You don’t need to journey to distant oceans to experience beachside bliss; some of the world’s best beaches can be found lakeside. Here, a few of the most glamorous spots to spread out your towel — or in some cases, private gazebo.
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Lined by towering ponderosas and rugged mountains, Lake Tahoe offers beautifully sandy beaches and brisk plunge — Agatam Beach and Kings Beach, on the north shore, and Sand Harbor, on the eastern shore in Nevada, all offer picturesque vistas and crystal-clear water. And guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe can get access to the Lake Club, which includes beach access, an outdoor whirlpool and cozy fireplaces. To sample the lake quite literally, head 17 miles north to the charming bohemian town of Truckee, where Alibi Ale Works serves outstanding craft beers brewed using Tahoe’s pure H20.
Lake Wannsee, Germany
While Berlin’s hipsters have set up a sand beach and volleyball courts on the Spree River running through the central Mitte District, the real beach for swimming is just outside the city on Lake Wannsee. Those in the know head to Strandbad, a century-old public beach club on the lake that offers old-school cabanas and a giant lido jutting into the tree-lined lake that provides a jumping-off point into lovely water that can reach the upper 70s. In true German style, a portion of the beach is clothing-optional. (Tip: Go there early to avoid the late-summer beach crowds.)
Lake Michigan, Chicago
Lake Michigan’s chilly waters make for bracing bathing, and Chicagoans have made the most of their storied lake setting with a dozen popular city beaches. For many locals, the most sought-after spot on the shore is North Avenue Beach, centered around the iconic art deco ocean-liner-inspired boathouse where a mind-boggling array of beach toys, from Jet Skis to a full volleyball setup, can be rented. The beach juts southward, so at night it’s an awe-inspiring spot to watch the famous skyline light up against the watery horizon.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
The city of Geneva makes the most of its lakeside setting with excellent beaches, with the two best on the south bank: Family-friendly Baby-Plage, a triangle of sand with a playground wedged next to the marina, and Genève-Plage with its broad lawn, spa, bar, pool and high-dive platform — this beach is a veritable beau-monde playground. Happily, the entire lake can now be experienced in high gastronomic style with the launch of CGN’s belle époque-era steamships, which crisscross the waters while serving gourmet meals sourced from legendary vineyards and farms on the lake’s shores.
Lake Oconee, Georgia
A 20-mile-long reservoir meandering through Georgia’s lush central farmlands and antebellum townships, Lake Oconee has become a stylish spot to wind down from the hectic pace of nearby Atlanta. The lake’s long shoreline offers outstanding fishing, boating and swimming amid languorously lush surroundings. The lawn of The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee dovetails into a narrow tree-shaded sand beach lined with recliners, where you can wade into the lake’s blue waters for a refreshing swim. And thanks to the five world-class golf courses at the resort, the lake has also become a renowned putter’s paradise.