BetterLakes has several goals in mind but the main focus is to help you find a better lake experience. With this goal in mind, here’s how to use BetterLakes.com. Please know that it’s still “under construction” and many things are changing regularly. The community can’t be built without your help though. This quick tutorial will show you how to submit a lake, search for a lake, review a lake, and upload photos for lakes.
If you know the name of the lake you want to vacation, fish, relax, or practice your elite wake boarding at, start at betterlakes.com and search for the lake name. Here’s a great example of a lake that’s already been submitted.
Once the lake name shows up, go ahead and click to see the lake profile page.
If you don’t know which lake you want to go to, but you do know the general area, go ahead and enter a nearby city or town. That could help you get closer to the better lake experience that you’re looking for.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself here, don’t get lost in time. Eventually, there’s going to be a lot of lakes and you could really spend the day in a vicarious lake vacation travelling the country from the comfort of your computer or phone. You can limit the lakes results by using the filters. These filters are based on what other Lake Goers have said about the lakes - not necessarily factual data.
Once you find the lake you were meant to find, check to see if there’s any nearby vacation rentals. If you’re exploring the lake for the first time, book a vacation rental! Check out the lake and the nearby area. Waterfront vacations are good for the soul - that’s a fact. After you’ve been to the lake, tell the world about it. Let everyone know how amazing, or dull, the lake and area are.
Submitting a lake to BetterLakes can be started at the bottom of each page. Click on “Submit a Lake”. Drag the map and BL Pin around to find the lake you’re submitting and enter the name of the lake and as much other information that you have there. Once the lake is submitted, the team at BetterLakes will review it to make sure it’s valid. Come back in a day or two and see the lake profile in all its glory. Now it’s time to review the lake
Let your creativity go wild, or focus on simple reviews. It’s up to you. On the lake profile page scroll down a bit and select “Leave Review”. How many stars do you give the lake? Once you tell us your experience, tell us what you did at the lake or any stand out characteristics. Then, upload a photo if you want and share it with the world!
1: In the northern part of the US, leaves are starting to change color, water temps are cooling, and many fruits are prime for picking. In the Midwest, there’s a slew of you-pick apple orchards that are the start of wonderful annual traditions. Many commercialized orchards will have fun events for the kiddos, petting zoos, and local jams, baked goods, and apple cider donuts! Just north of Chicago you’ll find Apple Holler and to the west you’ll find a new-but-fantastic Woody’s Orchard. Apples are just one example, You-Pick fruit orchards are becoming a firm staple and tradition in the Midwest.
2: Just because the water is cooling in the north it doesn’t mean that you can’t go out on the water. It also doesn’t mean that folks in the south or west don’t have the ability to go boating too. If you don’t have a boat, fear not! BoatSetter.com has you covered. Here you can find and rent a boat for a few hours or days! They have selections from Pontoons and Deckboats to Yachts with dedicated drivers. The bottom line is that BoatSetter.com shares the same passions as BetterLakes.com - let’s help people have a better lake experience.
3: Relax, enjoy the scenery, and be calm. Some of the best sunsets and evenings are spent on the shoreline by the water. If you have a [SoloStove]https://(www.solostove.com) or travel sized firepit, pack it up, rent a [VRBO (https://www.vrbo.com) on the lake and settle in for some time to truly unwind and enjoy the changing seasons. This is a perfect time to check out some of the smaller lakes like Dewey Lake where you don’t need to spend your days cruising the lake but rather just get close to the energy that comes from being by the water!
4: Use alcohol to keep warm (if and only if you’re 21)! Nothing goes better with fall weather than a strong drink that helps numb the impending cold weather. Some of the best whisky can be sampled through services like Flaviar.com but that takes planning ahead and about $300 a year to get a few tasty samples. It’s always advisable to support the local economy and check out their liquor selection for your preferred autumn spirits. That all being said, wine tasting is a great way to enjoy the fresh air a bit while on your lake vacation! TripAdvisor.com is a great place to find some local wineries.
5: Take a nice stroll (or aggressive hike) along the waterfront and collect seashells. There’s a lot of fun crafts that you can do with a little creativity. Kids love the idea of shell collection but you can step it up by making something cute and wearable. Check out The Spruce Craft’s suggestions: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/seashell-activities-1253753 . If you’re more of the aggressive hike kind of person, https://AllTrails.com is a great resource but don’t forget to bring the right gear for your hike.
It takes a long time to truly know all the “ins and outs” of boating. If you’re a boat owner, you will be very familiar with the specifics of your boat. If you aren’t a boat owner, or if you’re on someone else’s boat, the unofficial rules can change.
There is, however, one rule that should always be followed. DO NOT RIDE ON THE BOW OF A BOAT.
Why not? It seems like such a fun and amazing experience. The feel of the fresh air blowing in your face, nothing in front of you but open water, and that Jack-to-Rose moment (from Titanic) where you just want to yell at the top of your lungs, “I’m the king of the world! Whoo hoo hoo!”. It’s all fun until you hit a sandbar. Or until you hit some choppy water and go tumbling over the front of the boat.
Think about the danger that comes from that. There’s a surprising number of serious injuries that happen when people tumble over the front of the boat and get hit by the boat, or worse, the propeller.
Be smart. Stay in the cabin area of the boat and leave the dramatic visuals for the movie producers.
There are a ton of different boat types out there and each one one has its unique characteristics. Likewise, each has its own benefits. When shopping for a boat or renting a boat (from boatsetters.com), it’s important to really think about what purpose the boat will serve.
