8 Iconic Lakes to Hit the Road and Explore

September 2, 2022

Best Lake Vacations in the U.S.

Few camping destinations are as relaxing and versatile as the ones you will find at lakes around the country. Whether you are traveling alone or with your family, lakes offer endless entertainment for people of any age and preferences, making them a popular destination when the weather heats up and school gets out for the summer. With hundreds of them in nearly every state, you will find an abundance of calming, beautiful locations to vacation in.

Take a look at some of the best summer vacation destinations for lakeside family fun with Kampgrounds of America. Just as KOA Campgrounds span from coast to coast, this guide will show you the most beautiful lakes to add to your list, regardless of the activities you are looking for or the location you want to travel to. Decide on the best spots for fishing, water sports and relaxation, then book your site at one of KOA’s convenient nearby locations.

Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe

1. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

As perhaps the most well-known and second-deepest lake in the United States, Lake Tahoe is home to plenty of incredible outdoor activities year-round. It boasts some of the purest water of any lake, making it perfect for swimming, boating and all your favorite water-based activities. Its high-altitude placement transforms it into the perfect place to explore winter sports when the weather gets cold, as well. Plus, if you appreciate a nice, long drive, you’ll love the scenic 72-mile stretch that some call the “Most Beautiful Drive in America.”

Nearby KOAs

Crater Lake National Park

2. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

This beautiful freshwater lake lies in the massive crater formed by Mount Mazama, an inactive volcano that created the unique landscape of this national park. Get a good look at just how big this lake is from every angle by taking the 33-mile cruise around Rim Drive, which is especially rewarding during the summer and fall seasons. At its deepest point, the lake is 1,943 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the country.

This gorgeous location is perfect for incredible photo ops, fishing, swimming and adventuring. It is even home to its own Wizard Island, where you and your family can explore the history of the volcano up close and its lava rock companion, Phantom Ship.

Nearby KOAs

The Salt Lake in Utah

3. Great Salt Lake, Utah

At 75 miles long, this grassy, saltwater marshland is one of the most relaxing sites on the list. Float along any of its eight islands and take up a new water sport like kayaking or paddle boarding in its gentle, buoyant waters. Birdwatchers especially will find their ideal vacation here at Antelope Island, which is home to millions of migratory birds throughout the year.

Nearby KOAs

Landscape of Flathead Lake in Montana with water and mountains.

4. Flathead Lake, Montana

As one of the cleanest lakes in the country and framed by the incredible Salish Mountains, Flathead Lake is one of Montana’s prized locations. This lake is home to a gravelly beach, hiking trails, a scuba diving center and cherry orchards, among other amenities, making it a family-friendly destination where your kids can make memories that will last a lifetime. Be sure to take a walk by Wild Horse Island and see if you can catch a glimpse at the land’s wild horses!

Nearby KOAs

Rare stretch of undeveloped shoreline of Lake Michigan located in Ludington State Park in the lower peninsula of Michigan.

5. Lake Michigan

From historic lighthouses to incredible fishing opportunities, one of the country’s largest lakes is sure to bring you plenty of intrigues. With more than 1,600 miles of shoreline, you can find a lakefront that fits your preferences, whether you love sand dunes or rocky cliffs. Lake Michigan is also close to major cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, providing enough entertainment for you to turn this destination into a yearly excursion and never run out of new experiences.

Nearby KOAs

Dusk falls on the rugged shore of Lake Superior in Copper Harbor, Michigan.

6. Lake Superior

For the most extensive fishing excursion of almost any lake, Lake Superior is the clear winner. As the world’s largest freshwater lake — holding 10% of the world’s surface freshwater alone — you will find a variety of fish that any angler can be satisfied with. Go for smallmouth bass, salmon, herring, whitefish, trout and so many more. You can fill your boat with catches of the day any time of year.

Nearby KOAs

Aerial Lake Okeechobee Florida

7. Okeechobee Lake, Florida

This fun-named lake is Florida’s largest freshwater source and is home to a scenic trail that lets you enjoy marshland and traditional agriculture all at once. Okeechobee Lake is known for its wildlife connections both in and out of the water. You are likely to see manatees and alligators near the waterline in their natural habitat, and avid fishers know that the lake’s warm, shallow waters are home to some of the largest freshwater bass in the world.

Nearby KOAs

Vineyard with a Lake in Background on a Clear Early Autumn Day.

8. Finger Lakes, New York

One of the more adult-friendly lake vacation locations is Finger Lakes in Upstate New York, a group of 11 narrow lakes. Many of the lakefront properties in this area are vineyards, putting you right in the middle of one of the East Coast’s top wine regions. Spend your vacation relaxing by the water, hiking and biking new paths and trying local blends of Reisling, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nearby KOAs

Find a KOA and Vacation on Any Lake

Any lake in the United States poses a perfect location for full-family fun. When experiencing nature at its best is a must-have on your list, make a reservation at a nearby KOA. KOA’s safe, well-maintained sites provide the perfect location for camping in any style, whether you prefer tents, cabins or RVs. Many of these locations boast unique lodging and amenities like dog parks, recreational events and restaurants, and you will appreciate hot water restrooms and on-site laundry facilities anywhere you go.

Vacation your way with KOA today and take in the best parts of the country’s top lake destinations.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting

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