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10 Reasons to Visit Lake Lure, North Carolina

10 reasons to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

I'm back! The last four days have been such a whirlwind of meeting new people, visiting new places, and taking more pictures of the gorgeous fall scenery than is probably normal. During my time there, I explored all about what to do in Lake Lure, North Carolina, with my toddler and dad, both of whom were equally amazed at the fact that we'd never visited here before.

(And for those of you who are wondering, "Where is Lake Lure?" it's about 40 minutes outside of Asheville, so add it to your list of things to do in the NC mountains!)

Here's why you should visit Lake Lure, North Carolina as soon as possible!

10) There's more nature-related stuff to do than you could cram into a vacation. 

You can take advantage of the hiking in North Carolina, wander by the lakes and rivers, climb hundreds of stairs at Chimney Rock State, pick your own apples at the local orchards, check out the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, or take a boat tour of Lake Lure.

If you want to know what to do in Lake Lure, North Carolina, the answer is simple: just about anything you want! Rutherford County is on the small side, but it packs in plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.

Pack your hiking boots, a hat, and your camera. Bonus: if you visit at the end of October or early November, the colors on the leaves are out of this world. 

10 Reasons to Visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

9) Your camera will never see the inside of your camera bag. 

Just see below. You'll understand what I mean.

10 reasons to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

8) Two words: no franchises. 

I was particularly impressed by this part of the Lake Lure community, and I cannot imagine how tempting it must be to let in hotel chains, national restaurants, and the like. But somehow this town has kept the focus on their residents, and only local businesses are given permits to open.

I love this decision because you have to meet locals since they are the ones making your food, running the attractions, selling your souvenirs, and booking your hotel rooms.

At the heart of the community is the Lake Lure Inn, which dates back to the 1920s (it was here that Dirty Dancing was partially filmed), and that's a fun place to stay if you're interested in adding a bit of film history to your Lake Lure vacation.

10 reasons to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
Geneva Riverside Inn with Chimney Rock Park in background
There are plenty of other accommodation options in the area from rustic Lake Lure cabin rentals in the mountains surrounding the lake, old school 1950s style roadside motels (like the Geneva Riverside, where we stayed), and plenty of vacation rentals right along the water's edge.

Check out even more Lake Lure hotels here.


7) It's family friendly. 

The majority of the places that we visited had something for my toddler to do: she played with a miniature tractor and car at Bennett's Auto Museum, waved to Grady the Groundhog at Chimney Rock State Park, and stacked blocks at the Bechtler Museum.

And don't even get me started on the glee that ensued at the Kid Senses Children's Museum in Rutherfordton.

10 reasons to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
At the kids' museum, Britton played until she was exhausted--but still didn't want to leave!
If you're visiting the area with your family (and you probably are since it's a major family vacation destination), rest easy knowing that there are things to do in Lake Lure for everyone.

6) There's a lot to see within a short distance. 

Despite criss-crossing all over Rutherford County, we never drove more than 30 minutes to any of our destinations. I definitely don't hate driving, but there's something about being able to pack more into your trip because there's so much close to you. 

5) There are a surprising number of shops and restaurants tucked away in the mountains of Rutherford County. 

When you think of a mountain vacation, shopping and dining usually aren't at the forefront of your mind. Usually when I think of "mountain food," I think of comfort cooking (like the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese of my childhood) or a meat-and-three (which is exactly what it sounds like: a restaurant where you get to choose a meat portion plus three sides for one set price).

Instead, I ate my way through Rutherford County, dining on everything from a hot sub at the Fountain at Smith's Drug in Forest City to a gargantuan eggplant parmesan at La Strada in Lake Lure to a Cuban sandwich at the Geneva Tiki Bar in Lake Lure. 

Bacon cheese fries are my absolute weakness! (From Gregory's Original in Rutherfordton)

4) Main Street, U.S.A. is here. 

I love when I find a place that has an actual downtown with businesses and shops and restaurants within an easily walkable distance. Places like Rutherfordton, Chimney Rock Village, and Forest City all have adorable, movie-worthy downtown areas. 

10 reasons to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
Chimney Rock Village

3) The past is alive and well. 

Most people only know about Lake Lure and the surrounding area for two things: the mountains and the tie to Dirty Dancing (the movie was partially filmed at the Lake Lure Inn and surrounding area).

Even today, almost thirty years after the movie came out, there's a thriving annual festival in honor of the movie, an entire corner of the welcome center is devoted to movie fun facts, and people flock to stay at the Lake Lure Inn so they, too, can practice their famous dance lifts a la Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

People love Dirty Dancing, and the locals love that visitors love it. Most of the locals who lived there in the late '80s know something about the filming of the movie and are happy to share their stories.

2) But the area isn't afraid to embrace change. 

One of the themes of my trip was to find out about the new Lake Lure (hence my #thenewlakelure hashtag on my Facebook and Twitter posts over the last few days).

So many people that I spoke with were proud of the area's efforts at revitalization and growth, which include the addition of a new hiking trail, a two-year-old (and award-winning!) whisky distillery, and new ownership of the Chimney Rock State Park. 

10 reasons to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
Buffalo Creek Trail in Lake Lure

1) You won't meet a stranger. 

One of Rutherford County's official hashtags is #smalltownfriendly, which sounds like it could be a marketing gimmick, but it isn't.

No matter where my dad and I went, people greeted us with a smile and a wave and a "What brings you to this part of the country?" They were happy to answer all of my questions (and I have a lot) and always sent us off with a "I hope to see you again soon."

Friendliness is a dying art--but not in Rutherford County.


Start planning your Rutherford County vacation with the friendly people at the Rutherford County Tourism Bureau!


I hope that wets your whistle (SUCH a weird expression!) to visit Lake Lure, North Carolina!

I've got lots more to share, so check back next week for the story of my harrowing hike (where we thought we were lost), a walk through of our home-away-from-home digs, and how scuba diving and whisky are related (and what in the world that has to do with western North Carolina!).

Where's your favorite place to vacation? What do you love about it?

10 Reasons to Visit Lake Lure, North Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

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