10 Best Lake Vacations in the United States for Families
These beautiful lakes around the United States are great destinations for family reunions, houseboating vacations and multigenerational family trips.
Lake vacations are wonderful destinations for family vacations and multi-family trips. They offer a wealth of scenic beauty, plenty of opportunities for relaxation and tons of fun for every member of the family. If you’re looking for the best lake for your next family vacation or multigenerational family reunion, check out these great lake vacation spots around the United States.
Lake Tahoe, California
Set at an altitude of over 6,000 feet, world-famous Lake Tahoe is a favorite choice for family vacations year-round. Nestled in the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains between Nevada and California, the 22 mile-long lake is surrounded by 150,000 acres of public lands and offers lovely lake beaches and beautiful views.
This mountain gem is home to 12 ski resorts and hosted the Winter Olympics, so it’s a great place for winter family fun. During the summer months, families can relax at the beach and enjoy a wide variety of watersports, go biking or horseback riding, play golf, and hike along the lake or up to the top of Eagle Rock to take in the stunning vistas.
Lake Tahoe offers a wide selection of accommodations for family groups including vacation home rentals and family-friendly resorts. Set directly on the lake, family owned and operated Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort has been a favorite with generations of families. The property is located right across from the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park and features spacious resort rooms and cabins, a 275-foot private beach, bicycle and boat rentals, and kids’ activities.
Families seeking a five-star Lake Tahoe vacation setting year-round should check out The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The resort is set mid-mountain in the Northstar California Ski Resort and features its private Lake Club with access to boating and a wealth of water activities.
In addition to 170 rooms and other luxurious accommodations, the resort’s amenities include a heated pool and hot tubs, watersports, gondola rides, a huge spa and fitness center, and ski-in, ski-out access during the winter months. Families love the resort’s Ritz Kids program and summer dive-in movies under the stars.
Lake Powell, Arizona
Arizona is an outstanding vacation destination for families seeking activities and adventures in spectacular surroundings. Located in Arizona’s far north-central region, Lake Powell is a magical place for houseboat vacations, multigenerational family reunions and group family trips.
This beautiful man-made lake stretches for close to 200 miles and offers 2,000 miles of shoreline and more than 90 different canyons to explore. Many movies have been filmed in the Lake Powell area, which features stunning red rock landscapes and amazing views.
Lake Powell is one of the best vacation destinations in the United States for families to rent a houseboat. A wide variety of houseboats can be rented at Wahweap Marina in Page, Arizona. Multi-bedroom houseboats can accommodate up to 14 people and can include fully-equipped kitchens, hot tubs and other amenities.
On Lake Powell houseboat vacations, families can enjoy swimming, water skiing, kayaking and fishing on one of the country’s largest reservoirs. Fish are plentiful here including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, bluegill and crappie.
Family-friendly hotels abound near Lake Powell and there’s plenty to do on land in the area as well. Families can take a jeep tour to explore awe-inspiring Antelope Canyon, play golf at the Lake Powell National Golf Course, hike at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, go horseback riding to marvel at the region’s breathtaking scenery, and visit Glen Canyon Dam. Kids can become a Junior Ranger and receive a badge when visiting Glen Canyon Dam as well.
Grand Lake, Colorado
Formed by glaciers, Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest and deepest natural body of water. The picturesque lake is located in Grand County, a region blessed with a wealth of spectacular natural beauty and outdoor adventures. Grand Lake sits at an elevation of over 8,300 feet above sea level and is connected to Shadow Mountain Reservoir by canal. The lake is a boater’s paradise during the summer months and it’s known for excellent fishing as well.
Located at the western doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park, the town of Grand Lake is an exceptional home base for family vacations year-round. During the summer months, families can rent boats, kayaks and paddle boards at outfitters including Headwaters Marina and Mountain Paddlers. Memorable boat tours with Captain Rick Tomkievich at Headwaters Marina provide an excellent introduction to Grand Lake’s history and many charms.
With over 350 miles of trails, nearby Rocky Mountain National Park provides a magnificent playground for families who enjoy exploring together. Families enjoy hiking to stunning Adams Falls, picnicking in the park, driving scenic Trail Ridge Road, and looking for wildlife.
Families can choose from a variety of accommodations in Grand Lake including vacation homes, hotels and lodges. Set along the shores of Grand Lake, Western Riviera offers lakeside lodging perfect for families and multigenerational groups. Western Riviera’s accommodations range from lakeside motel rooms, suites and cabins with beautiful lake views to spacious multi-bedroom lake houses and courtside cabins.
Set high on a hill with breathtaking views of Grand Lake and the surrounding mountains, Grand Lake Lodge is another favorite with family vacationers. The historic property features 70 newly renovated cabins and family-friendly amenities including an outdoor pool. Don’t miss having dinner at the lodge’s Huntington House Tavern. The cuisine and views are exquisite.
