4 Activities to Enhance Your Lakeside Camping Enjoyment
Camping has long been a great way for families to really reconnect. Camping allows you to take a break from the many distractions that plague us on a daily basis, giving you the chance to really enjoy some quality time with your family and maybe even give you much needed time to have some important discussions.
While there are endless areas around the U.S. to go camping, the best and most picturesque lakes in America are a great place to start. Choosing the perfect lakeside camping destination is one thing, but then you have to make sure to fill your time with activities and adventures that the whole family will enjoy.
To make things a bit easier for you, we have gathered four great activities you should think about incorporating into your next lakeside camping adventure. We have also hand-picked some of our favorite lakes in America that offer exceptional camping and a wide range of activities.
Get out on the Water
It only makes sense that many lakeside camping activities are focused on the lake itself. There are tons of different water sports available during the warmer spring and summer months including kayaking, jet skiing, water skiing, sailing, and even parasailing for exceptional aerial views over the lake.
One of the newest and most enjoyable lake activities is stand up paddleboarding or SUP. An offshoot of surfing, paddleboarding is where you stand on a board and propel yourself through the water. While the sport can be a bit tricky on ocean waters for beginners, lakes are much easier and therefore the perfect place to learn.
Some paddle boards are made of rigid glass-reinforced plastic which can be cumbersome to haul, but there are easier inflatable paddle boards that are much more portable and convenient to take to the lake. Spend the day on a blow up paddleboard and peacefully enjoy all the picturesque scenery while getting a bit of exercise in the process.
There is a wide range of stand up paddle boards to choose from. Some are designed with large traction pads which are perfect for SUP yoga while others are perfect for fishing due to the fact they are equipped with oversize bungees that make storing your tackle box, rods, and other items a breeze.
Have a Family BBQ
Nothing brings people together more than food. Barbecuing is a great way to enhance your lakeside camping enjoyment, as the whole family can join in with the cooking and take pleasure in amazing food with lakeside views. Lakeside camping has the added benefit of allowing you to catch fresh fish to throw on the barbecue in addition to any meats you pack.
For that tempting smoky flavor, opt for a charcoal barbecue. This slow cooking method allows you to enjoy things like steak and chicken that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. If you’d rather enjoy your food quicker, opt for a portable gas grill which uses mini gas canisters and can be started with the touch of a button. Portable gas grills come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, allowing you to pick one that can accommodate all the mouths in your group.
Sausages, steaks, pork chops, fish, and bacon are all great meats for the barbecue or if you’re a vegetarian you can pack corn on the cob and make kebabs of onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes.
When cooking around a campfire at night, don’t forget to pack s’more kits and maybe pack some sparklers or small fireworks (if it’s legal to do so of course). Don’t forget to bring food for your pets if they are tagging along and don’t be afraid to invite friends or allow your kids to invite friends to make the experience all that greater. Even if friends can’t join you, try socializing with other fellow campers and you may just come away with new lifelong friends.
Play a Game of Baseball, America’s Pastime
Baseball is a game that all ages can enjoy. Most camping in America takes place during the summer months when the baseball season is in full swing. It’s important to plan ahead and you pack all the exact equipment you need for a game of ball, since many lakeside camping locations are far removed from the shops. Don’t forget to pack bases and extra balls in case a few end up in the bottom of the lake.
Other great sports that can be enjoyed around the lake include horseshoes or ring toss, soccer, disc golf, football, and skipping stones (yes skipping stones can be a competitive sport if you want it to be). It’s always fun to make friendly wagers for games as well, with the losers having to cook or clean up.
One of the best aspects of lakeside camping is that you are surrounded by nature, so why not go on a family adventure to discover and spot some of the amazing wildlife that inhabit the national park or natural area you’re visiting.
No matter which lake you choose for your camping adventure, there will most certainly be a number of hiking trails to explore. Look up local animals that may be present in your chosen location so you can prepare for any potential dangerous encounters. Bears are often present around lakes and lakeside campsites in particular.
Of course not all wildlife encounters will be as dangerous. Animals that can readily be spotted around lakes include beavers, raccoons, deer, turtles, eagles, egrets and herons, moose, and ducks and geese.
Besides hiking to observe and photograph wildlife, there are many other nature related activities available. Search for wild edible berries, gather natural materials like rocks, pine cones, and flowers for crafts, collect bugs, identify animal tracks, or find out if Geocaching is available. Don’t forget to pack some flashlights to seek out nocturnal animals like bats, owls, moths, and fireflies.
Great Camping Lakes in the U.S.
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon was created by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago and offers sheer cliffs, pine forests, and the adventurous Wizard Island. Campers can also hike portions of the Pacific Crest Trail.
New York’s Adirondack Lakes Region offers a network of freshwater lakes, many which contain private islands. Don’t miss Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Michigan offers up Little Beaver Lake, which lies within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with its large sand dunes overlooking massive Lake Michigan.
California offers up North America’s largest alpine lake. There are a number of campgrounds to choose from around Lake Tahoe and a wide range of outdoor recreation available. All of this just a 4-hour-drive from San Francisco.