Lake Lure, North Carolina gained fame as one of the spots where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. You’ll see why Hollywood was lured to film here when you consider all the area has to offer. From panoramic views atop Chimney Rock to cruising the lake on a pontoon boat, there’s plenty to keep you and your family busy. At the end of your vacation to this alluring spot, you’ll be saying, “I had the time of my life!”
Lake Lure. Its name should be your first clue that this lake will be a charmer with its lure of majestic mountains, cool waters, and fresh air. Many visitors are captivated by the water sports available. Picture it: pontoon boat sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, or fishing with lures. This picturesque lake was the setting for the iconic movie, “Dirty Dancing.” But there’s so much more than dancing here!
You’ll find all the elements: water, earth, air, and fire.
Lake or beach? Good news: You don’t have to choose! Play at Lake Lure’s beachfront, featuring a waterslide and water park, or rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard. Open Memorial Day-Labor Day. (Adults $ 8, seniors $ 7, $ 6 for children ages 4-12, and kids under 4 free)
Set sail on a pontoon boat for the best vantage point of Lake Lure’s scenic mountain landscape. Washburn Marina has both rentals and guided tours. Some of my favorite childhood memories happened at Lake Lure, from jumping off the dock into the crisp water, to cruising the lake on a festive pontoon boat.
Dirty Dancing fans can see some of the local spots where the movie was filmed during a Dirty Dancing boat tour. Firefly Cove is now dubbed “Dirty Dancing Cove” as it is the spot where the lake lift was filmed. (Interesting tidbit: when the movie was filmed in fall of 1986, the actors had to take frequent breaks because the water was so cold, and the grass and leaves had to be painted green.)
Better yet, plan to visit August 19-20 to enjoy the annual two-day Dirty Dancing festival. Friday begins with dance lessons at the Lake Lure Gazebo, followed by a free screening of the movie lakeside at Morse Park Meadows. The Saturday program features live music, open dance floor, shag dance competition, watermelon carrying races, arts & crafts vendors, food vendors, beer & wine garden, and lake lift competition- where else, but IN the lake!
Chimney Rock State Park is the place to go for hiking, stunning views, and an appreciation for the flora and fauna.
For families with small children, the Great Woodland Adventure features 12 animal-themed Discovery Stations.
The most popular trail is the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, a moderate hike that culminates with a stunning 404-foot waterfall.
For the adventurous, climb the Outcroppings Trail to the top of Chimney Rock, the landmark that’s 535 million years old! Keep in mind: the elevator to Chimney Rock has been closed until further notice, so if you are going to make it to the top, you have to be able to climb the 499 steps up the Outcroppings Trail. The reward: amazing 75-mile panoramic views. Believe me, it’s worth every step!
We had a French exchange student staying with us, and we made the trek to Chimney Rock to show off the area. Let me tell you, it is a phenomenal place to behold, and all of us called it one of the highlights of her visit.
Rates: $13 for adults; $6 for youth ages 5-15; free for kids 4 and under. Hikers-keep those boots laced and head to nearby DuPont State Park for more trails and waterfalls.
Once you’ve made it back down to terra firma, meander around Chimney Rock Village. You’ll love the variety of restaurants and shopping, including satisfying your caffeine craving at Coffee on the Rocks. Or sample The Old Rock Café for sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and salads. The village shops offer leather goods, moccasins, souvenirs, local jams, and homemade fudge. Plus you can find entertaining activities like gem mining and miniature golf.
Fibber MaGee’s 18 holes of miniature golf overlooking the Rocky Broad River is hole-in-one fun! Adults and kids 10 and up: $ 7; $6 for kids under 10. The prospects are great you’ll find a gem while you experience Chimney Rock Gemstone Mine. You’ll purchase a bucket down at the flume and mine away. A gem find is guaranteed! Kids’ buckets are $9; regular buckets are $16 and a family bucket is $30.
Canopy Ridge Farm is a 120 acre zipline park where you can zipline through Hickory Nut Gorge. Try ZipZilla, the 1,000-feet zip that’s guaranteed to offer high speeds and an adrenaline rush. Tours typically last 1 ½ hours and will delight adventure-seekers of all ages. You will be blown away-literally! Pricing: $60 for adults, $ 50 for children 12 and under, and $ 40 for children under 50 pounds.
Ride like the wind at Cedar Creek Stables, which offers a variety of horseback trail rides (ages 6 and up) and guided pony rides. Spanning 350 acres, this Includes a dip in the creek. My teenage equestrian votes for the Overlook Trail two-hour ride. Prices range from $10 to $68.
I’m partial to the Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant for sentimental reasons: my grandmother and great-aunt loved to dine there with us. Your extended family will love the tradition, too. Cozy up by the Inn’s inviting fireplace either before or after your dinner. Or better yet, spend the night at Esmeralda Inn so you can take a dip in the Jacuzzi for stargazing. Be sure to request a S’mores Survival Kit from the front desk for memory-making fun at the outdoor fireplace. Roaring fireplace, a canopy of stars, and s’mores? Yes, please! It’s heavenly. Rates start at $139/night.
Other delightful lodging options in the area include renting a rustic cabin (many feature their own firepit). Or choose to be right on the water’s edge with waterfront rooms at the Lodge on Lake Lure. Rates start at $ 180/night.
With offerings spanning all the elements (water, earth, air, and fire), Lake Lure will cast a spell on you that is sure to lure you back. View the Visitor’s Guide online at the Rutherford County Tourism Bureau. Or if you care to road trip outside the area, check out these tips for Family Friendly Road Trips in NC.