Lake Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
Lake Coeur D’Alene has been named by National Geographic as “one of the five most beautiful alpine lakes in the world.” It’s a great place for families to go for summer lake vacations and family reunions. Set in Northern Idaho, Lake Coeur D’Alene is 30 miles long and features more than 100 miles of shoreline, plenty of watersports options and endless adventures.
After a fun-filled day of boating, water skiing, and swimming, family members can make time to relax on one of the lake’s sandy beaches. Families also enjoy taking lake cruises, playing pickleball, and going whitewater rafting along the Spokane and Clark Fork Rivers. For even more fun, families head to Silverwood Theme Park, the largest amusement park in the northwest with over 70 rides. Triple Play Family Fun Park, which offers an indoor waterpark and a wide array of indoor and outdoor attractions, is also located nearby.
Located on the north shore of the lake, The Coeur d’Alene Resort has been called the “Playground of the Pacific Northwest,” and that’s certainly a fitting description for its family guests. The award-winning property offers golf, boat and jet ski rentals, swimming pools, lake cruises, an award-winning spa, and the ROW Adventure Center for bike tours and whitewater rafting adventures.
The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course also features the world’s only “floating green” on the course’s 14th hole. Many of the Coeur d’Alene Resort’s accommodations offer beautiful lake views and special family packages are available.
Lake Michigan, Michigan
As one of America’s Great Lakes, Lake Michigan offers many options for family lake vacations. Lake Michigan is over 300 miles long and is connected to Lake Huron by the Straits of Mackinac. One of the best four-season family vacation playgrounds on Lake Michigan is Traverse City, an amazing destination with beaches, golf courses, museums, watersports, festivals, family-friendly accommodations, and lots of interesting places to explore.
Sugar Beach and Grand Beach offer sheltered beaches near Traverse City where families can swim, bike, camp, hike, hunt for Petoskey stones, and build sandcastles. Families can also ask locals about the Legend of Sleeping Bear or take a short drive to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, climb the dunes, and see the Bear for themselves.
Families can also take a day sail or a multi-day Windjammer cruise on the Tall Ship Manitou, a replica of an 1800’s cargo schooner. There are also orchards, nature centers, adventure parks and a fun Alpine Slide at nearby Crystal Mountain.
Sprawling over 900 acres, Grand Traverse Resort is a good choice for family reunions and vacations, with over 500 rooms, suites and condominiums. The award-winning resort has three golf courses, tennis courts, an indoor water park, and offers swimming and boating as well.
Traverse City’s Great Wolf Lodge is a family mecca with a massive indoor water park, bowling alley, kids’ spa, MagiQuest adventures, and miniature golf. Great Wolf Lodge’s family-friendly accommodations include standard, themed and multi-bedroom suites.
Lake Vermilion, Minnesota
Lake Vermilion is often cited as one of the most scenic lakes in the United States. It’s a great choice for family reunions and group family trips, too. Stretching 37 miles across northeastern Minnesota, Lake Vermilion offers loads of family fun and some of the state’s best fishing for walleye, northern pike, and both large and smallmouth bass.
The lake has 365 islands, 40,000 acres of water, and 1,200 miles of shoreline with hundreds of protected bays and inlets. Sunsets here are spectacular.
Lake Vermilion offers plenty of places for families to stay including vacation homes, houseboats and resorts. Ludlow’s Island Resort is one of the best resort options for family groups. Family Circle named Ludlow’s Island Resort as a “Family Resort of the Year” and the property received accolades from USA Today and Midwest Living as well.
Activities for families include hiking, tennis, golf, indoor racquetball, pickleball, boating, zip lining, swimming, fishing, watersports, and a summer kids’ program. Ludlow’s Island Resort’s lakefront 1-5 bedroom cabins are located around the perimeter of the island. Boat rentals are also available at the resort.
White Eagle Resort is another top family-friendly resort on Lake Vermilion. Located in the secluded “Head of the Lakes” bay area, the property features 1-6 bedroom lakeside cabins and homes with beautiful views. Families can enjoy hiking, fishing, yoga classes sand volleyball, and a wide variety of complimentary watersports. Boats can be rented as well.
Table Rock Lake, Missouri
Set in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri and northwest Arkansas, Table Rock Lake offers plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, golfing and vacation enjoyment for families. Constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this man-made lake features over 745 miles of shoreline, 14 marinas, 16 public campsites, and a visitors’ center with scenic lake views. The lake features excellent hiking trails and a number of free beaches including Moonshine Beach.
There’s much for families to do in and around the Table Rock Lake area. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring Dogwood Canyon Nature Park and massive Marvel Cave. Parasailing and zip line tours are available for family members seeking an adrenaline rush.
Nearby Branson can easily keep families busy with over 100 live shows, theme parks, golf courses, animal encounters, restaurants, shopping, and opportunities for family fun. The award-winning Silver Dollar City theme park features 40 rides and attractions, a cool river-rafting adventure experience, 17 restaurants, a crafts colony, and a number of festivals and events. Silver Dollar City’s annual spring Bluegrass & Barbecue Festival is particularly popular.
