Sunday, May 03, 2009

What To Do at Smith Mountain Lake

Looking for fun things to do on your vacation at Smith Mountain Lake?

            All seasons can be fun at Smith Mountain Lake, but we definitely do summer best. With plentiful warm-weather activities available to keep visitors, residents and their guests busy, SML is always hopping in the summer months. Whether you’re looking for ideas for quiet relaxation, fun-filled family time or thrill-seeking adventures, you’ll find it at Smith Mountain Lake. Following are some favorite lake activities to help you plan your time at SML.

            Learn to wakeboard: SML is fast becoming a hotbed of wake sports for the Mid-Atlantic. Competitions take place several weekends throughout the summer where you can watch amateurs, and occasionally professionals, compete. Wake N Skate, a board shop at Bridgewater Plaza, offers wakeboarding lessons to kids and adults

            Visit the SML State Park: Located on Virginia 626 in Bedford County, the park offers hiking, boating, fishing, hunting, camping and swimming at a large, sandy beach. There’s also a large playground for the kids. Check out the park’s web site for details on activities such as stargazing programs, live music, Osprey hikes, Junior Rangers and more. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk. 

            Visit the SML Community Park: Located on the Franklin County side of Smith Mountain Lake, the park includes a beach for swimming, extensive playground, ample hiking trails and a fishing pier that’s handicap accessible. Find out more at franklincountyva.org/parks.

            Take a boat trip for lunch or dinner: Choose any of SML’s lakeside pubs and restaurants for a leisurely meal. Be sure there’s a designated skipper for the trip back home and don’t forget to check the weather.

            Tour the Smith Mountain Dam: See how electricity is generated, catch the movie in the mini-theater and try out the hands-on exhibits at the dam’s visitor center. There’s also a picnic area and overlook to enjoy. Open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

            Hit the links: Mixing challenge and scenic beauty, several golf courses at SML feature mountain and water views. The Westlake Golf & Country Club, Mariners Landing and Sycamore Ridge are open to the public. Private courses include The Waterfront Country Club and The Water’s Edge Country Club.

            Go parasailing: Catch the breathtaking view from 250 feet above the surface of the lake with a trip from SML Parasail, which operates out of Parkway Marina. Book your flight with one of four U.S. Coast Guard-certified instructors in advance. Rides are offered through Labor Day. Cost is $65 per person or $100 for a tandem flight.

            Take a vineyard and winery tour: Virginia wines are becoming ever more popular and a trip to the local wineries can make a fun and educational day. Nearby to SML are Hickory Hill Vineyard and Winery, Peaks of Otter Winery, White Rock Vineyards & Winery and Tomahawk Mill Winery.

            Take a flight of fancy: Scenic intro flights over the lake in two- or four-seat Cessnas are offered by SML Aviation from a quaint little airport off Rt. 626 on the Bedford side. Forty-minute flights showcase the lake’s dramatic twists, turns, coves and creeks — plus a unique view of the dam and mountain. All-American Aviation also offers scenic helicopter rides on select weekends and by appointment.

            Go horseback riding: Shadow Ridge Stables, Fox Creek Saddlery, Blackwater Equine Farms and Smith Mountain Farm & Stables all offer scenic trail rides, though not necessarily near the water.

            Check out Bridgewater Plaza: The hub of Smith Mountain Lake, Bridgewater Plaza is located at Hales Ford Bridge on Virginia 122. In addition to the SML Visitor Center, the plaza features a variety of restaurants and bars, shops, a marina, miniature golf, an arcade and a midway with games and a rock climbing wall. A favorite kid activity is feeding popcorn to the huge resident carp that congregate at the docks adjacent to Bridgewater Marina. While it’s OK to feed the fist, please note it’s illegal to feed water fowl at SML.

            Fish with a guide: SML has numerous qualified guides who can help get you started or provide a special treat for a full day on the lake.

            Rent a boat or PWC: Several SML businesses rent boats and personal watercraft by the hour, the day or the week. You don’t need a license to rent boats for a short period. However, all rental businesses are required by law to review a detailed boating safety checklist with you.

