Dreaming of a peaceful lakeside escape? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll cover the best east coast lakes for vacation and the best nearby accommodations. From the mythic shores of Lake Champlain to the breathtaking Lake Okeechobee, these destinations are prime for adventure.
The picturesque East Coast of the United States is renowned for its vibrant cities, historical significance, and coastal charm. However, it’s the region’s breathtaking lakes that provide unique and unforgettable vacation experiences. With countless recreational activities, world-class amenities, and awe-inspiring natural beauty, the best East Coast lakes offer more than just scenic views. They offer the perfect escape from the mundane.
From fishing and hiking to peace-seeking, these lakes on the east coast have something for every kind of traveler. They serve as natural playgrounds for water sports, offer rich fishing grounds, and present hiking trails that lead to inspiring vistas. You’ll also find many local attractions, from historic sites and wine trails to delightful culinary experiences. East coast lake vacations are truly plentiful!
This comprehensive guide will explore 7 of the best East Coast lakes for vacation. Each scenic lake boasts distinctive characteristics and unique attractions, making it a worthy contender for your next vacation. We’ll delve into what makes each lake special, the activities they offer, and why they promise an unparalleled vacation experience.
So pack your bags and prepare for a journey through the sparkling waters and verdant landscapes of the East Coast’s most captivating lakes. Let’s discover the perfect lakeside vacation waiting just for you!
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How to save money on a flight to the best east coast lakes for vacation
Looking to save money on airfare traveling to the best east coast lakes for vacation? Before jumping into these top destinations, I want to share a quick tip to save money on airfare.
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The best East Coast lakes for vacation in 2023
East Coast lakes are a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Whether seeking exhilarating outdoor recreation or a peaceful oasis, these lakes are the perfect backdrop for a memorable trip. And in addition to providing a list of the best lakes to vacation on the East Coast, I’ve also included suggestions for where to stay during your visit.
Now, without further ado, here are my picks for the 7 best East Coast lakes for vacation.
1. Lake Champlain, Vermont
Nestled between the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, Lake Champlain boasts natural beauty and recreational diversity. This makes it one of the best East Coast lakes for vacation. Its shimmering expanse, spanning 120 miles, entices explorers with scenic landscapes, charming islands, and many outdoor activities.
For those with an adventurous spirit, Lake Champlain offers unmatched opportunities. Boating enthusiasts will be captivated by the expansive, open waters. Anglers can revel in the thriving bass, salmon, and lake trout populations. The lake’s clean, calm waters are also perfect for swimming or a leisurely paddleboarding excursion. Land lovers aren’t left out, either. With miles of hiking trails winding through the surrounding mountains, you can enjoy stunning views of the water and beyond.
But it’s not just the recreational activities that make Lake Champlain exceptional. Additionally, the area’s rich history and vibrant local culture add to its appeal. From exploring the ruins of Revolutionary War-era forts to embarking on a tasting tour of local breweries and farm-to-table restaurants, many experiences are waiting to be discovered. Enjoy local festivals celebrating everything from the lake’s maritime heritage to the local art scene.
With its potent combination of scenic splendor, recreational diversity, rich history, and thriving local culture, Lake Champlain is more than just a body of water; it’s a call to an experience that will linger in your memories. It is the ideal destination for anyone yearning for a vacation that harmoniously combines adventure, relaxation, and cultural enrichment. With its blue-green waters set against a mountainous backdrop, Lake Champlain is a true New England gem waiting to make your vacation unforgettable.
Where to stay near Lake Champlain
Stay in quaint lakeside cottages or well-equipped campsites with stunning sunrise and sunset views. You’ll just have to decide whether you want to stay in Vermont, New York, or even Quebec! Personally, I’m a fan of staying in Burlignton. You’ll find some of the best lake houses in Vermont around Lake Champlain.
Here are the best places to stay for a Lake Champlain getaway:
- Hotel Vermont Burlington. This modern hotel is located in central Burlington. It’s only a 10-minute walk from Church Street Marketplace and within easy walking distance to Lake Champlain.
