Only an hour from Asheville, a haven awaits that is so beautiful and notable that Hollywood directors have singled it out for films – Lake Lure, NC. When you come looking for a Lake Lure visitors guide, you’ll find that there’s a lot to recommend a trip here: from the beautiful manmade lake that gives the area its name to the notable hiking and delicious dining in town and in nearby Chimney Rock.
Whether you simply want to relax in the mountains, spend time out on the water, or be hiking in nature, your options are strong here, and every morning starts with a beautiful view in almost any direction!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: Guide to Lake Lure & Chimney Rock
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Lake Lure Attractions
As with many small towns in the mountains, much of the draw of this place is natural beauty. However, you don’t have to be all about the outdoors to enjoy scenic views or spend an afternoon on the beach. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how full your vacation days are with things to do in Lake Lure, NC, and the nearby foothills.
1. Chimney Rock State Park
It’s hard to think of Lake Lure without thinking of the iconic Chimney Rock Mountain. The surrounding state park allows for views of Devil’s Head balancing rock, a huge waterfall known as Hickory Nut Falls, and a 315-foot-high granite column known as Chimney Rock, and you can get to the top of it via elevator.
There’s a cave on-site and many different well-marked hiking trails. There are shops inside the park and easy parking, making it a great choice for stopping and enjoying nature on the beautiful days during your trip.
Location: 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock
2. Lake Lure Beach
While it’s not as big as an ocean-facing beach, you’d be surprised just how beach-y a vacation you can have right in the middle of the North Carolina mountains. With 100 yards of clean beach that has direct lake swimming access, you’ll be able to put up your umbrella and spread out your beach towel.
There’s a covered picnic shelter, individual picnic tables, and plenty of vehicle parking. Some of the highlights for children are the major waterslides and water games available in the nearby water park, making it more than just lake swimming for the young folks in your group. It’s an easy walk to some local dining options, so you’ll be able to get something to eat after your big day of fun in the sun.
Location: 2724 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure
3. Canopy Ridge Farm
If you imagine a farm as a quiet patch of wheat or corn growing, you’ve thought wrong when it comes to Canopy Ridge Farm: this idyllic scene is actually home to an Outdoor Adventure Park!
Perfect for your young Lake Lure visitors as well as anyone young at heart, the options include a zipline tour through the Blue Ridge Foothills, showing you various parts of the local landscape by hiking between incredible ziplines that will send you soaring over the treetops.
You can also tour around in a UTV, seeing the forest floor in a sturdy but open vehicle that lets you get up close and personal with nature. The views are unforgettable, and the fun you’ll have getting some medium-sized (and maybe big!) thrills will bond your group with memories.
Location: 7115 US-64, Lake Lure
4. Lake Lure Adventure Company
Lake Lure Adventure Company helps people as young as 5 years old and all the way through adulthood to find and enjoy all that water sports have to offer. You can rent your own pontoon boat and swim, fish, and explore that way. You can also work with a trained staff member on an all-inclusive trip to learn water skiing, tubing and kneeboarding, wakeboarding, or wakesurfing.
There are kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to rent, giving you yet another way to explore the lake – they specifically arrange to deliver these rentals by the day to lakefront homes on Lake Lure! Finally, if you aren’t an experienced fisher, or just don’t know Lake Lure’s intricacies yet, you can have a guided fishing trip for four hours with an experienced guide.
With so many options, you’ll be sure to be able to learn and get some thrills as you play and have a great time at Lake Lure.
Location: 470 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure
Lake Lure Activities and Events
While Lake Lure is at its heart a small town, you’ll find that there are big crowds at some of the bigger festivals in town, offering guests who visit at the right time a variety of things to do around Lake Lure. If you prefer to visit when the town is hopping, aim for one of the following times when out-of-town guests swell the ranks of the town.
5. Lake Lure Music Festival in June
Each June, a night of bluegrass music brings wonderful acts to the Lake Lure Pavilion at Rumbling Bald. Whether you opt for the Premium Meet and Greet tickets that allow you to meet members of the band backstage or bring your blanket and lawn chair to spread out and enjoy the view, you’ll get some of the loveliest early summer views of the lake and a feeling of togetherness that cannot be beat.
There are food and beverage vendors both before and during the concert, and the whole event benefits a local school, keeping the funds local and helping the community. If you’re in town during that time of year anyway, you’ll benefit from jumping right into this fun Lake Lure event and feeling the spirit of community in the music.
6. Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival in May and October
One of the most anticipated events every year, the Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festivals offer an incredible combination: supporting many local artists and craftspersons in one place, making for great one-stop gift and home shopping, while also benefiting Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach, a food pantry and support service for those who are experiencing need in the area.
