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The 12 Best Lakefront Hotels in the U.S.

Diving into crystal clear waters; spending the days exploring hidden coves by canoe or kayak; hiking in the woods; waiting at the dock for the first stars to appear…a visit to a lake resort is one of the best getaways for those looking to get out into nature. This year, as Americans consider more domestic vacations, the country’s best lakefront hotels are extra appealing, be it for a last-minute summer trip or a cozy fall or winter escape. Here are Indagare’s favorite lakefront hotels in the U.S., from Austin to Alaska.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to discuss whether one of these hotels is right for you, and to learn more about coronavirus travel safety, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies and future trip-planning advice, inspiration and other ideas.

Lake Kora, Raquette Lake, New York

At the end of a two-mile gravel road in the Adirondacks, Lake Kora is an ultra-private resort that’s only available for takeovers. The former “Great Camp” for New York Lieutenant Governor Timothy Woodruff during the late 1880s, it’s now ideal for a multigenerational family visit, open to groups of 14 to 34 people through October. Cottages range from loft-style cabins to a three-bedroom house on its own island, reachable only by boat. Guests have unlimited access to myriad lake and water activities, as well as to the resort’s expert culinary team, who make fully customizable meal plans for each group of visitors.

Winterlake Lodge, Finger Lake, Alaska

Surrounded by 1,000,000 acres of pristine state-protected land and set on a lake about 20 miles from Denali National Park, Winterlake Lodge is one of the best wilderness lodges in Alaska’s Interior. Housing only 20 guests at a time, its six standalone wooden cabins are simply, yet comfortably furnished, and some come with private decks. Winterlake Lodge offers all of the expected lake hotel activities (kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, etc.), and with every three-night booking, also includes one helicopter-based excursion for adventures further afield, from ice climbing and glacier trekking to visiting the lodge’s dog-mushing school, set on a nearby mountain glacier.

On our Radar: The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada

Lake Tahoe is one of those mystical destinations whose very name brings images of cerulean waters surrounded by snow-capped mountains to mind. Visitors looking for a spot to stay, however, will find few accommodations actually on the lake. One exception we love: The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, mercifully across the Nevada border from the honky-tonk hubbub of South Lake Tahoe. There are elegant nods to the hotel’s woodsy location—hand-carved trees etched into the lodge’s stone walls, for example—but design skews more contemporary than rustic, with muted tones and an emphasis on natural light. The outdoor pool (open year-round) is just steps away from the waterfront, where Adirondack chairs line the beach. In the summertime, golfers will love its 18-hole, George and Tom Fazio-designed course. And in colder months, skiing is just minutes away at Heavenly.

The Point, Saranac Lake, New York

On a woodsy peninsula overlooking Upper Saranac Lake, The Point is an 11-room playground for Adirondack adventure. Its original log cabins—which used to host the Rockefellers—all showcase traditional rustic-chic décor, with cozy fireplaces and white-pine walls. Expect easy days boating on the lake or hiking nearby trails. Come dinner time, the resort has reimagined its meal service for the age of social distancing, with various locations for dining around the property.

Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas

This 40-room boutique hotel is equally suited for those looking for a fun lakeside escape as for a serious spa-goer in search of a wellness weekend. That’s thanks Lake Austin Spa Resort’s 25,000-square-foot spa and multiple fitness and water-based activities every hour. These have all been reimagined with social distancing and sanitization in mind, with increased activities on the cool waters of Lake Austin and all meals now available “picnic style” in a basket—perfect for taking to shady locales along the water’s edge. Most rooms—done in warm hues with stripes and floral prints—have private front porches, and many come with private gardens as well. Opt for a room with lake views, which look out to Lake Austin and to bluffs shrouded in oaks, sycamores and maples.

