Updated: Mar 21
Our family trips are usually a bunch of fun stops along the path ending at a final destination for the remainder of the time. This trip was very different!
We planned a one week multifamily adventure to commemorate the graduating seniors in the group, and to throw a family trip mixed with friends, mountains, lake, and lifetime memories.
My question.... can we spend one week in the same place? The whole time?
Our answer: Absolutely.
Here is how to enjoy a week in Lake Lure with your friends/ family!
Road Trip Travels:
First - Snacks! Make sure you have some favorites for each person in the car. Stock up on drinks and items that would be tempting to stop for. Bring items to hold over hunger (granola bars or premade sandwiches).
Second - Music! Good music can help the trip drive go smoother. Especially those favorites you haven't heard in a while!
Third - Riding Buddies: Find someone you are riding along with. Sometimes we just have a random driver going the same direction and stick together!
On this trip we planned to stop in GA for gas,and get Chi Fil A in Columbus, SC. We knew it was an 8 hour drive and we could leave at dawn, and be in Lake Lure to food shop, check in, unpack, and be in the lake by sunset!
Make the house a home! - Find a place that meets your needs. Check your group to make sure your sleeping and privacy needs can be met where you stay. Some people are fine on a couch or air bed, others may really need a private room with a big bed to make the week successful. Consider how much space you need, how many bathrooms, wifi, cooking abilities, and amenities you will require. Also consider how much time you plan to spend there!
Lake Lure has MANY options for Air Bnb or cabin rentals. Some are definitely bigger or more expensive. My advice is get on the lake! And find something with a boat or pontoon included in the rate. You will save money in the long run as hourly rentals add up fast.
We picked this house collectively: https://bookbuffalojunctionproperties.escapia.com/Unit/Details/165395
*Each bedroom has it’s own bathroom and then some! A seven bathroom house is awesome when there's lot’s of people. Makes getting up and out faster!
*The GAME ROOM was awesome! Pool, air hockey, basketball, and more more more fun!
*LOTS of sleeping areas. We all could spread out. The parents had privacy, the kids had their community.
*Direct lake access, and it came with a pontoon – SCORE! In Lake Lure this is a must have for us, we want to be on the lake with unlimited time frame. It can get costly to rent a boat or other other water sport items, so having a house that came with pontoon, paddle boards, kayaks, and tubes was a great investment for us. We still rented a ski boat on our final night, more on that later!
Research things to do in the area. I will list our favorites below but make your daily plans known to your group. Do you want to plan outings? Hikes? How do you plan to eat? Will the whole group go or smaller groups with in? Make your needs and expectations known, but understand if other people traveling with you don't want to spend their precious vacationing time in the same way.
Lake Lure is perfectly located in an area surrounded by beautiful nature and picturesque scenery. There are good local restaurants and we have made favorites. Most days didn't go very far from the lake, but we did plan a hiking Day, for everyone to do together. I made my bucket list items known to my kids in advance and explained that I would make sure they had their friend time in abundance as long as I could get my family quality times and do a few things I had hoped. We all agreed and this made for real happy times. The village of Chimney Rock is quaint with all you need to make your week what you hope for. A mix of family time/ adult time available.
Here are our favorite things to do/ Our itinerary:
~~We are a busy family that likes to be active~~
Day 1: Road trip! Travel safely. Arrive!
Ingles food store - food shopping for the week (each family had dinner shifts and we all pitched in for breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks. We were in and out of the store pretty quickly as we coordinated the major items. (We still ended up with 40 bananas because we all grabbed a bunch)
Checked into our home - This was the fun part. We had picked the perfect house. We all quickly unpacked and got settled then met down by the boat house.
Pontoon on Lake Lure - the plan was to be in Sunset cove for sunset. What a perfect day. The beginning of our week together was off to a great start. We had time to cruise around and stop by Lake Lure Adventure which is the little shack on the lake that supplies all your water sport needs. We have been there many times and gotten to know the family who run this business so it is good to check in with them, and catch up. Also grab a few souvenirs for the road! We like to troll through and check out the changes in landscape and ride by all our favorite places. Reminiscing of previous trips and appreciating all the property landscaping. If it is your first time just drive in and out of each finger of the lake and check it all out. Lake Lure is well known for the Movie Dirty Dancing being filmed on location. You will recognize some of the places.
