Summer Escapes! The Great(est) Lakes

Testing the waters across New England, we uncover nine beauties worth their salt—or lack thereof.



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

Photograph by Bob O’Connor


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, The more casual G. W. Tavern has raised French onion soup to an art form (20 Bee Brook Rd., Washington Depot, 860-868-6633,

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, To bunk down closer to shore, choose from among 77 campsites at the aforementioned state park ($18 per night; 860-868-0220).

  • sue

    Rented a cabin there last year, and had a wonderful time. Breathtaking lake. Look at craigslist vermont for some great cottage rentals.

  • Stu

    The lake is breath taking and certainly should be at the top of any list to visit. NH, the country's best kept secret.

  • Karen

    A wonderful place to visit! Have stayed at the Newcastle Inn. The environs and view are amazing, and the hospitality is unmatched!

  • Anonymous

    Sad to see clean, cold Newfound Lake in NH not on the list.$129,900.00&t=&fcla=1

  • Enzo

    I don't think that Cow Island is secluded or quiet. The last time I went past that island in my glastron foreflite, we were hit by hot dog fragments from some camp which had an impromptu hot dog cannon aimed out over the lake. When we got closer to the island to try and see what was going on we came across a 20ft high bonfire with black smoke and about 40 men running around swearing and throwing bag of gasoline around wily nily. One skinny guy had NO CLOTHES on. That island is far from secluded and peaceful. Don't look for any R & R there. Just Stay Away!

  • Chris

    Man from Camp is trying to keep our little Island paradise a secret!!! ha ha ha

  • Anonymous

    The Hot Dogs on Cow Island are the best..not to mention the free entertainment! Will have to go back since we missed the skinny guy that had no clothes on….

  • Rob

    Diving around Cow Island is a real treat! Who knew there would be so much candy at the bottom of the Lake.

  • Chris

    It's the neighbors on Cow Island that make it such a horrible place to live. Such immature behavior! Makes me want to put my house on the market! Hot Dog Cannon NOT INCLUDED in the sale price!

  • Walt

    Cow Island is not the only island that is quiet and secluded. All its neighboring islands, Little Bear, Dow, Wortleberry, et al are places with sparse development density and nice people. Very few of the island cottages are rentals so if you find one, its a good place to be.

  • Rick

    there are plenty of places at or near Long Lake to get a great sandwich, not to mention downtown Plymouth

  • Don

    In operation for 14 years. The best portal to New England's best lake.

  • Paul

    A marvelous resource of information

  • Mary

    I hope Heaven is like Winnipesaukee!!!