- Breathtaking New Lake Champlain Escape. This lakeside vacation rental in Addison, VT, has a private beach area and spectacular mountain views.
- Green Mountain Suites Hotel. This South Burlington hotel has a pool, hot tub, and on-site restaurant. Wine and local craft beers are included in your stay.
2. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Situated in the heart of New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee is an iconic destination that resonates with timeless appeal. As the largest lake in the state, it spans 72 square miles and boasts 258 islands. The lake’s sheer magnitude and distinctive charm make it an unparalleled vacation spot on the East Coast.
Lake Winnipesaukee is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. You can sail across its vast expanse, exploring hidden bays and secluded beaches, or engage in thrilling water sports such as jet-skiing and paddleboarding. The lake is also a fisherman’s paradise. Brimming with various fish species, Lake Winnipesaukee is perfect for the casual angler and the seasoned pro.
However, the allure of Lake Winnipesaukee extends far beyond its sparkling waters. Its surroundings are dotted with picturesque towns, each offering its own unique charm. Wolfeboro, known as “The Oldest Summer Resort in America,” is worth a visit. Here, you can stroll along the downtown area filled with delightful shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
One of the lake’s most exciting aspects is its thriving events calendar. From spectacular Fourth of July fireworks over the water to engaging music festivals and boat shows, there’s always something happening around the lake. For an exciting vacation, look to Lake Winnipesaukee.
The array of wildlife in and around Lake Winnipesaukee is a bonus for nature lovers. It’s not uncommon to spot a majestic bald eagle soaring overhead or a playful otter slipping into the water.
Lake Winnipesaukee embodies the quintessential lake vacation experience. With a perfect blend of relaxation and excitement, this New Hampshire gem caters to all. The surrounding area promises an East Coast lake vacation as dynamic and diverse as the lake itself.
Where to stay near Lake Winnipesaukee
Looking for the best accommodations for a Lake Winnipesauke vacation? Here are some top-rated places to stay in the area:
- Belknap Point Inn. This quiet, lakeside inn offers guests complimentary canoeing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
- Mill Falls at the Lake. This restored 19th-century linen mill is now a hotel overlooking Meredith Bay, only minutes from Lake Winnipesaukee.
- The Lakeview Inn & Cottages. Just steps from Weirs Beach, this accommodation features a swimming pool and scenic views of Lake Winnipesaukee.
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3. Lake George, New York
Famously known as the “Queen of American Lakes,” Lake George in Upstate New York is a vacation spot merging natural beauty, history, and fun-filled recreation. Situated within the Adirondack Mountains, the 32-mile-long lake captivates visitors with its crystalline waters, forest-clad surroundings, and panoramic vistas. It’s one of the best east coast lake vacations, hands down.
Lake George is a haven for watersport enthusiasts. You can indulge in thrilling activities like jet-skiing and parasailing. Looking for something a little more tranquil? Then try kayaking and paddleboarding. The lake’s clear waters and abundant fish populations make it ideal for anglers. Additionally, its sandy beaches offer the perfect spot for a leisurely day of sunbathing and swimming.
Yet, the appeal of Lake George transcends its breathtaking natural beauty. Its rich history is palpable, with forts and museums offering glimpses into the past. Explore Fort William Henry Museum, which takes you back to the 18th century. You can also visit the battlegrounds of Lake George, where crucial conflicts of the French and Indian War occurred.
Adding to the allure are the unique family-friendly attractions around the lake. Step into the magical world of the Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, a fun-filled amusement and water park. Or, for something a little more peaceful, take a scenic cruise aboard the historic Minne-Ha-Ha steamboat.
Lake George offers more than just a lakeside retreat. This destination promises an immersive vacation experience steeped in history, brimming with adventure and fun. With something to fascinate every traveler, Lake George undoubtedly earns its place among the best East Coast lakes for a memorable vacation.
