When it’s time to escape the worries of your daily life, the Great Smoky Mountains in northwestern North Carolina might be calling your name. Lake Junaluska is in the center of the action with tons of water sports and activities all year long. In the surrounding area, you’ll find mountain towns and ski resorts where you can explore nature and recharge your batteries. Vacation rentals in the area include lakeside cabins and mountain homes along with the occasional condo close to the ski slopes. To get started on your search for the perfect Lake Junaluska vacation rental, check out our top Lake Junaluska locations.

1. Lake Junaluska

To reach Lake Junaluska, drive along Highway 19 through the mountains and into the valley. Here you can spend your days boating, kayaking, canoeing, swimming and fishing. Choose a vacation rental with an attached dock to enjoy your morning coffee as you watch the sun is rising. Then find freshwater swimming at the Lake Junaluska Aquatic Center or end the day with a round of mini golf.

2. Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley takes your family into the mountains for an array of outdoor pursuits. In the winter months, this small town becomes a haven for skiers visiting the Cataloochee Ski Area a few minutes away. The ski area offers equipment rental, lessons and trails to suit almost every skill level in your family. In the summer take the kids to Ghost Town Village, a Wild West-themed amusement park, for the rides and stay to watch the gunslinger battle.

3. Bryson City

Travel west to the mountain community of Bryson City, where your family will find friendly locals and plenty of space to explore. Spend your day hiking, biking, and fishing in the area. Hop in the car and drive down to the Nantahala River for a whitewater rafting experience, or visit the Deep Creek Tube Center to take a gentler ride down a slower part of the river.

4. Canton

Canton offers your family plenty of opportunities for fun. You can rent bikes and ride around town or wander through the shops in the downtown area looking for a souvenir of your trip. On a hot day, your kids will love spending the afternoon at the pool in Canton Recreational Park. For something a little educational, take a tour of the Old Pressley Sapphire Mine.

5. Clyde

Slow down and enjoy spending time with your family with a vacation rental along with a secluded back road in Clyde. Here, you and your family can enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing in the winter months. Check out that famous Carolina BBQ at Fat Buddies Ribs and Barbecue, which is known for its pork sandwich and scrumptious ribs.

6. Qualla

Step outside onto the deck of your mountain vacation rental in the small town of Qualla to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the peace and quiet. Nestled near the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Qualla attracts a lot of nature lovers. Here you can enjoy days hiking the various trails in the national park or schedule a horseback ride through the park.

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7. Whittier

En route to your Whittier mountain retreat, take in the breathtaking scenery as you drive along Highway 19. For a truly unique experience, book tickets on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to take a trip through more remote parts of the mountains. The kids will love spending a day at Santa’s Land Fun Park & Zoo with its assortments of rides, animals and Christmas-themed shows. You can even get a head start on your holiday shopping.

8. Waynesville

Waynesville sits close enough to Maggie Valley that you can use it as your home base in the winter to hit the ski slopes while avoiding the crowds in the evenings. You can learn more about the history of motorcycles at the Wheels Through Time Transportation Museum, and look on in awe at the museum’s collection of 300 rare hogs.

9. Cherokee

Enjoy a vacation rental on an Indian Reservation when you pick the town of Cherokee. One of the most popular hiking paths in town will take you and your family past Mingo Falls, or load the kids in the car for a day of scenic photo ops along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the evening, take the adults to one of the local casinos, and try your luck at the slot machines, roulette table, or a few hands of black jack.

10. Balsam

Relax and refresh with a trip to the charming mountain town of Balsam. Select a cabin tucked away in the woods, and enjoy days filled with hiking, biking, fishing and reconnecting with your family. For a special occasion take the family for a deluxe meal and stunning views at Balsam Mountain Inn Dining Room.

11. Morning Star

If you’re looking for an isolated spot for your family trip this year, consider the mountain town of Morning Star. For a day’s outing, hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Keep an eye out for mile marker 230.1 to spend some time stretching your legs on the Little Glade Millpons loop. It loops around a lake and extends less than a mile.

12. Fines Creek

Unwind alone in the wilderness with a vacation rental in Fines Creek. Okay, you won’t be completely alone, but it might feel that way. Pass the days hiking, cross-country skiing, and fishing in Fines Creek. Bring your bikes from home, and ride around some of the back roads. On rainy days, take the kids to the Fines Creek Library for a day of reading.

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