DON'T LET IT FADE

Summer Lake Towns 2008

Hang on to summer by retreating to an easygoing, affordable lake town, where you can embrace simple pleasures—fishing, huckleberry picking, go-karting, and old-fashioned sweets. We've picked seven to jog your memory; chances are, there's a similar one near you.

LAKE CHAMPLAIN, VT.
The quaint village of Shelburne is one of the most appealing communities strung along skinny Lake Champlain, which divides mountain chains in Vermont and New York. You can explore the southern area of the lake on a Carillon cruise. Bring binoculars to help pick out bald eagles, ospreys, and herons, and keep your eyes peeled for Champ, the lake's elusive monster. For DIY boating, rent from the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center based in Burlington, a laid-back college town about six miles away (keelboat rentals $50 per hour, kayaks, and canoes $15 per hour). From Burlington, bike paths snake their way along the lake and through stretches of rolling farmland. In summer and early fall, picnickers congregate on the lawn at Shelburne Farms—a nearly 1,400-acre education center and working dairy farm on the lake's shore—for events like the Vermont Mozart Festival. Figurative arts are also well represented in Shelburne, whose namesake museum has a notable collection of American folk art and paintings by Impressionists. The independent Flying Pig Bookstore devotes a special section to homegrown talent like novelist Chris Bohjalian.
Where to refuel The owners of Bistro Sauce support local farmers, as does the Shelburne Country Store, which sells cheese, maple syrup, and jams, and makes its own fudge daily.
Where to stay Pitch a tent or park an RV at the Shelburne Camping Area, which also has kitchenettes that can be rented by the day or week (sites start at $24, kitchenettes start at $75). A more refined alternative, the Victorian bed-and-breakfast Heart of the Village Inn has a library and wraparound porch that encourage guests to linger (from $150).
Easy escape from Manchester, Vt. (90 miles), or Albany, N.Y. (153 miles).
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LAKE OF THE OZARKS, MO.
The man-made Lake of the Ozarks ("the lake" to Missourians) has more than 1,000 miles of shoreline skirted by boat docks and forests of oak and hickory trees. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate Lake of the Ozarks State Park's cabins, which have front porches but no electricity or running water (rates from $40 per night for up to six people). Underground caves in the park are home to bats and salamanders and are prone to angel showers, an unusual phenomenon in which a never-ending shower of water seems to come out of the solid ceiling of rock (tours $6). When its dark above ground, visitors head to the Main Street Music Hall in Osage Beach, where performers put on a nightly two-hour show of comedy routines and classic country, gospel, and folk tunes (tickets $17). There's an all-American feel to the town, too—flags flutter atop kid-friendly diners, and bowling and minigolf are popular. But the biggest crowds can be found browsing discounted goods at 110-store Osage Beach Premium Outlets.
Where to refuel Cozy, blue-and-white clapboard restaurant The Potted Steer has docking spots for those who prefer to arrive by boat. The Ozark Hills supply meat for dishes like pork loin and smoked baby back ribs.
Where to stay The Cliff House Inn has a gazebo, gardens, and a goldfish pond. Each of the four suites comes with a hot tub and a fireplace ($150 per night, including breakfast, two-night minimum stay required on weekends).
Easy escape from Springfield, Mo. (94 miles), or St. Louis, Mo. (175 miles).
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7 U.S. LAKE TOWNS

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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