In addition to pottery, jewelry, leather, and glass, there are artisans who work in metal, photography, and paint. You’ll find that the options are endless for a good time, and during the busiest parts of the festival, there are often live musicians, really making it so much more than a shopping experience.
Save up your pocket money and shop for the people you love at the Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festivals, conveniently held both in the spring in May and in the fall during October, when the beautiful leaves are changing in the Western NC mountains!
7. National Trails Day at Chimney Rock State Park
2023 is the North Carolina Year of the Trail, a yearlong celebration of all things hiking and backpacking in the beautiful natural lands around our state. If you want to get the celebratory spirit going, visit Chimney Rock State Park on National Trails Day for guided hikes that show off the best that Chimney Rock has to offer, as well as a ranger talk about the 10 essential things you need for hiking and backpacking.
Even if you miss the one-day event, one of the big appeals of this area is the incredible natural beauty of the Lake Lure and Chimney Rock areas, with many marked trails both near the lake and in and around Chimney Rock State Park. A great resource tends to be whoever you’re staying with while you’re in the area: many people who run rentals will have trail maps you can borrow while you’re visiting.
8. Lake Lure Dance Festival
Lake Lure, NC, has the claim to fame that some scenes from Dirty Dancing were filmed right there at the lake. Camp Chimney Rock, in particular, was featured as part of the film, and over the years, a dancing festival was held in Lake Lure in honor of the film.
The festival has offered music, dancing, and even a competition for who can do the best “lake lift,” mimicking the iconic scene with Swayze and Grey. Dance contests and lessons brought people together and meant everyone got to leave learning something new.
After discontinuing the themed festival, the organizers have realized that a unique community loves dancing at the Lake, so they are reinventing a festival going forward that will focus on all different kinds of dancing – keep an eye out for details as they emerge!
Lake Lure Restaurants and Bars
For a relatively small town, Lake Lure and Chimney Rock each offer some wonderful scratch-made cooking and beautiful views. While there are many tasty meals to be had in town proper, it’s worth making a special effort to eat at a lakefront restaurant at least once – something about such a spectacular view just makes dinner and drinks just taste better. No Lake Lure visitors guide would be complete without at least a few places to sit for a bit and enjoy a tasty meal.
9. La Strada at Lake Lure
One of the popular spots to enjoy Italian food with spectacular lake views is La Strada at Lake Lure. It consistently gets top billing because of excellent service, a beautiful building, and being so conveniently located right next to the beach and public dock.
Their crowd-pleasing Italian menu features rich and delicious favorites, from calamari and fried shrimp on the appetizer menu to a delicious pistachio-encrusted rainbow trout or baby back rib sandwich on the main menu.
Try one of their flavorful desserts, like the brown sugar and cinnamon cheesecake ice cream pie, or stop in for the affordably priced lunch specials when you’re spending the day on the lake. With great options for big groups if you need a place to gather, you can make this the spot for a big family celebration dinner.
Location: 2693 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure
10. The Highlands Kitchen and Bar
When visiting Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, you’re likely to hear a recommendation for The Highlands Kitchen and Bar. Their spot is a go-to for special occasions, given that everything on the menu tends to get rave reviews and the views are such a spectacular feast for the senses that just the experience of being there makes a memory.
They offer both dinner and weekend brunch and have a separate vegan/vegetarian menu that helps visitors who have dietary restrictions find exactly what will make their meal special. Their menu leans toward seafood but is generally full of New American flavors and creative plating.
You’ll find combinations like the rose and honey salad, with goat cheese and candied walnuts along with the vinaigrette that gives the dish its name. From a lobster roll to a filet mignon, a rack of lamb to a citrus-flavored halibut, you’ll find special-occasion dishes that are sure to have your entire group raving and coming back for more.
End the evening on a sweet note with Chef John’s key lime pie, perfect for feeling like you’re fully ready for vacation.
Location: 454 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure
11. Chimney Rock Brewing
Chimney Rock is a beautiful natural area near Lake Lure, and when you’re done hiking, exploring, or swimming, you’ll often be in the mood for something foamy and flavorful. Head for Chimney Rock Brewing to sample the local beer options and experience a community space that is popular with residents and visitors alike.
For those who are just looking for something light and refreshing, the Broad River Blonde Ale will bring flavor to the party without overpowering the simple refreshment of a beer – it’s the definition of easy drinking. For fans of the hoppier side of things, the Eagle Rock Pale Ale and Worlds Edge American IPA will bring the flavorful bitterness that you expect from highly hopped beers.
The Kilt Warmer is a Scottish 60 Shipping Spiced Ale, a malty and dark beer for those who are looking for something to feel spicy and comforting, and the Mountain Pride OB offers an Original Style English Ale that will make you think of a British pub while you stay in the beautiful mountains of Western NC.
