5 Really Cool American Lakes For A Family Vacation


Visit these 5 great American lakes for an action-packed family vacation getaway.


As a young man who was blessed to have grandparents with a home on the lake, I can speak for that incredible feeling. The warm lake waters and sandy beach between my bare toes, the occasional fish caught from the trust Zebco Fishing Road, and the ever-present fresh water breeze coming off the lake.

Often times I find myself longing to return to those simple days of relaxation, watching the fireflies at dusk and the quiet hum of a distant motorboat. This year I decided to forgo the big city family vacation in pursuit of a lost piece of my childhood.

One thing I love about the USA is the numerous hidden gems it has to offer. Islands and lakes, valleys and hills left unexplored by most, yet to be ruined by developments, big box stores or shopping malls.

These 5 freshwater family vacation ideas lake destinations made my list, and all offer nearby or waterfront RV Camping. We loaded up the kids and were off to rekindle my connection with those pleasant memories at some of the best family vacation spots

1. Put-in-Bay In Lake Erie

Since the late 1800s, when steamers plied the Great Lakes, Put-in-Bay has been a booming tourist destination, including once hosting America’s largest hotel, The Hotel Victory. This sleepy island has transformed into a hip, lively bar and food scene with numerous family-friendly attractions.

Green space is well preserved on the island, and lodging accommodations run from campsites to ultra-modern properties such as the Put-in-Bay Resort with the island’s most popular swim-up bar, The Blue Marlin. Attractions on the island include the Perry International Peace Memorial, caves, wineries, and lots of great shopping! Put-in-Bay, as the locals call it, is home to the world’s longest bar, the Beer Barrel Saloon, The Round Bar (Roundhouse Bar), the world’s

Photo of Beer Barrel Saloon on a family vacation

largest underground geode, and many more attractions. Sopping, of course, is part of any vacation, and there are plenty of venues here. Equally as exciting, there are an abundant number of things to do with kids at Put-in-Bay.

Another unique part of the island culture are the Put-in-Bay Golf Cart Rentals. Tourists can rent these to drive across the island just as cars do. Some carts were stretched to accommodate up to 8 people! This was definitely the best way to see the island and a straightforward process to rent and drive.

2. Elkhart Lake Wisconsin

Sometimes referred to as the roar by the shore, this small lake town is home to Road America, a championship 4-mile racetrack, which allows visitors to watch race cars rip around the tracks in various forms of race-worthy cars or explore the historic track on (slow-moving) golf carts.

Steeped in racing, many a national champion cut their teeth here on the challenging road course and shared congratulatory adult beverages in the nearby Siebkens Stop In Tavern) for many years.

Although the track gives the city an edge, most people who visit prefer the luxurious part of town and spend their days pampering themselves at the Ostoff Resort, which has a fully functioning spa and L’ecole de la Maison, a French/Italian cooking school. The real allure of Elkhart Lake is the 286-square-foot clear blue lake. If you don’t have a boat to zip around the lake’s corridors or fish, you can easily rent a paddle boat, kayak, or paddleboard to explore the little coves of the lake.

Just a few short blocks from the lake is the cute center of town, which is home to cute local shops, like Vintage Elkhart Lake, a wine store and art galleries, like the Two Fish Art Gallery, and great restaurants, like the Lake Street Café and Paddock Club. Our favorite part is that it’s only a short one-hour car ride from Milwaukee to experience a great family vacation destinations

3. Lake Kabetogama, Minnesota

There’s no better state to visit when craving a seaside getaway than Minnesota, aka the land of 10,000 lakes. My favorite of the 10,000 is Lake Kabetogama, which is the perfect place to visit if you’re majorly into kayaking and canoeing. Lake Kabetogama is part of the waterways that make up the Voyageurs National Park, so it’s home to over 20 campsites that are only reachable by boat. Lost Bay and the Chief Wooden Frog Islands are some of the most picturesque.

Not only is this lake great for paddling, but it’s also a fun spot for wildlife junkies. Here you’ll be able to find bears, bald eagles, otters, wolves, and even moose who traipse along the shoreline. There are also great hiking, biking, and cross-country trails around the lake for those craving an active vacation. Tenting and camping are a favorite here, but there’s also the Northern Lights Resort for those who’d prefer a bed to a sleeping bag on a family vacation.

4. Walden Pond, Massachusetts

Once you step into Walden Pond, Boston seems light-years away (which is ironic, considering the bustling city is just a short 40-minute

Photo of a family vacation at Waldon Pond

drive). What makes Walden Pond such an oasis is that the calm, forest-coated shorelines haven’t been changed much since the late 1800s when Henry David Thoreau called the glacial lake home in a small, modest cabin.

The lake has plenty of walking tours by the Walden Woods Project, so you can get a scope of the land, or you can explore on your own by swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. There are plenty of attractions, restaurants, and hotels in neighboring Concord, but a stay at the quiet North Bridge Inn will ensure a very peaceful getaway.

5. Lake Chelan, Washington

Over twenty wineries, dozens of hiking trails, 50 miles of pure glacial lake, and snow-capped Cascades will be what you see when you drive into the beautiful Lake Chelan from Seattle or Spokane. There’s an endless array of activities for any age group, including water sports, wine-tasting, hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, golfing, fishing, and eating. If you’re into wine, be sure to visit Nefarious, Cheland Ridge Winery, and Tilido. For food, you can’t beat Café Mason, a husband and wife duo who make incredibly delicious and seasonal cuisine.

The Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is great for a family vacation camping, and the best hiking and biking trail for those active types is the Chelan Lakeshore Train, which can be a day or overnight hike that takes you to Prince Creek in Wenatchee National Forest.