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America's Best Lake Hotels

By Corinne White
September 23, 2012; 1:55 PM ET

Early fall is prime time to visit New York State's Lake Placid, when the trees in 6-million-acre Adirondack Park are starting to turn colors, and travelers can gather round for s'mores at Lake Placid Lodge-one of the best lakefront hotels in the U.S.

Courtesy of Disney Destinations, LLC

Every year, jet-setting readers vote on their favorite hotels around the globe in the Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards survey. A review of the top-scoring lakefront properties in the U.S. makes us nostalgic for vacation days-and simple pleasures like a calming view and a refreshing splash in the water.

Mountain lakefront spots have an added appeal: access to hiking trails and ski runs, as well as fishing within sight of snowcapped peaks. One of T+L readers' favorite spots is the new Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, No. 2 on the list, nestled at 6,225 feet in California's Sierra Nevadas. This year, Colorado makes a showing at the top of the list as well, with the No. 3-ranked Broadmoor, a 1918 historic hotel with a 43,000-square-foot spa for a signature Swedish massage.

A robust list of land-based activities can be just as important as access to the water. At No. 5-ranked Keswick Hall, in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, the rural charms include vineyard tours and rounds of golf on a course that's known for bird-watching. Nearby, the top-ranked lakefront hotel in the U.S. is the Umstead Hotel and Spa in North Carolina, perfect for outdoorsy types who love to wake up and take a riverfront stroll (there are more than 20 miles of trails along Big Lake).

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For families, Disney's Yacht Club Resort, No. 9, on Orlando's Crescent Lake, has nautical interiors reminiscent of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. (Disney World is just a 10-minute car ride away.) But travelers who prefer seclusion to navigating the crowds will love the No. 10-ranked Friends Lake Inn, where stone fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs cozy amenities for a property alongside idyllic Friends Lake in Chestertown, NY.

Looking for more? We've got the top T+L reader picks for America's best lakefront hotels.

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