North Carolina Lakes Worth a Visit

North Carolina is a land of bountiful beauty, with miles of coastline and acres of lush forest; though, there’s something special about North Carolina lakes that make them the best in the Eastern United States. Whether you’re looking for a serene spot to relax and take in the natural beauty or a place to explore with friends and family, this article on North Carolina’s best lakes from Southern Living will have you wanting to come back time and time again.

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, a fishing trip, or an adventure-filled day on the water, North Carolina has it all, and with 59 lakes to choose from, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs in this wonderful state. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best lakes in North Carolina and explore each lake’s unique features so you can determine which one is right for you. So grab your swimsuit and your fishing rod and prepare to head off to some of North Carolina’s most beautiful bodies of water.

Kerr Scott Dam And Reservoir

Kerr Scott Dam And Reservoir is located in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and the reservoir has a capacity of 1,475 acres, making it perfect for swimming. The dam was originally constructed in 1951 -1952 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and it was dedicated to W. Kerr Scott, who was the Governor of North Carolina at the time. Today, the reservoir is open for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, camping, and picnicking.

Lake Gaston

Lake Gaston is one of the best lakes in North Carolina for several reasons. First, it is a large lake, with over 350 miles of shoreline. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for activities like swimming, fishing, and boating. Second, the lake is located in a beautiful setting, surrounded by forests and hills. Third, the water quality is excellent, making it a great place to swim and fish. Finally, the lake is well-stocked with fish, making it a popular destination for anglers.

Biltmore Lake

If you’re looking for a serene and beautiful lake to relax by in North Carolina, look no further than Biltmore Lake. This man-made lake is located just outside of Asheville and is surrounded by lush greenery and the stunning views of the wonderful Blue Ridge Mountains, in which Biltmore Lake is settled. Visitors can go fishing, kayaking, or swimming in the lake, or simply take a leisurely stroll around its scenic perimeter. Additionally, vacationing on Biltmore Lake means that you can rent paddle boats, sailboats, cedar strip canoes, and kayaks at the local boathouse. On top of that, this destination also offers fly fishing, hot air balloons, tennis courts, forested trails, and camping for you to enjoy.

Lake Nantahala

Lake Nantahala is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful lakeside vacation. This beautiful lake is located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains near the Nantahala River Gorge, and its clear waters offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. There are plenty of activities to enjoy on Lake Nantahala, including fishing, swimming, canoeing, and hiking.  In addition, the lake is a perfect spot for those looking to fish for bass, salmon, trout, and catfish, as those are widely available. This lake is just a short drive from some of North Carolina’s best attractions, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, Lake Nantahala is the perfect destination.

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The Best Southern Lakes to Visit in 2023

Simply put, there’s nothing quite like a day spent out on the lake. Whether you prefer fishing, boating, or simply soaking up the sun, there’s something magical about spending time on a large body of water surrounded by nature. If you’re looking to experience this magic for yourself, then look no further than the wide array of Southern Lakes, and thanks to this travel blog post from Southern Living, you’ll have all that you need to visit and enjoy some of the most beautiful and tranquil lakes in the country.

Lake Lanier, Georgia

If you’re looking for an ideal lake destination in the American South, know that you can’t go wrong with Lake Lanier. The Peach State’s Lake Lanier Islands is a resort that’s made up of over 200 guestrooms and 30 charming cottages that perch themselves above Lake Lanier. Located just north of Atlanta, Lake Lanier makes itself a convenient getaway destination for city dwellers.

But don’t let its proximity to the city fool you; the Lake Lanier Islands is a true oasis, complete with sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy at the lake, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, and hiking. Then, when you’re ready to take a break from the outdoors, you can retreat to one of the islands’ many restaurants or shops. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a reliable vacation spot, Georgia’s Lake Lanier Islands is a destination that is sure to please.

Douglas Lake, Tennessee

Tennessee’s Lake Douglas or Douglas Lake is one of the best lakes in the Southern United States for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the largest lakes in the region, with over 20,000 acres of surface area. Second, it is located in a beautiful setting among the rolling hills of Tennessee. Third, it is one of the most popular and rewarding destinations for both fishing and recreation. This is because Douglas Lake is home to a variety of fish species,including bass, crappie, catfish, and trout. Lastly, Douglas Lake is surrounded by a number of parks and public access areas, making it easy to enjoy the lake whether you are camping, hiking, picnicking, or just enjoying a day out on the water. If you are looking for a great lake to visit in the Southern United States, be sure to put Tennessee’s Douglas Lake at the top of your list!

