Located along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Claytor Lake and the surrounding area offer an opportunity for your family to take a slow-paced step back from your busy schedule. Outdoor activities abound at Virginia State Park, where you can reconnect with nature and bond with your family. Spend the day on the beach, and then head back to your Claytor Lake vacation rental to enjoy a stunning sunset over the mountains. Claytor Lake is close to the parkway, making it easy to travel to nearby towns. If you’re planning your vacation itinerary, consider adding these 12 things to do in Claytor Lake to your list.

1. Take a Tour Around the Lake

Step aboard the “Funtoon” boat at Clayton Lake Water Sports, and let the captain give you a guided tour of the lake. The boat seats up to 12 people, and if you schedule an evening tour, you can enjoy a captain’s dinner on the boat with your family. The evening tour lasts about an hour and is the perfect way to learn all about the lake’s history while enjoying stunning views of the area.

2. Rent a Watercraft

Experienced boaters can rent their own pontoons at Lake Claytor Water Sports. For a little more excitement, rent a speedy motor boat. If you want to enjoy a leisurely tour around the lake, rent a pedal boat that seats two adults and two children. The peddling can get strenuous, so make sure you’re up for the task. You can rent most of these boats by the hour, and weekly rates are available as well.

3. Spend an Afternoon Birdwatching

Grab your binoculars, and head to Claytor Lake State Park to spend the day birdwatching with your family. The .66-mile TRACK trail offers excellent views of a variety of species. Rare finds in the area include woodpeckers and cuckoos, and lucky birdwatchers might even spot a bald eagle or two.

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4. Cast a Line or Two

Take your boat out, or simply head for the dock to enjoy some early morning fishing on Claytor Lake. Alongside stunning vistas, the lake features some of the best angling in the area. The 21-mile-long lake is filled with largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, along with other sport fish. Catch your fill of walleye, crappie, and catfish, and grill up a seafood feast at your Claytor Lake vacation rental.

5. Take a Hike

Lace up your walking shoes, and head to one of the many trails that lace the Claytor Lake State Park area. Explore a variety of wildlife native to the area, including white tail deer, and head down to the Howe House visitor’s center to learn more about the region. If you’re hiking with the little ones, choose Poplar Leaf or Shady Ridge, which are under a mile in length and suitable for beginner and advanced hikers.

6. Set Sail

Take the helm and set your tack for a trip around Lake Claytor with your family. Kids enjoy learning the basics of this earliest form of boating, and adults enjoy relaxing and taking in the mesmerizing views. A marina right on the lake offers easy renting and returns, or you can use the public dock if you brought your own boat from home.

7. Hit the Beach

The beach at Claytor Lake is a welcome option for families with young children. Designated swim areas and an on-duty lifeguard help keep water activities safe for little ones, and a concession stand and gift shop offer snacks, inner tubes, and other fun toys for play. Spread out your blanket, and build a sandcastle before wading into the refreshing water.

8. Try Water Skiing

Strap on some water skis, and take to the water behind a speedy motor boat. Adults and older kids can head off on a roaring adventure across the wide expanse. If your little ones want a piece of the action, hook up a tube or banana float to your watercraft, and take them for a spin around the lake. Rent your water skiing equipment from Clayton Lakes Water Sports. Life vests are provided with rentals at no additional cost.

9. Rent Bikes

Bike rentals are available at Claytor Lakes Water Sports, so grab one for each member of your family, and spend an entire day exploring the local paths and trails. Hook up a pull-behind trailer for the smallest in your group, or rent a Trail-a-Bike that hooks up to your own so your little ones can pedal too. Included helmets and water bottles keep everyone safe and hydrated, and adult bikes come with locks, so you can hop off your bike and explore the trees and wildlife.

10. Meander Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

A location off the Blue Ridge Parkway makes it easy to take a day trip from your Claytor Lake vacation rental, and the parkway’s 469-mile length spans across incredible views. The two-lane winding blacktop lets you take your time to truly appreciate the beauty of the Appalachian countryside and its rich and storied culture. Stop with the kids at visitors centers along the way to learn more about the history of this amazing area.

11. Explore Nearby New River Trail State Park

Families with older kids can take on the trails at New River Trail State Park, which borders the New River for 39 miles. Cross the Hiwassee bridge, stopping to take pictures, and enjoy the gentle inclines as you hike along. The area offers horseback riding for adventurous groups of all skill sets, or you can rent a kayak or canoe to get a view of the area from the water.

12. Feed the Animals in Fort Chiswell

Animals are always a hit with youngsters, and Fort Chiswell Animal Park, located southwest of Claytor Lake along the Parkway, offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with camels, zebra, and even buffalo. Board the animal-patterned buses, and head off on an unforgettable trip with your family. Don’t forget your camera because the animals are curious and often poke their heads in the windows.

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