Early fall is prime time to visit New York State’s Lake Placid, when the trees in 6-million-acre Adirondack Park are starting to turn colors, and travelers can gather round for s’mores at Lake Placid Lodge—one of the best lakefront hotels in the U.S.
Every year, jet-setting readers vote on their favorite hotels around the globe in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards survey. A review of the top-scoring lakefront properties in the U.S. makes us nostalgic for vacation days—and simple pleasures like a calming view and a refreshing splash in the water.
Related: America's Best Lake Vacations
Mountain lakefront spots have an added appeal: access to hiking trails and ski runs, as well as fishing within sight of snowcapped peaks. One of T+L readers’ favorite spots is the new Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, No. 2 on the list, nestled at 6,225 feet in California’s Sierra Nevadas. This year, Colorado makes a showing at the top of the list as well, with the No. 3–ranked Broadmoor, a 1918 historic hotel with a 43,000-square-foot spa for a signature Swedish massage.
A robust list of land-based activities can be just as important as access to the water. At No. 5–ranked Keswick Hall, in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the rural charms include vineyard tours and rounds of golf on a course that’s known for bird-watching. Nearby, the top-ranked lakefront hotel in the U.S. is the Umstead Hotel and Spa in North Carolina, perfect for outdoorsy types who love to wake up and take a riverfront stroll (there are more than 20 miles of trails along Big Lake).
For families, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, No. 9, on Orlando’s Crescent Lake, has nautical interiors reminiscent of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. (Disney World is just a 10-minute car ride away.) But travelers who prefer seclusion to navigating the crowds will love the No. 10–ranked Friends Lake Inn, where stone fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs cozy amenities for a property alongside idyllic Friends Lake in Chestertown, NY.
Looking for more? We’ve got the top T+L reader picks for America’s best lakefront hotels.