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There’s something wonderful about a summer vacation by the lake. Perhaps it’s the often crisp, clear fresh water that cools you off on a hot day. Or it could be the stillness and quiet of an early morning canoe outing on a smooth, glass-like surface. Then again, your lake vacation may involve personal watercraft, swimming, fishing, paddle boats or camping by the lakeshore.
In choosing a list of the “best” lakes in every state we realized that what might make a lake fantastic for one person might make it a definite “no way” for another. So we’ve done our utmost to strike a balance among lakes with different strengths. And we’ve done our best with the few states that don’t offer a lot of choice in freshwater lakes.
All the Great Lakes states, meanwhile, offer an abundance of lake choices. To avoid overlap, we decided that we wouldn’t repeat the Great Lakes — so that if we featured one of them as the best in one state, we wouldn’t use it again for another. We also decided that lakes created by dams (which account for many) were fair game for our list.
With those caveats, here’s our pick of the best vacation lake in every state.
Use our list as a starting place, and then look for additional details on the ones that pique your interest at — a website with tons of data about major lakes across the country.