When Chicago’s industrial-age travelers yearned to breathe free, many boarded a steam-powered train or loaded up the horseless carriage and headed to a lake in Wisconsin or Michigan. The formula worked so well that for generations of Chicagoans, summer vacation became synonymous with going to the lake—and there were thousands of them, strewn like sapphires across the landscape, from which to choose. Today, those same blue havens can work wonders for the postmodern sophisticate. Indeed, in the age of cubicle drones, multitasking, and 24-7 3G connectivity, a picture-perfect lake vacation might make more sense than ever. We found ten idyllic spots with accommodations to suit any taste—from century-old Northwoods lodges untouched by time to elegant resorts loaded with amenities. Some destinations are close enough for a weekend getaway, others far enough to escape for a week or more. You’ll know you’re almost there when the towns come fewer and farther between, and the hardwood forests yield to evergreens. Vegas or Manhattan it ain’t. The bright lights here? A million stars glittering in the firmament. As you settle into the rhythms of your waterside retreat, you just might forget to check your Twitter feed. And you might not want to leave.
Follow the links below for our destinations:
FOUNTAIN POINT RESORT | PORTAGE POINT INN & YACHT CLUB | WHITE BIRCH LODGE
CANOE BAY | CHIPPEWA RETREAT RESORT | COON’S FRANKLIN LODGE
HEIDEL HOUSE RESORT & SPA | SPIDER LAKE LODGE | STOUT’S ISLAND LODGE
WANDAWEGA LAKE RESORT
Photograph: Daniel Shea