Smith Mountain Lake Travel Guide: Insider Tips and Must-See Attractions

Are you looking for the right vacation spot where fun and relaxation come together? Ever wish there was a place where you could sail through clear waters, hike through lush forests, and sip wine at cute local wineries all in the same day? Here you are at Smith Mountain Lake, which is known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Beautiful Smith Mountain Lake, also known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” is one of the best places to visit in southwestern Virginia. The Roanoke River was dammed to make this huge man-made lake, which covers more than 20,600 acres and has 500 miles of beautiful shores. Anyone of any age can enjoy Smith Mountain Lake’s many activities and draws, whether they love being outside, water sports, or just need a quiet place to relax. This detailed guide goes into great detail about the many things you can do at this popular spot.

A Haven for Water Sports and Recreation

Boating and Sailing

One of the most popular things to do at Smith Mountain Lake is boating. Along the shore, there are many marinas that give out boats, have docks, and offer sailing charters. There’s something for every boating fan, whether they like a slow pontoon trip or the thrill of a speedboat. If you like to sail, the lake’s steady breezes and large water area make for an exciting experience.


A lot of different kinds of fish draw anglers to Smith Mountain Lake. People love the largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, and the highly sought-after striped bass that live in this lake. There are a lot of fishing tournaments that bring people from all over the area. Whether you’ve fished before or this is your first time, the large number of fish and beautiful scenery will make your trip worthwhile.

Water Sports

There are many exciting water sports at Smith Mountain Lake, such as jet skiing, snowboarding, and water skiing. A number of companies in the area rent out equipment and offer lessons to people who are new to these fun activities. Paddleboarding and kayaking are also popular, offering a more serene way to explore the lake’s nooks and crannies.

Outdoor Adventures Beyond the Water

Hiking and Biking Trails

There are many hiking and biking paths in the area that are good for people of all skill levels. There are more than 13 miles of trails in Smith Mountain Lake State Park. The trails go through dense woods and have stunning views of the lake. There are easy, family-friendly walks in the park as well as more difficult trails for experienced hikers and bikers.

Camping and Picnicking

You can also camp and have a picnic at Smith Mountain Lake State Park, which has great services for both. There are both tent and RV sites in the park’s campgrounds, which are well-equipped with things like showers and electricity hookups. There are many picnic places where day visitors can relax and enjoy a meal while being close to nature.


Around Smith Mountain Lake, there are a number of great golf grounds for people who like to play. Links like the Westlake Golf and Country Club and the Mariners Landing Golf and Country Club offer difficult games with beautiful views of the lake. Anyone who plays golf should go to these courses because they are the right mix of fun and relaxation.

Exploring the Local Culture and Attractions

Local Wineries and Breweries

A lot of wineries and breweries give tours and tastings in the area around Smith Mountain Lake. People who want to try local wines and beers often go to the Peaks of Otter Winery and the Chaos Mountain Brewing. These businesses offer a calm setting to unwind and enjoy the local tastes.

Historical Sites and Museums

The historical places and museums close to Smith Mountain Lake are great for people who are interested in history. The nearby Booker T. Washington National Monument is a fascinating look into the life of the famous author and professor who was African American. The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford is another important historical place that honors the brave soldiers who fought in the D-Day invasion during World War II.

Shopping and Dining

There are many places to shop and eat in the Smith Mountain Lake area. There’s something for everyone, from cute shops and secondhand stores to fancy restaurants and cozy cafés. Local art fairs and markets are also great places to buy unique handmade items and food grown in the area.

Family-Friendly Activities

Children’s Play Areas

Smith Mountain Lake State Park and other nearby recreation areas have play places just for kids, so there are lots of fun things for them to do. Swings, slides, and other playground gear can be found in these places.

Family Boat Tours

A lot of companies offer boat tours that are great for families and let you see a lot of the lake. Kids can have fun and learn at the same time on these tours, which often include interesting talks about the lake’s past and wildlife.

Educational Programs and Nature Centers

Nature centers near Smith Mountain Lake have hands-on displays and teaching programs that teach people about the plants and animals that live in the area. A lot of the time, these centers have workshops and outdoor walks with guides that are great for families.

Romantic Getaways

Couples’ Resorts and Spas

There are numerous resorts and spas in Smith Mountain Lake that are designed with couples in mind. These places include opulent lodging, spa services, and romantic packages that include dinner in private and sunset cruises.

Sunset Cruises

An iconic romantic pastime is a sunset boat on Smith Mountain Lake. Many companies provide romantic evening cruises where couples may take in the breathtaking sunset over the sea, frequently paired with supper and live music.

Romantic Dining Options

There are several of restaurants along lakes that make for an ideal romantic evening. These restaurants are perfect for couples who want to have a memorable supper together because of their exquisite food, cozy settings, and breathtaking views.

