FUN FOR ALL AGES
Summer Lake Towns 2010
Nature hikes, canoe trips, pancake breakfasts—just another perfect summer day in one of America's best lake towns.
Rangeley, Maine, on Rangeley Lakes Photo 1 of 3
Maine is home to more undeveloped land than any other state in the country, so keep an eye peeled for herons, eagles, and, of course, moose—maybe while sailing Rangeley Lake on a guided boat tour led by Sam-O-Set Four Seasons and Dockside Sports Center. The company can also set you up with anything from a basic canoe to a 20-foot speedboat (207/864-5137, samosetfourseasons.com, tours $25 per person, canoe rental from $25, speedboat from $200). Back in town, browse the quilt and antiques shops downtown, like Threads Galore, a quilter's paradise with close to 1,000 bolts of fabric, plus classes where you can meet locals (27 Pleasant St., threadsgalore.com, classes from $20). Then head south about five miles to Edelheid Road, where you'll find the Maine Mountain Maple plantation. Take a tour of the sugar shack, where locally tapped sticky sap is made into sugary syrup, and one free taste later, you'll never buy the generic stuff again (50 Edelheid Rd., mainemountainmaple.com). Rest your head at North Country Inn Bed & Breakfast. It's a bit like visiting your favorite great-aunt—if she served you quiche or pancakes topped with fresh fruit every morning (northcountrybb.com, from $99).
Leland, Mich., on Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau Photo 1 of 3
Leland rests on a peninsula between Lake Michigan and petite Lake Leelanau. Families who've been spending the summer here for generations often arrive by boat and never set foot in a car during their stay. The town's roots as a fishing village aren't hard to spot—the main attraction here is Fishtown, a cluster of old shanties converted into shops and restaurants, now a lakeside historic district. Locals love the pretzel-bread sandwiches at the Village Cheese Shanty (199 E. River Rd., villagecheeseshanty.com), and kids never let parents walk by the Dam Candy Store without stopping for an ice cream cone or chocolate-covered cherries (197 W. River Rd.). The 107-year-old Riverside Inn and Restaurant, one block from downtown, has a homey feel but is classy enough to offer an extensive international wine list and dining on the deck with views of the Leland River (302 River St., theriverside231/256-9971, 231/256-9971, 231/256-9971, -inn.com, from $100). If you do bring a car, make time to explore the wineries of northern Michigan. The pinot noir from Chateau Fontaine, just three miles outside Leland, has a vibrant berry flavor—it's the perfect summer wine (2290 S. French Rd., 231/256-0000, chateaufontaine.com).
Truckee, Calif., near Donner Lake Photo 1 of 2
This year, skip Lake Tahoe and head 16 miles north to Donner Lake's warmer water temperatures and small-town atmosphere. Originally an Old West town (you can still visit the original 1875 jailhouse), Truckee is a great base for exploring the lake's many outdoor activities—lately, stand-up paddleboarding is the sport of choice (Truckee Sports Exchange, 530/582-4510, truckeesportsexchange.com, boards $60 per day, kayaks $40 per day). Truckee also has a growing local art scene—a slew of new galleries has opened recently, including Riverside Studios, which sells pottery, jewelry, and clothing made by a collective of area artists (10374 Donner Pass Rd., 530/587-3789, riversideartstudios.com), and Carmel Gallery, home to Olof and Elizabeth Carmel's impressionistic prints and photographs (9940 Donner Pass Rd., 888/482-4632, thecarmelgallery.com). Whatever your plans, carb up first with the All Day Addiction, a concoction of hash browns, avocado, Canadian bacon, and two eggs, at 1940s-style diner Jax at the Tracks (10144 W. River St., 530/550-7450, jaxtruckee.com, Addiction $10). Later, you can relive your adventures over a Base Camp Golden Ale at Fifty Fifty Brewing Co., where all the beers are brewed in-house (530/587-2337, fiftyfiftybrewing.com, beers from $4.50), and watch the sun set over the water from the redwood deck at Loch Leven Lodge (lochlevenlodge.com, rooms from $120).