This article originally appeared in Travel+Leisure.

There are few things more relaxing than the quintessentially American lake vacation. This is a country chock-full of picturesque lakes, from the northeastern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and Rangeley Lake in Maine, all the way to the southern California shores of Big Bear Lake. And we specifically wanted to hone in on the best lake towns in America as a way to help travelers pinpoint exactly where to book a week-long rental or a charming inn for their next lake vacation. 

These towns are not only right on the waterfront of the country's clearest and most sought-after lakes - they have bustling town centers and lively culture within. And isn't that what makes the best lake towns shine? They're not just waterfront havens where you can rent a boat for the day or go stand-up paddle boarding, they're also destinations with exciting restaurants, hotels, shopping, and plenty of non-water-based activities.