During the hot summer months, there’s nothing better than spending time in the water. Instead of heading over to the closest water park, why not head out to the great outdoors and visit one of America’s best lakes for a summer vacation? Here are five suggested lakeside destinations to enjoy water sports like swimming, kayaking and water skiing.
Frequently named “best lake in America,” Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination for world-class nightlife and an abundance of popular outdoor activities. Following this year’s exceptional ski season, North America’s highest alpine lake is a summer playground, with a particular emphasis on hiking, cycling and watersports. Also known as the “Lake in the Sky,” Lake Tahoe features more than 25 beaches spread across 72 miles of shoreline in both California and Nevada, many of which have boat launches and equipment rentals for water sports. Water temperatures average 65 degrees in the summer, allowing for water-based fun like jet skiing , paddlesports like kayaking and standup paddleboating (SUP), water skiing and boating. Additionally, Lake Tahoe offers some of the best sport fishing in either state, with boat charters, rentals and several popular fishing spots. Recommended beaches and lakeshore spots for water-related fun include Zephyr Cove, Regan Beach, El Dorado Beach and Kiva Beach in the South Shore area are and Kings Beach and Sand Harbor on the less crowded, but equally impressive, North Shore.
Known as the Houseboat Capital of the World, Lake Cumberland is the country’s largest lake by volume east of the Mississippi. Located in south central Kentucky, the lake’s shoreline measures 1,255 miles, making it an exceptional destination for all kinds of watersports and other outdoor recreation. One of the country’s most popular lakes managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Cumberland’s most popular water sports are power boating and fishing, and it has been the location for many of Kentucky’s fishing records, including the largest rainbow trout and largest striped bass. However, at Lake Cumberland State Dock, visitors can rent many types of boats, including ski boats and fishing boats, in addition to providing waverunners, kayaks and paddleboats for rent.
With an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually, Lake Havasu is a major destination for watersports in Arizona and one of the top spots in the country for water skiing. Located on the California border in western Arizona, the man-made reservoir behind the historic Parker Dam measures an astounding 45 miles long and features more than 450 miles of shoreline. The most popular and famous spot for recreational activities is Lake Havasu City, which gained a bit of notoriety when it acquired the authentic “Old” London Bridge in 1968 and now serves as both a river crossing and major tourist attraction. However, in order to cool off, visitors will want to enjoy water activities like swimming, wakeboarding and skiing, paddlesports and even scuba diving, with more than 30 known dive sites. Water temperatures on the lake start rising over the summer, with a peak average of 87 degrees in August before dropping to a slightly cooler 79 degrees through September.
The second largest of the Great Lakes in terms of volume and the only one entirely in the country, Lake Michigan offers water sports across multiple cities in four states. Chicago is by far the largest city residing along this Great Lake, which is very well known for its 26 miles of public beaches and easy access to water sport rentals like jet skis, kayaks and paddleboards. As the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee also features impressive beaches in the immediate area, along with a wide variety of recreational water activities like boat rentals, kayaking, hydrobiking and fishing charters. Other notable communities around Lake Michigan for water sports include Green Bay and Kenosha in Wisconsin and Traverse City in Michigan. The best time to enjoy watersports on Lake Michigan, offered referred as “the Third Coast,” is in late July or August when it reaches it peak temperature in the high 60s but occasionally into the 70s. However, the best time of year to actually go surfing on Lake Michigan begins in October.
Better known as one of New York’s most popular destination for winter sports, Lake Placid is also a summertime mecca for water sports. Boating and fishing charters are high on the list of water sports here in the small village in the Adirondack Mountains that was the host of two Winter Olympics. But with top-rated local business like ADK Aquatics, visitors can also enjoy wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing and wake surfing, or even take private lessons to learn a new sport. The host of two Winter Olympics and the annual host of the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon, the water temperatures tend to average in the high 60s to low 70s during the peak summer months.