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Everything You Need to Take Your Lake House Vacation to the Next Level

You always want to be invited back to the lake house. Bring a couple of these awesome items and you'll be a shoo-in.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
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So you’ve decided to take your vacation plans lakeside. An excellent idea, especially if you enjoy summer pursuits like drinking on a boat, drinking & floating, drinking & fishing, and other activities you can do whilst drinking—kayaking, swimming, sitting on land looking at the water, etc. 

We're assuming you have all of the actual “don't leave home without them” items ready, like citronella candles, bug spray, cards, dice, and luxury pool floats, but if you want to level up your waterfront escape, may we suggest you dive into this list of necessities?

Most of these products come highly recommended from people who own lake houses (or rent them seasonally), so rest assured that you'll be getting the reviews straight from the source.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

An inflatable dock from BOTE

Price: $1,299
What’s up, dock? How about an inflatable dock that sits on the water and can be used as a swim platform, a place to tie up water toys like kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, a yoga “studio,” a home for the cooler while you’re playing in the water, or just for straight lounging (in chairs, if you want) with the sun on your face and a drink in your hand. These docks can be anchored off the side of a boat or pier, and inflate in minutes.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

An inflatable floating cooler from Intex

Price: $62.90
If you don’t want your cooler to take up precious space on your floating dock, or if you’re going to be chillin' in the water on tubes or rafts, an inflatable cooler is a no brainer. And the Intex Mega Chill II is the one that will float your boat. Or your beer, rather. It has six cup holders, so your drink won’t spill if you want to go for a swim or anything else that requires two paws. The removable ice chest holds up to 72 cans (with ice) but can also be swapped out with another cooler (up to 48 ounces) if need be. Estaban M., an avid wakeboarder, likes it because it’s very buoyant, so if a ski boat comes close to the shore, the wake won’t capsize it. He also tells us it’s super durable and easy to carry.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

A multispecies fishing rod and reel combo kit from Tailored Tackle

Price: $74.99
Aaron M., who grew up fishing every summer, says, “There’s just something about sitting in a rowboat on a calm lake,” and also states that he enjoyed the part of the no television part of the trip, which may be a little revisionist history, but we’ll take him at his word. Actually, a majority of the “lake vacation” experts we spoke to were adamant that trying to catch supper from the lake helps relieve stress. If you’re a fish out of water when it comes to rods and reels and all of the rest of it, this combo kit is a good place to get started, and it should work for whatever kind of fish are swimming in your lake. That said, don’t forget a lot of places require a fishing license, which you can get online or at a local tackle shop.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

An inflatable stand-up paddle board

Price: $269.99
It’s not hard to spend a thousand bucks on an inflatable SUP, but for the purposes of a fun lake trip, this extra-wide 11-foot board will do the trick. It has a weight limit of up to 330 pounds, so it can float two people, hold gear (aka a cooler), or give your dog a place to chill out while you paddle aimlessly around the lake. The board comes with everything you need—including an adjustable paddle—and takes around 10 minutes to inflate. Laurel S., who takes hers out on Lake Tahoe every summer, says it’s also good for yoga. Or laying on and basking in the warm embrace of the sun. Okay, so she didn’t say that last part, but she totally meant to and just forgot.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

This floating cornhole set

Price: $39.99
Cornhole (or bean bag toss as some people call it) is one of those games basically everyone loves to play, which is why Adam T., who rents a lake house with friends in Big Bear most summers, always brings an inflatable version along. It’s not quite the same as the traditional wooden boards, but it’s a lot better than not having a cornhole at all. We like this set because you can play in the water or tether it to the lawn. And you don’t have to worry if your bag slides off into the lake...they float too.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

A waterproof Bluetooth speaker

Price: $150
If you only bring one thing from our rundown, let it be this wireless speaker that's waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. It has great sound, especially if you like to feel the bass, and there’s also a speaker light that flashes with the beat, a USB charging port in case your phone’s running out of battery, and the piece de resistance: up to 24 hours of battery life.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

A camping chair with a cup holder and cooler

Price: $35
When it comes to choosing a beach or camping chair, there’s more to think about than you probably realize. It needs to be supportive, portable, the right height and position for your body, and come with the bells and whistles you can’t (or don’t want to) live without. For a lake house vacation, we like a more traditional camping chair that will work on the shore but also around the fire. And we like this Coleman because it has a fully cushioned seat and back, a built-in cup holder on the armrest, a side pocket for your phone, book, and snacks, AND a cooler pouch that holds four cans. That being said, if you’re the kind of person who likes to really settle in and stay in one place, this backpack chair from Picnic Time ($156) has everything you need: a tray table with a cup holder, two-tiered shelves hanging below it, a pocket specifically for your cell phone, and a side-mounted (detachable) insulated cooler that holds 24 cans.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

A ball that looks, feels, and floats like a watermelon

Cost: $26
It's not required that you sing along to Harry Styles if you bring this ball on your lake trip (because that's, like, sooo last summer). But honestly who are we to judge? Anyway, back to this ball which is part football, part basketball, part rugby ball, and is buoyant in the same way an actual watermelon is in that it will sink in the water but then slowly float to the surface. It can even be dribbled underwater (you have to do it to understand it). There’s an actual Watermelon Ball game with rules and everything if you want to enter into some serious competition.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

A pop-up shade

Cost: $82
Oh did you think we weren't going to tell you not to get too much sun? Sunburns aside, the fact remains that a long day in the sun can result in something that feels a lot like a hangover (dehydration, lethargy, irritability, nausea...okay, you get the point). That’s why it’s a good idea to bring some kind of portable shade to escape under once in a while. There are a bunch of fancy ones, but this lightweight and compact canopy with a half wall for wind protection will do the trick.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

An underwater scooter. Yeah, that's right.

Price: $700
We had our eye on the five-person exploration submarine, but since that costs $2,700,000, we’ll settle for this portable "winged vehicle” that propels swimmers on the surface of the water or as deep as 130-feet at 3.5mph, which may not sound thrilling until you learn that’s the average cruising speed of a dolphin. And who doesn’t want to move through the water like a dolphin? Checkmate.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

A cooler that will keep your beer ice-cold even when it’s 100 degrees outside

Cost: $299.99
Spending $300 on a cooler is the new normal. Especially when you take into consideration that this YETI is a virtually indestructible cooler that can retain ice for five to seven days and one that you’ll have for the rest of your life. It holds around 28 cans of beer, has a dry goods basket (so your sandwiches don’t get soggy), and has a vortex draining system. Cameron K. and Carrie B., who spend copious amounts of time in Tahoe, swear by it. They also recommend rubber Birkenstocks. Apparently they haven't tried Crocs yet.

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who would do anything to go back to summer camp and spend every day waterskiing and wakeboarding in Lake Almanor. With some arts and crafts and archery thrown in there as well. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf.
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