There is nothing more enjoyable than to stretch out on the dock with a good book, and then dive into the clear, warm water for a refreshing swim. The lake is one of the cleanest in the East Coast, and as you swim or relax, you are looking across to undeveloped wilderness.
Fishing opportunities at Smith Mountain Lake are unbelievable. Witcher Creek is where the stripers spawn every spring. The lake is regularly stocked with game fish, and contains striped bass, large and small mouth bass, muskies, northern pike, and an assortment of small game fish. Fishing guides are available to introduce you to the lake, including: Captain Bert's Fishin' Charters 540-721-5788, Mike's Striper Guide Service 540-980-7527, Rockfish Adventures 866-943-1125, Captain Travis 540-836-0145.
There may be no better lake in the Mid-Atlantic region for boating. The 20,000 acres of Smith Mountain Lake and its 40-mile length make it a perfect place for water skiing, speed boating, canoeing, kayaking or sailing. Power boats and waverunners can be rented at several locations on the lake, including: Bridgewater Plaza Marina (Boats can also be picked up at the State Park - 540-721-1639), Parrot Cove (800-488-4516) (Parrot Cove also rents Kayaks), Parkway Marina (540-297-4412) (formerly knows as Saunders Marina), Mitchell's Point Marina (540-297-7174) or Virgil Naff Sea Doo (waverunners only - 434-528-0462).
There are several public boat launches and most private marinas will allow you to launch for a fee.
Very young children enjoy going to the sandy beach at Smith Mountain Lake State Park and the Smith Mountain Community Park. The parks imported tons of white sand to create lovely beaches and protected swimming area that is also monitored by life guards. Be sure and bring sun screen and an umbrella to protect you from the sun. There is also a well equipped playground adjacent to the beach.
Older children enjoy "Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn" experiences along the shoreline. Catching bait fish with a bare number 16 hook provides endless entertainment, as does catching craw dads, and fighting imaginary dragons! A boat trip to one of the islands is always a treat. After everyone has had a chance to explore every corner of one of these tiny islands, build a campfire and roast hot dogs on a stick followed by s'mores. There are campfire rings on most of the islands, as well as ample fallen wood. Just bring newspaper, matches and a pocket knife (to whittle your own hot dog and marshmallow stick) and have your own "Huck Finn" adventure!
Nearby and along the shore of Smith Mountain Lake there are lots of interesting places to visit and things to do. You can hike along the shore at the State Park as well as the shore of the Community Park, take a cruise on the lake, tour the Visitor Center at Smith Mountain Dam, see a movie at a drive-in or indoor theater, or enjoy browsing through the many art galleries and shops in the area. The lake area is also well known for the golf courses here, as well as the hunting opportunities.
The 37-acre park opened in June 2007. It is a family oriented facility providing swimming, fishing and family recreation.
The park is open year-round (dawn - dusk) and offers a partly-covered handicap accessible fishing pier with seating, picnic shelters with grill, playground area, restrooms, hiking, jogging, a 2-mile trail system, and seasonal sand beach/swimming area with lifeguards on duty. The park encompasses a wooded peninsula that stretches out into Smith Mountain Lake. The trail leading out to the park passes through dense conifers to a mix of pines and deciduous woodland. The area hosts many of the resident birds found in the woods of the western Piedmont while providing an attractive site to look for migrant songbirds. The area’s almost 360-degree vista of open water on Smith Mountain Lake is ideal for searching for waterfowl. Common loons, horned grebes and numerous waterfowl can be found in the surrounding inlets as well as ring-billed gulls, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons and an occasional tern or other vagrant. The lakeshore should also be carefully searched for several species of damselflies and potentially half-a-dozen or more dragonfly species.
If you aren’t able to get out on the water on your own, a sightseeing tour on the Virginia Dare is a great option. It’s located close to the State Park on the north side of the lake.
The Visitor’s Center at Smith Mountain is open to the public with a view overlooking the dam. Exhibits tell the history of the dam and how power is generated at the unique two-lake complex. Adults and children of all ages are fascinated by how energy is stored in Smith Mountain Lake, and its’ important role in the national power grid.
Smith Mountain Lake is full of islands that are ideal for camping and picnicking. One of our favorite activities is to build a campfire on one of the many inlets along Smith Mountain and cook hot dogs and marshmallows for lunch. Swimming in these pristine, mountain inlets is also a memorable experience. Golf
There are several golf courses, both public and private, in the vicinity of Smith Mountain Lake. Courses open to the public include Mariner's Landing Mariner's Landing on the north side of the lake and Westlake Golf & Country Club located on near the Westlake shopping center.
Hunters are as fortunate as fishermen when it comes to selecting a successful place to pursue their sport. There are over 5,000 acres of land that have been made available by the Appalachian Power Company for hunting. Population game includes deer, turkey, quail, rabbit, and squirrel. For more information, contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
As you drive around the lake you will see many wonderful shops and galleries, but be sure to stop at Bridgewater Plaza. If there is a “downtown” on the lake, this is it. The children will enjoy feeding the monstrous carp, the various arcades, miniature golf and an ice cream! For more ideas on things to do at the lake, drop into the Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Center.
Virginia history and scenic wonders beyond the lake can be found within an hour of Smith Mountain Lake. These are great places to visit as you drive to or from the lake, and are worth a special outing if you are staying at the lake for more than a few days.
On Palm Sunday, 1865, Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia signaled the end of the Civil War. See the parlor of the Mclean house, where the surrender was signed, and the site where Lee’s army lay down their arms. ~1 hour from Smith Mountain Lake.
A short distance from Appomattox Court House is the recent opened Museum of the Confederacy. The museum interweaves stories of the Confederate government, the military, civilians and enslaved & free African Americans. There is also a focus on the "Appomattox Moment" where two legendary armies met for the last time. Gen. Robert E. Lee's coat and sword are featured items on display. ~1 hour from Smith Mountain Lake.
Explore the birthplace of Booker T. Washington, the author and orator who became the most influential African American of his era. The National Monument features a visitor center and trails through the plantation and farm. ~ A few minutes from the Westlake area. Homestead Creamery
Remember when milk came in glass bottles and cream floated to the top of the bottle? Remember when ice cream was made out of cream and didn’t include ingredients you can’t pronounce? Do you remember what it tasted like?? Relive the taste of real dairy products at the Homestead Creamery . Their sales center is just beyond the Booker T. Washington National Monument and not far from Westlake Center. Their products can also be found at the Kroger in Westlake, as well as select stores throughout Virginia. ~Less than 10 minutes from Westlake.
Jefferson built Poplar Forest as a retreat from his busy life at Monticello in Charlottesville. In the last decade or so it has been under restoration and is a great example of Jefferson’s mature interest in architecture. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Jefferson and to observe research and restoration in process. ~North side of Smith Mountain Lake.
The 2 hour hike to the top of Sharp Top Mountain at the Peaks of Otter takes you to cooler air and offers 360 degree views up the spine of the Blue Ridge, across the Roanoke Valley and across to Smith Mountain Lake. It is our favorite hike in Virginia! There are also easier hikes to waterfalls and across to an 18th century farm, as well as another long hike to the Flat Top, the "other" peak of the Peaks of Otter. You may also enjoy driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway that goes through the Peaks. We enjoy stopping for a beer and a meal at Liberty Station in Bedford, as a reward for healthy exercise. Less than an hour from Smith Mountain Lake.