By Ciara Collins for the CheapTickets BlogLake Geneva, Wisconsin Just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, this laid-back watering hole has become quite the Midwest getaway for slowed-down weekends of lakeside moseying through shops and finding a good patio at sunset to lazily sip on a beer. Personal boat rentals can cost you a few mackerels, so get your float on with a boat tour via the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Whatever you're into--they've got a specialty boat tour for it: ice cream social, champagne brunch, jazz dinner. Step back on land (and back in time) at the Baker House, an 1885 mansion turned hotel, bar, and restaurant great for sipping a cocktail while overlooking the lake.
Lake Tahoe South, California or Nevada
Ski town in the winter; lake town in the summer. As far as "lake-cations" go, Lake Tahoe has made a name for itself as a "play hard, then play harder" destination. Daytime means plunging into crystal clear waters with your closest kayaking friends or finding yourself in a hot air balloon peacefully floating in a crystal clear sky. Once you've worked up an appetite, head to the highly praised Base Camp Pizza Co. for a powerful pie (tease your taste buds with flavors like "Thai Curry Chicken" and "Pear & Gorgonzola") and live music that will get you ready for an even livelier night ahead. There's no time to relax because once you've eaten your weight in pizza it's time to chug a cold one at local watering hole, Macduffs, bring your best poker face to Harrah's casino, or dance the night away at Peek Nightclub. The best part? Wake up and do it all over again.
Lake Clark, AlaskaBeat the summer heat with a cool Alaskan breeze and hangout session with Mother Nature. At Lake Clark you'll find yourself exploring miles of untainted land and get up close with its local fauna. Silver Salmon Creek, Chinitna Bay, or Crescent Lake are the most popular areas to spot a brown bear from a distance. If befriending a bear isn't quite your thing, find some inspiration at late, great nature enthusiast Dick Proenneke's handcrafted cabin. Proenneke built his cabin by hand and lived independently with nature for roughly thirty years making him an Alaskan icon. At night, keep the serenity alive and find yourself sipping on a cold brew under the stars.
Lake Placid, New YorkIf you haven't started to relax from just the name alone then that is reason enough to head here. Lake Placid literally becomes more placid in the summer months so grab the whole family for some "gentle" whitewater rafting (ahem, oxymoron much?) or step up the adventure with a rigorous hike up the tallest mountain in New York: Mount Marcy. If you are thinking about a winter trip, don't miss the opportunity to experience the snowcapped great outdoors with man's best friend as your guide; take a dog sled ride with Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours or Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides. Still not convinced? The Breakfast Club, a crowd pleaser restaurant located on Main Street, offers breakfast all day long. Think about all of the bloodies! Sold? Thought so.
Lake of the Ozarks, MissouriThe only thing better than free stuff is free stuff on vacation. Lake of the Ozarks offers a ton of free attractions--it's the adventure vacation that just keeps on giving. At Ha Ha Tonka State Park you'll find your gaze stuck on the remains of an early 1900s castle; the product of a wealthy businessman's crumbled dreams. At the Camden County Museum you can grab a quick history lesson at what fittingly was a former school building. And at the Ozark Distillery you'll find yourself with a free tour and tasting of spirits such as vanilla bean moonshine, vodka, and whiskey. Cheers to freebies.
Crater Lake, OregonForget "there's no place like home," and remember that Crater Lake is "like no place else on earth." Embark on a magical journey with the Wizard Island Tour, where you will set off by boat into one of the deepest lakes in the world and find yourself exploring the mysterious volcanic crater that lives in the lake. If you aren't feeling adventurous, you can ditch the hike and take in the beauty of Wizard Island from afar on the Standard Lake Cruise. After working up an appetite all day, head to Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, known for its locally grown ingredients, to indulge in elk chops, bison meatloaf, or a rack of lamb.
Lake Havasu, ArizonaYou don't need to hop over the pond to experience London. Instead you can jump in a lake. In 1968 the founder of Lake Havasu purchased the old London Bridge, moved it to Arizona, and the rest is well, history. Take a 90-minute walking tour of the bridge or grab your boat and drop your anchor right below. History lovers aside, Lake Havasu is also the place for those who are looking to party in paradise, minus the whole cost of paradise. Think brews, boats, bros, and babes on a budget. Forget water sports and hikes, this is the ultimate in finding your tan, your fun, and your friends all day (and night) long.
Lake Caddo, Texas and LouisianaAt Caddo Lake you'll find yourself amongst the alligators, swampy waters, endangered species, and Bigfoot. Wait, what? Yep, rumors swirl about Bigfoot leaving its footprint in the wetland and after researching reports of an "ape-like" figure you'll soon want to join in on the hunt. If finding a mysterious creature isn't your thing you can take an educational outing at the park headquarters. Here you can learn about Lake Caddo, the Great Depression, and prohibition (you'll be thankful it came to an end if you do spot Bigfoot). And if the idea of Bigfoot traipsing the land around you is truly terrifying you can always head to the water and hop on a boat tour with Caddo Lake Steamboat Company. Bigfoot can't swim, right?