Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Midwest Best Beach Spots for a Family Vacation. The Midwest offers an array of lakes, rivers and reservoirs which play host to a wide range of beach and aquatic activities for families from boating and wind surfing to fishing and swimming.Summer Sailing on Clear Lake in Iowa.

Where there is sand and water there is a beach made for enjoying. I have assembled a few energizing suggestions for aquatic adventures in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and North Dakota. Places where it is possible to toss a Frisbe befor breakfast, race box turtles on the sand before non, and slumber in a teepee or yurt at night. Secret spots where fishing for walleye starts at dawn and sailing into the sunset is allowed.

Kansas: Cheney State Park, Super Sailing, Angling, and a Beaver Pond. The Cheney Reservoir, located in Cheney State Park, is one of the top sailing lakes in the U.S., and is very popular with sail boaters and windsurfers from all over. A marina on the east shore offers services and supplies for anglers and boaters, while the Ninnescah Sailing Center on the west shore is the headquarters for sailing at Cheney. In addition to extensive sailing opportunities across its 9,500 acres, Cheney Reservoir is great for fishing. Off Water Bonus: Cheney State Park is a great place for hunters, nature photographers, campers and wildlife enthusiasts. Discovery: The ½ mile Spring Creek Nature trail includes 200 yards of elevated boardwalk over an active beaver pond. In addition to the Spring Creek Nature Trail, the Giefer Nature Trail offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. (Cheney State Park. 16000 NE 50th St., Cheney, Kansas 67025. (316) 542-3664 or Cheney State Park)Big Lake Mac and a Nebraska Sunset

Nebraska: Lake McConaughy, Wind Surfing, Scuba Diving and a Bowling Alley. 
Lake McConaughy, with a surface area of 35,700 acres and 100 miles of shore line, is Nebraska’s largest reservoir. Lake McConaughy is an excellent place for outdoor fun. Its expansive water and white sand beaches are a perfect setting for aquatic recreation. Fishing and boating are popular activities, as well as sail boating, wind surfing, swimming, water skiing, scuba diving and ice boaters. Off Water Bonus: There are numerous side trips near Lake McConaughy, including Ash Hollow State Historical park, the neighboring Sandhills, Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the nearby community of Ogallala. Near Lake McConaughy is Cornhusker Lanes (900 E. 1st Street, Ogallala a spunky bowling alley and a great escape from the sun. Discovery: Near Lake McConaughy I discovered a secret spot, almost too good to be true. Eagle Canyon Hideaway on Lake Mac offers cabins, RV and tent sites, home cooked meals, and loads of activities for families. They have even created themed family reunions to take the stress out of togethering. ( (Lake McConaughy Reservoir, 9 miles north of Ogallala, Nebraska, near U.S. Highway 26 and Nebraska Highway 61. (308) 284-4066, toll-free 1-800-658-4390 or lake Iowa Summer Fun at the Beach

Clear Lake Iowa – Sailing, swimming and fishing.
Clear Lake City Beach is the place for swimming, splash pad, bath house, and playground. The 3,684 acre lake is about seven miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide with summer breezes prevailing almost every day making it one of the best sailing spots in the Midwest. Sailboat races are held on Clear Lake every weekend, Memorial Day-Labor Day. Off Water Bonus:  Take a ride on an authentic turn-of-the-century trolley at the Iowa Trolley Park Railroad Museum, learn to run a diesel locomotive, and pump an old time hand car. Discovery: Go camping or stay in a yurt and enjoy stargazing at McIntosh Woods State Park. (Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce 205 Main Ave.  Clear Lake, IA 50428. Toll free 1-800-285-5338, (641) 357-2159 or

