Recently, we wrote about some fabulous, exotic spots for a July vacation, some of them halfway around the world. Here are some much closer to home lakeside vacation spots that offer fabulous summer vacation times.
Sandpoint, Idaho – Perched on Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint will gladly play host to your boating, wakeboarding, fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding adventures. Here, you can also dig your feet into a yoga class on the beach or lace up for hiking on Schweitzer Mountain. Every August, Sandpoint throws The Festival, two weeks of music, art and grub, all on the pristine shores of the lake. Check into a lakefront bungalow at Dover Bay, which gives you easy access to nine miles of walking and biking trails hugging the forests, wetlands and waters of the lake. Then, raise a glass of Huckleberry Cream Ale at Laughing Dog Brewery and toast a day well spent. Wow your companions at the Floating Restaurant in nearby Hope, which is exactly what it sounds like, with insane wild huckleberry pancakes at Sunday brunch.
Mountain View, California – Dubbed the “Best-Kept Secret in Silicon Valley,” Mountain View is a sporty town about an hour outside of San Francisco. Start with a trip to the Boathouse for yoga, windsurfing, Olympic class sailing lessons and more. Ditch your suit and rent a bike at the Boathouse to survey the sloughs and salt flats that feed into San Francisco Bay. Fuel up at Tied House (grab a keg to go) or Cascal, for Pan-Latin tapas. Come nightfall, give your sore muscles a rest at Dinah’s Garden Hotel, an art-filled mainstay since the 1950s. If you can time your visit, catch a show at Shoreline Amphitheater which will host acts like Dead & Company, Weezer, Chris Stapleton, and Dave Matthews Band this summer.
Kenosha, Wisconsin – Conveniently located between Milwaukee and Chicago, this unassuming dot on the map has the best catch rates for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan. This summer boasts several festival draws, ranging from Taste of Wisconsin in July to Cheese-A-Palooza in September. When you’re done relaxing at one of the town’s five beaches, climb a lighthouse at the Southport Light Station Museum or hop aboard one of Kenosha’s electric streetcars along the shores of Lake Michigan. Beer lovers will be pleased to learn of and drink at Kenosha’s three small-batch brewers, Public Craft Brewing Co., R’Noggin Brewing Co. and Rustic Road Brewing Co.
Sandusky, Ohio – Parasailing and airboating are two items to check off your Lake Erie bucket list. Amusement park enthusiasts should carve out a day for Cedar Point, which debuted the record-breaking Steel Vengeance coaster this spring. Meanwhile, motorcyclists flood the place every Memorial Day Weekend, during which Sandusky hosts Ohio Bike Week, the largest motorcycle event in the Midwest.
Unwind at Hotel Kilbourne, a waterfront boutique hotel known for the craveworthy OH Taco and its water views. For something different, catch a ferry from downtown Sandusky to the Lake Erie Islands a few minutes away. Favorites include Kelleys Island for the Glacial Grooves geological wonder and Put-in-Bay on Middle Bass Island, home to the what’s billed as the world’s longest bar, Beer Barrel Saloon and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, from which you can pretty much see Canada.
Bloomington, Indiana – It may not elicit the name recognition of Crater Lake or Lake Tahoe, but Lake Monroe is Indiana’s biggest body of water, boasting a 10,750-acre surface area and surrounded by woodsy terrain and back country trails in Hoosier National Forest. Set out for the day with a boat rental from Fourwinds Marina or grab a kayak or paddleboard with Lake Monroe Boat Rental. Rainy day? Try indoor climbing at Hoosier Heights or blow off steam at Urban Air trampoline park, followed by an excursion to Upland Brewery’s The Wood Shop, a tasting room and production center devoted entirely to sours. If you’re not staying at Fourwinds on the waterfront, we’d point you towards a cabin at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort or Acorn Resort. It’s a find on Airbnb with a hot tub, pizza oven and an inviting common area for you and up to 11 pals.
