Scenic Lake Lure, NC
photo © Smart Destinations


What are America’s Most Popular Vacation Lakes? You have your own favorites, and you’re probably enjoying those favorites this summer. But what’s the big picture? We looked at the most-visited pages on Lakelubbers, and used Internet search engines to reveal lakes with the largest number of vacation-related webpages. We excluded the Great Lakes because each one includes so many vacation destinations. Eleven lakes dominated our search. This blog post highlights four of those lakes, listed in alphabetical order by state.

Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay
photo © ceemarie


Lake Tahoe, located in both California and Nevada, is the quintessential four-season destination, with winter vacations just as popular as summer getaways. Tucked into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 122,000-acre Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the USA with a maximum depth of 1,645 feet. Lake Tahoe gained international recognition when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. Although Lake Tahoe is a natural lake formed about two million years ago, it is also is a multi-purpose reservoir for hydropower generation, water storage for agriculture, fish and wildlife protection, drought protection, and recreation. More than 80% of the Lake Tahoe Basin is under public ownership through the U.S. Forest Service and the State Parks of California and Nevada, providing an incredible array of outdoor activities. D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay State Parks provide six miles of spectacular shoreline with panoramic views. Picturesque Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark in 1969, and was designated as an underwater state park in 1994. With 600 inches of snow each year, 12 world-class alpine ski resorts, and spectacular snow-covered views, Lake Tahoe is a premier destination for winter vacation fun.

Lake Winnipesaukee Summer
photo © dawnzy58


New Hampshire’s Lake Region is well known for its beautiful four-season scenery: covered bridges, old red barns and church steeples, all accented by mountain overlooks. Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the state, spanning almost 44,600 acres with 385 islands dotting its surface, 274 of them inhabitable. Boating is a year-round activity, even in the winter when ice sailing takes center stage. Scenic lake cruises are available during summer months, including a floating U.S. mailboat that delivers mail to the lake’s islands. Public beaches are scattered around the 240-mile shoreline, including Ellacoya State Park with a 600-foot long sandy beach and RV campground. The lake also boasts four castles near its shores: Kimball Castle, Roxmont Castle, Graystone Caste, and Castle in the Clouds (open to the public). When you visit, keep your camera ready for sightings of Winnie, Lake Winnipesaukee’s monster.

Lake Placid Autumn
photo © Lake Placid Region


The most famous Adirondack Lake is 2,170-acre Lake Placid, New York, the host of two Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980), bringing a variety of winter sports venues in the area into the wider public eye. Visitors arrive in all seasons and from all corners of the world to enjoy Lake Placid and its smaller sister, Mirror Lake. Whiteface Mountain treats sports enthusiasts to superb alpine skiing. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, bobsledding, tobogganing, dog sledding, or a leisurely chairlift ride up the mountain are great ways to experience the snow-covered beauty of the Adirondacks. The lakes are just as popular during warmer weather with boating, canoeing, kayaking, cruise tours, swimming, camping, golf, and autumn ‘leaf peeping’ drives. Lake Placid Village is a fun place to browse the talents of local artists and craftsmen. Another popular attraction, the 6 million-acre Adirondack Park, provides thousands of miles of wooded hiking, biking, and equestrian trails with panoramic summits.

Smith Mountain Lake 4th of July
photo © Ted Pratt


20,600-acre Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, “Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” is located in the foothills of southwest Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Smith Mountain Lake is the home base of Lakelubbers. SML hosts special events throughout the year, including bass tournaments, fireworks on the water, a wine festival, fall chili and craft festival, charity home tour of lakefront homes, and a Christmas boat parade. Smith Mountain Lake State Park and Franklin County Park feature beautiful sand beaches and miles of hiking trails. The Parks, plus five golf courses, provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The paddlewheel cruise ship, the Virginia Dare, offers scenic lunch and dinner cruises. With 500 miles of shoreline to explore, Smith Mountain Lake welcomes all types of watercraft – speedboats, pontoon boats, bass boats, jet skis, canoes and kayaks. And watch for the Fall 2011 release of the new movie Lake Effects, filmed entirely at Smith Mountain Lake.

To read about all 11 of America’s Most Popular Vacation Lakes, visit our Lakelubbers Newsletter Archive. And don’t forget to sign up for future newsletters, delivered straight to your email inbox!

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