Iowa: Lake of Three Fires, Scenic Boating, Sandy Beaches and Horse Trails.
The Lake of Three Fires is so named for a Pottawatomi, or “Fire Nation”, legend concerning a great council meeting between the Pottawatomi and two other tribes, the location of which was determined by smoke from three fires. The fires were kept burning as long as the three tribes were joined together in confederacy. The Lake of Three Fires, although only 85 acres, has many scenic inlets which are ideal for fishing and boating. Additionally there is a sandy beach area for swimming, with a nearby playground and volleyball court. Off Water Bonus: The Lake of Three Fires State Park was dedicated in 1935, and contains eight miles of marked hiking trails for horseback riders and hikers in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. On the north border of the park is a 220-acre public hunting area, while on the south border is a 160-acre public hunting area. Discovery: In addition to standard campgrounds, there is an equestrian campground with 22 sites (8 with electrical hookups) and 15 holding pens. There is also a renovated lodge located near the beach which is available for rental. (Lake of Three Fires State Park. 2303 Highway 49, Bedford, Iowa 50833. (712) 523-2700, toll-free 1-877-427-2757 (reservations),  or Lake of Three Fires)Water Thrills at Table Rock State Park in Missouri.

Missouri: Table Rock Lake, Fishing, Ziplines and Stonewater Cove Resort and Club. Nestled in Shell Knob, MO in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest, Stonewater Cove Resort and Club overlooks the clear, deep waters of Table Rock Lake, known as one of the clearest freshwater lakes in the world. Each of the resort’s 18 individually designed rooms feature upscale amenities, custom-made wood furniture and attractive coffered ceilings, with special touches that create an elegant, rustic ambiance. Off Water Bonus: This nearly 500-acre outdoor playground at Stonewater Cove offers endless ATV to hiking trails, luxurious boating excursions and adventure outings like ziplines and a low ropes Chevron course. (Stonewater Cove Resort and Club, or 1-800-792-3956)  Discovery: Those seeking a bit more adventure on Table Rock Lake should check out the scuba dive shop, try a para-sailing ride or take an excursion on a 48-foot catamaran. (Table Rock Lake 5272 State Hwy. 165, Branson, MO 65616. (417) 334-4704 or Table Rock)

Missouri: Lake of the Ozarks, World Class Boating, Lodges, and Ha Ha Tonka. 
Located in the heart of Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is the premier lake resort destination in the Midwest. The Lake of the Ozarks State Park is the largest state park in Missouri – it has 85 miles of shoreline and two public beaches (Osage Beach and Lake Ozark) as well as boat launching areas. Off Water Bonus:Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers 12 miles of hiking/biking trails, many of which offer bluff-top views of the lake.  The park also hosts a horseback riding stable and four organized youth camps. Visitors can take a guided tour of Ozark Caverns, which are best known for a formation of stalactites and waterfalls known as “Angels’ Showers.” Discovery: Nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers a great escape for adventurers, from dark caves to back-country hiking trails and cliff top castle ruins. Geographically, Ha Ha Tonka is a wonderland, home to sinkholes a huge natural bridge, soaring bluffs and one of Missouri’s largest natural springs. (Lake of the Ozarks State Park: Park Office. 403 Highway 134. Kaiser, MO 65047. (573) 348-2694 or Lake of Ozarks)

North Dakota: Lake Sakakawea, Lewis & Clark, Salmon Fishing and the North Country National Scenic Trail. 
Named for the Shoshone woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery on their journey to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, Lake Sakakawea is one of the three largest man-made reservoirs in the nation with a surface area of 368,000 acres. Lake Sakakawea hosts a full-service marina with boat rentals, a convenience store, and fishing guide services. Off Water Bonus: The park is a marvelous place for hiking, biking, bird watching or any number of other outdoor activities, and hosts modern camping and picnicking facilities. During the summer months there are sleeping cabins available for rent. Discovery: Lake Sakakawea State Park is the western trailhead for the North Country Scenic trail (which, when completed will stretch 3,200 miles from upstate New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park. (Lake Sakakawea State Park. Riverdale, North Dakota 58565. (701) 487-3315 or Lake Sakakawea )

Information reserached and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.  Photos courtesy of Clear Lake CVB, Table Rock State Park, and Lake McConaughy. Copyright updated 2015.