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Think beyond the beach: amazing lake and river getaways

It’s true that the ocean is awesome — but reaching it can be a trek for many travelers. And even for those who live close to the beach, there comes a point in the summer when you get sick of sand getting stuck between your toes. That’s why Oyster.com has compiled some of our favorite spots for freshwater fun; these beautiful lakes and rivers are an active traveler’s dream, offering activities such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing, nearby hiking, and more. Check out our trip options suited to a range of tastes — whether you prefer picnicking on Tahoe’s shores or cave tubing along the Macal River in Belize.

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Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Tahoe Vista, Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is one of the few ski destinations the world that is just as popular (if not more popular) in the summertime. The lake itself is the second deepest in the U.S. (which makes for some chilly swimming conditions) and is set against a backdrop of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. It's popular with boaters of all types, and there are both rocky and sandy beaches. The hiking in this region is some of the best anywhere. Also on offer: concerts, casinos (on the South Shore in Nevada), beautiful sunsets, fishing, picnicking, and crayfish catching.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: Franciscan Lakeside Lodge Lake Tahoe

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Selinda Spillway, Botswana
 
Botswana

The Selinda Spillway in Botswana is a river channel beginning in Botswana's Ovakango Delta region, the largest inland delta in the world -- and one of the most wildlife-rich areas anywhere. It's a popular destination for adventure travelers hoping to catch a glimpse of hippos, giraffes, lions, and zebra, elephants, and other exotic animals. Guided canoe trips are offered along the Selinda Spillway May to October.

Oyster's Trip Pick: Selinda Canoe Trail, Botswana

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San Juan Islands, Washington

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, San Juan Islands

On the lush, beautiful San Juan Islands, an archipelago off of Seattle, visitors don't have to choose between the ocean and the lake -- both are readily available. Beaver ponds dot the islands, and Moran State Park on Orcas Island is home to several beautiful mountain lakes that are popular fishing spots. On San Juan Island, three spring water lakes can be found at Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, an 82-acre property between Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, San Juan Island

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Lake Geneva, Switzerland
 
Geneva, Switzerland

When most people think of Switzerland, they think of the Alps -- but Switzerland's many freshwater lakes and rivers make it a premier summer destination, as well. Lake Geneva is one of the biggest and best-known lakes in Europe, formed by a former glacier into a half moon shape; at one end of the crescent is the capital city of Geneva, and at the other end is Chateau de Chillon, a medieval castle that is one of Switzerland's must-see sights. In Geneva, the Jet D'Eau fountain -- one of the city's landmarks -- shoots lake water 450 feet into the air, and numerous sailboats can be seen dotting the waters.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: Hotel President Wilson, Geneva

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Lake Placid and Mirror Lake, New York

Lake Placid, New York, United States

Although Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics in 1980, summer is its busiest season. The town of Lake Placid is located on the shores of Mirror Lake (pictured), and Lake Placid itself is a few miles away; both of these Adirondack lakes are popular spots for swimming and boating. The nearby St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area is one of the best canoeing and kayaking spots in the U.S.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid

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Lake Peten Itza, Guatemala

Guatemala

The second largest lake in Guatemala is a 40-minute drive from Tikal National Park, the country's most popular tourist destination, where the famous ruins of a Mayan city can be found. (Its many Mayan temples, hidden away in the jungle, are some of the most impressive in Central American in Mexico.) Numerous tourists flock from Belize to see the temples, but you can also stay on Lake Peten Itza right in Guatemala; rich wildlife, including jaguars, crocodiles, and spider monkeys, can be spotted in this region, and the lake itself is a popular spot for kayaking and fishing. One of Francis Ford Coppola's luxury resorts, La Lancha, can be found on its shores.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: La Lancha, Guatemala

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Macal River, Belize

Belize

Macal River begins in the Cayo District, an inland jungle region in Belize, and flows into the Belize River. Guests at resorts along the river can canoe to the town of San Ignacio. Parts of the river flow into the region's limestone caves, where ancient Mayan rituals took place, and cave tubing is a popular tourist activity. Wildlife spotting along the river is excellent: There are howler monkeys, jaguars, toucans, and more.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: Chaa Creek, Belize

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Snoqualmie River and Falls, Washington
 
Snoqualmie Valley, Washington, United States

This scenic river in Washington is most famous for its 268-foot falls. (The 90s TV show "Twin Peaks" helped popularize this spot.) The trails down to the water are under construction until March 2013, , but visitors can still view the falls from the observation deck. Sections of the river are popular for whitewater rafting and kayaking (er, not the section right before the waterfall.) Salish Lodge, one of the most romantic luxury properties in the Pacific Northwest, was built at the top of the falls in 1919.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: Salish Lodge, Snoqualmie Valley

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Whistler, British Columbia
 
Whistler Creekside, Whistler, British Columbia

This mountainous region has a number of clear mountain lakes with sandy beaches that are popular in the summertime, including Alta Lake, Lost Lake, and Alpha Lake. Nita Lake (pictured), a smaller lake nestled in between Alpha Lake (to the south) and Alta Lake (to the north) has one of the region's best luxury lodges resting on its shores.

Oyster's Pick for Where to Stay: Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler

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Think beyond the beach: amazing lake and river getaways

It’s true that the ocean is awesome — but reaching it can be a trek for many travelers. And even for those who live close to the beach, there comes a point in the summer when you get sick of sand getting stuck between your toes. That’s why Oyster.com has compiled some of our favorite spots for freshwater fun; these beautiful lakes and rivers are an active traveler’s dream, offering activities such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing, nearby hiking, and more. Check out our trip options suited to a range of tastes — whether you prefer picnicking on Tahoe’s shores or cave tubing along the Macal River in Belize.

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