Splurge vs. steal: 4 lake house getaways for every budget

Published July 2021


After more than a year of shifting travel trends, one thing is for sure: summer vacation is back and the beaches will be buzzing. Our latest survey found that more than half of the travelers hitting the road (and the skies) this season are looking for a place to sink their toes in the sand. That said, coastlines around the country will be teeming with travelers, so we’re setting our sights on lakeside vacation homes and cabins for a healthy dose of sun, sand, and stunning scenery.

We love a lakefront destination because it suits any type of guest, offering endless outings for kids, romantic retreats for couples, or peaceful seclusion for solo travelers. No matter the company you keep, you won’t be left waiting for things to do on the shores of these waters—but we also wouldn’t fault you for doing nothing at all.

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious sanctuary or an affordable adventure, here are four spots to find a lake house oasis on either end of the price spectrum.

Inside a vacation rental with floor to ceiling windows at Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Though Lake Tahoe straddles the borders of California to the west and Nevada to the east, this watering hole’s split personality is really shaped by its north and south shores. For the perfect getaway, we recommend spending time on North Lake Tahoe along the Nevada side, as it’s brimming with outdoor activities, restaurants, shopping, and events, especially in the beloved town of Incline Village. For those looking to see Lake Tahoe from a bird's eye view, we recommend taking the family-friendly hike up to Monkey Rock in North Lake Tahoe for an epic view of big blue.

For a steal: Casa del Lago

For a splurge: Among the Trees

Modern style vacation rental with a private pool in Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, Michigan

Located in the backyard of Chicago and Milwaukee, Lake Michigan is an easy escape from many midwestern hubs. At this grand Great Lake, it’s easy to forget you’re not standing before an ocean while overlooking this expansive body of water. Vacation homes and cabins are aplenty along 1,600 miles of shoreline to provide a perfect respite from a day of exploring wineries, traversing sand dunes, or helming a powerboat across the waves.

For a steal: Lake Michigan Charmer

For a splurge: White Pearl Lakefront Beach House

A-frame style cabin at Lake Champlain in a large field during the day

Lake Champlain, Vermont

Flanked by the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains, summer in the Lake Champlain region is a stunning season known for its bucolic scenery and world-class fishing. Rich with history, hiking trails, and farm-fresh harvests, this easygoing locale is peppered with welcoming vacation homes where relaxation isn’t a luxury, it’s unavoidable.

For a steal: Bayfront Beauty

For a splurge: Kismet

Cabin with large windows in Riley Creek, ID on a large green field on a sunny day.

Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho

As the largest and deepest of Idaho’s lakes, there’s already a lot to brag about, but the lake’s backstory will be most impressive to history buffs with tales of Ice Age flooding, Native American tradition, and industrial development. Regardless of your interest in the origin, Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond oh-RAY) is surrounded by a stunning mountain range and majestic woodlands, making it an idyllic and adventure-rich lake getaway in the state’s northern panhandle.

For a steal: Bayview Tiny Cabin

For a splurge: Riley Creek

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Splurge vs. steal: 5 cabin getaways for every budget