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Blissful, tranquil and pristine – words may fall short when it comes to describing the beauty of the lakes in the United States. Take a look at some of the most beautiful lakes in the United States that will amaze you with their charm.
Known for it’s diverse landscapes, extraordinarily gorgeous scenes and immense natural beauty, United States is home to some of the world’s most spectacular lakes. This country truly has a wealth of places to explore. Here are 15 of the most beautiful lakes in the United States perfect for planning day trips, road trips or summer getaways to.
Most Beautiful Lakes In The United States
1. Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake was established as a national park in 1902 and has since become a popular location for tourists looking to camp, hike, ski, and stargaze. There are over 90 miles of hiking trails around the lake, several of which go around the lake or lead to waterfalls nearby. Boating on the lake is only available for those who purchase one of three volcano boat cruises out to Wizard Island. When looking for a place to stay at Crater Lake, visitors have the option to utilize the parks campgrounds and RV sites, rent a guest room at Crater Lake Lodge, or spend the night in a rustic cabin at Mazama Village. The lodge, cabins, and campgrounds are only open mid-May through mid-October.
Dining options at Crater Lake are limited. There is one cafe and two restaurants in the park with one small store to buy snacks. The closest dining options outside the park are 25 miles away in the town of Union Creek.
NOTE: There is one gas station in the park that operates from May-October. Be sure to fill up in Prospect or Chiloquin before heading to the park to ensure you have enough gas to get back.
By Erin Tracy Of Traveling Thru History
2. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Located at the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is one of the best lakes in California. At a height of 625 feet, this Alpine Lake is surrounded by lush green pine forests and pristine beaches. Lake Tahoe can be visited at any time of the year. However, summer is the busiest season here when the weather is charming the water of the lake is crystal clear. Winter is also beautiful in Lake Tahoe. There are countless fun and adventure activities with some fantastic ski resorts. There are several beaches where you can swim in clean water or just relax on the beach and take sunbathe. If you love adventure activities you can go for snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding or jet skiing. Fishing is also popular in Lake Tahoe.
Visitors enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and sledding around the lake area during the winter months. There are bike trails that go around Lake Tahoe, so rent a bike, explore the place and enjoy the surrounding scenic views. When you are done with exploring lake Tahoe, book a table in Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe, one of the finest restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Their top-notch service, amazing ambiance, and great food are highly recommended. Don’t miss their Goat Cheese Hummus Spread and the Butter Lettuce Salad.
Tip: Lake Tahoe can be heavily crowded during summer weekends. Try to visit on weekdays to get the best of Lake Tahoe and book your accommodation well in advance if you have a plan to stay there.
By Trijit Mallick of BudgetTravelBuff
3. Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona
Lake Powell is undoubtedly one of the most famous lakes in the United States. This large, man-made reservoir is on the Colorado River and straddles the border of Arizona and Utah. It is a huge tourist attraction and a fantastic stop at the end of a road trip to Arizona from California or beyond. The lake was created by flooding Glen Canyon after being built in 1963. It is 186 miles in length and 25 miles in width, making it the second-largest man-made reservoir in the US (behind nearby Lake Mead).
A fantastic way to visit Lake Powell is in conjunction with a trip to the Grand Canyon or Monument Valley or the other sites in and around Page, such as Antelope Canyon. This is one of the most epic corners of the US and Lake Powell will blow your mind. Lake Powell also makes a fantastic base for exploring southern Utah and its national parks as well as the sites in northern Arizona.
By Megan Of Megan Starr Blog
4. Lake Superior, Minnesota
Lake Superior is the third largest lake in the world by volume, and its North Shore is one of the best destinations for visitors to northern Minnesota. Duluth is one of the biggest cities to visit on a trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior—check out the iconic Lift Bridge and relax in Canal Park. Follow Highway 61 along the lake up north to Grand Portage for an epic road trip. Betty’s Pies outside of Two Harbors is a must, as is Grand Marais for Sven and Ole’s Pizza and a beer from Voyageur Brewing Company. Make sure you stop to see the scenic landscape of Lake Superior along the way, like Gooseberry Falls, Palisade Head, and Black Beach outside Silver Bay.
