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- Lakeside homes boast natural splendor, tranquil seclusion, and many come with private docks.
- Lake house rentals are a hot ticket year-round, but we found excellent Airbnbs priced between $55 and $625 per night.
- Book with confidence knowing that experts consider a private Airbnb to be safer than a hotel.
The vaccine rollout is slowly nudging travel back to pre-COVID times, but international trips are still months away. This spring and summer, domestic trips amid the great outdoors will continue to be the top choice for US travelers.
As such, lakes offer some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. These sun-kissed waters are often framed by bucolic woodlands or mountains and are the ideal antidote to city life. As a travel guidebook writer, I’ve visited and researched many of the regions listed below and have been consistently struck by their rural beauty.
For a family vacation or new work-from-home base, we compiled a list of Airbnb lake homes that are close to outdoor activities both on and off the water. Though, if you do prefer a hotel, read our guide to the best lake hotels in the US.
A lake trip is also well-suited to social distancing. If you’re wondering if Airbnb is safe, private home rentals are considered by most experts to offer a higher level of safety compared to hotels. They minimize interactions with others, and Airbnb hosts are required to follow enhanced cleaning procedures. However, there’s still an inherent risk to traveling and we recommend following guidelines from the CDC, practicing social distancing, double masking, and washing hands frequently.
Jump directly to Airbnb lake homes by region here:
These are some of the best lake houses on Airbnbs, sorted by location and price, from low to high.
Secluded cabin in the woods near Upper Klamath Lake (OR), $91
Peace and tranquility await guests in this relatively remote cabin that sits in prime woodlands located a couple of minutes’ drive to the shores of Upper Klamath Lake in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The scenic Cascade Mountains and Crater Lake National Park provide a picturesque backdrop, and this traditional, A-frame cabin offers rustic comfort.
The wooden interiors and open beam ceilings reflect the woodsy surroundings, and after a day exploring or hiking, lay back in the cabin’s hammock and listen to nature. The property comes with decks, a fire pit, grill, and picnic table.
There’s some availability through the spring but the property opens up more from August onwards.
Arty bungalow in Bombay Beach, Salton Sea (CA), $125
Bombay Beach is the lowest neighborhood in the US, at some 223 feet below sea level. It is also a thriving artistic hub, and the local homes reflect this creative character. This vintage-style bungalow is like an art installation in itself, with striking geometric exterior stripes, eye-popping art pieces, and a rooftop abstract installation that all make the home hard to miss.
Inside, wood paneling and a burnt orange color palette frame a myriad of photos, paintings, and other original art pieces. The Salton Sea, which is actually a lake, is right outside, and after dark, the night sky becomes a canvas for stargazers. This home is a slice of inspirational solitude for creative minds.
The place has great availability from early April onwards.
Dazzling chalet by Sunnyside in Lake Tahoe (CA), $200
A classic, Alpine, double A-frame aesthetic built with modern architecture in mind awaits at this Lake Tahoe Airbnb. Light floods in through the huge windows and shines across this spacious, sleekly-designed spot.
Douglas Fir flooring and white, Scandinavian tiling make for a clean, contemporary interior and cast iron bathtubs, a full kitchen, and open plan living spaces add to the allure. The home is ensconced by the surrounding forest and Lake Tahoe is just at the end of the lane, a couple of minutes’ walk away. Tahoe City, a couple of minutes by car, has plenty of options for boat or kayak rentals.
This Lake Tahoe vacation rental has lots of availability from April onwards.
Entire house in Lake Almanor (CA), $320
A large family would love this huge, four-bedroom house that comes with a host of on-site activities including a pool table, darts, videos, and board games. The property, built over a double lot, enjoys a plum location two minutes’ drive from Lake Almanor with its beaches and country club. A boat slip is available over the summer months, and the location on the peninsula makes the entire lake accessible.
Your family or group will love the sense of space, with multiple living rooms and a garage that was converted into a games room. Farmhouse-style slate fireplaces and striking diagonal wooden wall panels create an evocative, comfortable interior and tall trees provide shade over the various decks. Fire up the grill and serve up a family dinner in the picnic area, graced by woodlands and fresh country air.
The house is booked for July but has good availability before and after.
Waterfront home in Lake Havasu City (AZ), $400
It doesn’t get much closer to the water than this. Lakefront views are available from almost every window in this impressive home that’s actually located on an island within Lake Havasu City.
Recently remodeled, there is a Queen-size bedroom and additional pull-out sleeper, a sleek bathroom, a fully-equipped kitchen, high-speed Wi-Fi, and cable TV. Though the real draws are outside where an expansive deck is furnished with a large table, plush couch seating, a grill, and outdoor speakers. From there, private stairs lead directly down to the water with a buoy to tie a boat to in front of the home. Dock rentals are also available for a small fee for 24 foot or smaller boats.
