Lakeside vacations that have it all
It’s the shimmer of the water, catching shadows from the surrounding trees. It’s the opportunity for discovery—perhaps a hidden cave at water’s edge, or maybe a fabulous waterfront nightclub—it all depends on what you want. It’s a way to play where Hollywood superstars vacation, or to be stone alone deep in the wilderness.
Whatever your vacation dream is, there is a lakeside vacation for you.
For: A two-country experience paired with fine wine
Call it Lac Léman in free-wheeling France. Rename it Lake Geneva when you are in prim and pretty Switzerland. Either way, you will see lovely scenery. This crescent lake is backed by towering snow-capped Alps and fronted by pretty vineyards (including the historic Lavaux Vineyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Don’t miss the thousand-year-old Chateau de Chillon, rich in history. Go out on a CGN boat for great photos. Perhaps treat yourself to a night in the five-star Beau Rivage Hotel overlooking the lake in pretty Lausanne, Switzerland, and dine at its Michelin two-star restaurant, Anne-Sophie Pic.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
For: For relaxing away from it all
A favorite retreat for residents of the Midwestern cities, including folks whose last names were Wrigley and Schwinn and Maytag, Lake Geneva also welcomes non-billionaires to its pretty shores. Book rooms in the lovely Abbey, which combines good opportunities for kids to have fun with the elegance and fine dining that will delight solo couples. Explore the shops in the village of Lake Geneva, and walk the Lake Geneva Lake Shore Path, for a glimpse of the magnates’ mansions. Kick back for some fun on the Ice Cream Social Tour aboard the old-fashioned Grand Belle of Geneva. Star gaze at Yerkes Observatory.
Lake George, New York
For: Forts and family fun
Kids love pretty Lake George, packed with all of the souvenir shops, factory outlets, and fudge stores that make vacations fun. Take the family to tour Fort William Henry, right in town. It played a pivotal role in the French and Indian War, and now it even offers spooky evening ghost tours between July 4 and Labor Day. Fort Ticonderoga, north of the lake, is another popular family stop. Those in search of a more sophisticated experience should book into the Sagamore Resort, a classic grand hotel on an island in the lake. Folks in search of true tranquility will find it on the lake’s far less developed eastern shore.
Lake Como, Italy
For: Playing where celebrities play
Fly into chic Milan. Shop, or simply admire, the fabulous fashion scene, and book well ahead to catch an opera at La Scala and also reserve in advance to see da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Head out some 40 to 50 miles to Lake Como, where the beautiful people—George Clooney, for one—play. The lake’s 145-mile shoreline is dotted with fabulous villas and the occasional grand hotel. The backdrop: The snow-capped Alps. Explore Bellagio, best visited in less-busy spring or fall. Take the funicular up from town, to hike mountain trails with vast views. Treat yourself to a night at the posh Villa d’Este.
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
For: For enjoying nature in a luxurious setting
This perfectly situated glacial lake, ringed by towering mountains topped with tall evergreens, and capped by an icy glacier that shimmers in the summer sun, is probably the loveliest place you will ever find to paddle your own canoe. Visitors get double the scenery for their money, since the glorious setting is all reflected again in the green-blue waters of the lake. Treat yourselves to a lakefront room at the classic Chateau Lake Louise. But don’t linger too long there. This is a place custom made for hiking and biking and (and in winter for skating). Drive to nearby Banff for restaurants and nightlife.