A long weekend like Memorial Day is a great chance for some time on the water, but not everyone is close to a beach. However, nearly every city or town does have a lake of some sort (either natural or manmade) nearby. These lakes provide the perfect chance to escape while being close and accessible. They are just right for a great day trip for hiking or a weekend camping trip. But perhaps best of all, many have little beaches that are tailor made for spending a relaxing afternoon.
I like to visit our state parks and natural areas (most of which are just half an hour away) for a few hours of relaxing with my toes in the sand or floating in the cool water. These little lake escapes are just right for a mini-vacation without all the work a big trip involves.
Find a lake near you using Lakepedia. Once you’ve picked the perfect spot, here’s the gear you’ll need for a snack-sized local getaway that will help you make the most of your weekend:
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Scala Raffia Lifeguard Straw Hat ($27). A day in the sun requires more protection from the sun than a baseball cap can offer. This straw hat is cheap and offers maximum coverage for your head, neck, and shoulders. You’ll look better than you think, too.
Chums Neoprene Eyewear Retainer ($6). Chums help keep those sweet sunglasses from ending up on the bottom of the lake if you should get tipped over by a stray wave from a powerboat or mischievous date.
UE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speaker($67). A relaxing afternoon is a perfect time for your favorite playlist. This speaker is waterproof which also makes it sandproof. That’s perfect for your long day on that tiny beach. Just try and keep the volume reasonable so you’re not that jackass everyone else on the beach hates.
AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler($60). This soft cooler is just big enough to pack some cold drinks and a picnic lunch. The shoulder strap makes it easier to lug out to your oasis and The Wirecutter has ranked it their best pick for soft coolers.
LUENX Polarized Aviator Sunglasses ($18). I think cheap sunglasses are the best choice for any situation, but most especially for those times where they stand a chance of getting lost or broken. The classic shape of these aviators looks great on just about every face and the polarized lenses make it easier to people watch without getting caught.
Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair ($50-ish). A comfortable chair is the foundation for a good, long day relaxing. These Tommy chairs sit low and have several positions for the backrest and a built-in headrest so you can go from reading to napping without moving your ass. They come in a bunch of colors so pick something festive and spend your day switching back and forth from the water to your new favorite chair.
JVC HAFX32R Marshmallow Earbuds ($11). Sometimes the best way to get some peace and quiet is to fill your ears up with sounds of your own choosing. If you aren’t the reading type, or you want something to occupy your monkey mind while you lounge, grab these little earbuds. They do a fair job of blocking some noise while allowing you remain slightly aware of your surroundings. Put on your favorite podcast or try an audiobook. You might be surprised how much you like listening to your entertainment.
The Lady in the Lake – Raymond Chandler ($12). A long day begs for a good mystery and nothing suits better than a hard-boiled crime novel. Raymond Chandler is one of the big names of the genre for good reason and, at 272 pages, you might just finish this before the sun sets.
Banana Boat Kids Tear Free SPF 50 Sunscreen ($9). We’ve all ruined memories of a perfectly good day with a sunburn that lasts for a week. The idea of tanned limbs is great, but don’t skimp on the SPF. There’s nothing sexy about increased risk of cancer and a sunburn. But why “kids” sunscreen? Because the active ingredients are mineral based instead of chemical based, it creates a physical barrier on your skin, and it will not stain your swimsuit or t-shirt. Use more than you think and more often than you think – no one ever says “Man, I wish I had used less sunscreen and gotten a sunburn.”
L.L. Bean Beach Towel ($30). This towel is so big that you could skip the beach blanket (but don’t). This beach towel would be good for lying out on, but its also thick and absorbent and perfect for drying off from head to toe after a refreshing dip.
L.L. Bean Large Boat and Tote ($35). You need a way to tote all this stuff down to the water and carrying several small bags is a quick way to start and end your day with curses. This bag is big enough to carry all of your gear easily and look good doing it.
Swimways Pool Lounger($15). Nothing is quite as relaxing as setting yourself adrift in the cool nearly waveless water. This float is perfect for all day long lounging.
Coalatree Kachula Adventure Blanket 2.0 ($70). A good blanket is a key to a successful day of relaxing for a few reasons: (1) it lets you stake out a minimum territory around your chair and gear, (2) it gives you somewhere soft to take a nap, and (3) it serves as the perfect place to spread out your picnic fixings.
A great day at the lake starts with good gear. Being able to tune out the people next to you or get lost in a good book while avoiding sunburn may all seems like obvious things. But it’s easy to overlook the little things that make the day go smoothly. Double check your gear bag to make sure you have all the things you need to make the day enjoyable.
After you’ve checked your gear, take a few minutes to think about what you want from the day. What memories do you want to make? Do you want to spend the day in quiet repose or do you want to connect with your friends or family? At the end of the day, what stories do you want to be able to tell? Setting your intentions can start the whole day off in the right direction and, by the time the sun sets, you will have made a pretty good day into a day you’ll never forget.