North Carolina is a favorite destination for East Coast families looking to get away without the hassle of traveling. The state’s beaches extensively line the coast, and are offer the classic beach house rental experience. However, North Carolina boasts another option: abundance of natural beauty for those who would prefer a destination closer to nature and breath-taking mountain views. The lakes on this list are ideal for swimming and water activities, and each destinations with unique charms of their own, just waiting to be explored!

The Best Lakes For Swimming in North Carolina

1. Lake Santeetlah

Lake Santeetlah is remarkable for its quiet beauty. This large and peaceful lake will attract swimmers and kayakers with its extensive 76-mile shoreline and is mostly surrounded by nationally protected forest to enjoy as you take it all in, or let it all go. Local camping is another way to truly take advantage of this freshwater paradise.

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2. Lake Lure

If you’d like to get out of the water now and then for dry land activities, Lake Lure is the destination for you. It offers 1,000 acres that are navigable by some of the best trails around. The rewarding view from Chimney Rock may be the only thing as exctiting as the zip lines and river tubing. Known as the location where Dirty Dancing was filmed, this spot truly offers entertainment for the whole family.

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3. Lake Norman

For those who didn’t think Lake Santeetlah was quite large enough, look no further. Lake Norman’s 520-mile shoreline will make sure you don’t have to see the same view twice. The major draws of this spot are the numerous watersports and high-thrill boating available, as well as the relaxing fishing and hiking trails just a short distance away. Lake Norman is the place to be if you want the option to leave the outdoors behind at night and cozy up in a hotel, or socialize in the thriving nightlife scene.

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4. Lake James

The centerpiece of Lake James State Park, this freshwater destination is an ideal location for nature immersion. It is located in western North Carolina, and offers top-notch camping and hiking. The swimming beach here is great for families, and facilities are available to make the camping experience as comfortable as possible. You don’t want to miss a classic sunset nestled in these mountains!

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5. Fontana Lake

The best features of Lake Fontana are all-natural. With still waters for swimmers and paddle boarders and creeks and rivers for thrill-seekers. Small coves provide personal encounters with wildlife, and the Panther Creek swimming hole cannot be missed. The surrounding parks are mostly owned by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, which protect the original beauty of the shoreline.

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6. Lake Glenville

This lake is so dependable that many of its visitors return annually. It’s known for its crystal-clear, glass-like surface and great swimming. Lake Glenville is the highest-elevated lake east of the Mississippi River and therefore has a pleasant temperature year-round. For those who are looking for a year-round getaway, Lake Glenville offers scenery beautiful even in the winter.

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7. Lake Nantahala

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains lies this destination best known for its white water attractions. However, there is plenty more to do once you head up the mountain past the Nantahala Gorge. There you will find a high-elevation clear lake ready to accommodate your water activity needs. Get as far away as possible from city life in the welcoming and rustic Nantahala community.

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This article was written by Noelle LaDue.