Families have a wealth of lodging choices for their Table Rock Lake vacations including rental homes, campsites, hotels and resorts. Set on 4,600 acres, Big Cedar Lodge is a top resort for family vacations and reunions. Big Cedar Lodge was created by Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops.
The resort offers two full-service marinas, horseback riding, boating, fishing, five golf courses, a 50,000-square-foot activity center, a luxury spa, hiking and other activities. Sumptuous multi-bedroom log cabins, cottages, lodge rooms and glamping tents provide a wide choice of family accommodations.
Lake George, New York
Lake George is a delightful year-round family vacation spot nestled in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains. Often called the “Queen of American Lakes,” this 32-mile lake provides a wonderful area for boating, fishing, hiking and other activities. The Lake George region also offers opportunities for horseback riding, golf, white water rafting excursions, and a variety of fairs and events during the summer months. With over 100 rides and attractions, The Great Escape – Six Flags theme park is a popular day trip for families as well.
History lovers have much to enjoy in the Lake George region. History comes alive at the Fort William Henry Museum, an authentically restored French & Indian War-era British fort that served as the setting for James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans”. The fort was built on Lake George by the British in 1755 to block an anticipated French advance from Canada. Lake George Shoreline Cruises offers narrated cruises around Lake George which showcase the lake’s scenery and historic events that took place in the area.
Vacation rental homes are popular with families, as are Lake George resort stays. Located on a private 70-acre island on Lake George, The Sagamore Resort is a choice spot for families to stay in the Adirondacks. This AAA Four-Diamond historic lakefront resort offers 392 guest rooms and suites overlooking the lake and the resort’s gardens.
Amenities at The Sagamore include an 18-hole golf course, The Rec Center with over 10,000 square feet of indoor family-friendly entertainment, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis and pickleball courts, hiking and walking trails, and the luxurious OPAL Spa. Families can also take scenic cruises on Lake George aboard The Morgan, The Sagamore Resort’s own luxury touring vessel.
Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Maryland’s largest inland lake, Deep Creek Lake, is located in the tranquil mountains of Garrett County in the western part of the state. Conveniently located within easy driving distance of major Mid-Atlantic cities, the popularity of Deep Creek Lake and its many attractions has grown extensively over the years. Families can enjoy four seasons of fun in this beautiful area, making it a great choice for family reunions and vacation getaways.
Deep Creek Lake encompasses about 3,900 acres and features close to 70 miles of shoreline. Summer activities include swimming, boating, bicycling, golf, tennis, water sports, whitewater rafting, and fishing. Walleye, yellow perch, bass and trout are plentiful.
Visitors also enjoy visiting the Deep Creek Lavender Farm located nearby. Hiking and horseback riding are popular pastimes at Deep Creek Lake year-round. Downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling are sought-after sports here during the winter months.
Deep Creek Lake has a wide selection of vacation home rentals available for families and multigenerational groups. In addition to online vacation rental platforms such as Vrbo and Airbnb, several local real estate companies specialize in Deep Creek Lake vacation rentals.
Families can check with Railey Vacations, Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations, Red Barn Vacations and others. Additional popular places to stay include resorts such as the Lake Pointe Inn Resort, Wisp Resort, and the lakefront Will O’ The Wisp Condominiums.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
Lake Champlain is one of the largest inland lakes in the United States. The lake is 120 miles long and stretches south from Canada into New York and Vermont. The lake’s enticing blue waters, lovely bays, secluded islands and miles of shoreline are perfect for water sports.
Popular activities include boating, fishing, swimming, waterskiing, and windsurfing. Family groups can enjoy scenic sailings and dinner cruises on the Spirit of Ethan Allen from May through October.
The Tyler Place Family Resort is one of the top choices for Vermont family vacations on Lake Champlain. Located directly on a mile of lakefront in Highgate Springs, this award-winning all-inclusive resort offers a beautiful 165-acre setting, a wealth of activities, outstanding dining, and exceptional children’s and teens’ programs. Many recreational programs take place on the lake with canoeing, sailing, and waterskiing being among the favorites.
On land, families can enjoy tennis, biking, indoor basketball and volleyball, pony rides and art classes. The Tyler Place offers an extensive choice of accommodations ranging from cottages and lodges to pleasantly-decorated rooms at the Inn.
Another great family-friendly resort on Lake Champlain is the Basin Harbor Club. Set on 700 acres, this three season property was established in 1886 by Ardelia Beach and the family has remained stewards of the property to this day.
Guests can choose to stay in spacious lodge rooms or unique 1- to 3-bedroom cottages. Activities include boating, swimming, fishing golf, biking, hiking, wellness and fitness activities, and an extensive children’s program. A variety of meal plans and packages are available.
By Nancy Schretter, Contributing Editor
Header Grand Lake Photo Credit: Nancy Schretter