and immerse yourself in this picturesque paradise. Don’t wait – just get there.
Where to Stay in Northern Michigan
There’s something so appealing about vacationing at a resort that is family-owned and operated. White Birch Lodge has been run as a hotel on and off since the early 1900s; today, it remains in the capable hands of the long-time owners’ children and grandchildren.
The resort’s all-inclusive program includes a range of accommodation styles, from rooms in the main lodge to rustic cabins to upscale condos. All accomodations have views of Elk Lake’s sandy shores.
Embark on a freshwater adventure with an array of options, including canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) at your disposal. Delight in the abundant beach and water toys, freely available for our younger guests to enjoy. Don’t miss the pontoon boat cruises, an experience guaranteed to be a highlight for the whole family.
Start planning the perfect lake break with this essential guide to some of the best family lake resorts in the United States, from Lake Tahoe to Lake Champlain.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
Vermont’s pastoral farmland and rolling green mountains already put this pretty state high on the vacation radar. Add the beauty of Lake Champlain in the summer, and this is definitely a number-one lakeside vacation spot. Most of the western side of the state is separated from New York by Lake Champlain.
Base yourself in Burlington for plenty of swimming, kayaking, sailing and lakeside biking, or tuck in at one of the numerous family-family resorts that line the banks of the picturesque lake. Be sure to look for Champ, the elusive 20-foot sea serpent said to live in these deep waters.
Where to Stay in Lake Champlain
Known for its special brand of all-inclusive Vermont family vacations since 1933, the Tyler Place Family Resort invites the whole family to unplug. The resort boasts award-winning infant, toddler, children and older kids programs. In addition, all meals, sports and activities, and entertainment are included. From tennis courts to family field days, the staff has family adventure dialed in. Stress-free and super fun, it’s truly one of the coziest and most exceptional family resorts in New England… and the whole United States, for that matter.
Seeking an ideal lake vacation? Head to the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. Northern Minnesota has placid, inviting bodies of water in spades. Whether you’re a swimming family, avid paddlers, or evening pontooners, the lakes up here satisfy every aquaphile. Loons call in the distance, lighthouses keep watch atop craggy bluffs, and small country towns invite exploration. From Turtle Lake to Shagawa Lake, find water activities and beach fun aplenty.
Where to Stay in Northern Minnesota
At Ruttgers Bay Lake Resort, you can hide away in an adorable A-frame. It’s cute, and it has room to spread out in three bedrooms. Plus, guests get a fireplace, dining table, full kitchen, and a back porch with a firepit. The resort offers a diverse selection of accommodations, including quaint cottages, luxurious condos, and traditional hotel rooms, each providing full access to a suite of amenities. Indulge in an array of dining experiences at various restaurants, enjoy scenic boat rides, play a round at the nearby golf courses, and unwind in the tranquil spa. This resort promises an experience of comfort and leisure for every guest.
Each of these destinations holds a special place in the hearts of those who visit. Families return home with more than just souvenirs. They carry home cherished memories of shared adventures and peaceful lakeside moments. These lakes, with their serene waters and surrounding beauty, have witnessed countless stories of family bonds strengthened.
Meet you at the lake!
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