3 Lake Trips Worth the Short Trek This Summer

No shady beaches here. Lap up the lake life this summer via these spots that stay keepin’ it reel.


If your vibe is more lake hair don’t care then beach bae, shave a half-hour off your Wrightsville trek in favor of a short 90-minute roll north for a waterful life via 20,000 aqua acres straddling the NC/Virginia border. Lapping up 350+ miles of shoreline, the manmade lake promises boundless ops for the brood, the bros, the besties or the boos—from watersports, boating and fishing to camping and swimming. OK, Mother Nature—we see you flexing. Yeah, buoy!

Rent your adventure: If you ain’t got no boat but you’ve got the “Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets,” you can still go decks, docks and flip-flops with Lake Gaston Jet Ski, Powersports & Marine. Hungry fisherman? After you catch fish, not feelings, dock, dine and drink at The Pointe at Lake Gaston for casual waterfront lake life vibes with live jams and “flip-flop elegance,” or head to WatersView Restaurant for, well, water views and fab fare. Thirsty for more? Wine down with a tasting excursion at Rosemont Vineyards & Winery, or “take a dive” with a nightcap at Shady Shack Bar and Grill. 


It’s always better to wake at the lake. For NC #LakeLife at its finest via 520+ miles of shoreline—aka NC’s largest man-made lake—happiness comes in waves just outside Charlotte, from watersports gone wild to galleries, restos and surrounding shops (oh, sale yes!). Livin’ la Vida Lake Life, indeed.

Rent your adventure: Feeling knotty? Grab a dose of vitamin D on the water playground via Get My Boat, set sail with Lake Norman Sailing Charters (Ay, ay, captain!), or drop a line and Fish On! Waterlogged? Take a break from nature’s poolside and take a hike at Lake Norman State Park. Hungry sailor? Dock, dine and drink on the deck at Hello, Sailor—having sailed on the pages of Bon Appetit and GQ—or nab sunset views and lakefront bites at North Harbor Club. Thirsty for more? Aquaholics unite! Stock your boat at Carbonation Craft Beer and Wine Shop or scoop the world’s No. 1 ice cream (you heard it here first) at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream.


Answering Biggie’s age-old Q “Where’s the (Lake) Party At?” is this “Jewel of South Carolina” just west of Columbia. Known for its 1.6-mile dam (the largest earthen dam in the world at build)—and a damn fine time—the ~50K-acred lower piedmont reservoir with some 620 miles of shoreline nee late 1920s has produced both hydroelectric power and plenty of electric memories. Ayeee, I dip, you dip, we dip. 

Rent your adventure: Life’s better on a boat with friends in tow. Escape the shore life and get shipfaced with Fifty-Fifty Water Sports boat and Jet-Ski rentals. Fuel the fun: Throw in an anchor at the Lighthouse Marina and dock it at Rusty Anchor and Catfish Johnny’s—where you can take your order to float or hang on the deck for live entertainment. Or lean into lowcountry life at Liberty on the Lake to lap up fab views (pro tip: Book a table in time for the sunset), lively atmosphere and fresh seafood fare. You’ll be hooked, like for reels. Thirsty for more? Go wild offshore at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden—voted by myriad media as a top 10 animal house—er, attraction. 

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.