Wildlife and Nature Watching

Bird Watching

The diverse habitats around Smith Mountain Lake attract a wide variety of bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers. Common sightings include bald eagles, ospreys, and various waterfowl. Local guides and tours are available for those looking to enhance their bird-watching experience.

Wildlife Viewing Spots

Visitors can see a variety of species, such as foxes, raccoons, and deer, in addition to birds. Nature lovers will love visiting the state park and its surrounding areas, where regular sightings of wildlife are common.

Nature Photography

Smith Mountain Lake’s breathtaking scenery offers countless chances for wildlife photography. Photographers of all skill levels will find much to capture, from close-ups of wildlife and vegetation to sunrise and sunset images across the lake.

Waterfront Dining and Entertainment

Lakeside Restaurants

One of the best parts of going to Smith Mountain Lake is dining by the water. There are many lakefront eateries that provide anything from light meal to fine dining, and many of them have outside seating with breathtaking views of the lake.

Evening Entertainment and Live Music

There’s a lively nightlife scene in the area thanks to the several establishments that host live music and entertainment throughout the nights. There is something for everyone, from rock performances at bigger venues to jazz bands playing in little taverns.

Floating Restaurants

Try one of the floating restaurants on Smith Mountain Lake for a distinctive dining experience. These restaurants offer a unique experience of dining while floating on the sea because they are located on boats or floating platforms.

Health and Wellness Retreats

Yoga and Meditation Classes

Yoga and meditation sessions are offered by a number of wellness centers near Smith Mountain Lake; these sessions are frequently held outside to enjoy the stunning natural surroundings. These courses are ideal for visitors who want to unwind and revitalize themselves while there.

Spa Treatments

Numerous services are offered by nearby spas, such as body wraps, facials, and massages. These services are intended to assist guests in relaxing and indulging in a little pampering while they are visiting.

Wellness Workshops

Numerous wellness seminars and retreats take place near the lake all year long. These conferences address subjects including holistic health practices, stress reduction, and nutrition.

Adventure Activities

Zip Lining and Aerial Parks

Aerial parks and zip lining in the vicinity of Smith Mountain Lake provide thrilling, sky-high experiences for thrill-seekers. These parks provide courses that range in difficulty, so both novices and seasoned thrill-seekers can enjoy them.

Rock Climbing

There are plenty of options for rock climbing in the vicinity of Smith Mountain Lake. For climbers of every skill level, local outfitters offer equipment rentals and guided climbing outings, guaranteeing a fun and safe experience.

Off-Roading and ATV Trails

Smith Mountain Lake’s rough topography is ideal for off-roading and ATV excursions. ATV rentals and guided tours are provided by a number of local enterprises, enabling guests to explore the backcountry routes.

Art and Culture

Local Art Galleries

Around Smith Mountain Lake, there is a thriving arts scene for those who enjoy the arts. The paintings, sculptures, and ceramic creations of regional artists are on display at a number of galleries. These galleries frequently hold events and exhibitions that offer a glimpse into the local art scene.

Performing Arts and Theater

There are several different performing arts facilities in the Smith Mountain Lake area, such as concert halls and theaters. Plays, musicals, and concerts showcasing regional and national talent are available to the public.

Craft Workshops

A number of nearby studios provide craft workshops for individuals who like practical experiences. These classes encompass a variety of crafts, such as jewelry making, woodworking, painting, and pottery.

Kids Camps and Summer Programs

Adventure Camps

Kids can participate in outdoor activities including swimming, canoeing, and hiking at summer adventure camps near Smith Mountain Lake. Children may explore the area’s natural beauty in a playful and instructive way with these camps.

Educational Workshops

Numerous groups near the lake provide kid-friendly educational workshops covering subjects including history, ecology, and wildlife. These programs are made to be entertaining as well as educational, so young guests may learn while having fun.

Sports Clinics

Sports clinics and camps are offered for young athletes that participate in fishing, golfing, and water sports. These clinics offer professional coaching and a fun and engaging approach for kids to develop their talents.

Boating Safety and Guidelines

Safety Tips

At Smith Mountain Lake, boater safety is of utmost importance. It is recommended that guests abide by all boating safety regulations, such as donning life jackets, knowing the area navigation laws, and keeping an eye on the weather.

Regulations and Permits

Before getting out on the water, boaters should familiarize themselves with local laws and secure any required licenses. Local marinas and visitor centers have information on fishing permits, boating licenses, and other regulations.

Boat Maintenance Services

A number of marinas around the lake provide maintenance and repair services for people who are bringing their own boats. Boating should be safe and fun, and these facilities can help with everything from routine maintenance to emergency repairs.

Local Transportation and Accessibility

Car Rentals and Shuttles

Smith Mountain Lake is easily navigable because to the availability of shuttle services and vehicle rentals. Numerous cars are available for rent from local companies, and shuttle services can carry passengers to and from adjacent airports and tourist destinations.

Accessibility for Disabled Visitors

Smith Mountain Lake is dedicated to providing accessibility for every guest. In order to ensure that everyone can enjoy the area’s attractions, a number of local establishments, such as parks, marinas, and restaurants, offer accommodations for tourists with disabilities.

