There’s something classically American about a lakeside vacation. Those timeless rituals — s’mores by the fireside, flashlight tag, sundowners on the porch, having a Thoreau moment by placid waters, or embracing your inner Huck Finn with a nature hike along the river. As the trend for active vacations gains in popularity, lakeside hotels increasingly offer guests a myriad of activities both on and off the water. Regardless of the season, or the budget, there is a lake, a hotel, a cabin, a houseboat, or a tent for every mood and moment. Here’s our pick of the best lakeside haunts to play, muse, and enjoy summer camp all over again.
1. Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe
The most luxurious hotel in the Tahoe area, the Ritz-Carlton Truckee, just a 10-minute drive from the lake, eschews its usual surfeit of marble and glitz, for a cozy, rustic design that speaks to the adventure-minded guests who roll up with kayaks, skis, and bikes atop their Subarus, and occasionally a dog or two in tow. Located within the Northstar California ski area, the resort boasts ski-in, ski-out access and ski concierge services—there’s always an ever-conscious ski valet on hand to relieve you of your boots and skis each day.
In addition to the myriad of off-site activities, including paddle boarding and kayaking, there’s a heated outdoor pool, an inviting fireplace in the lobby, and, for sybarites, an indulgent spa which offers a range of pampering treatments. The highly praised restaurant, Manzanita, showcases regional Californian cuisine with an emphasis on organic and sustainable ingredients. And, to top it off, each night by the fire pit guests can partake of the Art of the S’more (yes, seriously!) with the resident ‘Marshmologist.’
Standard double rooms from $499 per night.