Speaking of Favorites.... Larkins Lakefront Bar & Grill - This first stop was for a round of margaritas. There would be many stops during the week for food and or drinks as needed, but pulling up to the dock and walking up to the bar was refreshing in itself. Their drinks are well made. The burgers are also perfect. It's so convenient and the prices are reasonable. Delish!!
Family Dinner: After sunset, and drying off from a cold dip in the Lake we were ready to cook and eat. Tonight's menu: grilled pork loin on the bbq, baked mac and cheese and fresh green beans. It was a late dinner, and then the game room got pretty exciting. Ping pong, pool, air hockey, basketball, chess, big checkers, jenga, foosball.... they enjoyed every activity. Into the wee hours of the morning while us parents retired for the night.
Day 2: Adults hike Rumbling Bald/ Weed Patch!
We actually did the 3.5 mile loop of Buffalo Creek Park Trail. While it’s only a few miles round trip, it is a very steep climb, about 1000 feet in elevation! Beautiful switchbacks as you ascend and decline remind you that you are human! Nice hike, I got weary towards the highest point. Huge boulders and rocks line the trail, awesome flowers and views... and I got “attacked” by butterflies! This is a favorite spot for bicyclists who love the ride down. We only saw a few, and everyone was respectful and courteous.
After that we were ready to fix a drink and walk down to the boat! We wanted some quality relax time! Out on the Lake with friends we were able to tool around and enjoy the views. We found ourselves back at Larkin's for more margaritas! The adults caught another beautiful sunset from “sunset cove” in the middle of the lake overlooking the mountains and sun perfectly. There was more jumping off the boat into the cold water, it had warmed up a little – and a lot of laughter! We saw the teenagers going by on the ski boat a few times, always pulling someone on a tube or a wake board.
It was taco night at the house which was pretty easy when we all helped prep!
Another late dinner but a house full of happy people made it all good in the hood!
Pisgah National Forest - Our graduate choose which hike we would ALL go on. After he reviewed the new options, and ALL the places he has previously hiked, he chose “Skinny Dip Falls” as our destination. So 3 car loads of us (NOT ALL OF US ACTUALLY WENT, just most) piled into vehicles and set out for the Blue Ridge Mountains! It is about 90 minutes away (but a very scenic drive), and not many places to get gas along the way, but when we passed a pit stop gas station we all filled up. We all went potty and grabbed snacks also!
We visited Skinny Dip falls with some of the same people in 2018 on our last family trip to Lake Lure, so this was not our first time exploring this spot. As we were driving in the Blue Ridge High Way to get there, we stopped to take some family photos (above) which turned out to be the same place we’d stopped two years ago also! Unplanned. Last time we were there we lost a drone over the side of the mountain and one of the boys climbed down to retrieve it. This time, one of our boys lost a cap out of the sunroof when driving through the tunnels...
Skinny Dip Falls- Jump off the side cliff, swim through the swimming hole, and hike the remarkable water fall. Exploring the grounds, we began to climb up the side of the waterfall on the trail. As the trail became harder to navigate, some turned around and others took to the waterfall itself to climb up by boulder jumping and scrambling to the top! This was quite a feat! I was at the end of the line (as I am the LEAST athletic of the bunch) but my friends didn’t let me get too far behind! We kept each other in site and helped each other navigate the unmarked climb UP the waterfall. We knew it could be done because we’d also done this on our previous trip. I did not climb to the top the last time. My daughter and I found a happy spot where we made rock towers and enjoyed the water about half way up. So I felt truly victorious reaching the top where all the teenagers hopped around and hung out (with their long legs and strong bodies).
Although the elevated climb was unusual and probably more strenuous than a regular dirt path, I did not feel the exhaustion of the hike like yesterday’s adventure! My legs and backside had some scratches from sliding down the rocks (carefully) but I felt great. Maybe the cold water had something to do with it. I am happiest closest to water. Rushing water makes a beautiful hike a real treat! It's also a little more strategic to decide how and where to cross so you don't get caught in the rushing current and slide down!
When we were leaving, our group had two separate plans: One car (mine) would stop at Sliding Rock – which is very close to the Skinny Dip Falls pull off. The other two cars would go to the bottom of the mountain to “Brevard” where there is some shops and places to eat. We would meet up after our stop off.
Sliding Rock - was not open to slide (corona virus) so we paid 2$ per person to go in and take pictures.
Which was just as good to me! The awesome freezing water rushing down the slate rock is really cool to see even if you’re not sitting on it (sliding down) in a crowd! I actually enjoyed having the place to ourselves!
I admit I was looking forward to sliding down the cold natural play area, usually lined with life guards but we took our pictures and happily went back to the car.
