aerial of nahuel haui national park

Beautiful view of the Circuito Chico in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche and the lakes, forests and mountains of the Nahuel Huapi National Park.


Head For a Different Kind of Coast on 8 Lake Vacations Around the Globe

Travelers looking for a low-key, chill and serene destination will find lakeside spots have all of the trappings of vacations on the water without all of the fuss.

To be sure, the beach vacation in the traditional sense — oceanfront accommodations, breaking waves, inimitable sunsets — isn’t in need of a revamp, but you can open up your options by broadening the definition of what constitutes a coastal trip.

Plus, lakes tend to offer fewer crowds and more budget-friendly accommodations and activities than seaside locales.

Read on for some of the world’s best lakeside resorts and hotels and discover a fresh coast. As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Nahuel Huapi Lake in Bariloche, Argentina

Bariloche, Argentina, is the gateway to the Patagonia region, and visitors passing through on their way south will quickly see why the lakeside city has become a destination in its own right.

It’s a toss-up whether this Argentinian city deserves more accolades for its famed chocolate or its scenic setting with the backdrop of the Andes Mountains offering wow-worthy views from every corner, but why not celebrate both? Arelauquen Lodge, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, San Carlos de Bariloche makes for the perfect home-away-from-home stay.

Lake Tahoe, California

emerald bay lake tahoe
Enjoy lakefront bliss in Lake Tahoe. (Photo: Getty Images)

Needing no introduction is Lake Tahoe, one of California’s most glorious places to kick back and relax.

While everyone else is trying to find a respectable patch of sand along the coast’s crowded beaches, you can take in the stunning scenery of the Sierra Nevada Mountains via a hike on Mount Tallac Trail, after which a swim and sunbathing at Lakeside Beach, less than a mile from Marriott’s Timber Lodge, beckons.

Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, British Columbia

One of North America’s hottest wine regions also just happens to reside around a picturesque lake. More than 30 beaches pepper the lake’s periphery, inviting sunbathers to park out on a slice of sandy shore.

Kelowna’s attributes may be more subtle than those of your average bustling beach town, but the good vibes here are evident in everything from weekend farmers markets to boat rentals at the marina. As far as lakes go, Okanagan gets top marks for sunbathers and water-sports enthusiasts alike.

Lago d’Orta, Italy

lago d'orta boats
Enjoy the alpine backdrop of Lago d’Orta. (Photo: Getty Images)

To be sure, visiting Italy is never frowned upon in normal times, but smart travelers know the trimmings of an exquisite Italian vacation are best found in the country’s less-popular destinations.

This means trading in the crowded Amalfi Coast for a dreamy lakeside, which Lago d’Orta delivers effortlessly. The northern lake, with its crystal-clear waters and Alpine backdrop, exudes romance, harkening back to a simpler time.

Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, Michigan

Michigan isn’t a place vacationers flock to in winter, but the state shines in the summer months, especially along Little Traverse Bay.

Plan to explore Harbor Springs; bursting with beauty, art and lush golf courses, it makes for an excellent stop and allows you to soak up the laid-back lake town’s myriad charms. In the nearby town of Petoskey, the waterfront is well-trodden by cyclists, and Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen has ice cream for all.

Lake George, New York

This family-friendly town in the Adirondacks is so easygoing and inviting you’ll wonder why you waited so long to explore this particular stretch of New York state’s “coastline.”

Favorite activities in Lake George range from fishing to whitewater rafting to brunch in the Queen of American Lakes, a deservedly enduring nickname for the idyllic town.

Dal Lake in Srinagar, India

dal lake srinagar
Dal Lake and its surrounds are unforgettable. (Photo: Getty Images)

Urban lakes are ideal for travelers who want to have their cake and eat it too. This makes Dal Lake, situated in Srinagar (the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir), India, prime for vacationers who enjoy spectacular sunsets, floating gardens and lush hikes.

Oh, and if you’ve never gone shopping while journeying around a lake, this is your chance to scoop up fresh produce for snacking or a bouquet of colorful flowers from floating vendor boats.

Goto Lake, Bonaire

Now, most travelers don’t select a Caribbean destination for its ocean alternatives, which is why it may come as a surprise that Goto Lake on the Dutch island of Bonaire is very much a worthy “other-coast” option, especially for travelers eager to avoid teeming beaches and overcrowded resorts.

Visit the saltwater lagoon Goto, surrounded by lush green landscapes, at sunset when bright-pink flamingos hang out, and you won’t regret it.