Now that school’s back in session, kids need outdoor fun on the weekend more than ever—to get fresh air and exercise, to blow off steam after being cooped in the classroom all week, and to socialize with other children their age.
Kid-friendly lakes can be ideal weekend retreats, offering something for everyone in the family.
What makes a lake kid friendly? It’s not just cleanliness or pretty surroundings, although that’s certainly part of it. To be truly kid friendly, lakes must be safe havens for children that provide activities, amusements, and facilities for them while also appealing to their parents who, after all, must spend time there, too.
When you’re selecting a lake for you and your child, here are a few qualities to look for:
Kid-friendly lakes stress safety in and around the water. That definitely means a lifeguard at lakes where swimming is allowed, as well as educational programs, displays and pamphlets about water safety as well as plenty of friendly, trained staff on hand to help parents oversee the safety of children.
Basketball, horseshoe, four-square, volleyball and shuffleboard courts; splash fountains; playgrounds; interactive nature trails—kid-friendly lakes have a variety of recreational facilities for children in addition to the picnic areas, cycling paths and hiking trails favored by many adults.
Furthermore, for convenience and for safety’s sake, the recreational facilities are in open public areas, not hidden away in a secluded spot or obscured by brush and woodland, so that parents can easily watch more than one child at a time
In addition to activities children can pick and choose on their own, the best kid-friendly lakes host organized entertainments and educational programs specifically for kids, such as children’s musical artists, performance artists like unicyclists and puppeteers, outdoor children’s theatre and holiday-themed festivals and special days by the lake.
Lakes without clean, working bathroom facilities are definitely not for people with children. Bathrooms in public areas that have low sinks with running water, flushing toilets and diaper-changing stations are best. And for parents with several young children, if the lake has a family bathroom, that’s even better.
Food & Drink
Pint-sized water coolers for kids as well as vending machines that serve juice are nice to have on the premises so parents don’t have to lug coolers to the lake. Vendors are handy, too, providing snacks so parents don’t have to. And of course, every kid-friendly lake needs at least one picnic table that’s shaded by trees or an umbrella.
If you’re a parent of young children, finding a kid-friendly lake with most or all of these qualities can make playtime a safer, happier experience for the whole family.