If you’re interested in history, Split Rock Lighthouse and Grand Portage National Monument showcase the area’s local heritage. Lake Superior’s North Shore is a popular destination in winter too—Lutsen is one of the best ski resorts in Minnesota! As the biggest lake in the United States, there is more of Lake Superior to discover outside of Minnesota—Isle Royale National Park (MI) or the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (WI) are phenomenal destinations as well.
By Maja Proescholdt Of Away With Maja
5. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva Wisconsin is a gem of the midwest and easily one of the most beautiful lakes in the United States. Lake Geneva is known for it’s sprawling mansions along the water. A shoreline walking trail loops around the entire 21 mile perimeter for a backyard view of these mansions and their pristine white piers.
In the summer, enjoy Riviera Beach, a dinner cruise out on the lake or rent a jetski. Take a stroll through town to visit fudge shops and upscale clothing boutiques. For a little adventure, head out for a zipline tour or one of the hotel waterparks. Hit a few rounds at their world class golf course or relax at a local spa. Winter in Lake Geneva offers skiing at Grand Geneva and ice sailing on the lake. Attend Winterfest to sip cocoa and witness the ice sculpting competition. Zip down ice slides at the Ice Castles frozen playland. Top off the Lake Geneva visit with dinner at the historic Baker House and then a trip to one of the local breweries or wineries. Head over to Maxwell Mansion for a drink at their Speakeasy.
Lake Geneva is known worldwide for its beauty and upscale charm.
By Carol Of Is This Even A Road
6. Lake Chelan, Washington
Lake Chelan is one of Washington State’s most beloved getaway destinations. Come summer, the narrow 55 mile-long lake is a recreational hub for boaters and water sports enthusiasts. Situated on the dry side of the Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan largely evades the cloudy weather that is notorious in the western half of the state. Its sunny climate is ideal for grape growing—making it one of the premier viticulture areas in the United States.
While most travelers stick to the southern shores of Lake Chelan, the northern tip of the lake is arguably its most scenic. For travelers looking to get off the beaten path, it is possible to take a ferry to the village of Stehekin on the north shore of the lake. The tiny town of 75 residents is surrounded by towering mountains. It sits at the base of North Cascades National Park and is only accessible by boat or float plane.
Stehekin is one of the Pacific Northwest’s top undiscovered gems. It boasts a delicious pastry shop, a one-room schoolhouse, a 312 foot waterfall, and stunning views over Washington’s most spectacular lake.
By Erika Bisbocci Of Erika’s Travels
7. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee is located in New Hampshire, just south of the White Mountains. It’s the largest lake in New Hampshire covering over 71 square miles. The “broads” region of the lake often has an ocean-like roughness to the waters but the various bays have more placid water. The lake is home to several large towns worth visiting. Meredith is quaint and charming with fantastic restaurants and a small-town vibe. Weir’s Beach has a great fun vibe with lots of activities and entertainment including fireworks every Friday in the summer. Wolfeboro was the first resort town in the United States and has a wonderful history and charm.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the lake, but it is a year-round destination. Autumn is popular with leaf peepers for fall foliage and winter is popular with those who want to hit the slopes at nearby Gunstock Mountain. The Mount Washington is a tour boat that operates in summer on the lake, and offers fantastic views and connects the towns with one another. A few things to check out – Hermit Wood’s Winery in Meredith, Canoe Restaurant in Centre Harbour, or Bayside Grill & Tavern in Wolfeboro.
