Summer Escapes! The Great(est) Lakes

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


LONG POND: The Best of Both

Saltwater proximity! Shady pines! Cape cod cachet!

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that you’ve long fancied giving lake country a try, but your ocean-addicted family—boat-loving Cape bunnies who insist on using “summer” as a verb—always nix the idea. This year (purely hypothetically), suggest Long Pond, and you’ll be able to pick off every counterargument like an expert marksman. A mere four miles from the nearest saltwater beach, it’s an excellent choice for weaning the brood off sodium without going cold-turkey in some landlocked Vermont forest. The 6.4 miles of pine-shaded shoreline spans the towns of Brewster and Harwich, for anyone requiring a quick social fix. Not that they will; frankly, the pond action will draw them in. There are two main beaches—one off Crowells Bog Road, the other off Long Pond Road—both of which have lifeguards and clearly delineated swimming areas during peak season, so let the kiddies have at it. Three ramps make this lake pleasure-boating central, and the beautifully laid-out Cape Cod Bike Trail provides picturesque workout opportunities, plenty of bike racks, and—if you really must—an escape route to the coast. —Laurie Wilson

DIMENSIONS 716 acres | DEEPEST POINT 66 feet | WATER QUALITY Clear, cold, well oxygenated | AQUATIC LIFE Bass, perch, pickerel, salmon, smelt | CRITTERS Black ducks, blue herons, hawks | OFF-LAKE ACTION Seaside biking; lobster-roll scarfing

Photograph by Bob O'Connor

Photograph by Bob O’Connor


PLAY: Rent bicycles at the Bike Depot (starting at $15/half day, $25/day; 11 Pleasant Lake Ave., Harwich, 508-776-5805) or Brewster Bike (starting at $10 for two hours; 442 Underpass Rd., Brewster, 508-896-8149, The stretch of 6A that snakes through Brewster is flanked by great antiques stores, providing a rainy-day respite.

EAT: Pick up sandwiches and other sustenance at Pleasant Lake General Store (403 Pleasant Lake Ave., Harwich, 508-432-5305), or sit outside on the patio at Brax Landing and munch on meaty lobster rolls while admiring the parade of boats in Saquatucket Harbor (705 Rte. 28, Harwich Port, 508-432-5515, Brewster FishHouse is a solid option for chowder, fish sandwiches, and burgers (2208 Main St., Brewster, 508-896-7867).

SLEEP: For elegance sans snootiness, check into the Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club (doubles start at $200; 2907 Main St., Brewster, 508-896-9000, A cheaper option: Seadar Inn, in a prime location (doubles start at $135; One Braddock Ln., Harwich Port, 508-432-0264,

  • 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!!!