Public Transport Options

Although there aren’t many alternatives for public transportation in rural areas, tourists can still get around with the aid of local taxis and ride-sharing programs. It is advised to make travel plans in advance, particularly during the busiest travel seasons.

Photography Hotspots

Best Spots for Sunrise and Sunset

The breathtaking sunrises and sunsets at Smith Mountain Lake are well known. The state park, numerous picturesque viewpoints, and the lake’s numerous docks and piers are some of the greatest places to catch these moments.

Scenic Overlooks

The lake is surrounded by a number of picturesque overlooks that offer amazing vistas ideal for photography. These locations are perfect for taking expansive pictures of the lake and the mountains in the area.

Iconic Landmarks

Along with its natural beauty, the area surrounding Smith Mountain Lake is home to a number of famous landmarks that make for interesting photos. These consist of interesting geological formations, historical sites, and quaint regional architecture.

Seasonal Activities

Spring Bloom Walks

The landscape surrounding Smith Mountain Lake comes alive with blossoming trees and flowers in the spring. For those who want to take in the vivid springtime colors, there are self-guided excursions and guided bloom walks.

Summer Water Activities

The best time to enjoy Smith Mountain Lake’s water sports is in the summer. Visitors can engage in swimming, snorkeling, and other water sports in addition to boating and fishing.

Fall Foliage Tours

Autumn brings with it a breathtaking display of changing leaves in the area. With plenty of picturesque roads accessible, organized tours and self-directed drives are popular ways to take in the changing hues.

Winter Sports and Activities

At Smith Mountain Lake, the winter months are calmer, but there are still lots of things to do. Popular winter activities include ice fishing, winter hiking, and curling up by a fireplace in a chalet near the lake.

Pet-Friendly Options

Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Pets are welcome at a variety of Smith Mountain Lake lodging options, including hotels, campgrounds, and cabins & cottages. These choices guarantee that guests can travel with their animal companions.

Pet-Friendly Parks and Trails

Pets are welcome at many of the parks and trails surrounding the lake, making it simple for guests to enjoy outdoor activities with their dogs. Make sure you abide by local laws when it comes to disposing of pet waste and wearing leashes.

Services for Pets

Pet-related services provided by nearby companies include boarding, grooming, and pet sitting. By guaranteeing that their animals are well-cared for while they are visiting, these services give pet owners piece of mind.

Day Trips and Excursions

Nearby Attractions

There are lots of interesting things to see in the vicinity of Smith Mountain Lake that are perfect for day outings. Popular nearby destinations include the Blue Ridge Parkway, the town of Roanoke, and the Peaks of Otter.

Guided Tours

Numerous companies provide guided tours that cover the lake and its surroundings for individuals who want to explore the area. These trips frequently include visits to noteworthy locations, historical insights, and local lore.

Itineraries for Day Trips

Making the most of a day trip can be facilitated by carefully thought out plans. A variety of outdoor activities, cultural events, and food alternatives catered to different interests may be included in suggested itineraries.

Environmental Conservation Efforts

Local Conservation Projects

There are various conservation initiatives at Smith Mountain Lake with the goal of protecting the surrounding ecosystem. In order to help local conservation, visitors can learn about these initiatives and even take part in volunteer activities.

Volunteer Opportunities

One excellent option to give back when visiting Smith Mountain Lake is by volunteering. Opportunities to assist with trail maintenance, animal monitoring, and lake clean-ups are provided by a number of groups.

Eco-Friendly Practices

Many local businesses and attractions are committed to eco-friendly practices. Visitors are encouraged to support these efforts by following guidelines for reducing waste, recycling, and respecting wildlife and natural habitats.

Plan Your Visit to Smith Mountain Lake


Visitors can choose from a variety of lodging options, including luxurious lakeside resorts, cozy bed and breakfasts, and family-friendly vacation rentals. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun-filled family vacation, there’s an accommodation to suit your needs.

Travel Tips

When visiting Smith Mountain Lake, it’s important to keep a few travel tips in mind. The peak tourist season runs from late spring to early fall, so booking accommodations and activities in advance is recommended. Also, be sure to pack appropriately for the season and planned activities, and always check local weather conditions before heading out on the lake.

Smith Mountain Lake offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, recreational activities, and cultural experiences, making it an ideal destination for tourists seeking adventure, relaxation, and everything in between. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Smith Mountain Lake promises to deliver unforgettable memories.


Smith Mountain Lake, also known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” is a man-made lake in southwestern Virginia. Covering over 20,600 acres and offering 500 miles of beautiful shores, it offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. Water sports include boating, fishing, jet skiing, snowboarding, water skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking, biking, camping, and golfing. The lake also features local wineries and breweries, offering tours and tastings for visitors to enjoy. The lake’s serene surroundings and diverse wildlife make it an ideal vacation spot.

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