Watauga Lake in North Tennessee sits along the Appalachian Mountains just minutes away from the Cherokee National Forest, offering visitors amazing mountain views, crisp, clean air, and convenient access to the water for water sports, swimming, canoeing, and fishing. Vacation rental options in the area include lakefront homes and rustic cabins in “New Butler,” a division of Butler, Tennessee that resides on the accessible side of Watauga Lake, as well as mountain cabins that overlook the lake and forest. If you’re heading to this peaceful paradise for your next holiday, this top 10 list of vacation rental locations around Watauga Lake helps you find the perfect accommodations.

1. Mallard Cove

Watauga Lake
Source: Flickr / Robert Karma

If you’re hoping to spend a fair amount of time on the water, consider a vacation rental near the Mallard Cove Marina in Butler. The marina offers a public boat launch ramp for easy access to the lake, as well as a snack bar that serves some of the tastiest hot dogs in the area right on the dock. Before you head out on your boating excursion, be sure to ask the friendly associates at the marina for a map of the lake to find the best fishing spots, and help you avoid areas of Watauga Lake that aren’t easily accessible.

2. Sugar Hollow

Watauga Cabins
Source: Flickr / LookoutBelle

Sugar Hollow is an off-water community that sits in the Appalachian Mountains and overlooks Watauga Lake. While vacation rentals in this area aren’t right on the water, the views alone make up for the few miles you’ll need to travel to swim or sail. If you feel like catching a few fish without heading down to the lake, take a walk over to the Sugar Hollow Pond and fish from the banks.

3. Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest, Turtletown Area
Source: Flickr / Natures Paparazzi

Choosing a vacation rental near the Cherokee National Forest gets you up close and personal with all things nature, from wildlife at every turn to scenic hiking trails through the back country, and everything in-between. Take the family on an outdoor camping trip and set up a tent at one of the forest’s 30 campsites, or hike the Bald River Trail and pause for some reflection at the waterfall.

4. Southern Shore

Southern Shore, Watauga Lake
Source: Flickr / Sean Blankenship

Vacation rentals around the southern shore of Watauga Lake offer convenient access to both Watauga Lake and the nearby Watauga Point Recreation Area, where you’ll find a boat launch, picnic areas, and a walking trail to the Cherokee National Forest. Spend the day on the water with the family jet skiing or tubing, or pack a delicious lunch and take advantage of the picnic areas and the grass along the shoreline.

5. Iron Mountain

Appalachian Trail - Iron Mountain Gap
Source: Flickr / DM

For gorgeous mountain views and convenient access to the world-famous Appalachian Trail, choose a vacation rental in the Iron Mountain community. Lodging in this area overlooks the small range of mountains in the Appalachians known as the Iron Mountains, and the Watauga River and Lake lie peacefully below. Take a hike along the Appalachian Trail, then stop by the Iron Mountain Inn at the foot of the trail for a bite to eat after your journey.

6. Lakeshore Marina

Lakeshore Marina
Source: Flickr / Jack Haskell

The Lakeshore Marina area is a perfect vacation rental spot for travelers who plan to do a lot of boating, and also want convenient access to dining and entertainment. Named the “Most Popular Marina on the Lake,” the Lakeshore Marina houses a resort with a restaurant open to the public, where you can dine and take in the views, or enjoy music in the lounge while mingling with fellow vacationers.

7. Mountain City

golf course
Source: Flickr / Jeremy Oakley

If you’re hoping to get in a few rounds of golf during your stay at Lake Watauga, consider a vacation rental in Mountain City. Located south of the lake, Mountain City lies in close proximity to the Red Tail Mountain Golf Club, where you can play 18 holes and enjoy a meal at the clubhouse. Mountain City is also just a short 10 minute drive from the Doe Mountain Recreation Area, where you’ll find over 8,000 acres of trails for back country four-wheeling.

8. Watauga River

Rafting down Watauga River
Source: Flickr / DM

If rafting or kayaking is on your vacation bucket list, securing a vacation rental near the Watauga River will put you right where the action is. Adventure Whitewater offers guided whitewater rafting tours for the whole family, where you’ll start out at the Wilbur Dam and travel six miles down the water on an adventure that’s sure to be remembered for years to come. If you prefer a slower trek down the river, rent some kayaks at the Lakeshore Marina and take your time enjoying the view.

9. Tilawa Marina

Fishing Boat at Sunrise
Source: Flickr / Bill Gracey

If you’re planning to take a few early morning fishing trips during your holiday, the Tilawa Marina area is a great vacation rental spot. The Tilawa Marina features camper sites, so you can be up and at ’em in time to catch local walleye and rainbow trout in Watauga Lake, and 48 boat slips make it easy to get out on the water.

10. Cove Ridge

Watauga Lake Rowing
Source: Flickr / Brent Moore

The Cove Ridge community is in close proximity to the Cove Ridge Marina in the “New Butler” area on the most easily accessible area of Watauga Lake, making this a great vacation rental location if you’re planning to spend a lot of time boating, fishing, swimming, or simply relaxing along the shore. Cove Ridge Marina is open year-round, and also houses a full-service bar and grill for convenient dining after a day on the lake.