Located on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake, less than an hour from Roanoke, Virginia’s Penhook is the perfect place for a peaceful getaway. Here, you can unplug completely at a waterfront property, or stay active with boating, fishing, and outdoor activities. The town and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain communities are filled with fun activities, whether you’re visiting with your significant other or taking a trip with the whole family. These popular attractions are situated an easy drive from many vacation rentals in Penhook, so you can stay close to all the action.
1. Explore Smith Mountain Lake
One of the most-visited attractions near Penhook is Smith Mountain Lake. Explore this massive reservoir with a Jet Ski rental from Smith Mountain Boat Rentals. These small vehicles are a great way to navigate the lake’s many hidden coves and inlets; when you’re ready for adventure, crank up the speed to skip across the waves. Choose from one-seater or two-seater models to suit your group.
2. Go Fishing
Pack your rods and reels and head to Smith Mountain Lake for a day of fishing. Known among local anglers as an excellent spot for bass fishing, the lake offers great casting year-round. For the best chance at catching a largemouth bass, fish upstream of the Hales Ford Bridge. If you’re looking for smallmouth bass, head to the many coves at the lower end of the lake. During the busy summer months, head out early in the morning. During the cooler fall and winter months, lower boat traffic levels allow great fishing any time of day. The easiest way to find the best fishing spots is aboard a boat; Parkway Marina offers a variety of comfortable pontoons.
3. Pick Blueberries at Misty Meadows Farm
If you’re visiting Penhook during the warmer months, head to Misty Meadows Farm to pick blueberries. The farm uses a self-picking system, so you can enjoy a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine. With two acres of land, there’s plenty of space for kids to play while you pick fruit. Blueberry season usually runs from the end of May through July; be sure to bring sunscreen and water during the height of summer.
4. Hike Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Give your legs a workout on the many hiking trails at Smith Mountain Lake Park. If you’re looking for a challenge, try the 3.1-mile Striper Cove Trail; for an easy family hike, walk by the water on the short Lakeview Trail. All of the park’s trails are also open to cyclists, so bring your bikes along for an off-road adventure. The visitor’s center in the park also rents bikes, though supplies are limited.
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5. Take a Virginia Dare Sightseeing Cruise
Get an insider’s perspective on the Penhook region with a Virginia Dare sightseeing cruise. As you sail around Smith Mountain lake aboard a one-of-a-kind paddle-wheel boat, the experienced captains share stories about the region’s history and culture. Cruise past several islands, try to spot an underwater bridge, and keep an eye out for a historic carousel on the shoreline. The company also offers a variety of specialty trips, including a pirate cruise and a wildlife lunch cruise.
6. Play a Round of Golf
Play 18 holes with a view of the lake at Mariners Landing Golf and Country Club. This championship course, which was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr., features a variety of tee box sets to suit players of all levels. If you need to work on your game, book a lesson in the pro shop; the club’s golf pros offer instruction for both kids and adults.
7. Try a Paddle Sport
Bring your canoe, or rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board from Parkway Marina for a week of exploring. The shallow waters near the shoreline and the lake’s many protected inlets create the perfect paddling environment. If you’re not staying in a vacation rental by the water, launch at Penhook Boat Ramp #9, which is located just east of the Arrowhead neighborhood.
8. Visit the Booker T. Washington National Monument
Learn about Virginia’s rich history at the Booker T. Washington National Monument. Situated on the site of Washington’s birthplace, the monument features a fascinating audio-visual program that traces his path from his time as a slave to one of the most influential political figures of his time. The best way to see the park is on a free ranger-led tour; call in advance to make a reservation. The monument also hosts a variety of living history celebrations, including the fall Harvest Time Event, where historical reenactors demonstrate what life was like during Washington’s childhood.
9. Tour a Winery
Experience Virginia’s exciting wine culture with a tour of the Tomahawk Mill Vineyard and Winery. See the grapevines up close, learn how wine is made, and enjoy a tasting session with locally-produced drinks. The vineyard also hosts a variety of fun community events throughout the year, including the family-friendly Summer Festival in July and the Haunted Grist Mill near Halloween.
10. Learn to Wakeboard
Try your hand at wakeboarding at the Black Water Junction cable park. On the beginner run, a cable system tows you through an obstacle-free course that’s great for flat-water tricks. If you’re an experienced rider, try out the drops and obstacles on the exciting intermediate/advanced run. The park also offers lessons and gear rental.
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