Where to stay near Lake George
Accommodations around Lake George range from luxurious resorts with private beaches to rustic campsites in the heart of the wilderness. And don’t forget about lake house rentals in New York! This diversity ensures that you’ll find a place to stay that suits you perfectly, regardless of your vacation style.
Here are some highly-rated hotels to consider:
- Fort William Henry Hotel. Located on an 18-acre estate, this hotel features spacious rooms with views of Lake George or the Adirondack Mountains.
- Surfside On The Lake. Located in the Lake George Village, this hotel features a private beach with a swim area, an outdoor heated pool overlooking the lake, and barbecue facilities.
- Scotty’s Lakeside Resort. This family-friendly resort is less than a mile from the lake. It features a seasonal beachfront heated outdoor pool, a splash pad, a private beach area, and a seasonal restaurant.
4. Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Often dubbed the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia encapsulates the peace of lakeside living. Sprawling across 20,000 acres with 500 miles of shoreline, this impressive lake is an easy contender for the best East Coast lakes for vacation. With its serene landscapes, diverse recreational options, and premium amenities, it promises a holiday experience par excellence.
Of course, Smith Mountain Lake presents ample opportunities for water-based activities. Sail through its calm waters, bask in the thrill of wakeboarding, or delight in a leisurely kayak ride at sunset. For fishing aficionados, the lake is a haven known for its vibrant population of striped bass, along with catfish and perch.
However, Smith Mountain Lake’s appeal extends far beyond the water’s edge. Golf enthusiasts will find meticulously designed courses nearby, set against lush landscapes and the shimmering lake. For nature lovers, there’s bird watching or exploring scenic hiking trails dotted with exquisite flora and fauna.
Then, to add a touch of luxury to your vacation, consider a visit to the local vineyards for wine tasting or enjoy a pampering session at one of the area’s top-rated spas. The lake’s shoreline has various dining options, from cozy cafes to fine dining. As a bonus, many of these restaurants offer stunning lakeside views.
With its soothing ambiance and wide-ranging attractions, Smith Mountain Lake provides the perfect setting for a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation. So, what makes it one of the best East Coast lakes for vacation? Just look to its harmonious blend of leisure and adventure, set against. Visit Smith Mountain Lake and immerse yourself in its tranquility and charm to see for yourself. It’s truly a vacation destination you’ll remember.
Where to stay near Smith Mountain Lake
Accommodation options at Smith Mountain Lake cater to all tastes and budgets. Choose from elegant waterfront homes, charming bed-and-breakfasts, or rustic campsites. No matter what you choose, each provides a unique way to experience the lake’s tranquil beauty.
Looking to plan your vacation? Here are some of the best places to stay at Smith Mountain Lake:
- Halesford Harbour Resort. This quiet resort provides accommodations with a terrace, a restaurant, and a private beach area.
- The Lodge on Smith Mountain Lake. This spectacular 4 bedroom, 5 bathroom home has views of the mountains and lake.
- Smith Mountain Shores. This pet-friendly Moneta vacation home has easy access to the lake and a children’s playground.
5. Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
Tucked away in South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Jocassee is a dazzling, under-the-radar gem offering an unrivaled vacation experience. Renowned for its pristine, emerald-green waters and towering waterfalls, this 7,500-acre lake boasts a beauty that’s both inspiring and invigorating. It’s an idyllic vacation choice for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Of course, one of the unique aspects of Lake Jocassee is the exhilarating array of water activities it supports. Its crystal-clear waters, with visibility up to 50 feet, offer excellent conditions for scuba diving. This is a rarity in freshwater lakes! Canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding here let you glide through calm waters, surrounded by verdant forested hills and cascading waterfalls.
However, Lake Jocassee isn’t just about water sports. It’s also a hiker’s paradise, with trails leading to remote mountain streams and offering incredible vistas. And for anglers, the lake presents an abundance of trout, bass, and bluegill, promising an exciting fishing experience.
An equally compelling aspect of Lake Jocassee is its rich biodiversity. It’s home to many rare species, from the Oconee Bell wildflower to salamanders found nowhere else in the world. It’s not uncommon to spot white-tailed deer at the water’s edge, or catch sight of a peregrine falcon soaring in the sky above.
