Runner-Up: Squam Lake, New Hampshire
Nothing spells summer like a quiet cabin on a lake, and for that sort of leisure, it’s hard to beat 6,791-acre Squam. Base yourself at one of the 60 rustic cottages at century-old Rockywold Deephaven Camps, which offers family-style meals served in a post-and-beam dining hall, tennis on clay courts, a four-mile out-the-back-door hike up 1,260-foot West Rattlesnake Mountain, and kayak, canoe, Sunfish, and rowboat rentals (from $3,160 per week; rdcsquam.com). For an overview of the Lakes Region, try the new inn-to-inn bike tours along the 59-mile Northern Rail Trail, which stretches from Lebanon to Boscawen (prices vary; bikethenorthernrailtrail.com). No matter how you choose to tackle Squam, your evening entertainment consists of deciphering loon calls.