The house has wide availability throughout the rest of the year.
Log home with hot tub in Big Bear Lake (CA), $625
With 4,000 square feet of space for up to eight people, this indulgent home offers strong value for families and groups. All the wood in this log cabin-inspired home was locally-sourced, and cathedral ceilings and craftsman-like paneling complement wood-burning fireplaces complete the bucolic idyll.
Nearby Big Bear Lake is just a couple of minutes’ drive down the hill, and the slopes of Bear Mountain are all ripe for exploration. The town of Big Bear Lake – about ten minutes away by car – has all the rental facilities you might need for a day out on the water. It would be a delight to return home to this cozy, cottage-like house with its outdoor hot tub and comfy living spaces.
There’s great availability from March onwards through the spring and summer.
Lake house on a quiet cove in Lake Martin (AL), $182
The lake views come at you from every direction thanks to the large, light-giving windows that grace this beautiful, waterfront property. On the placid waters of Lake Martin, the three-bedroom house comes with a large deck and a private dock with an upper deck and boat slip, so boat owners can bring their vessels and moor up overnight.
White painted wooden ceilings and traditional hardwood floors frame a classic-looking interior, with classy, cream-colored soft furnishings and open plan living and dining rooms. Subtle, aquatic-themed accessories and touches like a vintage cocktail bar and an antique kitchen table make for a refined look, and there are playful additions such as an indoor swing seat.
There is some availability from April to July, and then much more from August onwards.
An island escape in Lake George (FL), $225
Guests have to bring their own boat or take a water taxi to reach this secluded cottage that dates back to the 19th century. Set on five private acres on St John’s river leading into Lake George, Florida, the property comes with a private deck, a boat lift, and prime access to superb fishing.
The large, open-plan living and dining rooms mix contemporary furnishings with exposed wooden ceilings and wicker baskets, wooden barrels, and a farmhouse-style kitchen. There’s a family-sized table for eating the catch of the day and the vintage flair evokes a lodge-like aesthetic. It’s truly a place to get off-grid and enjoy the surrounding nature.
For an easy meal, boat three miles upstream to the locally-loved seafood and steakhouse restaurant, Renegades on the River.
There’s good availability from March onwards, through the summer.
Unique bayou home by Lake Pontchartrain (LA), $325
With a name like The Pelican’s Retreat, you’d likely expect a lovely coastal location and easy, marine-adjacent living. You’d be right here, as this three-bedroom house sits on the water at the end of Bayou Bonfouca, which leads into the expansive Lake Pontchartrain.
Inside is bright and breezy with a turquoise and white color palette, and there’s a fully equipped kitchen with an air fryer and Instant Pot for cooking up whatever you catch. Later, unwind than in the six-person hot tub.
The property has some availability in March and April but opens up into the spring and summer months.
Lakefront condo in Lake of the Ozarks (MO), $102
This two-bedroom condo is a nice option for families given its location within The Ledges Condominiums, a popular lakeside community situated right on the Lake of the Ozarks main channel at the 21-mile marker. Staying here comes with access to two lakeview pools, a sandy beach, playground, and easy fishing or swimming from the on-site docks.
Inside, the place appears modern and spotless with bright and airy rooms that offer an impressive vantage point to watch the water and passing boats. Indeed, the master bedroom is lined with oversized windows next to a King-sized bed with flat-screen TV, Roku, and a private bathroom. An second bedroom has two additional beds.
The open living area flows to the kitchen and also includes a sofa bed and sliding glass doors that lead to a patio with panoramic views of the main channel.
The house has open availability throughout the rest of the year.
Comfy cottage on Lake Huron (MI), $135
This cottage is two minutes from the waters of Saginaw Bay, one of the most scenic corners of Lake Huron. There’s a beach within a mile of the property and the hosts provide five bicycles and two 10-foot kayaks to explore with ease.
Staying here feels all-American with a red, white and blue exterior, traditional white fence, and a farmhouse-style aesthetic that includes gingham curtains, wooden cabinets, crocheted bedspreads, and country chic dressers. Though, you’ll likely spend most of your time outside on the furnished deck that comes with its own barbecue grill.
There’s good availability from April onwards, with just a few dates booked up over the summer.
140-year-old farmhouse, Lake Red Rock (IA), $135
Country living is easy in this historic farmhouse with preserved original fittings, some of which date back to the late nineteenth century. The shores of Lake Red Rock are just a couple of minutes away, and Des Moines Airport is less than 30 minutes by car.