Lake Jocassee embodies a different pace of life, one that’s in tune with nature’s rhythm. It invites you to dive into its cool waters, explore its scenic trails, and bask in its peaceful aura. For a vacation that’s as enriching as it is relaxing, Lake Jocassee is an East Coast lake destination that truly stands apart.
Where to stay near Lake Jocassee
Accommodation at Lake Jocassee is all about embracing the nature-centric ethos of the area. You’ll find well-equipped campsites and lakeside cabins offering memorable stays.
Here are the best places to stay near Lake Jocassee:
- The Shepherd Hotel Downtown Clemson. This modern hotel is a 17-minute walk from Clemson Memorial Stadium and offers easy access to Lake Jocassee.
- The Abernathy. The Abernathy Hotel is located in the heart of Downtown Clemson and within close proximity to the lake.
- Lakeside Lodge Clemson. Lakeside Lodge Clemson has an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant, and bar.
6. Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Known as Florida’s Inland Sea, Lake Okeechobee is an East Coast lake vacation destination like no other. As the largest freshwater lake in Florida and one of the largest in the US, Lake Okeechobee presents a distinct blend of natural beauty, plentiful wildlife, and diverse recreational activities. It’s an exceptional choice for anyone looking for the best East Coast lakes for vacation.
Lake Okeechobee’s expansive waters are a paradise for boating and fishing. The lake is world-renowned for its largemouth bass fishing, drawing anglers from around the globe to test their skills. If fishing isn’t your sport, the calm waters are also ideal for leisurely boating, canoeing, or kayaking, offering tranquil ways to explore the lake’s beauty.
A unique aspect of Lake Okeechobee is the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, a 110-mile trail encircling the lake, ideal for hiking, biking, or bird watching. This trail provides breathtaking views of the lake and its surrounding landscapes and offers up-close encounters with the region’s diverse wildlife.
Lake Okeechobee’s location in Central Florida also places it within convenient reach of several of the state’s most popular attractions. From here, it’s a short drive to the Gulf Coast, the Atlantic beaches, or the theme parks of Orlando, providing an array of day trip options.
Lake Okeechobee encapsulates the essence of a diverse and adventurous vacation. Its compelling mix of natural splendor, exciting outdoor activities, abundant wildlife, and strategic location make it a must-visit destination on any East Coast lake vacation itinerary. Ready to see for yourself? Come to Lake Okeechobee, and immerse yourself in an experience that’s as expansive and inviting as the lake itself. It’s easy to see why it’s among the top east coast lake vacations.
Where to stay near Lake Okeechobee
The accommodation around Lake Okeechobee echoes the spirit of Florida’s heartland, ranging from rustic lakeside campgrounds to comfortable inns and vacation rentals. Many offer waterfront views, allowing you to witness the spectacular sunsets the lake is known for.
Ready for a Lake Okeechobee vacation? Here are some of the best accommodations in the area:
- Holiday Inn Express Lake Okeechobee. Boating, fishing, and hiking are all within walking distance of this top-rated hotel.
- Cozy Cabin Rental On Lake Okeechobee. This cozy 1-bedroom cabin on Lake Okeechobee has dock access.
- Cozy Lake Home with Ranch Flair & Hammock. This 3-bedroom Pahokee home has a firepit and kayaks available for guest use.
7. Lake Norman, North Carolina
North Carolina’s largest manmade lake, Lake Norman, offers the perfect balance between relaxed leisure and exhilarating adventure. Spanning over 32,000 acres with a stunning shoreline of 520 miles, this lake vacation destination offers the quintessential blend of Southern charm and dynamic water-based activities. This makes it an unmissable entry on any East Coast itinerary.
From an aquatic perspective, Lake Norman is a hub for a wide range of water activities. Whether it’s the adrenaline surge of jet skiing or wakeboarding, the peace of paddleboarding, or the delight of a guided boat tour, this expansive lake delivers. Then, for fishing enthusiasts, the lake brims with a rich population of bass, catfish, and crappie, offering a fulfilling angling experience.
