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Check out the lakes in the U.S

The Best Lake Vacations in the US

Updated on January 20, 2023


What is it about bodies of water that fascinate us? Sure, our planet is 75% water, but even when we don't vacation at an ocean side locale, more people go to lake destinations than any other kind of vacation spot in the United States; this includes casino towns, ski resorts, mountains and deserts, or urban trekking. Lakes hold a certain sort of draw for US vacationers above any other type of destination; whether it's a family cabin locate near a small body of water that would barely rate above 'pond status, or a major resort that features lake shore property as part of its appeal. Here is a list of what we at CASH 1 consider the best lake vacation destinations in the United States. And we're going to go ahead and name the single best lake vacation destination in the United States (and we happen to think it's the best lake in the world, when all is said and done. So let's dive right in (see what I did there?).

Lake Havasu, AZ

Just south of the bottom tip of Nevada, on the Arizona/California border is a huge man made lake called Havasu. This is the most affordable lake destination for many people living in the Southwest. Havasu has plenty of activities available (boat rentals abound in the main village of Havasu City) and plenty of space to conduct those activities. If you love desert scenery surrounding an oasis-like body of water, then Havasu has what your looking for, and we're not just talking about cacti and sage.

Unique rock formations can be found here that will be seen nowhere else. Desert wildlife thrives, even amidst the summer crowds. And if you want a great place to go in the off season, Havasu gets more then 300 days of sunshine a year, with most of them warm enough to go swimming. The majority of hotels in the area will fit most budgets, and a lot of them boast more than just a franchise sign out front. Personal touches can be discovered in the most budget conscious of motel amenities and that let's you save money for the all important wake tube rental. One important note of advice: Havasu is a major Spring Break destination, and if that's your thing, then you will enjoy the rowdy nightlife that exists for a couple of weeks in March. But for the rest of us, it is strongly recommended you avoid going during those times. Traffic and pedestrians increase exponentially and there are always problems because of this. Let the kids have their Spring Break, make reservations for any other part of the year and save yourself both money and a potential headache.

Crater Lake, OR

If you haven't been, this is truly a natural wonder to behold; a lake (the deepest in the United States at nearly 2,000 feet of depth) that rests in the hollowed peak of a dormant volcano and boasts some of the most amazing scenery in the world. If you are looking for an ecological and science based educational vacation, this frigid basin of deep, clear blue water is a wealth of geological and wildlife information. Crater Lake is part of the National Parks system and does have one or two campgrounds within its borders. Make sure you take advantage of the ranger-led hikes, presentations displays and other activities of interest. There is even a boat tour (the only motorized boat allowed on the lake) that will take you to Wizard Island for more hiking adventures and wildlife spotting opportunities. Still got a hankering for the usual lake destination activities? Head a few miles north of the park boundaries to Diamond Lake where there are several resorts and motels that offer all the usual and fund lake adventures. There's even a place that rents bumper boats!

Lake of the Ozarks, MO

A sprawling, man made lake in Missouri boasting well over a thousand miles of shoreline (due to its spidery geological features), Lake of the Ozarks has it all. If there's a lake activity in existence, you will find a place to do that in this very popular and scenic Midwestern destination. Want to see an Irish Castle and go water skiing in the afternoon? You can do that? Want to fish in the morning and take the kids to an indoor water park all int he course of a day? You can do that. Want to rent an affordable vacation home and stretch out lazily on the shore line with a good book while the kids splash around in cool water on a hot summer day? Of course you can do that.

Lake Placid, NY

Scenic, charming, old style resorts with lots and lots of activities (think of all those things they did in the Catskills resort in the movie 'Dirty Dancing'), and of course, the venue for the 1930 and 1980 Winter Olympics; site of the legendary 'Miracle on Ice'. This is where you will find it. Rustic Adirondack cabins, cozy Old European eateries, and far too many things to do for the kids.

Lake Superior, MI, MN, WI

A lake that spans an massive area, in fact its so wide that you can visit it from 3 states. Part of the Great Lakes, in fact, Superior has enough water to hold all of the water in all the other Great Lakes and then some. If you are looking for a boating experience rivaling that of the ocean you've come to the right place. If you are more of the laid back and relax kind of person, Superior is one of the premier fishing places in the United States.

Lake Powell, UT, AZ

If you are looking for a lake with amazing views of desert landscape then this is the place to be. Situated right next to the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell boasts similar views that you would get from visiting the canyon itself. With places to go boating, or kayak through sandstone canyons, or just sit back and enjoy the scenery, there is no way you can get bored here.

So here you are, wondering what the greatest lake vacation destination is in all of the United States or even the world. We doubt you'll be surprised by this:

Lake Tahoe, CA and NV

You want Alps level scenery? Tahoe. Activities year round, including the best water skiing and the best snow skiing during their respective seasons? Tahoe. Want to play at a world class casino resort and then be in the midst of a wilderness gazing up at the stars less than ten minutes after stepping out the front door? Tahoe. Concerts, cuisine, scenery, wildlife, wild life, and accommodations from camping to the presidential suite? Tahoe, Tahoe, Tahoe.

CASH 1 hopes you have an excellent lake vacation whenever it is you decide to go, and if you need emergency cash before or after your vacation, come see us and use your car title for a personal installment loan in Phoenix or find a title loan near you in Las Vegas.

Go (safely and in good humor) jump in the lake of your choice.

Hair Free since 1997

Noel Ballon

Noel Ballon is a skilled personal finance writer passionate about helping people to succeed financially.

As a guest writer for CASH 1, Noel has shared his knowledge on a variety of financial issues, including budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning

Noel has a background in economics and finance with over five years of experience writing in the financial sector.

He works to simplify complicated financial ideas so that people from every area of society may understand them.

When Noel isn't writing, he likes keeping current on the latest financial sector changes and looking for fresh approaches to assisting people in choosing wise financial decisions.