Summer Lake Towns

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The lighthouse in Grand Marais, Minn., on Lake Superior.
Perched on Minnesota's North Shore, Grand Marais is on the edge of 350-mile-long Lake Superior. As if that weren't enough, the Boundary Waters—a series of connecting lakes that offers 1,500 miles of canoe routes—is just 25 miles southwest.
Grand Marais, Minn., is only 40 miles south of the Canadian border—so the water temperatures can stay chilly, even into the summer.
Just 25 miles west of Portland, Ore., Forest Grove's historic downtown is lined with old-fashioned ironwork street lamps, sophisticated wine bars, and boutique gift shops.
Courtesy Washington County Visitors Association
Hagg Lake, an easy nine miles away from quirky Forest Grove, offers sports like waterskiing and kayaking.
Courtesy Washington County Visitors Association
In Chelan, Wash., rent a kayak from $40 per day and explore the 50-mile-long glacier-fed Lake Chelan.
Lake Chelan, in Washington State. Don't leave without taking a ferry up the lake—the fjord-like gorges make for stunning scenery, with the slopes of the North Cascades dropping dramatically into the deep-blue water.
Everywhere you look in Chelan, Wash., some ruddy-cheeked soul is kayaking, swimming, fishing, or windsurfing on the lake.
Lake adventures in Lake Dillon, Colo., start at the marina, with weekend sailing regattas, boat rentals, and meet-ups for guided Saturday-morning hikes and kid-friendly wildflower walks.
Colorado's Lake Dillon has crystal-clear waters and 26 miles of shoreline.
Courtesy Town of Dillon
Lake Dillon, in Colorado, hosts the Dillon Open Regatta, the world's highest at more than 9,000 feet above sea level.
Courtesy Town of Dillon
Leland, Mich., floats on a peninsula between giant Lake Michigan and petite Lake Leelanau, making a car unnecessary for families who've been spending the summer here for generations.
Courtesy Rick Lahmann
Leland'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 and now a lakeside historic district.
Lake Michigan, near Leland, Mich.
Oakland, Md., at the southern end of Deep Creek Lake. The marina rents everything from canoes to powerboats, plus kid-friendly toys like water trampolines.
Courtesy Garrett County Chamber of Commerce/Timothy Jacobsen
In Oakland, Md., stop by the Garrett County Historical Society to catch up on the area's past. Then treat yourself at Lakeside Creamery, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor offering more than 90 flavors; peach, made with fresh local fruit, is a perennial summer favorite.
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.
In Rangeley, Maine, 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.
Near Maine's Rangeley Lakes region, 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.
Courtesy North Country B&B
Donner Lake, in California, is a mecca for outdoor-sports enthusiasts. Try simple sailing or the more adventurous stand-up paddleboarding.
Rainbow Bridge overlooking Donner Lake, on California's Old Highway 40.
Courtesy iStock/Switchback PR

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