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How to Have a Perfect Weekend on the Lake

Swimming, sunning, relaxing, and plenty of eating: how to spend a weekend living your best #lakelife.

kids canoeing on lake

By Nina Elder

Some of my fondest memories of growing up in rural southern Missouri are of long, lazy days spent with friends on crystal-clear Bull Shoals Lake. We’d sun on the rocky bluffs, bob along on inflatable rafts, and dive deep into the water pretending that we were mermaids.

The lake also meant fishing, which meant fish fries. Deep-fried fish, crispy hush puppies, maybe a big pan of cobbler. Who wouldn’t like all of that? Well, for one, my boss.

kids playing in tubes in lake
Totally tubular: The kids are loving the floats, but Rusty the dog isn’t entirely convinced.

“I’ve never really gotten the whole lake thing,” she said when I pitched the idea of a big, fun lakeside fish fry for the magazine. Lauren is a New England native who grew up swimming in the ocean, so I got it (sort of). But I wasn’t giving up that easily. I waited a while and pitched the story again. She warmed to the idea slightly but still wasn’t totally on board.

Because I hail from the Show-Me State, I figured the best way to convince her was to, well, show her. And that’s how last summer, a handful of us on the Reveal team ended up driving a couple of hours north of New York City into the Hudson Valley to spend a weekend on a lake in Copake, New York.

We loaded up our families and rented a few houses. We paddled around in canoes, and all the kids and Lauren’s scruffy mutt, Rusty, piled into the hammock. The grown-ups had some beers. We built a fire, and the kids swam “all the way out” to the dock, and we all ate watermelon with the juice dripping off our chins. And then we had fried fish and hush puppies and blueberry cobbler at a picnic table under a big tree in the dappled sunlight. “This is heaven,” said Lauren. And just like that, I had another #lakelife convert.

Eat like you’re at the lake, no matter where you are (click photos for recipes!)

Recipes by Janet Taylor McCracken | Photographs by Skye Parrott | Food Styling by Barrett Washburne

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