While not as boundless as the ocean nor as free-flowing as a river, lakes present a more serene experience. Because of their tranquility, many lake towns offer a unique appeal.
Across the country, from California to New York, lake towns provide residents with lower stress levels, recreational activities, and improved mental health. And amongst the many lake towns in the United States recently, a few have been named the best.
Here are five lake towns in the U.S. that have received recognition because they offer something unique to visitors and guests.
1. Grand Marais, Minnesota
Located on the edge of Lake Superior and an entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is Grand Marais. This peaceful part of northern Minnesota was ranked #1 in the best lake towns.
Why, you may ask?
It’s hard to pinpoint one or two things. Still, locals and visitors alike will agree that the town offers a balance of breathtaking nature and local businesses. Both give the city an inviting feel.
This walkable town provides stunning views like the lighthouse and the majestic Sawtooth Mountains.
Locals recommend visiting during the fall for the town’s stunning fall foliage. You can also enjoy the changing leaves by hiking or canoeing on Lake Superior.
After taking in the sites, you’ll want to treat yourself to a cake donut, chocolate knot, or donut kabob at the World’s Best Donuts. With over 51 years in business, their desserts are indeed one of a kind.
Lastly, it’s essential to experience the town’s art community by visiting its art galleries.
2. Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Home to Lake Winnipesaukee, which is 70 square miles of water, there are endless water activities all year, from boating, swimming, and fishing in warmer weather to snowmobiling in winter.
Yet locals say the best part about the lake is having the opportunity to gaze out onto the water and allow its beauty to wash over you, giving you a sense of peace.
This lake town is also famous for the Pickering House Inn, a restored and renovated historic building. This inn was named in 2022 by Travel +Leisure, the number-one resort hotel in the United States.
The downtown area offers a variety of restaurants, many of which use locally sourced produce and serve more than steak and potatoes, which is what New Hampshire is known for. And you can top off dinner with dessert by getting some tasty ice cream at the well-known Bailet’s Bubble.
3. Lake Berryessa, California
While California is mainly known for its breathtaking coastline along the Pacific Ocean, the Golden State does have more to offer than salt water and sand.
Located in Napa Valley, Lake Berryesssa is a lake town known for its infamous Morning Glory Spill Way. Locals refer to it as the Glory Hole.
At the Monticello Dam, when the waters get too high, the spillway moves the water so there isn’t an overflow. The spillway is a sight to see, but it’s not what makes this town so great.
Visitors can enjoy year-round water activities on the 23-mile-long lake. Activities include water skiing, wakeboarding, boating, tubing, swimming, kayaking, and fishing.
There are also various hiking trails, including Smittle Creek and Stebbins Cold Canyon Trail loop.
4. Saugatuck, Michigan
Names as one of the 26 most beautiful towns in America by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Saugatuck, Michigan is a must-visit destination. You will surely appreciate this lake town’s beauty for a weekend getaway or a day trip.
While the town is a great place to visit throughout the different seasons, fall lovers will definitely be charmed when visiting towards the end of the year.
During the fall, various activities include apple picking, craft beverage tours, corn mazes, and more.
Known as the art coast of Michigan, people come for the award-winning beaches but stay for the open-minded culture.
5. Garden City, Utah
Along Bear Lake is a charming lake town known as Garden City, Utah. Known as “The Caribbean of the Rockies”, this city has endless things to do
Because this city sits on the border of Utah and Idaho, the area has two main beaches. The Idaho side has the North Beach and East Beach, both sandy beaches. On the Utah side, there’s the Rendezvous Beach, which offers a more grassy terrain. There is also Garden City Park Boardwalk, which offers a more rockier beach.
While ranked among the best in the United States, these lake towns are an excellent opportunity to break from the busy city. These towns offer a way to slow down, appreciate nature, and enjoy a different way of life.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com