Moneta, Virginia – Old Dominion’s largest lake, Smith Mountain Lake, spans 500 miles of shoreline and three counties. Kick off your vacation at Bridgewater Plaza, a bustling marina with putt-putt, art galleries and plenty of restaurants. When you’ve wrapped up a guided fishing tour or are all spent from your day, enjoy dinner aboard the Virginia Dare, a 19th century-style sidewheeler cruise. When you’re ready for rest, find salvation at Gills Creek Marina & Lodge. Once you’re feeling restored, give yourself a jolt of energy at Homestead Creamery’s Farm Market or swap sweets for ‘shine at Franklin County Distilleries to sample moonshine in the tasting room. For craft beer fans, a necessary pit-stop is the beer garden or pub at Sunken City Brewery named for the flooding that took place over 50 years go to make Smith Mountain Lake.
Horseshoe Bay, Texas – This Hill Country getaway is only about an hour outside of Austin, but you’ll feel eons away from the rush of city life. Slip into the vacation mindset at Horseshoe Bay Resort, perched on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. Tee off at one of three celebrated golf courses, with views overlooking the lake. Once you’ve earned your liquor, head to Save the World Brewing Co. in Marble Falls or book a coach tour to some of the more than 30 wineries within 90 minutes of Horseshoe Bay. For lakeside afternoons, the full-service marina can hook you up with pontoon boats, ski boats, kayak rentals and more or hop aboard a sunset cruise before dinner at the resort’s Yacht Club, where you can dock your ride a few steps away at the boat slip.
Duluth, Minnesota – Navigate the rocky ridgeline above gin-clear Lake Superior on the Superior Hiking Trail. If you have the time, hit some of the 93 free back country campsites and conquer the entire 310-mile-long trail. You might want to book the Split Rock Lighthouse kayak tour with Positive Energy Outdoors. The largest freshwater lake in America also plays host to many summer festivals, including the All Pints North Summer Brew Festival in July and the Bayfront Blues Festival in August. Not into festivals? Soak up North Shore views of the lake at The New Scenic Cafe, whose regularly changing menu highlights some of the best of Minnesota’s wines. A must-visit while in town is Vikre Distillery, which in addition to using local grains and Minnesota oak barrels, distills its gin, aquavit and seasonal spirits with water from Lake Superior. When all that activity and lakefront imbibing tires you out, catch ZZZs at one of Duluth’s many campgrounds or Pier B Resort, where you can spy ships in the Duluth-Superior Harbor or park your boat in their private docking area.
Santa Rosa, California – A trip to Sonoma County doesn’t have to be all about wine. Instead, venture to 350-acre Spring Lake, a veritable Arcadia complete with oak woodlands, meadows and the blossoming of wildflowers in the spring and summer. From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, the Spring Lake Swimming Lagoon offers free admission for both lap swimming and water play at the floating water park. Cool off in the shade of redwoods before diving into a plate of cheesy garlic bread and a pint of its renowned Pliny the Elder at the Russian River Brew Pub. This summer, enjoy Funky Fridays beside the Historic Hood Mansion with live music. Another big draw: this June’s Country Summer Music Festival featuring Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Toby Keith, Maren Morris and others. While in town, also be sure to hang up your swim trunks for an afternoon and meander through Historic Railroad Square for a booze-filled time of sipping wine and cider at tasting rooms, and hitting up a farmers’ market. Lug your produce back to an Airbnb for a cookout, or stay in the square at Hotel La Rose, which first opened its doors in 1907.
Kirkland, Washington – Start summer vacation off right at Bottle and Bull, an Ernest Hemingway-inspired restaurant with a killer happy hour menu and smoked trout ravioli that will linger in your memory long after the last bite. Only 12 miles outside of Seattle, the eastern shore of Lake Washington provides visitors a small-town feel, with plenty to do. If you’re missing your workouts back home, consider torching your core with a paddleboard yoga class with Northwest Paddle Surfers, who also are boat rental outfitters. When thirst for an adult beverage calls, tackle The Cross Kirkland Corrdior, a nearly six-mile biking and walking route that connects you to Flycaster Brewing, Maelstrom Brewing and Chainline Brewery. For lakefront vistas, post up at Woodmark Hotel, which also has a spa and two restaurants begging for a sunset meal, Beach Cafe and Bin on the Lake. If you’re more of a downtowner, book at The Heathman Hotel, close to galleries, wineries, restaurants and shops.