Lake Austin, Texas

Lake Austin is a wonderfully popular reservoir located on the Colorado River in Central Texas. The city of Austin owns more than 22,000 acres of land along the shores of Lake Austin, meaning that the lakeshore is also home to several public parks, including Bull Creek District Park, Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Mount Bonnell Shores Park, Red Bud Isle, West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, and Zilker Metropolitan Park, so there’s no shortage of recreational space when you visit Lake Austin.

Lake Austin is well known for its recreational opportunities. The lake is widely considered to be one of the best places in central Texas to boat, fish, and swim. The Lower Colorado River Authority operates several public boat ramps around the lake and there are numerous private marinas as well. Fishing is popular on Lake Austin for species such as largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. The lake is also a popular swimming destination with several public beaches open year-round.

Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

Located near Hot Springs and within the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas’s Lake Ouachita is not only the largest man-made lake in Arkansas, but it’s one of the best lakes in the Southern United States. The lake itself encompasses 1,000 miles of shoreline and stretches over 40 acres, making its clear waters and scenic beauty the perfect destination for swimming, fishing, boating, and much more. With its towering mountains and deep blue waters, it’s no wonder Lake Ouachita is such a popular destination.

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Swimming Holes To Visit in the American South

Are you tired of spending the summer months soaking in salty oceans or over-chlorinated pools? If so, you may want to consider this list of the best swimming holes to be found in the south from Southern Living Magazine.

Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy some cooling water in the summer months that doesn’t involve sand, beach parking, or pool chemicals. If that sounds ideal to you, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to travel too far to enjoy it, because there is an easy-to-reach beauty in your own backyard that you should check out: a natural swimming hole. After a day of hiking, biking, and climbing at nearby state parks like the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or Roan Mountain State Park, you’ll find these places are more than just great for outdoor recreation – they’re also located close to a refreshingly beautiful swimming hole in their own right.

Mississippi’s Black Creek in DeSoto National Forest

A great way to get out of the Mississippi summer heat and cool off is by visiting the swimming hole in DeSoto National Forest known as Black Creek. The Black Creek is a National Scenic River, meaning that this river is so remarkable in terms of scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, or historic value that the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has designated it and given it our nation’s strongest form of protection for free-flowing rivers and streams. In addition to this designation, the Black Creek also features multiple sandbars along its expanse that create several natural swimming holes that are perfect for cooling off and relaxing after a day hiking the Black Creek Wilderness found within the DeSoto National Forest.

Tennessee’s North Chick Blue Hole

The North Chick Blue Hole is a beautiful, secluded collection of swimming holes located in the woods along Walden’s Ridge and the Cumberland Plateau near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The river gorge found here has several large boulders along the waters, disrupting the flow and thus creating several swimming holes all along the creek. Better yet, these boulders serve as excellent ledges that are perfect to jump off of into the waters below, making this the perfect spot for any outdoor adventurer seeking to keep cool this summer.

Texas’s Barton Springs Pool

One of the outstanding crown jewels of Austin, Texas is the Barton Springs Pool, a 3-acre, water-filled area nestled within the beautiful Zilker Park. This mineral-fed swimming hole is within the channel of Barton Creek and utilizes water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas. Open year-round and featuring gorgeous limestone formations that reflect its natural spring waters, this natural swimming hole has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike since its opening  in 1837 shortly after the city of Austin was incorporated. The Barton Springs Pool is incredibly popular due to it being open to the public for year-round swimming and consistently hovering between 68 °F and 74 °F throughout the entire year.

North Carolina’s Cashiers Sliding Rock

If you’re looking for a fun and quirky way to spend a day or weekend in the North Carolina mountains, you have to visit Cashiers Sliding Rock. Located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of Jackson County, not far from Highlands,Cashiers Sliding Rock is just one of many spectacular natural attractions that draw millions of visitors every year. At the bottom of this 10-foot slide you’ll find yourself in a uniquely beautiful setting. The water is crystal clear and cool, and while you’re sliding down you can enjoy the view of hundreds of babbling brooks that feed into the larger pool of water at the bottom.