The Sagamore, Bolton Landing, New York

No other resort in the Adirondacks matches the Sagamore for lake views, iconic architecture and luxury resort offerings—pool included. From its own island in Lake George, the historic property is a family favorite where the majority of activities (and guests) cluster along the waterfront. Fishing is available from several docks, and guests can swim and use floaties in roped-off sections, one of which has a lifeguard on duty to ensure kids are safe. Don’t miss joining for one of the hour-long cruises aboard The Morgan, the hotel’s 72-foot yacht which offers complimentary excursions twice a day.

On our Radar: Lodge at Moosehead Lake, Greenville, Maine

On a hill above Maine’s largest lake, with forested mountains in the distance, Lodge at Moosehead Lake is a bed-and-breakfast-style resort with nine individually-designed rooms and suites. Eight of the rooms look out over Moosehead Lake, most with private decks. The inn’s owners pioneered “moose safaris” in the region, working with expert guides to bring guests on excursions deep into Maine’s forests. Other popular activities include pontoon rides and moonlight canoe trips.

On our Radar: Basin Harbor, Vergennes, Vermont

Centered around a small cove on the southeastern shore of Lake Champlain, Basin Harbor offers a relaxed, family-friendly getaway under an hour from Burlington. Open since the 1880s, it’s grown into a veritable village of its own, with 74 private cottages—each distinct in floor plan and design—hugging the coastline (for the most privacy, the Loon Lodge and Cornell Cottage are furthest removed from the others). There is a food truck onsite offering Basin Harbor-cue and a sushi bar on the lodge deck, which is open for dining. Golf, tennis, biking and volleyball are several of the activities for landlubbers, while boating, tubing and wakesurfing beckon guests to the lake.

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Judd Lake, Alaska

On the shores of Judd Lake, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge provides a wilderness escape that’s conveniently under an hour’s flight from Anchorage. Customizable activity scheduling allows guests to craft their own experience during their stay, from jet-skiing, skeet-shooting or mountain biking on-property to heli-based excursions for glacier-trekking, skiing and more. The lodge’s top accommodations are four private cabins, each with floor-to-ceiling windows and personal decks—perfect for enjoying the water views.

On our Radar: Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, New York

Rising on a gentle slope above Lake Placid, Lake Placid Lodge balances its rustic Adirondack Craftsman-style aesthetic—lots of stone and pine—with laid-back, family-friendly luxury. Thanks to its location in the state’s High Peaks region, many of the Northeast’s best hikes are within easy reach, some even directly from the property. And with Lake Placid right out the back lawn, kayaking, swimming and more water activities are all on offer—as is relaxing on the dock’s Adirondack chairs.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan’s Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island—in Lake Huron, near the point where it meets Lake Michigan—has welcomed guests since 1887, and still offers travelers a feel for Gilded Age summer family travels. The hotel’s massive front porch—spanning nearly 700 feet—sets the genteel mood, which continues with activities like tennis, lawn games and horseback riding. Kids love the 220-foot-long serpentine-shaped pool as well as the individually-designed rooms and suites, with their bright, bold colors and fanciful bedding straight out of a fairytale (fans of The Greenbrier in West Virginia will feel right at home).

On Our Radar: The Lake House on Canandaigua, New York; Opened August 2020

Brother-sister cofounders of Brooklyn Home Company—responsible for redesigning some of the borough’s most beautiful, and highly-valued brownstones—are testing the waters of hospitality in the Finger Lakes with The Lake House on Canandaigua. Opening to guests this month, its 125 guest rooms feature hand-crafted hardwood beds and bath products from London skincare pro Alexandra Soveral (who’s also behind the resort’s spa, opening in October). But it’s the location on Lake Canandaigua that’s the main draw: Paddle-boarding and kayaking, fishing and captained sunset cruises are all on offer.

Related: Our Favorite U.S. Hotels with Private Cottages or Villas

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to discuss whether one of these hotels is right for you, and to learn more about coronavirus travel safety, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies and future trip-planning advice, inspiration and other ideas.

– Peter Schlesinger on August 18, 2020

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