By Jamie Andreson Of Travel Addict
8. Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park
In the heart of Yosemite National Park, California, lies a pristine gigantic lake called Cathedral Lake. The water almost opulent as it breaches the shores of the park, while the center of the lake glistens a calming blue. This pristine slice of paradise isn’t accessible by car, but is easily accessed via foot traffic by exploring the most beautiful hiking trails in Yosemite National Park.
The trail starts at Tuolumne Meadows trailhead for a 7.5 mile out and back hiking venture. Rated moderate to strenuous, this hiking trail has switchbacks gently climbing the mountainside. Iconic sights such as the monstrous Cathedral Peak will be seen, as well as an option for hiking to the Upper Cathedral Lake.
Stay cool for a refreshing dip after hiking, and witness the wild deer roam around the land. Relax on the shores, or on the giant boulders that rest adjacent to lake. Camping here is also popular during the summer months, as the weather in Yosemite tends to be hot, but rapidly cools down in the evenings from the higher altitude. Pack plenty of water and food, as there are no eateries nearby this backcountry area.
By Ciara of Wellness Travel Diaries
9. Lake Minnewaska, New York State
Minnewaska Lake is the jewel of New York’s Minnewaska State Park. The lake has it all. At one end are steep cliffs that give stunning views over the lake. There is a large grassy picnic area nearby with picnic tables and lawn to play games on. Opposite the cliffs is a tiny beach where you can swim in summer.
An easy two-mile trail goes all around the lake. This lovely hike is one of the best hikes in the Hudson Valley and is perfect for the whole family. At the far end of the lake, there is another area where you can get right to the water’s edge. This is especially lovely in the fall and makes for great photos, as some rocks jut out into the water. In summer, there is long distance swimming. It is even possible to go SCUBA diving in the lake! If you like hiking, there are plenty of other hikes in the state park and the adjacent Mohonk Preserve.
The park is located about two hours north of New York City in the Mid-Hudson Valley. In the fall, especially, it is very popular (and spectacularly beautiful) and the large parking lots can fill up by 10:00 AM, so get there early! Park in the upper parking lot if possible, as it is much closer to the lake. A visitor center can give information and trail maps. There are no eateries in the park, but the nearest town, New Paltz, is just ten minutes away, and has plenty of stores and restaurants to explore.
By James Ian Of Travel Collecting
10. Lake Travis, Texas
One of the most beautiful lakes you can ever visit here in the United States is one called Lake Travis. Lake Travis is a lake that is found in the city of Austin, Texas. It is commonly considered to be the “Crown Jewel” of Central Texas Highland Lakes. This lake offers plenty of things for visitors to see and do. For instance, if you’re looking for some fun and adventure, then you’ll be happy to know that there is a waterpark located on top of the lake as well as a ziplining course too. And because it is a lake, it also means that you can do various kinds of water activities like sailing, kayaking, swimming and more.
Plus, all along the lake, visitors will be able to find many different cafes and restaurants to eat at. For example, “The Oasis”, is the largest outdoor restaurant in the state of Texas and has even earned the reputation as the Sunset Capital of the State. Visitors who are wanting to come here should come during the summer season as the cool temperature of the waters will definitely help beat the heat.
By Wayne Dang Of The Daily Tourist
11. Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park
With over 140 miles of shoreline, Yellowstone Lake is a huge, beautiful lake located inside Yellowstone National Park. It is the highest elevation lake in North America and stays extremely cold year round, discouraging swimming and home to many trout. Adventurous visitors to the park enjoy exploring the waters in canoes and kayaks; nearby lodges provide rentals if needed and tourist operations provide guided tours. For those looking to appreciate the lake while still on solid ground, there are a number of hiking trails with beautiful views of the water like the Pelican Creek Nature Trail, Storm Point Trail, and Elephant Back Mountain Trail.
The famous Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cottages inside the park are situated along the lake’s shoreline, providing peaceful water views for guests. The Hotel has a public deli, bar, and restaurant providing meal options for both hotel guests and day visitors after enjoying the lake. Read more Yellowstone National Park Tips here!