Did I mention I don't like to be cold?
Looking Glass Falls -just happens to be right across from Sliding Rock so we quickly pulled off. More pictures, this time some bikers took our photos, and quick nature appreciation, and we were back in the car on our way down to Brevard.
Brevard - Our group was just coming out of a large gift shop as we were arriving. We didn’t miss much as their planned stops were all closed. At this point however, we let all the teenagers drive two vehicles back to the lake (and their other friends waiting) while we all went into a local brewery. Our adult time was spent looking at our photos and laughing about our kids being silly. We realized we have really good kids Not perfect angels by any means, but good people in the making!
Back to the Lake!
It had been a great day to me already. I opted to stay back and make dinner so all could eat earlier. I made 3 pans of baked ziti, salad, and garlic bread. No one wanted to leave me alone but honestly, the gourmet kitchen and a moment of satisfaction go a long way. My friends and the whole gang came up ready to eat, and eat we did!
Chimney Rock! Aka the penis (It’s not our fault it looks like a phallus in the sky along the top of the mountain). The cost for a single day ticket is $17 per adult and $8 per youth (ages 5-15). Children under 5 are free. Yes, you pay for this work out!
It’s one of those things you have to do at least once if you are in the area – and never need to do again once it’s accomplished. I specifically wanted to hike this because it seemed cool to get to the top where there is a flag, you see it along the lake… I’d heard the other’s reminiscing their personal Chimney Rock stories… I felt obligated to go. They joked about how many steps I’d have to climb, and how no one else wanted to go. My friend Heather and her kids who after many trips to Lake Lure had also, never been was joining our trek. So us never beeners got up early, ate some food and drove up to Chimney Rock.
The hike into Chimney Rock is nice. You walk along the tree limbs and little wooden steps along to a stairwell leading to the top. We opted not to take the shuttle which bypasses this trail. This trail is the nicest part of the hike! The steps are massive. There are 499 steps each way, up and down! There are nice rest stops with picnic benches and lovely views. Stop, and breathe! The people we passed going up encouraged us to keep going – and when we were coming down we also encouraged the climbers going up! Every time I thought we got to the top... there were more steps. At an elevation of 2,280 feet, the Lake and surrounding views of 75 mile panoramic views are breathtaking!
We made it to the top!! We stopped at the gift shop and got some Gatorade, shits, and I bought a coffee mug. I wanted something that said “I climbed Chimney Rock” but they didn’t have that! Next time we go, we will make the trip down to the waterfall. There are other hikes and if we'd had more energy, or no one at the lake missing us we may have stayed longer. The weather was perfect.
* It was hard. My legs hurt. I was out of breath. I stopped several times.
** It was totally worth it!!!!! And on the lake later I felt massively satisfied with my new accomplishment.
*** This is one of my personal reference points, if I can do that, I can do anything.
The teenagers all ran down to the car and arrived long before us slow moms did. I have to say I LOVE the family we trekked with. This was a fun day because of friends!
The original plan was to get lunch after in the little town of Chimney Rock, but the place (River Rocks) was closed (Corona). So, lunch at the house worked too.
Bubba’s Souvenir Shop - is centrally located in Chimney Rock and "Bubba" the resident Golden Lab is just as sweet as can be. We bought some goodies. Right about this time I was starving. We left to eat at the house and let the kids join their friends out on the lake. We were gone over 4 hours, much longer than we’d thought we’d be gone!
The Lake - On this evening, we pulled our younger 3 teens (the 15 year old's) around on the tube all over Lake Lure – on the back of the pontoon. The older teenagers (17 - 18 year old's) were going by in the ski boat and we asked them to give us a good wake for the tubers. Then we hit the wake straight on and a tsunami wave soaked us all! We got shamu splashed in an instant, no one saw it coming, Us mom’s laughed and laughed. Hysterically. No one knew what was so funny. What do you do when you're soaked already? Jump in the lake. Yup, it's still pretty cold!
Next thing you know we were jumping off the deck of the boat house, and then walking up the 120 stairs to go to the house. We were definitely getting our exercise on this trip! Such fun.
Family Dinner - Tonight we had curry chicken and rice. Yuuuuuum our dinners were awesome. Dessert was brownies :-) I love having a whole family to cooperate!
Morning Walk (with Mimosa’s) - walk how you like, but a little exercise and area appreciation make the morning better! While the surrounding area to the house we rented was totally scenic and hilly, another mom and I took to morning walks.
