Vacations are about getting out and seeing beautiful scenery. If that’s the aim, few things beat the pull of a brilliant blue body of water.
While overwater bungalows floating above shimmering lagoons in the Maldives or Bora Bora, calm Caribbean snorkeling spots, and cenotes in the Yucatan likely spring to mind, the U.S. has many picture-perfect places to see — and snap: lakes, ocean beaches, rivers, waterfalls, estuaries, and bays that don’t require packing a passport.
CRATER LAKE, OREGON: Without question one of the most beautiful lakes in the country (perhaps, even the world), southern Oregon’s historic and halcyon Crater Lake was formed nearly 7,700 years ago by the collapse of an ancient volcano. Despite its origin being tied to such a violent natural event, the blue water — which plunges to a depth of 1,943 feet — is impossibly calm and pure.
TENAYA LAKE, CALIFORNIA: Yosemite’s rock climbing and hiking potential gets a lot of love, but this California national park also boasts spectacular swimming, kayaking, and rafting spots such as the alpine Tenaya Lake. Tucked between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, this beautiful glacial body of water sits at an elevation of 8,150 feet and is backed by granite boulders.
DEVIL’S DEN, FLORIDA: Among the most unique spots you could ever dream of taking the plunge, Devil’s Den is a subterranean natural pool near Gainesville, with 50-foot-deep, clear blue-green water that’s always a comfortable 72 degrees. Surrounding the sinkhole are rock formations, stalactites, and ancient fossil beds. No wonder it’s a top tourist attraction for snorkeling and scuba diving.