Location: 461 Main Street, Chimney Rock.
12. LakeHouse Restaurant
The LakeHouse Restaurant is always a bustling option, with special Wednesday seafood days and monthly wine tastings, in addition to regular dining experiences. The building holds casual dining indoors with beautiful lake views, and the downstairs features a sports bar and a patio seating area outside, perfect for enjoying the beautiful and temperate Lake Lure weather.
The events and catering team can make a menu that is very fun and fancy, with on-site hosting options for up to 80 seated event guests, but with a day-to-day atmosphere that is more relaxed and focuses on enjoying fresh, delicious food.
Enjoy a Summer Thyme Tini made with vodka, lemonade, strawberries, and thyme or one of the many other signature cocktails, then sample some smoked salmon dip or chicken wings as your group gathers. A salmon BLT or one of their many signature burgers will whet many appetites, and the steak menu will offer multiple options for excellent cuts of beef. Know that you’ll find some of the most flavorful steaks and seafood here when you’re in town!
Location: 1020 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure
13. Old Rock Cafe
If you’re spending the day at Chimney Rock, one of the old standbys that you’re likely to spot is Old Rock Cafe. This humble but flavor-filled stop has been turning out big, simple flavors since 1999, earning them a spot on Zagat’s “Must-Try Burgers Across the Country” list, and they make their fries fresh and cut them from potatoes on-site.
They celebrate their “delightfully dated” decor and have even structured their menu to have some good options for “on-the-go” lunches for hikers who are headed out into the great outdoors. Sample a flavorful local beer on the patio, and the kids’ menu is full of friendly favorites served with apple slices, chips, or french fries.
In addition to the popular burgers, you’ll find popular sandwiches like a BLT, a cheesesteak, and the Old Rock Club. Their signature dessert is the Apple Brown Betty, a flavorful apple sweetened with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. That’ll set you up nicely after a big morning of hiking!
Location: 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock
Lake Lure Shopping
Maybe you started your vacation to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure with a shopping list, a need to get a new look for an upcoming event, or the desire to find a gift for someone important to you. The unique variety of shops in the area will satisfy every craving – from fashion to souvenirs to antiques and art. While this isn’t an exhaustive guide to Lake Lure shops, here are just a few to get you started.
14. The Hickory Nut Antiques
Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are both quite small towns and right between them you’ll find The Hickory Nut. While it is an antiques store, you’ll find more than you bargained for, from plants and yard decorations to country home decorations. There are even Native American artifacts, crafts, and quilts for sale.
It’s a little walk back in history as you find a variety of excellent antique options, and because the owner likes to keep her eyes open for the next great find, you’ll want to stop back in to peruse every time you come back to the Lake Lure area. Another fun fact: at least at one point, the owner sold farm-fresh eggs right from her own chickens! This is true small-town charm.
Location: 215 Main Street, Chimney Rock.
15. Doug Bowman Galleries
While there are a variety of art galleries in both Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, and all are worth a visit, I thought you might benefit the most from seeing the fine art created for Doug Bowman Galleries, a selection of copper lamps and shades that are truly unique.
Some of the lamps feature cross-sections of trees, and the designed copper of the lampshades becomes brilliantly beautiful when the light turns on. Smaller designs are available as nightlights, with whimsical designs like bats, owls, and bears. Handcrafted and beautifully designed, you’ll find options for any style of room at Doug Bowman Galleries.
Location: 188 Main Street, Chimney Rock
16. April’s Boutique
While small-town charm may feel far from 5th Avenue, you can still step out in style when you visit local clothing shops like April’s Boutique. You’ll find beautiful clothing, stylish accessories, and a wide variety of looks – there are more one-of-a-kind picks than you’d find in most places.
Whether you end up finding the perfect romper, a novelty top, or a cute decorative purse, you’re sure to shop and enjoy the new looks that are sourced frequently to keep the shopping experience up-to-date and fun.
Location: 371 Main Street, Chimney Rock
17. Cliff Dwellers Gift Shop
When you’ve explored all that Chimney Rock State Park has to offer, it is well worth taking a moment to relish the views and shop a bit at Cliff Dwellers Gift Shop, located inside Chimney Rock State Park.
It’s next to the Tunnel entrance at the top parking lot, and you’ll find an equal mixture of Chimney Rock-specific items and local artisanal items from vendors like Crucible Glassworks, Sabbath-Day Woods, Black Mountain Studio, and Rose Hollow Connections cutting boards. If you journey even higher up, you’ll find the Sky Lounge Gift Shop and Deli, with a selection of similar gift items as well as a snacks and beverages station, perfect for getting fueled up for the rest of your time at the park.
Location: 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock
We hope you enjoy your trip to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock! What are your favorite things to do in Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, NC? Let us know in the comments.
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