BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Whether it's taking out warm-weather whites and preparing the "Indomitable" for her first sail in San Francisco Bay or putting on an Ed Hardy shirt and bronzer for a season of hoagies and house music in Wildwood, N.J., the perfect summer requires serious preparation -- and shopping.
The Consumer Confidence Index is rising with the temperatures, climbing to 63.3 in May from 57.7 in April. That optimism should lead to a sunnier spending picture this summer but, as any kid who spent their summer in a moth-eaten camp cabin instead of hiking through Europe can tell you, the spending of both time and money during this season varies wildly.
To help shoppers make the most of the upcoming months,
compiled a wish list of summer goodies, games and getaways traversing any number of tastes. From commuter cyclists dreaming of the Tour de France to their bosses who wish only for a quiet place to fish, we've got you covered with these 10 summer treats:
Want to talk hands-free with the top down but look more stylish than a cyborg while doing so? Enter German electronics firm
and its Bluetooth baubles. Its sterling silver, gold-and-pearl and gold-and-black silicone Victoria devices may look like bedazzled earbuds, but they quickly clip into accessories equally appropriate for late-summer sundresses or a Samsung Moment. The Victoria line will start at $295 when it debuts this summer, but limited "premiere edition" pieces made from more-precious metals will go for more than $120,000 apiece.
Frankly, we miss the "it" bag: pointy elbows bashing their way to bulky billboards for haute couture houses, a ravenous appetite for "Baguettes" that had nothing to do with bread or sub sandwiches, urbanites going broke on four- to five-figure Birkins.
Python Bowler Bag reminds us of those bags but is a bit more fun.
Made from python and colored a cherry red normally reserved for exotic cars and dancers, this more-than-$1,800 bowler bag is a scaly, sexy bit of summer fun. With an interior big enough to accommodate a 16-ounce Brunswick bowling ball but silver accents more suited for ladies' night than league night, this beach and bar bag demands to be seen.
Those whose ideal summer day is spent crammed onto a beach with hundreds of other vacationers in various states of fitness making a variety of objectionable sounds will never understand fly fishing.
seems aware of this and has made a point of preserving large stretches of river in Colorado and Pennsylvania so that its members and their kin will always have access to rushing waters, trout and unbroken peace. Membership fees range from $49,500 (with $3,000-a-year dues) for 12 days of fishing a year to $89,500 (with $8,000 annual dues) for unlimited fishing time. Members get to cast away in rivers in Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Pennsylvania.
Lodging, meanwhile, varies from a cozy one-bedroom on Pennsylvania's Spruce Creek to the four-bedroom Elk River Lodge in Colorado with a hot tub and game room. Members, also can hone their casting in the HomeWaters University program, where guides teach both beginners and experts how to find fish during two days of immersion training. Not the most exciting summer plan, but those who embrace it are in good company: The trout don't like the Tilt-A-Whirl or late-night beachfront beer pong tournaments, either.
Johnny Depp's Yacht
Johnny Depp's not using his 156-foot yacht this summer, so why not take it out for a spin? The star of
21 Jump Street
Pirates of the Caribbean
series and just about every creepy children's movie that's been made in the last decade is renting his Mediterranean tub toy for $104,000 to $121,000 a week. For that six-figure fee, would-be Jack Sparrows can temporarily lay claim to an eight-person crew, a master suite and four bedrooms with room for 10 to 11 passengers, Depp's library, and deck and lounge areas decorated in a William Randolph Hearst-at-the-Moulin Rouge motif. Though Depp doesn't have a movie in theaters this summer, his boat's two kayaks, two windsurfers, wakeboards, water skis,
Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii should be enough to keep a well-heeled fan entertained for a while.
Hamburger or hot dog? Neither, please. Instead of grilling like it's an 8-year-old's birthday party, respect your guests by cooking food worthy of the flame it's set upon: pizza. The
Kalamazoo Grills Artisan Fire Pizza Oven
sits on any outdoor countertop, connects to any gas or propane line and heats your pie from 350 to 800 degrees -- making it just as appropriate for
-style charred crust to Chicago-style deep dish. The $6,495 asking price includes a stone-lined roof, a composite pizza stone and a badass open front with exposed flame. If you want to properly humiliate your weenie-roasting neighbors, however, spring for the $325 Pizza Master's Essentials Kit with silicone dough mat, non-stick rolling pin, pizza prep peel and stainless pizza wheel.
Of course, it's not hamburgers and hot dogs that are the problem with generic summer cookouts -- it's just uninspired, bland, bulk-packed varieties of each. A good griller will seek out the best ingredients and make sure his spatula never touches shrink wrap. A smart griller will get someone else to do it for her. Seattle-based
creates meaty mashups of beef, pork, juices and spices that it ships either in packs or as part of a monthly meat club.
