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How to fully embrace the lake at your next cottage rental

A weekend at the lake is the perfect way to unwind with friends and family. But with a little planning, a long weekend at a Vrbo cottage rental can become the ultimate source of lifelong memories for everyone who joins you. So whether you’re sharing a rental with seasoned cottagers or lakefront rookies, these tips will ensure everyone gets the most out of their time at the lake.

Bring your own outdoor games

The ideal cottage rental will have a well-stocked games cupboard for rainy days, and you might find some pool noodles or a web-laden badminton set in the boathouse. But if you want to keep your crew happy outdoors, we recommend bringing some classic cottage games like ladder toss and corn hole. Even better, you can easily build those games yourself—they’re the perfect family DIY project.

Know your priorities

The perfect cottage experience is more than just barbecued steaks and drinks on the dock. It’s the little things you might not think about that can make or break the perfect family weekend. For instance, do you want to have the perfect view? That means you might end up at an elevated cottage with a precipitous walk down to the water. Do you crave privacy, or would you rather be nestled in an active cottage community? And what about swimming? Do you want to be able to jump off the dock, or are you bringing young kids who’d rather splash around in sandy shallows? Either way, you’ll be able to specify the perfect swimming experience for your family through Vrbo’s cottage-rental filters.

Focus on accessible water toys

Even if you have access to serious lake toys like personal watercraft or waterskis, skimming along the lake at high speeds isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re looking at rental options for a group at the lake, focus on more accessible water toys like tubes, kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards. That way, everyone will have a chance to dip their toes into the action.

Know what’s fair game

If you’re renting a cottage, it’s fun to zoom in on every photo and analyze the amenities. But just because it’s in the photo doesn’t mean you’ll have access to it. If you see an overturned canoe near the water, a paddleboat moored to the dock, or a pair of kayaks perched on the boathouse wall, be sure to ask your host-to-be if they’re fair game. Otherwise, you might find yourself at the lake without a paddle.

Sunrise or sunset?

Are you a sunrise person? Or are sunsets more your thing? You might love both, but unless you founded a Silicon Valley startup, a cottage that spans both sides of the lake might not be in the cards. That means you’ll have to choose whether you want the sun to rise or set over the water—and not everyone in your family might agree. Pro tip: if you love sunsets, a hillside cottage at the Eastern edge of a lake lets you walk down to the water and enjoy it even longer.

Don’t waste a minute

If you’re on a tight schedule back in the city, you might be tempted to spend your weekend at the cottage waking up when the sun is high and lazing your way through a leisurely breakfast. While that sounds like heaven, it can’t hold a candle to getting up before the kids and paddling around a silent lake with a travel mug of good coffee as the mist rolls off the water. Sure, the cottage is about doing things together, but sometimes it’s those quiet moments spent alone that make the “together” all the more meaningful.

Book well in advance

If you think searching for a summer rental the Monday before a long weekend is going to score you a coveted cottage, think again. By the time February rolls around, a lot of cottages are booked. So to find the best spot for creating family memories this season, start searching for week-long rentals well in advance. That said, if you’re behind the buzzer, you can still find great short-term rentals if you’re flexible with your schedule and willing to spend a shorter time at the lake.

Use a trusted source

With cottage-rental scams making waves in Canadian lakefront communities, it’s more important than ever to rent from a trusted source—which means that bigger is better. When you’re searching for the perfect cottage rental, stick with a trusted partner like Vrbo, which has an endless array of verified rentals in beautiful cottage communities throughout Canada.

Looking to make memories with your family at a cottage this season? Find a rental that’s perfect for you with the help of Vrbo.