NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) -
On Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho, prices are up 30 percent over the past year, says John Beutler, a Century 21 broker in Coeur d'Alene.
"People want to get in the market now while they can still afford to," he says.
Generally speaking, though, it's easier to find value on lakes than near oceans. For instance, Lynn Farrell, a realtor in Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks region, says a 2,500-square-foot lakefront home costs around $450,000. Good luck finding anything that size at that price near salt water.
Also, the farther you're willing to drive, the cheaper lakefront prices are likely to be. Prices on Minnesota's Gull Lake -- a two-hour drive from Minneapolis -- start at around $1 million, says Dave Gooden, co-founder of Lakeplace.com.
Click here for a gallery of affordable beach homes
But on Lake Vermilion -- about four hours from Minneapolis -- summer cabins can be had for $300,000.
Beware of sites with too much motorboat noise bouncing across the water and into your would-be retreat. And nothing is more damaging to lakefront property values than pollution, so investigate water quality and fishing stocks before you buy.
One place to start H2O research: your state's department of natural resources.
Need a vacation? Click here for MONEY's Best Places to Vacation.
If you DO have a million to spend, here's a look at what you can get.