This summer's offerings include the Splendid Stout (braised beef, microbrew Dick's Imperial Stout, mirepoix, caramelized onions and fresh herbs), the Me Gusta Carnitas (braised pork shoulder, cilantro, lime juice, onions and herbs), the Amazing Hot Wing (chicken, celery, hot wing sauce, Danish bleu cheese) and Sriracha Beef burgers (beef, ginger, shallots, garlic, basil, Sriracha sauce and lime juice). Six-burger packs start at $45, with 12-packs of sliders or sausages going for $48. If you don't want to risk running out or searching for a freeze-dried substitute, a $472 high-end monthly plan scores 12 burgers a month for six months.
They're not the most attractive sunglasses of the summer, but unlike Oakley Blades or the tinted Hubble Telescope lenses once sported by Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham,
shades provide something their wearers will want 10 summers from now. With a high-resolution camera, two gigabytes of built-in memory for five hours of video, external MicroSD memory slot, USB transfer cable, and QuickTime and RealPlayer compatibility, the $200 LOREXvue covers the photobugs who don't want sun in their eyes or sand in their smartphones. While perhaps a bit impractical for vacationers who spend their summer auditioning for a Corona commercial, those who spend the season on bikes, trails, rock faces or golf fairways now have a better way of putting their 300-yarder on YouTube or their over-the-handlebars face-plant on Facebook.
If not for the road rash, rabid "fans" clogging the route and the random drug testing, the Tour de France would be a lovely summer ride. Fortunately,
strips away the annoyances and replaces them with luxury hotels, lavish lunches and dinners, and lots of local vintages. The group's "Epic Tour: The Alps" and "Epic Tour: Pyrenees" let cycling enthusiasts ride the same punishing mountain stages and sprawling cityscapes as the professionals vying for the
, but provide them with more comfortable touring bikes (race bikes are available for masochists), cozy accommodations including nights at the Chalet Guytaune in Morzine and Grand Hotel Moderne in Lourdes and an up-close view of the race. Climbers can take on the six-day, five-night Alpine tour from July 10-15 for $4,295 (airfare not included in any tour), while those seeking Pyrenees climbs and the Champs-Elysees can jump on the seven-day, six-night July 20-26 tour for $4,995. DuVine also offers similar, simpler stateside tours of Cape Cod, California wine country and Utah's Bryce Canyon for $2,000 to $4,000 for velophiles and vinophiles who prefer the Tour de France on the Versus network.
In a country that considers globs of cookie dough a time-honored dessert staple, it's fairly difficult to shock the ice cream-consuming public. That's why it's a job best left to the French, who have never needed to do much to offend American sensibilities.
sees America's bacon ice cream and gummi worm toppings and raises it with his own offerings of foie gras and caviar blends. Faur asks nearly $15 for 750ml pints of "normal" flavors like chocolate, caramel and pistachio, and charges the same price for 333ml containers of savory varieties including ketchup, pesto, avocado and mustard. If you're looking for a way to get back at the neighbor who insisted you call French's mustard "Freedom sauce" at a cookout a few summers ago, just spoon some of Faur's olive oil or cayenne pepper ice cream into his dish. His mint-chip mind won't be able to process it.
For every American who sees summer fun as sand, sun and relaxation, there's another who spent the season blowing a stash of quarters on
Street Fighter II
or Skee-Ball. For the latter, who has watched the arcades of his or her youth deteriorate into dens of
Dance Dance Revolution
Deal or No Deal
ticket games and other amusements that require some degree of physical dexterity, the Nintendo Wii,
Xbox or Sony Playstation 3's online cloud of downloadable arcade classics just isn't going to cut it.
The gamer I'm talking about needs cabinets, real joystick controllers, 8-bit Pac-Man chomping noises and the occasional ash tray on a Budweiser Tapper machine. Fortunately, grown-up disposable income and the Glendale, Calif.-based
Vintage Arcade Superstore
can help. Prices range from a $395 cabinet version of
to a $5,275 side-by-side seat and steering wheel version of racing game
. Classics like
Ms. Pac Man
range from $995 to $1,500. Why not just buy these games on
, you ask? It's simple: When you're buying a 10- to 25-year-old machine, a 90-day warranty like that offered by the Vintage Arcade Superstore is as handy as an extra life.
True arcade die-hards and the barroom bear leagues they've spawned will attest, however, that the best home arcade buy is a Skee-Ball machine, with its elusive 100-point holes that have befuddled boardwalk bowlers for decades. But why settle for an antiquated machine or an iPhone app when the real thing is still being produced -- as it has been for more than 100 years -- by
Skee-Ball Amusement Games
in Chalfont, Pa.? An arcade-grade machine with a dollar-bill slot fetches $3,995, while a mechanized reproduction of the company's 1930 model with an oak exterior goes for $4,995.
-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston
Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.