Family Travel: Lake Lure and Chimney Rock
Remember the dancing romance of Baby and Johnny? Then you'll feel right at home in Lake Lure, the setting of the iconic "Dirty Dancing." Though many of the film's landmarks are gone, the beauty of this area still shines. Most likely your children won't remember the 1987 film, but they will love a trip to this charming lake community for the outdoor activities, mountain views and small-town family fun.
The lake, approximately 720 acres with more than 20 miles of shoreline, is one of the prettiest in the Carolinas. Enjoy Beach and Water Works Park, a must-do for the kids, for at least a half day. Our family loved the soaking game, right inside the admission gate, where giant slingshots housed in little huts, are loaded with water balloons and launched at the opposing team for loads of laughter and wet fun. The admission desk sells balloons for filling and provides buckets for hauling your balloons.
When the water war is over, jump into the spray park where kids splash and play for hours, then catch a thrill on nearby waterslides, which offers a side-by-slide race into a lake water plunge with lifeguards supervising safety. As the kids play, parents relax on the sandy beach, taking in the beauty of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
If your family loves boating, pontoons rentals and lunch boat tours are available within walking distance, at the nearby Marina.
Lake Lure offers several lodging options, but at the recommendation of a friend, we sought out Evening Shade River Lodge & Cabins in nearby Chimney Rock. This casual country motel sits on the river's edge with evening campfires, fishing off rocks and a view of the Hickory Nut Gorge waterfall in the distance. Across the river is an RV park and campsite, but that didn't bother our son, who found more friends to play with as a result of families camping nearby. Strong early morning coffee and no frills accommodations worked well for our family, as we spent most days outside enjoying nature.
Chimey Rock State Park, 1,000 acres of woodlands and hiking trails, is a highlight of the area. Bring comfortable hiking shoes and water bottles for the one-hour hike to Hickory Nut Falls, the second tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. With careful supervision, older kids can climb down on the rocks and stand underneath the frigid waters of the falls for a photo opp. If you're adventurous, then continue up to the top of Chimney Rock, ascending the staggering amount of stairs to reach the pinnacle for a spectacular view of Lake Lure below. The 26-story elevator is scheduled to reopen mid-June with the renovated Sky Lounge Gift Shop and Deli. On our visit, ascent on foot was the only option, making the view that much more rewarding.
Back in town stroll through the main street shops, grab an ice cream and head down the river walk. You'll most likely run into people you know. Lake Lure and Chimney Rock are only two hours from Charlotte, an easy family getaway, and a welcome retreat.
Beach and Water Works Park
2930 Memorial Hwy., Lake Lure
$6-$8, free under age 4
Chimney Rock State Park
431 Main St., Chimney Rock
$7-$15, free under age 6
Evening Shade River Lodge & Cabins
745 Main St., Chimney Rock