Escape your everyday life for a while with a stay at Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama, which has 500 miles of shoreline for you to discover. Choose a Lewis Smith Lake vacation rental on the water for direct water access, going out in a boat, and swimming with the family. You can also opt for a place within the Bankhead National Forest that gives you an up-close look at nature. Here are some of the top locations to consider when planning your stay.

1. Houston

Located between two branches of the Lewis Smith Lake, the small community of Houston lies within the Bankhead National Forest. Opt for a vacation rental that lies within the trees for close access to both nature and hiking, or choose a place on the lake for quick access to the water. Stop in town for a quick meal at Chef Troy’s Talk of the Town.

2. Arley

Arley lies partly within the Bankhead National Forest around the central lake area, conveniently located for some hiking at Brushy Creek Pointe or some food in the downtown area at Arley Coffee Shop and La Plaza Bonita Mexican. Opt for a place on one of the lake’s inlets, perfect for out-of-the-way boating and an oasis for family water activities from swimming to paddle-boarding.

3. Lakeshore Drive

Lakeshore Drive runs along the Battle Branch river and Lewis Smith Lake and abuts the Bankhead National Forest, putting you at the perfect intersection of water and land, rural beauty and big-city panache. Opt for a vacation rental on the water with a place to moor your boat or choose a secluded spot inland and dock your vessel at the Duncan Bridge Marina.

4. Bremen

Bremen lies along the southeast bank of the lake. This rural community boasts all the basics necessary to the perfect getaway such as a barbecue place, multiple eateries and a marina. Rent a couple of kayaks and explore a multitude of the lake’s coves, inlets, and islands with the kids.

5. Jasper

The northwest hump of the lake hugs suburbs of Jasper, the rural area of a much bigger town to the south that opens onto farmland, wooded areas and lakefront properties. Boat across the lake to the national forest for some hiking or take a scenic drive along the winding forest roads for a little family time.

6. Crane Hil

Nestled between the top of the central and east branches of the lake, Crane Hill enjoy a scenic position. Opt for a rental house in town and drive a few minutes in either direction to reach the lake, or choose a lakeside house, and spend your time swimming and boating with the kids. The space between the houses allows you plenty of solitude for real family time.

7. Curry

If you want a busier location with some town life and eateries, Curry offers both inland houses and lakeside rentals. The multitude of streams and rivers gives your family plenty of places to explore. Relax in the sun or launch a boat while the kids splash in the shallows at the lake public access parks.

8. Ardell

Ardell is the ultimate water vacationers paradise with its snug location between two branches of Lewis Smith Lake. Liberally dotted with ponds and rivers, you don’t have to find a lakeside rental to have water access, although there are plenty of the former. Alternate boating and swimming with leisurely drives through rural Ardell.

9. Dodge City

At the northeastern most tip of the lake lies Dodge City, somewhat bigger than its sister towns. When renting here, you can have some of the conveniences of a bigger community such as a grocery store to stock your refrigerator or a few eateries for an easy meal.

10. Double Springs

Double Springs abuts the northwestern most point of the lake. Like Houston, it lies within the Bankhead National Forest, which means that you can walk out of your front door and go hiking through the woods or view wildlife with the kids. Explore the quail habitat with the little ones, a great educational experience, or hunt feral swine with your outdoorsy teenagers.