One important thing to know -** ANY BOAT IS BETTER THAN NO BOAT**! With that said, it’s this writer’s humble opinion that deck boats are among the best all-purpose boats for inland boating on small to moderately sized lakes. The best way to think of a Deck Boat is a ski boat with pontoon seating arrangements and a good sized deck and platforms at the bow (front) and stern (back) of the boat.
Before we can get to why deck boats are so great, let’s address just a few of the most common things to do on many of these mid-sized lakes.
You can do many of the same things on most boats but with certain ones you might find your options limited. With a deck boat, you can have almost everything you need. If you fish, check out the Starcraft deck boats with the fishing package. It’s pretty slick how they add the boat seat on the front deck along with a trolling motor for more stability.
As for cruising around the lake, taking a few skiers or tubers out with your friends and family, it’s an excellent way to go. The large seating arrangements allow for plenty of passengers (more than an equivalent sized ski boat) and it allows for easier conversation.
Another great aspect of these boats is the number of extras that come with it. Some come with a cushion that inserts between the front two seats to make a bed-like boat cushion - it’s amazing, really! The amount of storage on a deck boat is unprecedented for a ski boat! Each seat can have storage under neat, the v-shape of the hull creates a nice pocket for under floor storage, the cabin/steering wheel adds another section for storage as well. You can also add a tow tower to the boat for added ski/wakeboard launching.
All said and done, deck boats are extremely diverse. They are an excellent choice for families, novice-to-medium skilled skiers or wakeboarders, and anyone looking to enjoy the fresh air that comes with cruising on a lake.
Investing in a waterfront property (lake house, river house, beach house, etc), can be one of the most rewarding things you can do and can be a dream come true. It can also be a solid short-term and long-term investment. As you start your search for the right lake, you’ll want to really think about what you plan to use the lake and lakefront property for. Is it an investment? Primary residence? Second or third home? Do you plan to use the lake for watersports or is it mostly for the views? Are you entering your golden years or are you preparing to start a young family? As you consider these, and many questions, BetterLakes will work to guide you down the right path and hopefully help you find your Better Lake.
If you’re athletic and plan to use the lake for watersports, you’ll want to make sure it’s an all sports lake. If, when doing your search on betterlakes.com, you don’t see an indicator for “all-sports” that does not necessarily mean it’s not all-sports. It just means one of our reviewers hasn’t selected that as important to them yet ( you can be the first!). There are many ways to find out if a lake is all-sports though. The best place to start is our friend Google with a search for “is X lake all sports”. If the lake is not all-sports, it’s likely a very quiet and calm lake during the days and nights. It might be worthwhile investigating what, if any, kind of boats are allowed on the lake. You might find that only Human Powered Boats (HPB) are allowed.
Some lakes are known for their clarity, like Crater Lake with a visibility of upto 100 feet, while others are more brown or green. If a lake isn’t as clear as you’d like, fear not. It does not necessarily mean that the lake is dirty or contaminated. Usually, lakes have that murky effect when they are on the shallow end and/or when water in the lake is supplied from a river or other actively moving body of water. Lakes can also be murky when there’s a decent amount of runoff from driveways, lawns, construction sites and agriculture, and when there is a lot of boat activity. Think of the murkiness as stirred up sediment. It’s also possible that there’s a fair amount of algae in the water. Again, this is not necessarily a cause for concern to your health but rather a cosmetic issue.
Surely, you’re familiar with the adage “location, location, location” in real estate. This holds exceptionally true when investing in a lake front property. Zooming out, take a look at the area that the lake is in. Are there stores, shops, restaurants nearby? There will be days when you might not want to be on the water. It seems crazy, but it’s bound to happen. So, make sure you’ll have fun on the water and off the water.
It’s also important to consider, if this is a vacation house, how far away this is from your primary residence. Too far and you might be scrambling to get emergency maintenance. Too close and you might as well condense to one place. It’s usually recommended that a vacation lake house is 1-4 hours away.
Bringing the lens closer to your property, take a look at the lake and see if people have reviewed the lake. If other Better Lakes users have submitted and reviewed the lake, that’s worth paying attention to. The stats and measurements of the lake are all great, but what people actually have to say about the lake can be really important - especially if your property is in the busiest part of the lake or your spot is shallow and has a mucky bottom. Reviews are the best way to help your decision making process.
Of course, you want to make sure the actual structure is what you’re looking for but frankly, that can change. What is more permanent, however, are the details of your prospective property. Go down to the shoreline and see if it’s what you want. Watch for sandy bottoms, fast depth changes, thick seaweed, free flowing water (no one wants floating pond scum or mosquito hot beds). Can you see a way to gain easy access to the water? Is the size of the shoreline what you’re looking for? If you have a boat, will docking it be easy enough or will you be struggling to find pull into the slip? If you fish, is the shoreline going to give you quick and easy access to the type of fishing you're looking for?
Another really important part about the lake house buying decision is knowing what is on the lake. It’s nice to be able to drive it to a waterfront restaurant or bar. Some lakes don’t have marinas on the water - knowing that, alone, could tell you a little about the lake. If you have a boat, or ever plan to have a boat, you will want to know if there is a public boat launch. Private ones are fine too but often carry a fee. Check out the boat launch. If you’re buying a lake house, you’re buying into a part of that lake. You want to make sure that everything suits your needs.
As you can imagine, this is not a comprehensive list on what to look for when buying a lake house but hopefully it gets you started toward your better lake!