The best lakes in New England for a fun vacation! Enjoy swimming, fishing, camping, and more. The great outdoors are calling!

Best Lakes In New England

There are a lot of things that New England is known for… sports, beer, fall foliage, lighthouses, and historic sites. But did you also know that there are some great lakes in New England? They are the perfect place to escape the big city and enjoy nature. With the help of some blogger friends, we’ve put together this list of the best lakes in New England.

Ready to get out on the water? Let’s go!

Candlewood Lake In Connecticut

One of the best lakes in New England for a fun vacation is Candlewood Lake. This man-made lake was created in the 1920s and has since then become Connecticut’s most popular lake. Candlewood Lake has 65 miles of shoreline, spans 8.5 square miles, and has 12 islands.

At the lake you can go swimming, fishing, boating, water skiing, and wakeboarding. You can also go scuba diving. The old town of Jerusalem sits under the water so divers can see farm equipment, buildings, and even crashed airplanes. There’s also lots to do if you’d like to stay on dry land. You can go hiking, play golf, or geocaching. The lake also has a playground and picnic tables.

You can’t camp at the lake but there are five towns nearby that have lodging, restaurants, and shops. The Hilton Garden Inn Danbury is a popular choice for lodging. They are a short 10 minute drive into town and offer amenities like a restaurant, pool, and fitness center.

Candlewood Lake In Connecticut
Candlewood Lake In Connecticut

York Lake In Massachusetts

Shobha of Martha’s Vineyard Tourist

Massachusetts has got lots of lakes including one with a trippy name – Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, shortened to Lake Chaubunagungamaug or simply Webster Lake after the town in which it is located. The Massachusetts state forests and state parks protect many of the lakes for the general public’s enjoyment such swimming, fishing, or kayaking.

One such Massachusetts lake, York Lake is part of Sandisfield State Forest. The nearly 8,000 acre lake is man-made and created by the Civilian Conservation Corps out of swampy wetland in 1935. Popular activities at York Lake include swimming, fishing, and non-motorized water sports. There is also a 300 foot sandy beach area which is popular with families. Mass Wildlife stocks up the lake 3x a year with trout making it perfect for fishing.

There are plenty of hiking opportunities, including an easy 2.2 mile hike that loops around the lake. Dogs are permitted on a lead. Keep in mind that this area of Massachusetts is also home to black bears.

Parking is ample and even free, for some categories of visitors (such as those with handicapped plates).

When you are at York Lake, you feel you are away from it all. Yet, you are only 15 miles from Great Barrington which is as cool and hip as you would expect from a population made up of New York second-home owners. There is a plethora of boutiques, bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

York Lake In Massachusetts is one of the best lakes in New England
York Lake In Massachusetts

Tully Lake In Massachusetts

Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

Tully Lake is a 200 acre reservoir in Central Massachusetts that is wonderful for a fun vacation. Outdoor lovers will totally enjoy this scenic and peaceful lake. 

Canoeing and kayaking on the lake is quite popular. You can stop at one of the many islands on the lake for your own private island picnic. Or you can continue up to the source of the lake on a wonderful paddle trip around beaver dams and marshes full of flowers and birds. Fishing enthusiasts will find a wide variety of game fish to be caught.

There is a tent-only campground on the lake with coveted lake-front campsites. Campers can swim from their campsites, launch a boat, or just watch the sunset. There are 35 spacious sites to choose from. 

Hikers will love the Tully Trail that circles the lake. The 22-mile trail leads past spectacular waterfalls. Stop to admire the raging cascades of Doanes Falls, or the high wispy downpour of Spirit Falls. The trail climbs high in parts for panoramic views of the lake.

Other outdoor activities to enjoy on Tully Lake include mountain biking, disc golf, birdwatching, and geocaching. You will never run out of activities to do on Tully Lake.

Tully Lake In Massachusetts
Tully Lake In Massachusetts

Moosehead Lake In Maine

One of the best lakes in New England is located in Northwestern Maine. Moosehead Lake is the second-largest lake in New England; it is 40 miles long and covers nearly 75,000 acres. Moosehead Lake offers visitors an opportunity to go fishing, hiking, camping, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and more.

There is also plenty of wildlife in the area. In fact, moose outnumber people three to one! If you’d like to see some moose for yourself, you’ll have plenty of opportunities around the lake. We suggest going with a professional guide, since they know all of the most popular moose hangouts.

