Bear Creek Lake, North Carolina
Great For: Nature lovers
What's Relaxing: Calm waters at a cool mountain altitude
Bear Lake, officially named Bear Creek Lake, is actually a reserve. But no matter what you call it, the leisure set is drawn to its glassy waters come summertime. Set in the Great Smoky Mountains near Tuckasegee, NC, it sits at an elevation of 2,500 feet and offers corresponding mountain views. To maximize the ideal natural setting, camp lakeside in a yurt, a wood-framed canvas structure perched on a platform. Fitted with king beds, a satellite TV, and outdoor decks, camping is taken to a whole new level. Two yurts are available, one that sleeps two and another that accommodates up to four people; rates start at $145 per night. The management company, Sundog Vacation Rentals, has other rental properties on the lake, as well as occasional specials.
Things to Do: Explore Bear Lake via kayak, canoe, and pontoon boat, or cast a line and fish for trout and smallmouth bass from a private dock or right from the beach. Because the waters are typically calm, it's a great place to learn how to water-ski.