Jumping off the boat dock – for some afternoon fun! The water was finally up to about 74 degrees! It was much better than those first few nights. We even floated in the river a little just taking in the sights. If you sit in a life vest, with your legs through the arm holes, you can float and chill anywhere :-)
Larkin’s for lunch – yes we had left overs… but Larkin’s is so yummy! And it seems every time we go there we see the teenager group! I couldn't resist....
Snacking and relaxing on the boat dock – being that it is over a hundred steps down, we tried to bring what we need for the day down with us. Including coolers, drinks, snacks, and sunscreen!
Pulling the tubers behind the pontoon – more river fun! The youngest teens (15 year olds) were the most fun! Good attitudes and fun times with these boys! We also tried to reenact the dirty dancing lift, in Firefly cove. By the dirty dancing steps. Such fun!
There is a rope wing in one of the inlets and we stopped by for some rope swing jumping!
El Lago - The Mexican Restaurant for dinner
We called ahead for reservations. We reserved the entire outdoor seating area. We came by boats, and cars. We all came hungry! Their huge margaritas have turned into our tradition! Fajitas and margarita’s! Such fun! Great company and food for a total win!
That night, us parents were out late tooling and looking at all the houses. We were not making any noise, but just enjoying the company, breeze, and almost full moon. The kids were all back at the house whipping up desserts when we got home. They were wondering where we were and what we were doing lol. They were teasing us for being out so late.
Walking with Mimosa’s
Hanging out on the boat dock for the morning and relaxing on the lake for the early afternoon
We had evening plans to meet in Chimney Rock - We drove the pontoon up and parked by the beach.
The Flowering Bridge - was on our way to town from the beach so while walking through we stopped to smell the roses (literally). We admired the flowers, nooks, crannies, butterfly garden, and inventive gardening ideas. We photographed, oohed, and awwwed. This little bridge turned garden is a perfect spot to wander through while crossing.
Bubba O’Leary’s - the gift shop. I was exchanging a shirt which was too big. The rest of the gang was picking out their souvenirs.
Hickory Nut Brewery for the adults, mini golfing for the teens who had come for the ride. We went down by the river to drink our beers, (I am so not a beer drinker but the apple beer was pretty yummy!) more so we drank them down by the river, with our feet in the little rapids even, watching the water rush by. Such a view from there, it is cool, well decorated with nature, and the company was just perfect! A GREAT place for a yummy drink.
Burntshirt Vineyards tasting room and Bistro - We all had a glass of wine and checked out the adorable merchandise which is well displayed. We laughed at the sayings and bought a few things. While we were out on the balcony enjoying our drink and the mountains, we saw our family below organizing for dinner so we quickly made our way to join them.
La Strada for Dinner – Italian Night – As a group of families and friends this was another highlight. We showed up with quite a crew! We did not want to rush the staff. We enjoyed our wine and bread and salads while they made our specific meals. All of our food as fresh, and made to perfection. No complaints in the house – two nights in a row! It was time WELL SPENT. Our tables of friends grouped around on the veranda was reminiscent of El Lago the previous night. We took over all of the outdoor seating. We were sitting on the upper patio, enjoying a lovely evening watching the rain roll in.
* These pictures are before the rain started!
Rain rain rain! Half of our group had to relocate once it started really coming down.
Kids took their plates inside. Luckily the restaurant had plenty of space and they moved efficiently. Oddly enough, most of us parents seemed in better positions and stayed right where we were! The kids left in their ski boat. Another group of kids drove, and we still sat a little longer just enjoying the moment.
It was an early night after our pontoon ride home :-)
However, there was some dancing and some singing.
We may have serenaded the lake with Dirty Dancing songs...
Walking with mimosa’s! (new favorite activity)
Kids tubing on back of the pontoon again. This was really just as much for our entertainment as theirs. We were watching as there was a rain cloud hovered just over the mountain. We were expecting to get wet at any moment. Luckily, we out ran the rain in the pontoon and pulled into the boat house just in time! There we sat watching the rain. When it stopped, we went right back out on the water! We actually took a little time this afternoon to kayack and paddle board around the lake as well. It was a slow ride, and the water was perfect now. Good time to all jump in and get wet! Great time to enjoy the moment!
Crab night! – We decided to have some crabs flown in from New England! We all had a crab feast! How fun! We set up our back porch and one of the moms demonstrated the best way to crack and eat crabs. We listened to some North Carolina songs and ate crab after crab!
