Surrounded by pristine wilderness and the towering White Mountains, Squam Lake is a quiet vacation destination for families who want to reconnect with the great outdoors. From kayaking and swimming to exploring remote islands, this lake that was made famous by the 1981 film “On Golden Pond” has something for all ages. Here are some of the best kid-friendly activities around the beautiful lake that lie just a short drive or boat ride from your water-front Squam Lake vacation rental.

1. Take Out a Canoe or Kayak

The calm waters of Lake Squam make it ideal for a family canoe or kayak ride along the shoreline. Rent some equipment at one of the marinas or the Squam Lakes Association before setting off to paddle among the lake’s more than 6,700 acres, keeping an eye out for great blue herons and loons that may surface from a dive right in front of your canoe.

2. Visit the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Kids young and old are sure to love seeing mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, river otters, and other native wildlife housed at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Kids can also look at cool rocks at the geology exhibit, see frogs on the wetlands walk, and enjoy hands-on activities such as building an insect at the Gordon’s Children Center situated in an old barn.

3. Explore the Lake by Sailboat

If you have some sailing experience, enjoy the views of the White Mountains and the lake’s dozens of islands during a family sailing excursion. Find a vessel at one of the sailboat rental locations, or bring your own so you can shove off right from your vacation rental.

4. Kick Back on a Squam Lake Cruise

If you don’t want to rent or bring your own boat to dock at your vacation rental, you can always let someone else take the wheel for a relaxing cruise. Kids of all ages enjoy spotting loons, eagles, and other wildlife from a pontoon or speedboat. Experience Squam offers diverse cruise options such as wildlife and geocaching excursions, and you can also find cruises departing from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.

5. Set Course for Bowman Island

Pull your boat up to Bowman Island to explore the wilderness or cast a line from the shore. The whole family is sure to enjoy walking the path around the island while looking for eagle nests. Enjoy a lakeside picnic at one of the tables before heading back to your rental.

6. Pick Up Some Fresh Berries at Moulton Farm

For a special treat, stop by this fun farmer’s market to buy fresh strawberries, a fresh-baked pie for after dinner, and some sweet pastries. If you’re visiting Squam Lake during the fall, be sure to venture through the famous Moltoun Farm corn maze.

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7. Go for a Swim

Visiting Squam Lake during the summer? Kids young and old love cooling off in the clear waters. Swim off the boat with life jackets, or swim at one of the many sandy and grassy beaches such as the Sandwich town beach, the beaches on Moon Island, and those around Five Finger Point.

8. Fish Off the Dock

Kids who want to try casting a line are sure to enjoy fishing off the dock at one of the boat launches, marinas, or even your own lakefront rental. White perch, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass are just a few of the fish they might land.

9. Hike West Rattlesnake Mountain

Take the 30-minute hike up a groomed trail to the West Rattlesnake Mountain lookout for a bird’s-eye view of Squam Lake. Leave your vacation rental early to beat the crowds, and consider bringing a picnic to enjoy at the rocky lookout spot. While the hike up is fairly easy, the steep slopes may be best suited for older kids and teens.

10. Visit the Castle in the Clouds

Head to nearby Moultonborough, and take a trolley from the Carriage House to the historic Lucknow mansion that enchants visitors of all ages with its medieval-style stone walls. After a short orientation, take a self-guided tour through the mansion that’s furnished with old appliances and historic furniture. Younger kids can try using old kitchen tools or practice letter writing, and they’re sure to enjoy going on a pony ride in the area outside the castle. After enjoying the museum, enjoy 28 miles of hiking trails that pass by waterfalls. Remember to pick up some ice cream at Cones in the Clouds before heading back to your vacation rental.

11. Play Some Retro Games at Funspot

Take a break from the water to spend a few hours at Funspot, a year-round arcade that appeals to kids and adults of all ages. Here, you can play state-of-the-art and retro arcade games, enjoy a round of bowling, or play some indoor mini golf. You can also catch a game of bingo, and your little ones can ride the kid-sized motor cars around a small arena.

12. Take a Ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

Train lovers young and old can hop aboard for a relaxing railroad ride offering views of Lake Winnipesaukee and water-front cottages. Enjoy a sandwich or some ice cream during the trip, and keep an eye out for wildlife from the window. If you’re lucky, a staff member may stop by with some free balloons for your younger kids.

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