Weekend homes and cabins are architect Collin Jacobs' full-time gig. So does he know the best under-the-radar spots to live that lake house life for a few days—or forever? You bet.
lake house modern rustic wood stone exterior
Credit: Kim Cornelison

Small-town charm. Sugar-sand beaches. Great golf scenes. There's a lot to love about these lake destinations. Get the low-down on six of the best places to build a lake house in the Midwest right now, according to the architect behind this modern-rustic compound in Minnesota's Brainerd Lakes region.

Pequot Lakes, Minnesota

Entrepreneurs are flocking from the Twin Cities to Jacobs' hometown, prompted by the strong school district and the pandemic. New restaurants and coffee shops are opening fast; if you have a wild entrepreneurial dream, this is the time and place to give it a go, Jacobs says.

Lead, South Dakota

Thanks to a project in the Black Hills, Jacobs got the heads-up that groundbreaking is set to start on a new community built around the old Deer Mountain ski area, just 20 miles from Sturgis. If a winter escape is more your style, keep tabs on this.

Nisswa, Minnesota

Do like Mary and Bob Dimke and head here for family-owned shops, breweries, bakeries and restaurants. "It's just really authentic. The town doesn't want to be a mini Minneapolis," Mary says. Jacobs agrees—for small-town charm and curated goods, pin Nisswa.

Crosby, Minnesota

Ten years ago, this old iron mining town turned its abandoned lakes and mountains into a mountain biking mecca, and now the spot has a hopping downtown, elevated pizzerias, and whoa, the cutest mini cabin and A-frame rentals this side of the Rockies (see: @Cuyana Cove and @hilhausaframe on Instagram).

Minocqua, Wisconsin

"I passed through here for 12 hours for a site visit and it's been on my radar since," Jacobs says. The reason? It's a lake town that thinks it's an island since it's on a peninsula accessible only via a causeway. Cute downtown with good shopping and water views for days—Jacobs can't wait to go back.

Breezy Point, Minnesota

The locals don't want word to spread, but this classic resort town and golf destination has sugar-sand beaches. "You can wade out about 200 feet up to your chest and still be on sand in perfectly clear water," Jacobs says. Hit Pelican Lake for proof.

Not ready to spring for your own lake house just yet? Check out the Midwest's coolest lake vacation spots and plan your next getaway.