10 Best Lakeside Hotels in the US

Courtesy of The Sagamore Resort on Lake George

While some people love the crash of waves and the feel of salt on their skin from a day at the beach, for others, it’s all about the calmness of a lake. Staying at a lakeside hotel is a classic American experience, conjuring images of wide porches, croquet on rolling lawns, and bonfires; think of it as summer camp for the whole family. The beauty of a lake vacation is that the resorts tend to offer just as many activities on land as they do on water. Read on for our look at 10 of the best American lakeside hotels.

by Christina Valhouli

Christina Valhouli writes about travel, beauty and lifestyle trends. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Post and Departures.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

WHERE: Williamsburg, Michigan

This 900-acre resort along east Traverse Bay offers a quintessential summer lake experience. At the Grand Traverse, guests can ride Jet Skis, kayak, take out a paddleboat, or jump on a water trampoline. Back on land, indulge your sweet tooth at the on-site Dylan’s Candy Bar. If you need to burn those calories, head to the indoor water playground or take your pick from three championship golf courses.

Insider Tip: Visitors can drive about 45 minutes away to the Old Mission Peninsula, which is located on the 45th parallel (halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.)

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Michigan Guide

Courtesy of The Sagamore Resort on Lake George

The Sagamore

WHERE: Bolton Landing, New York

The Sagamore is located on the southern end of Green Island in the Adirondacks, and offers stunning views of Lake George. Guests can fish directly from the resort’s docks, but if you need a little more help, hop on a chartered fishing boat helmed by a local captain. On the water, guests can try parasailing, waterskiing, or wakeboarding. For unwinding, there’s also a spa and 18-hole golf course.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss The Hyde Collection, a historic home and art museum, in nearby Glen Falls. The collection spans Old Masters to contemporary artists.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Adirondacks Guide

Courtesy of The Broadmoor Colorado Springs

The Broadmoor

WHERE: Colorado Springs, Colorado

If you hate to sit still on vacation, then consider a trip to The Broadmoor. Set on 3,000 acres in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the resort offers plenty of activities on land as well as the shores of Cheyenne Lake. Guests can try fly-fishing or take a canoe, kayak, or paddleboat out on the water. Those looking to stay dry can opt for rock climbing or horseback riding.

Insider Tip: Nearby Chico Basin in El Paso County is one of Colorado's top fishing spots.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Colorado Guide

Courtesy of Grande Lakes Orlando

Grande Lakes Orlando

WHERE: Orlando, Florida

Grande Lakes Orlando is a 500-acre estate that’s home to both a Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotel (the hotels are connected). Both are located on Grande Lake, and guests can sign up for eco-tours in kayaks and canoes along Shingle Creek. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including osprey, wild turkey, and Florida gators. Guided bird-watching tours are also available.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss the new Bird Habitat program at Grande Lakes Orlando, where families can decorate bird houses at Shingle Creek. Take them home or hang them along the creek. If you choose to leave them at the resort, the staff will send images of birds living in the houses.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Orlando Guide

Courtesy of Lake Pointe Inn

Lake Pointe Inn

WHERE: McHenry, Maryland

Lake Pointe is a luxury inn located on the shores of Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County. The 19th-century hotel is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style, and many rooms have fireplaces. Enjoy views of the lake from the porch or a lakeside hammock, or head down to the dock for a swim. There are also complimentary kayaks and canoes, and guests can enjoy a cycle around the lake.

Insider Tip: The lake is home to many types of fish, including rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and pickerel.  

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Maryland Guide

Courtesy of Mission Point Resort

Mission Point Resort

WHERE: Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island is one of the most charming destinations in the U.S. for those looking for simple, old-fashioned fun. The 18-acre Mission Point Resort faces Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac. The expansive lawn overlooks the water and one of the best ways to soak it up is by relaxing in an Adirondack chair.

Insider Tip: Mackinac Island is a no-car island, so most people get around by bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, or on foot.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Michigan Guide

Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge

WHERE: Ridgedale, Missouri

If you love to fish, consider a trip to Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozarks, owned by outdoorsman Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops. The resort is located on the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake, one of the country’s best bass-fishing lakes. If the fish aren’t biting, guests can spend their time trying out various watersports including kayaks, canoes, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding. Sunset cruises are also available.

Insider Tip: Later this summer, Big Cedar Lodge will debut the Top of the Rock golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Missouri Guide

Courtesy of Whiteface Lodge

Whiteface Lodge

WHERE: Lake Placid, New York

Located in the heart of the Adirondacks, Whiteface Lodge is built in the style of a great camp. When the weather warms up, guests can take a dip in the lake or a ride in the resort’s pontoon boat or classic Hacker-Craft. Whiteface Lodge is also home to the Canoe Club, a private beach that offers dining along with complimentary canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and Frisbees.

Insider Tip: The Whiteface Lodge was conceived and built by a former Olympian, and the hotel staffs includes several Olympic hopefuls and recent Olympians. Bartender Chris Mazdzer competed in the luge at the 2010 and 2014 Games.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Adirondacks Guide

Courtesy of Brevin Blach Photography

Lakehouse Resort & Hotel

WHERE: San Marcos, California

The Lakehouse Hotel & Resort recently underwent a property-wide, $9-million renovation that updated the space with sleek and modern décor. The resort is spread over 250 acres along the shores of Lake San Marcos. Water-based activities include boat tours, kayaks, new itBike water bikes, two saline pools, and Jacuzzis. Fishing is allowed, but is catch-and-release only.

Insider Tip: The Lakehouse Hotel & Resort is in the heart of North County, San Diego’s emerging brewery scene. The hotel provides complimentary transportation to local breweries, including the well-known Stone Brewery World Bistro & Gardens.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s California Guide

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

WHERE: Truckee, California

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe is arguably the most luxurious resort in the area. The lake itself is a short drive away, and guests can enjoy it in multiple ways. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are available, as well as boat cruises and fly fishing. There are also miles of hiking trails to explore and guests can soothe sore muscles by ending their day at the hotel’s spa.

Insider Tip: For good old-fashioned s’mores, don’t miss the daily “Marshmology” with the resident “Marshmologist” at the outdoor fire pit. Added bonus: the marshmallows are hand-crafted.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Lake Tahoe Guide