During this week as the teenage group grew, the older teens and younger teens got separated a bit. The ski boat can only hold so many, and there were times they reached their limit. While the older group were all wake boarding on the ski boat, the younger teens were with us more on the pontoon, limited to tubing. Pontoons do not go very fast. We loved how much fun they were, posing and trying to throw each other off the tube... the boys kept us laughing, Although we couldn't help but feel they missed out on the ski boat wake board fun the older kids were experiencing. To remedy this problem, we rented a ski boat for 90 minutes just for those three, to get some wake boarding quality time. Lake Lure Adventure is a great spot for all things lake sport related. Their staff are fun, and love their jobs. Our guide gave wake board tips to the boys and helped make the 90 minutes a full blast! The boys did great. We enjoyed the ride, and we watched as the older teens were also wake boarding in the lake. Parent win!
Day 8: Packing and Departing
Check out by 11. Check.
At this point each family departed a little differently, and one family who resides there – stayed with a group of kids.
One family went to Savannah Georgia, One family left to head back to Brevard Florida before the inclement weather started.
But myself and another family - Didn’t want to leave! BOOOOOOOOO
We stopped by our friend’s to drop off left overs for the remaining family/ kids staying.
River Rocks in Chimney Rock had been closed when we wanted to stop there after our hike, however it was open now! We all took a ride down town and had a great lunch. We sat outside by the railing overlooking the Broad River, and ate our food with a great view. We then took to the street and wandered through some of the Chimney Rock specialty shops. Gems, Native Art, Nature’s objects, there were many things to look at. But when we couldn’t postpone any longer we piled into the cars and got on the road. A few last laughs, a few last conversations, a few last looks and it was time to drive away.
When traveling in such a large group there are many aspects of a trip that are different.
Highlights: The quality unplanned moments like:
*The Flowering Bridge (two of us who really wanted to explore more) and just did!
*Morning walks with mimosa’s (two of us who just enjoyed our mornings this way and went)
*Our tsunami wave over the pontoon from driving head on into the ski boat wake. OMG we laughed and laughed. We joked that since we hadn’t jumped in the river yet, the river came to us.
The boys on the tube behind the pontoon – Oh they were funny doing all kinds of poses and moves together.
*Us moms singing “Time of my Life” in Firefly Cove after the Italian food night. We were Dirty Dancing on the pontoon and pretty funny (we thought).
*Seeing the boys go by on the ski boat, knowing they were not too far away and we could still glimpse their good times!
*Fresh crabs in Lake Lure in Summer. This is a family moment, where your friends become family (as if we weren’t already)
*The kids made brownies almost every night. It was fun to see them together baking in the kitchen.
I loved when the kids were little. As they get older I wonder how long can we hold on to the family adventure magic? So far we are still making it happen. They sleep a little longer, the are a little less needy, and they can actually help with some of the main things that need to be done. So many perks to traveling with older kids. One of my favorites being - they can carry the stuff!!!!!
Such good memories and such great times.
Lake Lure has definitely been a place for us to feel more alive, and a beautiful place to vacation and adventure, and enjoy our selves.
Great climate, wonderful nature, and tons to do as a family! Activities for ALL ages - but I was glad I had an adult/ family excursion!
We don't usually eat out quite so much, but we were definitely group planning and I was flexible. We saved and budgeted appropriately. Save $ with more meal planning.
I would have done more hiking over in the Pisgah National Forest. Some of our group rode their mountain bikes through some of the area trails and we could have hiked more. The one day I thought about going into Asheville was the day that we expected lots of rain - we turned out fine where we were. But Asheville has so much to offer and I wanted to wander and explore the artsy city. Go see Ashville next time!
The few down days we could have ventured into the town for gem mining or other activities. My kids are older, and really wanted to be on the lake. I had my few wishes granted with Chimney Rock, The Flowering Bridge, and Skinny Dip Falls. I was totally willing to accommodate some of the more "chill" moments and just enjoy being there on the lake laughing with my friends and enjoying the company. Had it just been us I may have made more of an effort to venture off more but really, we loved being there!
I learned the down time is the magical part!
It's so beautiful when the sun sets it looks fake!
Mostly I'd say, where ever your travels take you - join in the fun!
Don't let the kids have more fun than you!
Remember why you're here.
Really Here, be present.
Make those memories you will cherish forever.
Communicate your wishes clearly
Outrun the rain when possible
Dance in the rain when you can :-)
Thank you for stopping by!
Please share your North Carolina adventures, or Lake Lure memories below.