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Places We Love: Lake Getaways

Learn what we love most about three of our favorite lakes: Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri; Patoka Lake in Patoka Lake, Indiana; and Lake Vermilion in Minnesota's North Woods.

I’m Kendra Williams, Midwest Living’s senior travel editor. My family and friends will tell you that when I need some down time, it’s gotta be on a lake. Lucky for me, the Midwest has thousands, each with its own personality, and chances are, you don’t know much about these three. Table Rock Lake is located near Branson, Missouri, so I like to balance the busy-ness of that entertainment hotspot with the serenity of the water. A handful of excellent resorts dot Indian Point, a peninsula jutting out into the lake. Still Waters Resort is one of them, and it’s a really family-friendly spot. A beautifully landscaped outdoor pool with waterfalls overlooks the lake, and a more traditional pool with a water slide awaits nearby. Families pitch horseshoes under a canopy of trees, and guests can borrow cute retro-style bikes for rides around the property. Still Water is only five minutes from Silver Dollar City. I love getting wet on Tom and Huck’s River Blast, but my favorite part of the park is the shopping. Dozens of Ozarks crafts shops line leafy walkways, and hoofing it on the hills makes me feel a little less guilty about the cinnamon rolls I ate that morning. Patoka Lake, Indiana, is one of those places only locals seem to know about. It’s about an hour west of Louisville, and even on perfect summer days, you feel like you have the place to yourself. The man-made reservoir has a wide beach and no development on its shoreline, which means you’re likely to see plenty of wildlife from your rented pontoon boat. I stayed in the floating cabins at Patoka Lake Marina and loved how they rocked me to sleep. And when we wanted to shop and eat, we headed to nearby Jasper, which has a really cute town square designed for just that. A getaway on Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion delivers the best of a North Woods vacation. Thick pine forests surround this musky fishing haven, and the call of the loons is the soundtrack of your stay. The little town of Cook (population: 500) has a handful of places to grab a bite, a little farmers market and a restored movie theater. We found comfy beds and Minnesota accents in the clean lakeside cabins at Pehrson Resort, which has tons of kids’ activities, free kayak rentals and an on-site bait and tackle shop. For the best fine dining in the North Woods, head over to Burntside Lodge on nearby Burntside Lake, where the menu changes seasonally and showcases local ingredients, like pan-seared duck breast with blueberry miso. These three are great choices if you want a lake vacation without the crowds. But we’d love to tell you about more. Visit us at midwestliving.com to start planning your family’s next lakeside getaway.