Summer Escapes! The Great(est) Lakes

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


SILVER LAKE: Mayberry Redux

Peace and quiet! Sludge-free swimming! Camera-ready quaintness!

Nestled in the village of Barnard, Vermont, Silver Lake feels as if it’s auditioning for The Andy Griffith Show at every turn. Location scouts should start at the general store, with its retro ice cream counter; just outside, old-timers cast their lines. The sandy strip of beachfront provides opportunities for castle-building (and for B-roll footage of same), and day-trippers can rent rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats in photogenic colors. Meanwhile, Opie understudies catch bullfrogs, wade around the cattails, trap tiny fish, and chase butterflies. Truly a family-vacation hub, Silver Lake tends to attract the same cast of characters year after year. To add to the Mayberry-esque perfection, the water is among the cleanest in the country, making it a premium swimming spot. All that’s missing (as of press time) is the whistled theme song. —Kara Miller

DIMENSIONS 84 acres | DEEPEST POINT 32 feet | WATER QUALITY Brisk and clear | AQUATIC LIFE Bass, perch, trout | CRITTERS Loons, ducks, turtles, beavers | OFF-LAKE ACTION Live glass-blowing and pot-throwing

Photograph by Bob O'Connor

Photograph by Bob O’Connor


PLAY: In nearby Woodstock, be sure to check out the spectacular Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, which features a working farm, a former Rockefeller mansion, and 20 miles of bucolic trails and carriage roads that crisscross the slopes ofMount Tom. (54 Elm St., Woodstock, 802-457-3368, At the Simon Pearce showroom in Quechee, glass blowers and potters demonstrate their artistry for visitors (1760 Quechee Main St., Quechee, 802-295-2711,

EAT: We’re crazy about the hearty Turkey-in-the-Orchard sandwich (roast turkey, cranberry chutney, and Vermont cheddar, plus the crunch of sliced apple) on offer at the Barnard General Store (6231 Rte. 12, Barnard, 802-234-9688, Overlooking a massive waterfall, the award-winning restaurant at Simon Pearce serves gourmet fare such as lobster spring rolls and free-range duck.

SLEEP: The adorable Applebutter Inn, housed in a historic 1850s Federal-style home, dishes up a heavenly breakfast: lemon pancakes, cheese soufflés, and bowls of local blueberries. (doubles start at $100; 7511 Happy Valley Rd., Woodstock, 802-457-4158,

  • 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!!!