Summer Escapes! The Great(est) Lakes
Testing the waters across New England, we uncover nine beauties worth their salt—or lack thereof.
LAKE WARAMAUG: The Classic
Sun-dappled hills! Urbane boutiques! Riveting beauty!
Pretty much everything you could want from a lake, in one neat, S-shaped package: Crystal-clear water. Sandy beaches. And it’s named for an Indian chief. It’s practically overkill that Waramaug sits smack-dab in the middle of Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills, one of the most achingly New England areas of New England, with white church steeples and “Washington slept here” signs on every country corner. The topographic layout of the lake showcases the scenery to full advantage, with a shoreline road tracing its circumference and forested hills nudging every vista. Waramaug also has an avid following in the local community, which is dedicated to keeping the place as unspoiled as possible. For nonresidents, a maximum of 20 powerboats are allowed on the water on any given day, which helps keep down the noise and sight pollution and makes the lake itself as undisturbed as the surrounding woods. When a lone scull from a nearby prep school skates across the water at sunset, it’s damn near magical. —Michael Blanding
DIMENSIONS 680 acres | DEEPEST POINT 40 feet | WATER QUALITY Excellent
AQUATIC LIFE Large- and smallmouth bass, lake and rainbow trout, pickerel, perch, alewife, bullhead, sunfish | CRITTERS Deer, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes | OFF-LAKE ACTION Window-shopping in Litchfield
PLAY: Head to Lake Waramaug State Park to swim or rent a kayak or canoe (rentals $10/hour, $50/day; 30 Lake Waramaug Rd., New Preston, 860-672-6365). When you tire of water sports, just 30 minutes down Route 202 lies tony Litchfield, dotted with boutiques that cater to visiting Manhattanites.
EAT: The upscale Mayflower Inn sexes up New England fare with newfangled flourishes like cocoa foam (118 Woodbury Rd., Washington, 860-868-9466, mayflowerinn.com). The more casual G. W. Tavern has raised French onion soup to an art form (20 Bee Brook Rd., Washington Depot, 860-868-6633, gwtavern.com).
SLEEP: At Hopkins Inn, weary guests can kick back in Adirondack chairs overlooking the private beach or refuel with some excellent wiener schnitzel from the kitchen (doubles start at $115; 22 Hopkins Rd., New Preston, 860-868-7295, thehopkinsinn.com). To bunk down closer to shore, choose from among 77 campsites at the aforementioned state park ($18 per night; 860-868-0220).