Top 10 lake vacations

Grab your swimsuit! Here are the most irresistibly enjoyable, summer-fun-filled lakes in the West

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Suttle Lake, OR
Photo by Erin Kunkel; written by Ted Katauskas

Best for a romantic splurge

The ideal romantic lake outing requires three things. 1. Natural beauty, because soaring hearts demand scenery to match. 2. Not too many people, because romance shuns crowds. 3. Some luxury, because love likes it a little cushy. Suttle Lake, in central Oregon, earns top marks in all three categories. The glacier-formed lake is undeniably a stunner. But oddly, even at the height of summer, Suttle never feels mobbed—despite being one of Oregon’s more accessible mountain lakes (U.S. 20 skirts its northern shore).

But luxury is where Suttle really scores. Its seven-year-old resort is a modern take on Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge, big on rough-hewn beams and wrought-iron chandeliers. The spa offers couples’ massages; the Boathouse Restaurant serves surprisingly-ambitious-for-being-out-in-the wilds Northwest cuisine, like grilled salmon with charmoula cumin sauce and buttermilk-soaked trout and chips. There’s a long list of activities you can participate in—kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing, hiking. But if you just want to sit on the lodge lawn gazing off at the lake and thinking only about each other, that’s fine too.

Stay: Eagle Feather, the most desirable of the 11 lodge suites, features a sitting room with a stone fireplace and a sleeping loft overlooking the lake. The older lodge cabins are pretty simple, but four contemporary versions fronting Cinder Beach feature all the modern luxuries of the lodge rooms. Lodge suites from $199, waterfront cabins from $299; 2-night min.; thelodgeatsuttlelake.com

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