Things to Do at the Lake Without a Boat (13 Ideas)

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Don’t let not having a boat stop you from having fun at the lake. While being out on the water in your own boat is pretty awesome, there are still a ton of things you can do at the lake, just not in the comfort of a boat. In this article we’ll look at some ideas for things to do at the lake without a boat.

Things to do at the lake without a boat

Here’s a list of 13 ideas to keep you having fun at the lake, even if you don’t get to go out on a boat.

1. Fishing

Sure, boats are great for fishing, but they’re far from necessary. Some of the best fishing can be done from the shore, especially in the early morning and late evening. It’s at these times that fish are more likely to be active in the shallower waters along the edge of the lake- as the sun rises and the temperature increases they retreat into deeper, cooler waters. Time it right, and lake shore fishing is just as good, and maybe even better, than fishing from a boat.

2. Swimming

What better way to enjoy a warm day at the lake than by cooling off in the water? Swimming is a great activity. Its good exercise, and it’s relaxing. It’s a great family activity, too. Just be sure to check if swimming is allowed, first. There are some lakes in which swimming is illegal, and others where swimming is encouraged and even supported with the presence of lifeguards. 

3. Bird watching

Birds flock to lakes in huge numbers, especially waterfowl. The water itself is inviting to ducks, geese, gulls, herons, and cranes. The ecosystem along the lake shore attracts many more birds since it’s usually a uniquely rich habitat because of its proximity to a steady supply of freshwater. You’re likely to find plenty of birds at any nearby lake.

4. Camping

The peaceful, serene vistas of a secluded lake are a perfect place to camp. Camping is a great way to disconnect from the business of your daily life and relax, and there’s no better place than a lake. The best part of camping by a lake is that all of the other activities on this list can be included in a camping trip. Grilling fresh-caught fish over a campfire right by the water you caught them in is about as good as it gets.

5. Grilling

Plenty of lakes have grills available for public use at the various picnic and campsites in the parks along the lake shore, it’s really one of the best ways to spend an afternoon at the lake. The family can enjoy a swim while the food is cooking, and after everyone’s done eating you can nap in the sun or take a relaxing walk. 

6. Hiking

Lakes tend to be in especially beautiful locations, and as a result, there are usually some walking or hiking trails nearby. If not trails, there are still likely areas where you can go for a hike and enjoy the natural scenery. Ideally, you’ll be able to hike up to a spot with a birds-eye view of the lake and the surrounding landscape. 

7. Sunbathing

Getting some time in the sun isn’t just a great way to relax, it’s also critical to good health. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, and vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common health problems in the world. Sunbathing is healthy and relaxing, and doing it on the shore of a lake is even better. As you lay in the sun you hear the peaceful sounds of small waves lapping the shore, the call of birds flying over the water, and fish jumping. It’ll lull you to sleep if you’re not careful.

8. Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding requires a bit of practice to master, but it’s well worth it. For one thing, its good exercise, especially for your core. It’s also a unique way to experience any body of water. It’s sort of a combination of kayaking and surfing since you’re basically standing on a surfboard and paddling around. Many lakes have paddleboard rentals if you don’t own your own. Here’s a popular stand-up paddleboard on Amazon. 

9. Rent a boat

Kayaks, canoes, personal watercraft, and larger types of boats are often available for rent at lakes. If you don’t have a boat, renting one can be a viable alternative. You’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of a boat, but without paying for maintenance, storage, or transport. It’s a win-win, since owning a boat often turns out to be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

10. Rent a lakehouse

Having a lakehouse sounds great, until you realize that owning one means you’re responsible for all the bills and maintenance costs of a second home. Renting one is much better, and it allows you to spend time at your favorite lake, often in great comfort. It’s a wonderful alternative to camping for those who don’t care for roughing it.

11. Lakeside games

Beach volleyball, soccer, horseshoes, cornhole, and any other beach or backyard game of your choosing can be made even more enjoyable by playing at the lake. Some lakes even have real sand beaches to play on. The best part is, once you’ve worked up a sweat, you can take a quick dip in the lake to cool down and refresh yourself.

12. Picnics

Lakes are made for picnics. The scenery and the peaceful atmosphere are an ideal setting for a relaxing (or romantic) outdoor meal. All you need to do is find a shady, open spot on the shore and lay out a good blanket. Or, if your lake has them, find one of the picnic tables out there and claim it for an afternoon.

13. Enjoy the Sunset- or Sunrise

Watching the sun go down or come up over the water can be an awe-inspiring experience. On the coasts, you can only choose one or the other. Depending on which coast you live on, you either get sunset over the water or sunrise over the water, nothing else.

With a lake, though, you can watch either one, or both. Sit on the western side of the lake to watch the sunrise, or the eastern side to watch it set. The reflection of the sunlight on the surface of the water as it progresses through shades of orange, red, blue, and white is always an incredible experience.

I'm Jesse, I run this place. I spend as much time outside enjoying nature as I can. When I'm not camping, hiking, canoeing, or biking, I'm trying a new outdoor activity or working on this website.

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