Lake life is the good life but even when you plan your vacation weeks in advance, the one thing you can't plan is the weather. My family recently visited Lake Waskesiu in Saskatchewan's beautiful Prince Albert National Park and wouldn't you know it, the week's forecast was a chilly one. But did we let that stop us from enjoying our vacay? Not a bit! In fact, it forced us to get creative and really explore beyond the beach. And if you're thinking "that's false optimism", I've got a list of 13 things to do at the lake other than swimming to prove it:
1. Playing eye spy, even if it's out the window, is relaxing and makes for a mindful appreciation of your surroundings.
2. There's usually a playground at the lake (Waskie's is really nice!) and when there's a teeter totter involved, kids don't care what the weather is.
3. Is it even the lake without ice cream? Go visit the ice cream shack and eat it on the way back to your hotel or if you're lucky like us, you'll have a dine-in option. The Scoop here has every chocolatey flavour I could dream of plus a variety of cotton-candy-coloured sweetness for my little Pinkalicious here.
4. Pack some old fashioned games like pickup sticks, wire puzzles, cup and ball, and marbles. Sounds boring but it's not-- you'll be surprised how competitive things can get.
5. Kid-friendly boxed games like Connect 4 and Snakes & Ladders are fine but pack a few for when the littles go to sleep. Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Cards Against Humanity... you know, the classics.
6. Don't forget to pack your cards, although if you forget, do they make a good souvenir from the corner store.
7. If you're in or close to a township, go browse the local shops. Waskesiu has clothing stores, gift shops, a grocer, and everything in between.
8. Matinees were my favourite rainy day activity as a kid and there's usually a family flick playing in the afternoons. Here's what's playing in Waskie.
9. Local restos are a good change of scenery even if you were counting on your kitchenette. In Waskesiu, Pizza Pete's (properly titled Pete's Terrace) is our go-to but we also hiked over to the Clubhouse for brunch and had a beautiful meal at Pietro which, despite offering the most exquisite meals, is also baby-friendly.
9. Here's the one I should have started with but whatever, the numbering is what it is: GO OUT ANYWAY. Bundle up, put on some raingear if you have to (we didn't end up needing to don it but there was plenty packed), and just enjoy the lake air. I had grand plans of paper boat racing in puddles but the clouds didn't really break.
10. Small lake towns always have activities for the locals so take a look at those bulletin boards! My sister-in-law Nikki won a sweet twenty bucks at Bingo in the local hall.
11. Take advantage of interpretive centres. Waskesiu has a few points of interest in this category: the Tourism Saskatchewan museum (pictured above), a Parks Canada shop with a few activities inside, a recreation of Grey Owl's cabin in the bookshop, a teepee, and a shack tent full of vintage treasures.
12. Because Waskesiu is a National Park, there were beachfront activities as well as roaming guides ready to impart interesting education galore. Look for posters to see what's going on at your lake.
13. I'm going to list this as "fun diversions" because not every lake has a mini golf but if it's a township, there's probably something! Waskesiu also offers lawn bowling, wolf howling, frisbee golf, and bike rentals, but I know others that have bowling alleys.
So next lake vacation you take when the weather's looking less than sunny, think of it as an opportunity to explore! And pack your swimwear just in case because you never know-- we caught a break at the tail end of our stay and the surprise made it all the sweeter.