We love the beach just like anyone else. But we really, really love the mountains, and a lake house vacation is just so dreamy. Every year I look forward to swimming in the lake, sunning on the dock, playing cards on the deck after the kids are asleep. If you’re looking for a lake house vacation near Philadelphia, you’ve got some options. Here’s the places I’ve been and would recommend!
Top pick: Poconos. Well, obviously from Philadelphia this is the easiest closest option for a lakefront vacation. Lots of options for private home rentals, so keep in mind Lake Harmony is the only lake in the Poconos that allows motorized water sports. So if you are dreaming of jet skiing, tubing, waterskiing, etc., this is the only place to go. If you’re looking for a resort experience, try the following: Woodloch Lodge, (pricey but it’s supposed to be amazing!) Skytop Lodge (not as pricey – and was amazing, read about our trip last summer here,) Silver Birches, or Split Rock Lodge. Split Rock Lodge we found to be meh, uninspiring. They do have an indoor water park, for what it’s worth.
Under the radar spot: Mt. Gretna, PA. Looking for an alternative to the well trodden path? See why The Washingtonian said Mt. Gretna should be your new summer hideaway. This place just looks adorable.
Top pick: Skaneatles, NY. This family-friendly Finger Lakes town is a gem, perfectly accessible from Philadelphia and classic American summer. We were there over 4th of July which may be why I felt this way. But still. For a hotel style experience here, this is the Sherwood Inn directly across from the lake and a public swimming beach. If you want a hotel/resort directly lakefront, go somewhere else, you’ll need to rent a private home to stay directly on the water here. Eat here. 4.5 hours from Philly.
Other NY options: Anywhere in the Adirondacks including Lake George, Lake Placid, Lake Champlain and lots of other smaller lakes and swimming ponds throughout the 6 million acre park area. We stayed at a private home in Saranac Inn a few years back and it was glorious. Check out this lake front rental option!
Under the radar spot: Lake Copake, NY. A gorgeous private lake (you have to rent a home to stay here) about 2 hours north of NYC. Groceries and civilization 5-10 minutes away. Hip and artsy Hudson, NY is 20 minutes east. Classic cute Great Barrington, MA 20 minutes to the west. Tired of splashing in the lake? Take a short kid-friendly hike to a waterfall here. Or tour a working farm and creamery, meet some baby animals, and take home some farm fresh produce here.
Arcadia National Park: So many great options for family vacations in this area.
Under the radar spot: Boothbay Harbor. Adorable downtown with the best lobster rolls and fish fry. Lots of options for cottage rentals either near the harbor or on a private lake. The listing for the place we stayed is no longer active – but this place looks awesome.
Smugglers Notch is a classic family resort in Warren, VT. It’s enormous, four seasons, family fun. They have a nature center, lake swimming, a water park, fishing. Scavenger hunts. Basically everything that dreams are made of. And they are famous for their amazing kids programs. This is the real deal for a summer resort in gorgeous Vermont. Only downside, it’s an 8 hour ride from Philadelphia.
Low key option: Private home rentals on Lake Champlain!
Top pick: The Berkshires have an artsy relaxed vibe that makes for a perfect lake vacation. There aren’t a ton of family resorts here but there are plenty of private rentals (like this cutie!) on lakes and ponds for a relaxing lake house getaway. Modern art lovers must check out MassMoCa in North Adams which is famous for provocative modern and contemporary visual art. Music lovers can visit Tanglewood Music Center – the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a stunning outdoor music venue. Lovers of dance flock to the world famous annual Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival.
P.S. Have recommendations or comments on these destinations? Leave ’em in the comments!