Grab your swimsuit! Here are the most irresistibly enjoyable, summer-fun-filled lakes in the West.
Best for a private hideaway
All your life, you've longed for your own personal lakeside retreat. But you haven't inherited money, you haven't issued an IPO. What to do? You rent your lakeside paradise for a week or two. Christina Lake, British Columbia, is seemingly created for people who want to rent their own lakeside cottage/cabin/luxury home. Resorts are nonexistent (although there is a scattering of nice, small B&Bs). But what Christina has is a broad range of properties for rent, from quirky but comfortable cabins to a few seven-figure estates.
Best for a romantic splurge
The ideal romantic lake outing requires three things: 1. Natural beauty, because soaring hearts demand scenery to match. 2. Not too many people, because romance shuns crowds. 3. Some luxury, because love likes it a little cushy. Suttle Lake, in central Oregon, earns top marks in all three categories. The glacier-formed lake is undeniably a stunner. But oddly, even at the height of summer, Suttle never feels mobbed-despite being one of Oregon's more accessible mountain lakes (U.S. 20 skirts its northern shore).
Best for National Park luxury
In Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake reflects the Teton peaks better than any mirror. And Jenny Lake Lodge reflects rustic elegance. The restored historic cabins have handmade quilts. Breakfast, five-course dinner, and use of bikes and horses are included.
Best for throwback fun
Lakes don't get much more old school than Crescent, in Washington's Olympic National Park. Lake Crescent Lodge is one of the great national-park hotels, with a wood-paneled dining room-President Franklin Roosevelt ate here-and a sunroom where parents and young children play games of Uno and Jenga.
Best for a variety of outdoor activities
With its green pines and blue water, California's Big Bear Lake feels like a step into vacations past. But you can get in good mountain biking at Snow Summit and stand-up paddleboarding on the lake. And Windy Point Inn is sleekly contemporary.
Best for simple pleasures
Simple pleasures really can be the best. They're what Northern California's Lakes Basin area has to offer. About an hour and a half northwest of Lake Tahoe, the basin holds more than 50 alpine lakes-Gold, Packer, and Lower Sardine are the most popular-accessible by car or hiking boots.
Best for celebrating a Western icon
Clear, blue, and still a classic: Summer at Lake Tahoe is the same as it ever was. Go for a sunset sail, take a shot at paddleboarding, or find a slice of beach and take in the to-die-for beauty.
More: Lake Tahoe summer
Best for grown-up fun
Discover the sophisticated side of Washington's summer playground, Lake Chelan--where sandcastles and jet skis are making way for (really good) wine.
Best for uncrowded hiking
Oregon's turquoise jewel, Crater Lake is a must-visit spot. Rather than tailgate from viewing spot to viewing spot, park your car in the Rim Village lot and hike the moderate 6-mile (one-way) West Rim Trail, which fortunately isn't packed in the summer.
Best for pure blue beauty
Stretching northeast for some 10 miles from near the west entrance to Montana's Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald has a beauty that seems easy, almost lazy, with dense forest sloping down to the glass-smooth water. Lake McDonald is the largest (10 miles long) and deepest (464 feet) body of water in the park.