            Cruise SML on the Virginia Dare: Dress up for an elegant evening, have the party of your dreams or just get on board for a night of mystery. The Virginia Dare, a 63-foot replica of a 19th Century side wheeler, offers a variety of options for those who want to enjoy a tour of the lake and a great meal. Charter or join one of the regularly scheduled cruises.

            Play miniature golf: Three businesses at SML offer fun on the mini links – Harbortown Mini-Golf at Bridgwater Plaza, Westlake Safari Miniature Golf off Rt. 616 and Hot Shots Family Fun Center on Virginia 122. When you’re ready for a break from the water, take the family for some putt-putt fun.

            Take in a movie: Sometimes you just need to unwind with a movie. SML offers two theaters – the four-plex Westlake Cinema at Westlake Towne Center and the Mayberry Drive-In Theatre & Diner at 1696 White House Road on the Bedford side of the lake.

            Visit the birthplace of Booker T. Washington: Located on Route 122, the Booker T. Washington National Monument features scenic walking trails and a variety of educational events throughout the year.

            Take in some live music: Several lake-area restaurants offer live music throughout the summer season. At Mango’s Bar & Grill at Bridgewater Plaza you’ll hear such bands as Key West, The Clue Band and Burning Bridges. At The Landing Restaurant, the sound is more mellow with artists such as Keith Guthrie, James Wise and Entrenous. Benjamins at the Pointe at Mariners Landing also has live music planned for the summer.


Artfully Framed at the Lake 540-721-1218
The Little Gallery 540-721-1596
Taubman Museum of Art (Roanoke) 540-342-5760
All-American Aviation Helicopter Rides 888-435-6765
Blue Ridge Parkway 828-298-0398
Booker T. Wash. National Monument 540-721-2094
Fun-N-Games Arcade 540-721-5959
Harbortown Mini-Golf 540-721-1639
Hot Shots Family Fun Center 540-719-1547
Mayberry Diner & Drive-In 540-206-4485
National D-Day Memorial 540-586-3329
Shadow Ridge Stables 540-721-5120
SML Parasail 540-297-8481
Smith Mountain Dam Visitor's Center 540-985-2587
Smith Mountain Farm and Stables 434-985-2587
Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest 434-525-9293
Westlake Safari Miniature Golf 540-721-2234
Smith Mountain Lake Community Park 540-483-9293
Smith Mountain Lake State Park 540-297-6066
Cruise Planners 540-296-0550
Virginia Dare 540-297-7100
1A Sport Fishing Expedition/PointRunner 540-836-0145
Adventures by Rockfish 540-256-2571
Angling Adventures 540-721-4867
Captain Bert's Fishing Charters 540-721-5788
Captain Danny's Striper Mountain Fishing Charters 540-556-3170
Captain's Quarters 800-388-9984
Dale Wilson Guide Service 540-297-5650
Indian Pointe Bait & Tackle 540-721-1159
Kenny's Striper Guide Service 540-493-9541
My Time Striper Guide Charters 540-721-5007
Rodbender Striper Guide Service 540-297-1982
Spike's Prime Time Fishin' 540-297-5611
Stone Mountain Guide Service 540-297-6898
To Fish on Striper Guide Charters 540-721-4442
Virginia Outdoorsman 540-721-4867
Mariners Landing Golf & Country Club 540-297-7888
Sycamore Ridge Golf Club 540-297-6490
The Waterfront Country Club 540-721-2652
The Water's Edge Country Club 540-576-1556
The Westlake Golf & Country Club 540-721-4214
Bedford Central Library 540-586-8911
Franklin County Library 540-483-3098
Moneta/SML Library 540-297-6474
Westlake Library 540-483-3098
Mayberry Drive-In 540-206-4485
Westlake Cinema 540-721-6314
Hickory Hill Vineyard & Winery 540-296-1393
Peaks of Otter Winery 540-586-3707
Tomahawk Mill Winery 434-432-1063
White Rock Vineyards & Winery 540-890-3359
Brooks Mill Winery 540-721-5215