Life is better at the lake! It’s true. The Midwest is home to hundreds of thousands of them, and this year, we should all make an effort to go lake camping. Four of the five Great Lakes are in middle America including Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Huron.
Whether you want to relax at the beach, go fishing, stand up paddleboarding, or cruise around on a pontoon boat, you can enjoy more time on the lake while camping at affordable Good Sam Campgrounds. Good Sam Club members save 10 percent off the nightly RV site rate at over 2,000 campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada.
Here are six small-town midwestern lake trips you need to make in 2022.
1. Cooper Creek Resort & Campground – Branson, Missouri
Enjoy the beauty of the Ozarks at Cooper Creek Resort and Campground. Cooper Creek is the best of the woods and water with 14 acres of forest surrounded by beautiful Lake Taneycomo. Branson, Missouri is known as the Live Entertainment Capital of the World with its live theater shows and theme park, but it’s also a nature lover’s paradise.
Cooper Creek Resort is home to 22 cabins and 72 full hook-up campsites. While camping, you’ll undoubtedly want to check out Lake Taneycomo, a reservoir on the White River in the Ozark Mountains. It’s a diverse multi-species lake. Hire one of their fishing guides and cast your line for rainbow and brown trout as well as crappie and bass. If you’re up for a sunset cruise around the lake, check out the different boat rentals or bring your own boat and rent a slip.
2. Sankoty Lakes – Spring Bay, Illinois
Experience the outdoors in every way possible by land or water. From hiking to biking, canoeing, kayaking, traditional fishing and fly fishing, hunting, birdwatching, and swimming. Sankoty Lakes in Spring Bay, Illinois offers all of it. There’s something for all ages and abilities.
The resort’s lakes, Legacy Lakes and Lake Canada, are some of the cleanest, clearest water so water lovers can come for a paddle or a boat ride on one of the resort’s rentals. It’s also home to countless species of fish and a trout stream stocked with rainbow, palomino, brook, and brown trout. Birdwatchers will encounter bald eagles, golden eagles, and osprey among many other species of birds.
Park your RV lakeside at a pull-through site with full hookups or stay at the resort’s safari-style glamping tents or accessible cabins. There’s even a farm-to-table restaurant on site called the Woolly Bugger with a locally sourced menu, plus craft cocktails and wine.
3. Pines of Kabetogama Resort – Kabetogama, Minnesota
Just a few miles away from Voyageurs National Park is the Pines of Kabetogama Resort in northern Minnesota. The 54-acre campground is not only surrounded by tall towering pine trees —representative of the beauty of the north — but also Lake Kabetogama situated between the U.S.-Canada border.
The Pines of Kabetogama is unique because of its proximity to one of the least traveled national parks in the nation. Voyageurs National Park is a water-based national park and best explored by boat. Be sure to check out the Ellsworth Rock Gardens, only accessible by boat, filled with more than 13,000 lilies. Northern lights are a common sighting in this part of Minnesota so keep your eyes on the sky when the stars come out at night.
RVers at the Pines will get breathtaking lake views whether it’s from a premium cliffside RV site or a standard lake-level RV site. Families can rent a pontoon or fishing boat and spend the day on the lake, go paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, swim at the beach, or jump on and off the floating trampoline.
4. Old Barn Resort – Preston, Minnesota
While the Old Barn Resort isn’t on a lake, it’s definitely known for its water-based fun. The Old Barn is nestled along the Root River where you can go floating down and around the campground by innertube or paddle along in a kayak or canoe. Preston is known as “Minnesota’s Trout Capital” so bring a pair of waders and a fly rod and cast your line for brown, brook, and rainbow trout.
This family-friendly resort boasts 276 campsites ranging, from rustic tent sites to full hookup RV sites. You can also stay in one of the four rooms inside the historic barn. Walk over to the restaurant on site to enjoy a meal inside the Old Barn or enjoy a cocktail at the outdoor patio. There’s even an indoor/outdoor swimming pool so that families can still have fun in the water on rainy or cold days.
The town of Preston is located along the Root River State Trail, a scenic bike trail that leads you to other quaint towns and riverfront views. Get an RV bike rack and bring your bike with so you can explore at your leisure.
5. Austin Lake RV Park & Cabins – Toronto, Ohio
Explore the Ohio Valley at Austin Lake RV Park and Cabins in Toronto, Ohio. This family-friendly campground sits on a whopping 1,300 acres of land in the scenic foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. This RV park has full hookup campsites for RVs as well as tent sites and cabins.
Austin Lake RV Park and Cabins is surrounded by a creek, ponds, and an 80-acre lake with ample opportunity for kids and adults of all ages to splash around. Kids can become creekside biologists and look for crawfish and other creek critters on Town Fork Creek which runs along the campground. Reel in your next big one at two catch-and-release fishing ponds.
Kids will create memories for a lifetime while jumping and climbing on the inflatable Wibit Water Slide and Rock-It Playground, a floating water park, on Austin Lake. Soak in some sun on the sandy beach of Austin Lake or continue the outdoor fun by hiking miles of trails or biking paved trails at the campground. Get on the water with boat rentals including bumper boats, paddle boats, pontoons, paddle boards, canoes, and kayaks.
6. Bailey’s Grove Campground – Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin
If you’re looking for a relaxing lake getaway with sandy beaches, scenic views and vistas, and really good dining options, look no further than Baileys Grove Campground. While not directly on a lake, Baileys Grove is just one mile from the small town of Baileys Harbor and the second largest lake among the Great Lakes – Lake Michigan. Baileys Harbor is one of the many vibrant communities making up Door County, a popular travel destination in northeast Wisconsin.
Baileys Grove Campground has 95 campsites with water and electricity. Many campsites also have full hookups. There’s a heated swimming pool complete with lounge chairs so that you can be in ultimate relaxation mode while visiting. Much of the recreation is just a one-mile drive or bike ride away.
Over at Baileys Harbor, you’ll find nature preserves, hiking trails, lighthouses, fishing charters for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan, and boat rentals if you’d like to venture out onto the big lake on your own. Be sure to make a reservation at one of the lakefront restaurants in Baileys Harbor! If cooking your catch is more your speed, then take advantage of the Baileys Grove fish cleaning station and have the campground keep your fish in the freezer until your return trip home.
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Have you made any lake trips recently? Tell us your must-visit locations in the comments below.