Away from the water, Lake Norman’s appeal persists. With lush golf courses, scenic biking trails, and the Lake Norman State Park offering tranquil hiking trails and picnic spots, your connection with nature remains unbroken. The region is also home to wineries and breweries, perfect for an afternoon of tastings.
Lake Norman’s mix of relaxation and activity, combined with its stunning natural setting, assures a vacation that caters to a wide range of interests and preferences. Ready for a spectacular trip? Pay a visit to Lake Norman, North Carolina, and witness how it perfectly complements your East Coast lake vacation with its unique allure and Southern hospitality.
Where to stay near Lake Norman
Around Lake Norman, you’ll find a diverse range of accommodations. These include opulent lakefront houses, cozy cottages, and well-appointed hotels offering comfortable stays and breathtaking views. For the more adventurous, camping within the Lake Norman State Park provides a more rustic retreat.
Here are top-rated accommodations around Lake Norman:
- Lake Norman Playaway. This 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom vacation home in Mooresville has lake views and an outdoor dining area.
- Sunset on Ballycastle. This spacious Mooresville vacation home features 3-bedrooms, 3-living rooms, and a private pool.
- Aloft Mooresville. This 3-star hotel has an indoor pool, evening entertainment, free bikes, and a bar.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about best East Coast lakes for vacation
Before you head out to enjoy a scenic vacation visiting some of the best lakes on the East Coast, I thought I’d take a moment to answer a few questions. Below you’ll some of the most frequently asked questions about the best lakes on the East Coast. I hope my answers help you have an unforgettable adventure!
What is the best time to visit the best East Coast lakes for vacation?
The ideal time to visit these East Coast lakes largely depends on the activities you wish to engage in and your preference for climate.
The summer months, from late May through early September, are the most popular times to visit. The weather is typically warm during this period, perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, and engaging in various water sports. Summer also brings a host of local events and festivals around these lakes, enhancing the overall vacation experience.
However, if you enjoy the serene beauty of fall foliage, consider visiting Lake Champlain, Lake Winnipesaukee, or Lake George in autumn. The vibrant colors that sweep across the landscape during this season offer breathtaking views.
On the other hand, winter transforms some lakes into icy paradises, perfect for ice fishing or snow sports. Lake Champlain, for instance, is renowned for its winter ice fishing.
Meanwhile, Lake Okeechobee in Florida offers a warm climate year-round, making it an excellent choice for those seeking to escape colder weather.
Remember, each season brings unique charm, and there’s no ‘wrong’ time to enjoy a lakeside vacation.
Which is the cleanest lake in the North East?
Lake George, New York
Lake George in New York is renowned for its remarkable clarity and cleanliness. This 32-mile-long lake, often called the “Queen of American Lakes,” boasts some of the cleanest and clearest waters in the country. Its pristine conditions can be attributed to several factors, including rigorous conservation efforts, strict regulations on wastewater management, and the lake’s naturally occurring spring water sources.
The Lake George Association, along with other environmental groups and local authorities, has made significant strides to preserve the lake’s quality. They have implemented various programs to control invasive species, reduce pollution, and protect the watershed. These programs have led to Lake George being one of the cleanest in the country.
The lake’s crystal-clear waters make it a paradise for recreational activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. Moreover, the water’s clarity enhances the lake’s scenic beauty, providing stunning vistas that never fail to impress visitors.
It’s worth noting that maintaining the cleanliness of a lake is a shared responsibility. Visitors to Lake George, and indeed any lake, are encouraged to follow local regulations and guidelines to minimize their environmental impact. This way, the cleanest lake in the Northeast can continue to inspire awe and offer enjoyment to future generations.
Which is the largest lake on the eastern coast?
Lake Okeechobee, Florida
The largest lake on the East Coast of the United States is Lake Okeechobee in Florida. Often referred to as Florida’s Inland Sea, Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the state and the seventh-largest freshwater lake in the United States.
