Every summer for the past 10 years, we pack up our bags and head out to spend the summer at beautiful Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho. Surrounded by spectacular mountains that drop right into the lake and an abundance of sunshine, it’s a pretty sweet place to spend time on the water. Over this time we’ve become masters of spending the day at the lake, so we thought we’d share our favorite lake activities!
Some years we have been lucky enough to spend two or more months out here, in other years, just a week or two. The running joke in the family is that we run “Camp Meeker” as we are constantly inviting close friends and family to come enjoy a taste of lake life, for whatever time they have available. Because of this, we’ve spent years figuring out how to spend the perfect day on the lake, so that those who visit us here for just a short while can maximize their lake days to the fullest.
Dressed for the Lake
Lake days are even better when outfitted with the latest styles from Backcountry. With the best outdoor brands and hundreds of gearheads to help you pick the best size, fit, and model, Backcountry is THE place for outfitting any adventure, big or small, near or far. We’ve gathered this list of our favorite activities to do on the lake at each time of day, as well as some of our favorite lake day gear. Here’s how you spend the perfect day on the lake.
Best Morning Lake Activities
It goes without saying, but the earlier you start your day on the lake, the longer it lasts 🙂
Typically, we head out West from the East coast, and try to hang on to the time change for as long as possible so that we can get up as early as possible. No matter where you are, if you’re looking to enjoy calm waters and a serene hour or two to yourself, the sunrise, and some wildlife, it’s definitely worth trying to get up before 6am.
As mentioned above, early morning is an incredibly peaceful time to get out on the water. If you’re bold enough, you might hop in for a polar bear dip. But if you’re like me and you find most mornings are a little too chilly for that, opting for dry(ish) canoe or kayak is another great option. Not to mention, it’s the perfect way to enjoy your coffee in your favorite Yeti coffee mug, while watching the shores for wildlife. Also, unless there’s a major storm coming through, these calm waters will be inherently easier to paddle through than any windier ones later in the day.
If you’re feeling like relaxing a bit more, taking a hammock out by the water and posting up with a good book is always a great way to start the day. Just make sure you have some trees to set up between, or get crafty with whatever else you have at your disposal! Our favorite hammock is made by ENO – durable, made from sustainable materials, and, of course, looks great in photographs ;).
Best Midday Lake Activities
Late morning to early afternoon is when energy levels are high, and you haven’t quite hit the hottest point of the day. This is a great time to be active!
Beach volleyball, beach football, beach soccer, and frisbee are some of our favorite activities to play at this time of day. A few years ago, Corey and I built these very cool beach volleyball posts out of logs and old wine barrels. They’re both an aesthetically pleasing and fun addition to the beach area, and beach volleyball has become our favorite activity when we have a large group.
Best Afternoon Lake Activities
When that afternoon heat hits, there’s only one thing you can do…get out on the water!
After you’ve appeased the inescapable “did you put sunscreen on?” from mom – kids, listen to your mothers – you’re ready to get out on the lake. Depending on energy levels and weather conditions, there’s an activity for every situation.
We like to think that we’ve hedged against pretty much every weather condition in which you’d still find yourself at the lake…It’s calm out? let’s get pitted, it’s time to wakesurf! It’s windy? Hoist up the mainsail boys, let’s launch the Hobie Cat! Overcast and too cold to swim? Bring on the cornhole tournament. This is the main course of your four-course day at the lake. Bon appetit!
The essentials for maximizing (and surviving) an afternoon of activities at the lake:
- Sunscreen: Nobody wants to be friends with a lobster. Set yourselves up for success for today and for lake days to come by lathering it on every couple hours.
- Apparel: Lightweight layers are a great thing to have when out on the boat or relaxing on the shore. I’m personally a big fan of the Patagonia A/C Buttondown, as it’s light, packable, and made sustainably.
- Bathing suit: Go for function, you’re going to be in and out of the water all day! That said, that doesn’t mean to sacrifice on fashion. Suits like the Alana California from Vitamin A transition seamlessly from relaxation to swimming to surfing! Check out all of their swimsuits options.
- Big, fun hat: Everyone needs a big, fun hat to protect from the sun and, more importantly, really send the message that you are in lake/beach/vacation mode. I love my new Brixton Bells hat for both those reasons.
- Beach bag: Books, water bottle, snacks, towels…get yourself a beach bag like the Patagonia All Day Tote that can handle it all!
- Water bottle: Get something with great insulation to keep that water ice cold even in the heat of the day. We’re big YETI people…They keep things cold forever and last a lifetime.
- GoPro with Floaty: You’re gonna be kicking yourself if you don’t capture Dad’s iconic belly flop in stunning 4K. The new Hero 7 Black changed the game, and you deserve one 😉 Just make sure you get a float for it too.
Best Evening Lake Activities
The evening is all about the two ‘S’s…Sunset, and S’mores. Yes, of course both of these count as lake activities.
I like to think of myself as a sunset aficionado, so please indulge me in my top three sunset-watching tips:
1. Never leave right after the sun sets. The show is just beginning, and the best colors have yet to reveal themselves.
2. Don’t forget about the East. There’re often spectacular colors going on behind you, don’t miss out!
3. Make sure your camera battery is charged! If you’re like me, you’ve probably had your camera out a lot throughout the day. But sunset is the most beautiful light of the day, it’s worth saving some extra juice for.
As the sun dips so will the temperature, so throw on your campfire pants – you’ll always find me in my lightweight and breathable Patagonia joggers – and grab your spot fireside.
What’s your s’mores strategy? Are you a burn-the-outside-in-ten-seconds-because-you-can’t-wait-for-the-chocolately-graham-crackery-goodness-in-your-mouth kind of person? Or more of a low and slow master of patience and connoisseur of perfectly toasted gooeyness? Corey definitely falls into the latter, whereas the rest of us land somewhere in the middle.
One thing is for certain though, it’s got to be dark chocolate.
There you have it! All of our favorite lake activities. What are your favorite things to do at the lake?
Backcountry has everything you need to get outside for your latest summer adventure and beyond. Use code SPLORINLAUREN15 for 15% off your first purchase at Backcountry.com (exclusions apply).
Interested in getting into wakesurfing? Check out this guide we developed on how to choose the best wakesurf board!