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We spent hours walking, kayaking, swimming and, of course, sampling food from snack shacks. These seven beaches offer the best mix of sandy fun and cosmopolitan flair.
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There might not be any tiki bars in sight, but islands sprinkled throughout the northern Midwest promise their own brand of fun.
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These swimming destinations hidden in the heart of the Midwest will cool off even the hottest summer days.
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Whether you're searching for serenity or want to make a splash, we have the place for your perfect lakeside vacation in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota and Iowa.
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To help you navigate Missouri's vast (and vastly popular) Lake of the Ozarks, we've picked some essential experiences that will put you on the fast track to vacation mode.
Kayak in Wisconsin
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Whether you're looking for cosmopolitan flair, small-town fun or outdoorsy adventures, you'll find it all here.
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Vacationing in Hayward or Minocqua means reconnecting with nature, family and yourself.
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Things to do on Ohio's Lake Erie shore include Cedar Point Amusement Park, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Kelleys Island, Put-in-Bay and Marblehead Lighthouse State Park.
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Canoe, bike or hike to experience the outdoor adventures of Niobrara River Valley.
St. Louis Gateway Arch
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Urban excitement and lakeside lounging are equally enticing in this diverse state where two mighty rivers converge.

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