California’s hundreds of lakes, including world-famous Lake Tahoe, combine outdoor recreation, a change of pace and privacy for vacationers. The Golden State’s lakes vary in size, climate and personality -- some abuzz with jet skis and others quiet with fishermen – and offer an array of lakefront cabin accommodations. Finding the right shore to temporarily call requires thorough planning.
Lakefront cabins recall California’s mining history, when prospectors in search of gold arrived in the West. Many cabins available for rent today are refurbished log structures originally built in the early 1900s, providing a simple experience popular with those who enjoy the smell of a wood-burning fire and an unobstructed view of shimmering water. Still other travelers seek out a lakefront location for fishing and water sports and to provide flexible cooking and living space for their family on vacation.
The turn-of-the-century-era Cabins at Zephyr Cove on the south shore of Lake Tahoe offers package deals featuring lake-based adventures such as parasailing and sightseeing cruise boats. Lake Shasta, Castaic Lake, Lake Arrowhead and Lake Elsinore also provide large surface areas for water sports and lakefront accommodations.
Guests at Gingerbread Cottages on the upper shore of northern California’s Clear Lake ("the Bass Capital of the West") enjoy baked goodies and a European breakfast. June Lake Village in the High Sierra, Bridgeport’s Twin Lakes and Lake Isabella in Kernville are locales where trout can be hooked out the front door.
Closer to Los Angeles, couples choose from 12 fairy tale-themed cabins at Big Bear Lake’s Castle Wood Cottages, including "Enchanted Forest" and "Woodland Tree House." At Tamarack Lodge & Resort in Mammoth Lakes, cabins are snowbound in winter for ultimate seclusion; a 10-table French restaurant overlooking small Twin Lakes is on site.
Many California cabin properties lack traditional hotel services, such as a 24-hour lobby, fitness center and business center, but this allows proprietors to keep pricing competitive with their hotel counterparts. When planning a trip, take into account the season and weather (this isn’t the beach); in many cases, book in autumn for the best rates. If you hold peace and quiet sacred, double-check the motorized boat policy of the lake you’ll be vacationing on.
- log cabin image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com