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'America's Best Lake: And the winner is...' - USA Today | July 30, 2012

America's best lake: And the winner is...
By Laura Bly, USA TODAY Updated 7/30/2012 10:18 PM

Tahoe - North America's largest and most popular alpine lake, a place Mark Twain once called "the fairest picture the whole earth affords" - is the champion in USA TODAY's recent survey. The poll generated more than 5,000 votes via Facebook and Twitter.

Michigan's Lake Charlevoix was runner-up among a field of 15 finalists nominated by regional magazine editors, with strong support for Alabama's Lake Martin, Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and North Carolina's Lake Lure plus a sizeable number of votes for New York's Blue Mountain Lake, New Hampshire's Newfound Lake and Washington's Crescent Lake.

While we took some heat for ignoring the five Great Lakes, our intention was to spotlight some of the USA's smaller, less famous summer getaways.

So much for that idea: The winner, notes nominator Peter Fish of Sunset, straddles the California-Nevada border and "draws a gazillion - that's what it feels like on a weekend, anyway— tourists who use it as a summer escape hatch."

But, Fish adds, Tahoe is "too stunning not to be experienced" - a sentiment echoed by aficionados like Dick Goodrick, a former Michigander who now lives in Dayton, Nev.

"The Sierra Mountains around Lake Tahoe clinch the deal," wrote Goodrick. "Year-round recreation, skiing, hiking, casinos, mountain bike riding, fishing, wake boarding, sailing on big boats, paddle wheel dinner/cruise boats, clear deep blue water, spawning salmon, zip-lining, historic homes to visit, and much more. No lake can match it."

As a former Southern Californian, I'm no stranger to Tahoe's multiple joys - and although I admit I'd rather listen to the call of a lonely loon than commune with a "gazillion" fellow admirers, I'm looking forward to revisiting some old haunts and discovering new ones for a story and photos that will appear in USA TODAY Travel on Aug. 10.

So, Tahoe fans, help me out. I'll be heading to the lake tomorrow, and look forward to your top suggestions for where to go and what to do to capture what makes it America's best.

Please leave your ideas as a comment below - and, if you'll be at Tahoe this week, I'd love to hear them in person. I'll be arranging a meet-up later this week, so drop me a line at lbly@usatoday.com if you're interested in saying hello. 

PHOTOS:  Best lakes in America

Photo Credit: Jeff Dow

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