Breathe in and breathe out slowly. This is the best way to start a tour to one of the many charming lake towns across the country.
Calm waves reflect the tranquil attitude of lake town dwellers and vacationers. Without ocean seasickness and beach crowds to worry visitors, lake towns offer the ultimate relaxation experience for church groups.
The screen-saver-worthy views of pristine lakes, mountains and greenery found in these five lake towns create an especially serene vibe. Yet faith-based groups do not have to worry about boredom, since each town also contains a variety of attractions both on and off the water.
Lake George, New York
The town of Lake George sits on the foothills of the majestic Adirondack wilderness and the banks of a 32-mile-long lake of the same name. This vacation town draws guests every year for the panoramic mountain backdrops and numerous activities.
“We have a lot of outdoor adventure, but we aren’t as remote as some other Adirondack towns,” said Tanya Brand, group tour promoter for the Warren County Tourism Department. “It’s very much a family-friendly and affordable town.”
Groups can choose from two lake cruise companies: Lake George Shoreline Cruises and Lake George Steamboat Company. The former offers more upscale vessels, including the 115-foot Adirondack, and the latter re-creates the paddle-wheeler experience with the Minnie-Ha-Ha vessel’s authentic steam calliope concert.
“Another one of our very popular attractions is Prospect Mountain,” said Brand. “It is an iconic landmark for Lake George. There is a view of Lake George, Vermont and New Hampshire. On a clear day, you can even see Canada.”
Visitors can either hike or drive up the 2,030-foot summit for 100-mile views and historic ruins of what remains of the world’s largest cable railroad.
The Saratoga and North Creek Railway passes similarly inspiring vistas as it weaves its way through the Adirondacks with seven station stops along the route.
Group-Friendly Lakefront Restaurant: The Algonquin Restaurant is one of Lake George’s most popular restaurants for two reasons: upscale dining and breathtaking views of the lake. Groups can either dine al fresco or dine amid rustic decor, with choices of prime steaks, fresh seafood and pasta dishes.
Tahoe City, California
Just as paddleboarding can seem like a serene excursion or a physical challenge depending on the participant, Tahoe City offers both adrenaline-pumping activities and serene encounters amid the region’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and crystal-blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
“Tahoe City is the hub of North Lake Tahoe, but it’s part of a whole network of small towns,” said Jason Neary, director of sales for the North Lake Tahoe CVB. “You couldn’t ask for a town that is more family-friendly. There aren’t the chains here, but the independently owned businesses. It’s an authentic lake-town experience.”
Coffeehouses, galleries and eclectic shops ensure an interesting stroll down the town’s lake-view boardwalk. Tahoe City also serves as a jumping-off point for a number of outdoor recreational activities, such as skiing, zip lining, kayaking, parasailing, biking and paddleboarding.
North Tahoe Cruises also offers group boat charters for those looking to passively reflect on the surrounding abundant beauty.
Hikers and cyclists can travel the entire length of the north shore or just part along the Tahoe Rim Trail. The relatively flat trail attracts both locals and visitors for its plentiful lakeside vistas.
Guests can discover the intriguing history of the 19th-century town at Gatekeeper’s Museum. A reconstruction of an early settler’s cabin, the museum showcases rotating exhibits on the area’s Native Americans, early settlers and resort history.
Group-Friendly Lakefront Restaurant: Groups can experience laid-back but delicious dining at Jake’s on the Lake, which also offers regular live entertainment. Sweeping lake and mountain views complement the restaurant’s selection of fresh fish and seafood.