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Lake vacation on the west coast

los angeles
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30 posts
12 reviews
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Lake vacation on the west coast

I wish there was a 'west coast' forum, but I the site only offers state-by-state. However, since many of us are widely traveled, here goes...

We want to take a vacation on a lake with a toddler (1.5yr old). A few requirements:

1. Within 2-3 hour flight from LA

2. Within 1 hour drive from the airport

3. Warm water suitable for swimming in July/Aug.

4. Relatively developed (i.e. we'll need at least a few restaurants around). A kids playground would also be nice. (I love some of the more remote parts of Tahoe, but it would be a major pain with a kiddo to have to drive for 20 min every time we need dinner.)

5. Preferably shallow beach

6. Forested area with plenty of shade.

7. We need a 2br place (full suite hotel or an apartment will work). We want to keep under $200/night.

The only place that I know of that fits the bill is Tahoe (can't swim at big bear, Arrowhead sucks, Castaic is hotter than Hades)

Since we are flying anyway, I was hoping to expand my horizons beyond CA. Would love to find a nice lake in a deciduous forest. Any suggestions for OR, WA?


western WA
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8,997 posts
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1. Re: Lake vacation on the west coast

Lake Chelan would be just right but it is much further from the airport.

One hour from the airport gets you to Gig Harbor or Belfair on the Sound. Pretty, but the swimming is much colder than what you want. Kids do swim in it regularly but adults less so.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Lake vacation on the west coast

Cultus Lake is a very popular destination and about 1 hour from Vancouver airport, even less from Abbotsford Airport (but no direct flights into Abby from the US, only connecting flights). It is well known for being one of the warmer lakes around here. Many of our glorious lakes are a little too close to the glaciers that feed them to be comfortable for swimming.


Shawnigan Lake in the Cowichan Valley is very close to Victoria Airport. I know this is another very popular lake destination, but I don't know it personally.


Parksville is on the ocean, but its the inland side, so calm and shallow waters and very popular with young families.


western WA
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8,997 posts
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3. Re: Lake vacation on the west coast

I've been to Lake Cowichan. It is a very pretty lake with a lot of vacation houses all around it. Pretty quiet. Nice area though.

4. Re: Lake vacation on the west coast

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