Spanning an impressive area of about 730 square miles, Lake Okeechobee is an ecological marvel and a hub for recreational activities. Its name, derived from the Seminole Indian words “oki” (water) and “chubi” (big), aptly encapsulates its grandeur.
The lake is home to a myriad of wildlife, including numerous species of fish and birds, making it a hotspot for anglers and birdwatchers. It also plays a significant role in South Florida’s water supply and flood control systems.
Surrounded by the Herbert Hoover Dike and the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the lake, engage in leisurely hikes, or explore by bike. Boat tours are also popular for a more immersive lake experience.
Despite its vastness, Lake Okeechobee exudes a sense of tranquility and offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, making it a must-visit location on the East Coast.
What is the longest shoreline lake in the United States?
Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
Regarding the longest shoreline of any lake in the United States, the title goes to Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota. This large, fascinating body of water, which also straddles the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, boasts a staggering 25,000 miles of shoreline when you include the edges of its 14,500 islands.
The immense size and complexity of Lake of the Woods make it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, anglers flock to its waters for excellent fishing, with the lake being home to walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, and sturgeon, to name just a few. In winter, it transforms into a popular spot for ice fishing.
The lake also offers fantastic boating, swimming, bird watching, and hiking opportunities along its extensive shoreline. In the winter, activities shift to include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
It’s important to note that, given the size and potential hazards of the lake, visitors should always prioritize safety when exploring Lake of the Woods, particularly if venturing into its more remote areas.
The vast shoreline of Lake of the Woods offers a unique and expansive backdrop for countless adventures, and its natural beauty is second to none. It is a testament to the remarkable diversity of landscapes in the United States.
What is the largest man-made lake in the eastern United States?
Lake Marion, South Carolina
Lake Marion, in South Carolina, is the largest man-made lake in the Eastern United States. Formed by the construction of the Santee Dam in the late 1930s as part of the rural electrification efforts of the New Deal, Lake Marion covers an impressive 110,000 acres, making it an imposing presence on the landscape.
This vast body of water is a renowned hotspot for fishing, particularly known for its trophy-sized catches of largemouth bass, striped bass, white perch, and catfish. The lake’s labyrinth of flooded forests and stump fields also adds a unique challenge for anglers and an evocative landscape for boaters.
Boating, water skiing, and swimming are other popular activities on Lake Marion, and its numerous parks and access points make it easily reachable for locals and visitors alike. The lake also serves as an important habitat for various bird species, making it a favorite destination for birdwatchers.
Along the lake’s shoreline, you’ll find a selection of accommodations, ranging from waterfront vacation rentals to cozy bed-and-breakfasts and campsites. The surrounding region also offers golf courses and hiking trails for those seeking activities beyond the water.
What eastern state has the most lakes?
Among the states on the East Coast of the United States, the state with the most lakes is Maine. Since Maine is known for its abundance of lakes, ponds, and rivers, naturally, it’s a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
The exact number of lakes in Maine can vary depending on how a lake is defined, but the state is estimated to have over 6,000 lakes, ranging from small ponds to larger bodies of water. Some of Maine’s more well-known and significant lakes include Moosehead Lake, Sebago Lake, and Rangeley Lake.
Maine’s extensive lake system provides various recreational opportunities, such as fishing, boating, and camping, making it a favorite location for those seeking to experience the beauty of the great outdoors.
What is the cleanest lake on the East Coast?
One of the cleanest lakes on the East Coast of the United States is Lake George, located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Often referred to as the “Queen of American Lakes,” Lake George boasts crystal-clear waters, largely due to its mountainous watershed, minimal industrial development, and proactive measures taken by the community to protect its water quality.
This east coast lake is a popular destination for boating, swimming, and fishing, and its pristine condition makes it a treasured natural landmark in the region. However, it’s important to note that definitions of “cleanest” can vary. There are certainly other lakes on the East Coast also known for their clean waters.