Even though I’ve been going to our family cabin by Pinecrest Lake since I was in junior high, I never really got into the whole “lake life” thing until I had kids of my own. I can remember being small and loving going to the lake. As a kid, you get to splash all day and eat the best ice cream in the world and fall asleep on the way home. Best life. So now that I have my own kids and my own family, I’m really getting the hang of it as an adult, and let me tell ya — days on the lake are so, so sweet. I wanted to share our lake day essentials, in case any of our favorite gear helps make your lake days a little easier too.
Lake Day Essentials
I think part of why I didn’t love the lake through my teen and early adult years was because I didn’t know how to make it comfortable or fun. To be honest, it takes a little bit of gear to have a great day at the lake. We didn’t go out and get it all at once, but over the last few years we’ve been collecting things here and there, and now I feel like we have a solid handle on how to have a successful lake day. Read below for our specific favorites.
Lake Day Essentials: Gear
Canopy or Sport-Brella. I see people sunbathe at the lake, and I get it. I totally do. But at this point in my life I’d rather stay cooler and avoid wrinkles (hellooooo, aging skin), so we always set up some shade. We like this pop up canopy tent, or for a shorter day and an easier set up, a Sport-Brella.
Sand Toys. If your kiddos are older or you don’t have any at all, maybe skip this one and replace it with reading material or a deck of cards. But if you have kids and the lake has a beach, sand toys are a must.
Fun Pool Floats. There are times when I look out at the lake and it’s absolutely teeming with crazy pool floats. Unicorns, avocados, rainbows — you name it. It was never that way when I was a kid (we had a ride-on shark that was pretty novel back then). But now if you can float around on an inflatable champagne bottle, why would you not?!
Paddle Boards. Our activity of choice at the lake is paddleboarding. There’s something so amazing about paddling out onto a lake — it’s so peaceful and the perspective that you get is amazing, looking back at the shore from out on the water. We’ve had these inflatable stand up paddleboards for a few years now and they were an awesome investment. When we got them, the company was called Ten Toes but they were bought and now it’s called Retrospec. Same great boards.
Roll Up Blanket. Having a little no-sand area is nice, so we usually take a roll up picnic blanket and spread it under the canopy. Then the kids can come and flop on the blanket after they get out of the water.
Beach Towels. After much trial and error, and a whole lot of sand in my washing machine, we finally got smart and started taking these towels. They’re quick-dry and the sand doesn’t stick as much to them.
Lifejackets. This is probably going to be a hot topic, but our kids don’t wear floaties (if you’re interested in the reasoning I’m happy to share!). So while they’re playing, we watch closely and they stay at the edge of the water. But if they go out with us on paddleboards or any thing else they wear life jackets. We’ve used these kids’ lifejackets for both of them.
Beach Wagon. This is Ryan’s pride and joy. As the dude who has to haul most of the equipment to and from the car, he’s a huge fan of the beach wagon. It fits a ton and it rolls pretty easily on the sand. Bonus: when Maggie was little, she would nap in our wagon in a shady spot, in the middle of the day!
Cooler or Cool Bag. We don’t tend to bring lots of drinks to the lake, so we prefer a cool bag to a cooler. If you’re hauling ice or beers or things like that, a rolling cooler might be smarter. But we just use fold-flat cool bags like these to keep our food from getting warm.
Lake Day Essentials: Clothes + Skin
These are all pretty self-explanatory, but I did want to include a link to the water shoes we use! I’ve found that our kids tend to beat up water shoes pretty quickly, not to mention they grow out of them all the time. So I found these kids’ water shoes; they’re super affordable, the kids like them, and they protect their feet on rocky areas.
Lake Day Essentials: Relax
And after you’ve got everything all set, it’s time to chill! I love the fact that I almost have no cell service at our lake because I can just unplug and watch the kids splash around. I don’t know what magic it is, but there’s something so special about lazy, slow days at the lake. Have fun! xoxo