For restaurants, supplies, and lodging head over to the city of Greenville. If you’d like to camp on the lake, visit Lily Bay State Park on the lake’s east shore. The park has 90 well-spaced campsites, many of which are along the shore.

Fun Fact: Although it might not be as well-known as some of the other New England states, there is great leaf peeping in Maine!

Moosehead Lake In Maine is one of the best lakes in New England
Moosehead Lake In Maine

Echo Lake In New Hampshire

Kate of New Hampshire Way

Northern New Hampshire is home to some of the best mountain lakes in New England. One of my favorites is Echo Lake, part of Echo Lake State Park in North Conway, NH. Echo Lake has one of the best views in the Granite State — a calm lake, almost mirror-like on still days, reflecting an enormous rock face in the distance.

Echo Lake State Park is simple: there are picnic tables to enjoy a meal, and a selection of hiking trails. The hike around Echo Lake itself is just 0.8 miles and almost perfectly flat, making it a great option for young kids. For something more challenging, you can take a steep 2.8-mile hike all the way up to Cathedral Ledge!

One of the best things to do in North Conway NH is to do a loop around three nearby outdoor sites: Echo Lake for swimming time and a picnic, Diana’s Baths for wading and waterfall-hopping, and Cathedral Ledge for views over the landscape. These three activities are all close by and make a perfect trio!

Echo Lake has a small parking area, so I recommend making a reservation if you’re planning to visit on a summer weekend or holiday. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.

(Keep in mind that there are actually two Echo Lakes in the White Mountains — one in North Conway and one in Franconia. Both beautiful, but don’t get them mixed up!)

Echo Lake In New Hampshire
Echo Lake In New Hampshire

Edgewood Lake In Rhode Island

Another great lake in New England is Edgewood Lake in southern Rhode Island. It’s inside of Roger Williams Park, just 15 minutes south of downtown Providence. The park is free and open daily from 7 AM to 9 PM.

Fishing is really popular at Edgewood Lake and you can find species like Red Drum and Largemouth Bass. You can also get out on the water with kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. No gas powered motors allowed. You can also go for a hike around the lake or look for wildlife.

There are a couple of campgrounds nearby if you’d like to extend your time by the lake, or you could stay in Providence. For a truly charming place to stay, we recommend the Christopher Dodge House. This bed and breakfast is in a brick mansion that was built in 1858. Complimentary breakfast is served every morning and they also offer free WiFi and cable TV.

Edgewood Lake In Rhode Island
Edgewood Lake In Rhode Island. Photo Credit: Roger Williams Park Conservancy

Lake Champlain In Vermont

Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

Lake Champlain forms the boundary between New York and Vermont. One of the best places to experience the magnificence of Lake Champlain for a fun vacation is in Burlington, Vermont. From Waterfront Park, you get panoramic views of the Adirondacks across the lake. Take a picnic and spread out on the green lawn to enjoy the moods of the lake.

The bike path along Lake Champlain is one of the best in Vermont. You can rent bicycles and pedal the Burlington Greenway bike path with views of the lake. The Colchester Causeway, further along on the bike path, takes you across the lake on a narrow reclaimed train line with water on both sides.

Burlington has wonderful swim beaches on Lake Champlain. North Beach is a white sand crescent on the lake with lifeguarded swimming areas. You can camp in the adjacent campground. There’s also the more quiet Leddy beach a bit further north on the lake.

The Spirit of Ethan Allen boat cruise is a great way to get out on Lake Champlain while learning about the history of the area. After a day of lake activities, head to downtown Burlington for its vibrant art and dining scene. Enjoy the Mediterranean small plates of Honey Road restaurant.

Don’t miss getting back to the waterfront in time for the sunset. The colors on the horizon across the lake will be a spectacular ending to your day on Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain In Vermont
Lake Champlain In Vermont

Final Thoughts On The Best Lakes In New England

We hope these lakes inspire you to start planning your next vacation. You can swim, hike, fish, or just hangout by the lake with a cold drink. And whether you’re going solo, with family, or a group of friends, you’re sure to have a fun time.

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The best lakes in New England for a fun vacation! Enjoy swimming, fishing, camping, and more. The great outdoors are calling!