Lakeside vacations offer Happy Travelers the chance to connect with the great outdoors, enjoy tranquil days and evenings, and get their adrenaline pumping on the water. No matter what season you decide to retreat lakeside, Pennsylvania offers countless activities for everyone to enjoy. Spring and summer call for cool drinks on the deck and breathing in nature or wafts from the grill. Fall and winter seasons more your thing? Brace yourself for a carnival of colors (and carnivals) and the see-your-breath nights at any one of our bounty of lakeside retreats.
1. LAKE ERIE
Lake Erie is part of the Great Lake’s Snowbelt, famous for the winter wonderland created by the lake effect. The sparkling waters give Erie its nickname, "Gem City," and provide unique seasonal activities year-round. During the warmer months, the nearby peninsula of Presque Isle State Park provides outdoor enthusiasts numerous opportunities for sailing, swimming, hiking, and biking. The shallow depths during the summer months make Lake Erie a popular recreational area for water sports like boating, swimming, and sports fishing. The cooler months offer ice fishing opportunities and an offshore fall foliage experience with “Lady Kate,” a 65-foot Great Lakes vessel that offers a 90-minute tour and an incredible view of the shoreline.
2. LAKE HARMONY
Lake Harmony is a four-season getaway in the Pocono Mountains. This region offers clear mountain water perfect for thrilling watersports; top-notch fishing with healthy populations of bass, rock bass, sunfish, bluegill, trout, and perch. You’ll find tubing, skiing, and boarding at Jack Frost Big Boulder when the temperatures drop. Visitors can choose overnight options including lakeside lodges, down-to-earth villas, and duplex cottages.
3. LAKE WALLENPAUPACK
The Pocono Mountain’s man-made Lake Wallenpaupack is the ideal destination for outdoor adventure-seekers any time of year. During the spring and summer seasons, visitors can experience spectacular views, seek thrills on the water, or bask in the sun’s warmth on the beach. During the winter, snow and a frozen lake offer snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and even an Ice Tee Golf Tournament. Off the ice, visitors can enjoy the Wally Ice Fest! The area also offers an array of kid-friendly attractions and activities, ensuring you’ll never run out of things to do. Choose any one of the area’s quaint hotels or cozy cabins to recharge after a day of fun.
4. LAKE NOCKAMIXON
Lake Nockamixon holds 10 cabins that are available to rent throughout the year. The lake is also home to a warm-water fishery. Common species are walleye, muskellunge, pickerel, smallmouth, and largemouth bass, striped bass hybrids, channel catfish, carp, and various types of panfish. During the summer, visitors can enjoy picnicking, swimming, disc golf, boating, and hiking on Nockamixon State Park’s more than 20 miles of trails. In the winter months, visitors can go sledding and tobogganing above the marina.
Where to stay: Experience the outdoors year-round with a cabin at Nockamixon State Park.
5. PYMATUNING LAKE
Pymatuning Lake’s 17,088-acre Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest lake in Pennsylvania, which crosses into Ohio, and is one of the state’s most visited state parks. In the summer, visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, birding (keep an eye out for bald eagles!), camping, and other recreational opportunities. They can also visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s fish hatchery and Visitor Center. There’s plenty to do when snow is on the ground, too: there are five miles of trails set aside just for snowmobiles, and most open areas of the park are used for cross-country skiing. Ice fishing is also a must here where you could possibly catch a walleye, perch, or crappie.
Where to stay: Stay the night in a furnished, modern cabin at Pymatuning State Park.
6. CRYSTAL LAKE
Located in the heart of the Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Crystal Lake offers visitors an all-season getaway. This private lake has vacation rentals so visitors can access year-round recreational opportunities. Summertime calls for a bevy of water sports, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, sailing, canoeing, water-skiing, wake boarding, and tubing. Fish in Crystal Lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, pickerel, and bluegill. The fall season brings foliage and festivals each year, while winters on Crystal Lake are perfect for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice fishing, and ice skating. Several rail trails also transverse the region — perfect for biking, hiking, and cross-country
Where to stay: Guests can unwind and recharge in a relaxed atmosphere at Oliveri's Crystal Lake Hotel.
7. SKYTOP LAKE
Skytop Lodge’s 5,500-acre resort offers a full array of year-round activities. When the sun is out, visitors can enjoy golf, tennis, hiking on 30 miles of trails, mountain biking, lake swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, and kayaking. The lodge’s own private Skytop Lake can also play as an intimate beach vacation with a private oasis during the warmer months. On chillier days, check out downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, sledding, tobogganing, and snowshoeing.
Where to stay: Experience rooms with so much more than just a view at Skytop Lodge.
To learn more about lake vacations, check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update!