Originally created to help generate electricity and control downward water flow, beautiful Smith Mountain Lake has become a destination for relaxation and rest. The lake is in the Blue Ridge Mountains in rural southwestern Virginia, making it the perfect place to unwind in a quiet and tranquil atmosphere. The area is home to many shops, restaurants, and bars, giving you plenty of places to go when you’re away from the water. Many people visit Smith Mountain Lake in the warm summer months, but there are exciting outdoor activities year-round. Let’s explore some of these Smith Mountain Lake family activities so your family trip is unforgettable. Choose from one of these beautiful Smith Mountain Lake vacation rentals to be your home away from home during your trip.
1. Try Wakeboarding
Smith Mountain Lake has a growing reputation as a hot spot for wakeboarding, and you can take the kids to watch professionals and serious amateurs. Once the kids are ready to hit the water, you can easily find reputable board shops that offer equipment rentals and lessons from highly trained professionals.
2. Learn How to Fish from a Professional
Sitting around for hours at the lake with nothing biting at your bait isn’t too fun for the young ones. Luckily, Smith Mountain Lake has many talented instructors who will gladly spend a day with you, sharing the tricks of the trade. And even if you catch nothing, you’re rewarded with a big treat at the end of the day that’s sure to have your kids grinning from ear to ear.
3. Fly Over the Lake
Located at a small airport near Virginia 626 in Bedford County, SML Aviation lets you fly over the lake in a cozy two- or four-seat Cessna aircraft. Enjoy a short forty minute flight, and try to keep your jaw off the ground while viewing the eye-catching twists, creeks, and coves. Show your little ones an exceptional view of the lake that most others don’t see, and bring your smartphone or camera with you to capture memories.
4. Bridgewater Plaza
Bridgewater Plaza is the heart of Smith Mountain Lake, located at at Hales Ford Bridge on Virginia 122. Get some ice cream, then head to the arcade for some more fun. Get some popcorn for the kids, and after they’re full, they can feed the leftovers to the large carp that gather by the docks next to Bridgewater Marina. Stick to feeding the fish and avoid feeding the waterfowl, as it’s illegal.
5. Hit the Water Yourself
Take control of your vacation by renting a boat or personal watercraft from the various businesses at Bridgewater Plaza. You don’t need a permit to rent a boat. However, you’re required to review a detailed boating safety checklist and take it with you on the water. Make your little one feel on top of the world by having your kid sit on your lap and hold the boat steering wheel with you.
6. Putt-Putt Golf
Kids love miniature golf, and there are multiple places to play at Smith Mountain Lake. Harbortown Mini-Golf at Bridgewater Plaza is probably the most popular place, and there are many other activities to do and places to visit after playing. Westlake Safari Miniature Golf off Virginia 616 and Hot Shots Family Fun Center off Virginia 122 are two other places where the family can enjoy mini golf.
7. Tell Ghost Stories and Eat S’mores
Many vacation rental properties allow you to have a small bonfire near the dock. If you’re allowed to do so, start a small fire and gather the whole family together. Tell your scariest ghost stories and get full eating delicious s’mores. After a long night of fun, the smell of graham crackers, chocolate, or marshmallows is sure to bring back heartfelt memories.
8. Learn About Electricity and the History of the Dam
Teach your kids useful knowledge while making the day exciting and fun. Head to the Visitor’s Center at The Smith Mountain Lake Dam where you’ll learn fun facts about electricity. Discover how the fish manage to make it through the dam and find out how important the dam is to the area.
9. Cruise the Lake in Style
Located at 3619 Airport Road in Moneta, Virginia Dare Cruises and Marina provides Wildlife Wednesday cruises, offered on the first Wednesday of each month from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. There are many other specialty cruises available, so you should check to see what’s on the schedule for your vacation.
10. Smith Mountain Lake Community Park
Positioned on the Franklin County side of Smith Mountain Lake, Smith Mountain Lake Community Park is fun for people of all ages. Visit the beach and let your kids build sand castles and splash around in the water, while you work on your tan. For a more secluded setting, grab a vacation rental house, so you have fewer people around you by the beach.