By Stehanie Woodson Of Explore More Clean Less
12. Lake Havasu, Arizona
Lake Havasu is one of the most popular lakes in Arizona. And with good reason! With great weather year round and a beautiful lake to explore its easy to see why people like to spend their time on Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu has lots of naturally beautiful scenery around the lake. You can also enjoy water sports, hiking, camping, and cultural events held around the lake. The lake is also famous for its boating and unique wildlife.
Lake Havasu is known for its water activities but it also has the famous London Bridge. In the 1960s the London Bridge in London was sinking into the Thames. The Bridge was auctioned off and Robert McCulloch paid $2.5 million to have the bridge shipped to Lake Havasu and rebuilt. With so much to do in Lake Havasu you will want to spend a few nights. Why not stay at one of these Airbnbs in Lake Havasu located right on the lake so you can explore the waterways around this area.
By Nicole LaBarge Of American SW Obsessed
13. Lake Michigan, Chicago
Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes of North America and is the second-largest among Great Lakes according to volume. It is located in the United States of America and its shoreline is shared by 4 mid-west states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. In 75 years, Chicago, specifically along Lake Michigan, became the center of intense commercial, industrial, and transportation development. Some major historical events that helped to guide the lakefront to what it is today are highlighted. Lake Michigan in Chicago is so huge that it looks like a beach with small waves too. People relax here on the sandy beach in front of Lake Michigan.
Chicago’s stunning skyline soars over 26 miles of uninterrupted lakefront, including 24 free public beaches. People loving to swim, kayak, paddleboard, sip cocktails, or just soak in the sun, then a sandy Chicago beachfront is for you. Lake Michigan can be viewed from many roof-tops or observation deck of tall buildings in Chicago which is a very photogenic site. Therefore visiting Lake Michigan beachfront is one of the topmost things to do in Chicago city tour, Illinois.
Things to do near Lake Michigan, Chicago – Chicago’s Museum Campus is a 57-acre park located alongside Lake Michigan and is home to 3 famous attractions: the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and The Field Museum of Natural History. The entire area is landscaped with greenery and beautiful nature making the campus a wonderful place for a summer picnic. The beautiful Lake Michigan, with parks, sandy beaches makes the landscape or cityscape of Chicago a very stunning city in the United States of America.
First, a few tips: Beach season officially runs from late May through early September, though you can enjoy the view of the waves and sand from the Lakefront Trail all year long. As in the winter season, most of the parts of the lake get frozen and you can see ice-bergs floating around. Swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day which can also change as per weather conditions.
By Yukti Agrawal Of Travelwithme24x7
14. Lake Drummond, Virginia
One of the most spectacular lakes to visit in the United States is Lake Drummond in southeastern Virginia. While the lake may not be on many travelers’ radars, it is a must-visit if you’re in the Hampton Roads area of the state. Lake Drummond is one of only two natural lakes in the state of Virginia and what makes the lake so unique and special is that it sits in the middle of a giant swamp called the Great Dismal Swamp that sits mostly in Virginia but also crosses into Maryland. The lake was named after its first explorer, William Drummond after he discovered it in 1655.
Another interesting thing about Lake Drummond is that there are no rivers or streams that feed into it, making its formation a complete mystery. The swamp and lake are an easy visit from Suffolk where you can join an organized tour that runs regularly. It will educate you on the history of the lake and the wildlife and flora that calls it home today.
By Megan Starr Of Virginia Travel Tips
15. Maroon Lake, Colorado
Colorado’s Maroon Lake is one of the most photogenic and beautiful lakes in the United States. Located in the White River National Forest, the lake amazes you with astonishing backdrop of the peaks of the iconic Maroon Bells. The sheer reflections of the peaks and rock formations on the pristine Maroon Lake, makes the entire landscape mesmerizing. You can enjoy a picnic, go for a hike through easy trails or camp at one of the three nearby campgrounds.