The house enjoys beautiful craftsmanship, from the elaborate woodwork around the staircase and window frames to stained glass windows and original edged glasswork on the front door. Large evening meals are best enjoyed on the huge, three-tier deck with its own gazebo and gas grill.
There’s good availability for April and May, and plenty of dates still open over the summer.
Garden cabin on Lake Fanny Hooe and Lake Superior (MI), $175
Lake Fanny Hooe is kind of an aquatic annex to Lake Superior, separated only by a thin stretch of land, so in effect, you’re getting access to two lakes for the price of one. This thoughtfully-designed cabin is right on the water with a shared boat dock, its own beachfront, and multiple decks around the property to enjoy the views.
As well as having its own dock, the cabin has craftsman-built wooden interiors, hardwood floors, and wood-burning heaters for a sumptuously cozy quality. Exposed beams, a wooden kitchen island, and slate bathrooms add to the decor. There are trails surrounding the cabin that are good for year-round hiking, biking, snowmobiling, and skiing.
April and May still have availability, with a busy summer and dates in fall opening up.
Idyllic, modern A-Frame close to Lake Michigan (MI), $239
Curated design and impeccable taste are on show here, just a few hundred feet from the shores of Lake Michigan. This gem of a cottage comes with quirky, pebble-dashed and wooden exteriors made from reclaimed materials from a historic rollercoaster.
Charming interior design comes together with midcentury modern armchairs, modernist lamp stands, an understated stone fireplace, and cool ceramic tiles. Lake Michigan is just beyond the woodland, and very accessible via service roads within a couple of minutes by car.
The cottage has good availability from mid-April onwards.
East & North East
Tiny house by Lake Erie (PA), $55
The fashion for tiny house living has been an enduring one, and this bungalow just a few minutes from Lake Erie is a wonderful example. Small but exquisitely formed, the house is near the shores of the fourth-largest Great Lake — at the end of the street, it’s just a couple of minutes’ drive. Downtown Eerie is also close with a plethora of rental outlets for whatever aquatic adventures you’re planning.
Low-slung leather sofas have a cool midcentury look, while wooden kitchen cabinets resemble an update on the classic craftsman style. Wicker hampers, woven rugs, and charmingly folksy artworks add character. There’s even a dedicated workspace to accommodate the rise in remote working.
The house has some availability over May and June, and then more open dates in July.
Private sanctuary on Irondequoit Bay, Lake Ontario (NY), $116
A lakeside spot in upstate New York is a pretty prestigious perch, and the price for this lovely apartment makes it a real bargain. Panoramic Irondequoit Bay views stream in through the windows, and the property comes with access to its own basic but perfectly functional dock for boat users.
The interiors are a contemporary symphony of white and cream shades, giving the place more of an urban vibe rather than rustic, which is a refreshing alternative to most vacation rentals in the area. There’s a beautiful white-tiled bathroom, a gourmet kitchen, and a shared on-site exercise room for guest’s use. The great outdoors is on the doorstep and ample fishing in the nearby waters.
The property is wide open from April onwards.
Mountain view chalet on Lake Winnipesaukee (NH), $282
Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire and is surrounded by the foothills of the White and Gunstock Mountains. This striking Alpine chalet is set back from the lake shores, just under 10 minutes down the winding hillside roads. Once there, Lakeshore Park has boating and fishing equipment rentals.
The property has some notable features such as its overhanging roof, a popping blue paint job, and tall chalet-style windows through which light pours in. The place comes fully loaded with an exterior shower, hot tub, outdoor fire pit, and a huge wraparound deck. Rustic yet contemporary, other whimsical touches include a foosball table.
There’s good availability in May and August, with some dates still open in between.
Vineyard villa by Seneca Lake (NY), $268
Flanked by local wine and brewery trails and the stunning coastline of Seneca Lake, this villa in upstate New York is a sweet spot to kick back with a nice bottle of vino. In fact, you can enjoy it on the balcony overlooking the lake itself, which is just a couple of hundred feet away.
The home is spread over two stories with dark hardwood floors, a shared fire pit and grill, and French doors that open up onto the aforementioned balcony with gorgeous lake views.
There’s good availability up to July when it gets busier for the summer months.
Sebago Lake getaway with private waterfront (ME), $479
With skiing at nearby Shawnee Peak in the winter and the glorious Sebago Lake in warmer months, this spot really does have year-round appeal. A ferry service is five minutes’ away to whisk you across the waters to picturesque Frye Island, a perfect jaunt for lunch or dinner.
The property comes with 190 feet of private waterfront and its own basic dock. Take out a kayak or just relax in the hammock with a good book. The house is very tastefully appointed, with gorgeous hardwood floors, a statement slate fireplace, and lots of colorful, abstract modern art.
Summer is busy, but there’s good availability in spring and fall.