11 summer essentials for fun in the sun

From elegant picnic baskets to floating cabana bars, these are the staples you'll be reaching for all season

An inflatable pool ring
(Image credit: mrs/Moment via Getty Images)

Summer is almost here, and it's time to get ready for pool days, beach vacations, weekend camping trips, and quiet nights making s'mores and watching fireflies. Here are 11 items to add to your shopping list for a sunny and smooth summer:

A cabana bar floats in a pool

(Image credit: Courtesy of FUNBOY)

FUNBOY Floating Cabana Bar

You'll never need to leave the pool again — cups, ice and your favorite beverages are right there next to you, safely stowed away in an adorable floating cabana. Topped with a cheerful yellow and white striped shade, the FUNBOY Floating Cabana Bar has two spaces that can be filled with ice and drinks, as well as four cup holders. It's almost 6 feet long and more than 3 feet high, and while it's made for floating, it can also be used for entertaining outside of the water — just set it up on a table and get ready for the oohs and aahs. $99 at FUNBOY

A tote bag

(Image credit: Courtesy of Island to East Side)

Island to East Side Getaway Tote

You can't show up to the beach or pool without a book, sunscreen, water, snacks, a hair tie, and a towel at minimum. A roomy, lightweight tote is therefore a must for the season. Enter the Island to East Side Getaway Tote. It's large enough to carry everything you need, but not heavy since it's made of canvas. The bag is also customizable and can be embroidered with a name, nickname, initial, or significant date. $228 at Island to East Side

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A pair of pink sunglasses with rhinestones

(Image credit: Courtesy of Nordstrom)

Betsey Johnson Cat Eye Sunglasses

Protect your peepers from the summer sun while still looking glamorous. These Betsey Johnson cat eye sunglasses are a throwback to the '50s, but the Barbie pink is all 2023. The crystals add a bit of sparkle to the frames, while the lenses offer 100% UV protection. $38 at Nordstrom

A lilac Igloo cooler

(Image credit: Courtesy of Igloo)

Igloo Tag Along Too Cooler

Hands-free is the way to be. The Igloo Tag Along Too offers a new spin on the classic cooler, with an adjustable strap that makes hauling it to the beach or park a breeze. The 11-quart cooler can hold 14 12-ounce cans and comes in new, fun colors like lilac and turquoise. Get ready to stand out in the crowd. $49.99 at Igloo

A snow cone making machine

(Image credit: Courtesy of Crate & Barrel)

Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker

There's nothing better than a snow cone on a scorching hot day. This Cuisinart snow cone maker works fast — just place regular ice cubes in the machine, and, in just a minute, there's more than enough shaved ice to fill four or five cones. Add your favorite juice or syrup, and voila, it's a snow cone (for an adult treat, add some tequila and triple sec). The snow cone maker comes with a scoop, 12 paper cones, and four reusable plastic cones, and since it's compact, it won't take up too much room on your countertop. $79.95 at Crate & Barrel

An open picnic basket

(Image credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma)

Williams Sonoma Honeycomb Picnic Basket

This elegant picnic basket will make you want to eat every meal lounging on a blanket in the park. The sturdy, handwoven wicker basket contains four porcelain plates, four sets of stainless-steel flatware, four cotton napkins, four plastic stemless wine glasses, and a stainless-steel waiter's corkscrew. It's fully lined with a canvas interior featuring a honeycomb and bee motif, and has two compartments for food and beverages; one side is zippered and can keep drinks, cheese and meat cool. Fill it up with your favorites and go make some memories. $199.95 at Williams Sonoma

A woman floats in a pool

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sunnylife)

Hammock float

These mesh floats offer the best of both worlds. They are versatile and can be used as a seat, lounger, exercise saddle, or hammock, and because there's a mesh center, the water keeps you cool. For a more chic floating experience, Sunnylife has a glitter hammock float with inflatable pillows filled with holographic confetti that sparkles in the sun. ($30 at Sunnylife). If pastels are more up your alley, Target's Sun Squad line offers a hammock float with a lovely violet stripe design. ($8 at Target)

An easel with a painting on it

(Image credit: Courtesy of Amazon)

Art kit with portable easel

Let Mother Nature be your muse. This art kit has what you need to set up a painting studio outside, including six brushes, three canvas panels, two palettes, 12 acrylic paints, and eight canvas panel wedges. There's also an adjustable easel, which folds up so it's easy to pack for a day at the lake or a session in the backyard. Not only will you get in touch with your creative side, but you'll also have new paintings as souvenirs of your summer. $89.99 at Amazon

A croquet set

(Image credit: Courtesy of Amazon)

Croquet set

Embrace your inner Queen of Hearts and challenge friends and family to a lively game of croquet (though in your version, everyone gets to keep their heads). This six-person set comes with hardwood mallets, colored balls, wickets, stakes, and a zippered carrying bag for games on the go. Playing a round or two a night could wind up a summer tradition. $34.99 at Amazon

A splash pad

(Image credit: Courtesy of Amazon)

Non-slip splash pad

Kids and dogs both agree that, on a hot day, there is nothing better than a run through the sprinklers. This splash pad will keep the smallest members of your family occupied for hours — just add water.The non-slip surface is good for young children and is durable enough that a dog's nails won't go right through it. Parents should be on the lookout to ensure safe splashing, but there is also room on the pad for an adult to join in on the fun. $32.95 at Amazon

A dog drinks from a dog water fountain

(Image credit: Courtesy of Zeus)

Zeus Fresh & Clear Dog Drinking Fountain

In the summer, it's more important than ever to ensure animals have access to fresh water. Instead of a bowl, elevate your pup's hydration experience with the Zeus Fresh & Clear Dog Drinking Fountain. Not only is the water refreshing, but it tastes better too, thanks to the purification filter. Only the best for your BFF. $84.99 at Chewy

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.