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Stops to Make When Visiting Cape Cod

For many Americans, Cape Cod is the single-best destination to visit during the summer months, as it is a vibrant treasure-trove of activity and adventure. With this article of the best towns to visit whenever you’re on Cape Cod from Travel + Leisure, you’ll be making the most of your vacation the next time you’re in New England. From whale watching to lighthouse exploring, you’re sure to find a new experience on this unforgettable peninsula that stretches some 500 miles along the coast of Massachusetts and 65 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

Sandwich, MA

Located along the shore of Cape Cod Bay is the quaint coastal town of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and it’s a perfect destination to visit to get the ideal Cape Cod experience. If you’re looking to add some scenic, picturesque landscapes to your summer beach vacation, then look no further than the quaint and memorable town of Sandwich. Specifically if you want to explore 15 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, be sure to check out and visit the Shawme-Crowell State Forest and its 700-acre expanse of oak trees, rolling hills, mountain vistas, and picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Alternatively, if you can check out the Heritage Museums and Gardens, as it offers a diverse array of unique and exciting exhibits sure to amaze visitors of all ages and interests. One exhibit of the Heritage Museum that is much sought-after is the J.K. Lilly III Automobile Gallery, which features 21 classic American automobiles and teaches visitors about the origin and rise in popularity of the American automobile across the 21st Century. The Heritage Gardens is also where you’ll find over 100 acres of precisely manicured gardens, including the recently expanded North American Hydrangea Test Garden, which showcases some of the newest hydrangea cultivars on the market.

Truro, MA

If you’re looking for a destination in Cape Cod that you could swear you’ve seen captured on a postcard before, then look no farther than the town of Truro. A visit to Truro is advisable for those who prefer the quieter side of Cape Cod, and it’s only located one hour away from Boston by car or train on the Outer Cape. Not only is the Turro community scattered with a typical, rugged shoreline that’s beside expanding forests, it’s also home to the famous Highland Lighthouse and Ballston Beach in North Truro. This is an active lighthouse that’s located on the Cape Cod National Seashore, and it stands proudly as the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod.

Truro is also an excellent town to peruse while in motion as you traverse the Pamet Cranberry Bog Trail, which extends down the Cape Cod National Seashore in an easy, 1.9-mile out-and-back-loop. Pamer Cranberry is just one of 11 trails that is operated by the Cape Cod National Seashore, but if you’re looking to be engaged by more of a challenge, then be sure to consider the Ryder Beach Loop. This loop is a 3.2-mile trail that offers a moderate hikealongside unforgettable beach views and inland trails.

Brewster, MA

Located in the Lower Cape and famous for its stunning views and unforgettable sunsets, the town of Brewster is the ultimate vacation destination for anyone seeking a friendly community and a relaxed atmosphere. This town is well-known for stunning views and memorable sunsets that you’ll be able to appreciate while spending an afternoon or entire day at one of Brewster’s many beaches such as Breakwater Beach, Crosby Landing Beach, or Robbins Hill Beach. Alternatively, you can stroll through historic downtown’s offering of history by visiting the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History or The Captain Freeman Inn, a charming former sea captain’s home.

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The Best Summer Vacations

While many travelers find comfort in revisiting their old favorites during the summer months, many others find that a lot can be gained from trying out an experience that is unfamiliar, exciting, and classically summer. That’s why this article from Travel + Leisure that’s gathered 20 classic summer vacations from its readership is truly the perfect solution to those wondering how they can best add a little something new to their Summer 2022 plans.

If you’re like most people, your vacations are probably pretty routine. You go to the same place every year and do the same things. There’s comfort to be found in the summer vacation routine, but for all of the solace that predictability brings, you’re missing out on experiences that could be the answer to a question that you never thought to ask. Surveying Travel + Leisure’s suggested list of nearly two dozen “classic” summer vacation ideas” might spark your imagination to venture out of your comfort zone and into your new niche for future vacations to come.

Taking a Road Trip along the Pacific Coast Highway

This first suggestion may seem to be the most obvious, but if you’ve never hit the open road on a multi-state road tripbefore, you are sure to be surprised by how much of an eye-opening experience it can be. For the purpose of venturing out of your comfort zone, it’s suggested that you plan a road trip around locaitions new, enticing, and close-in-proximity to you, and for most, that means heading along the United States’s West or East coast during your travels.

One perfect pathway for your road trip is to venture down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The PCH is one of the most scenic drives in the world; running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it’s a winding road that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of California. As you travel along the PCH, you’ll pass through several beach towns, national parks and other beautiful places, but some of the stand-outs are: San Francisco, Big Sur, and Santa Barbara.

Taking in the Sights of Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia

Alternatively, if you’re more interested in visiting fewer separate sights and seeking out enriching experiences in two classic American cities, then you should consider road tripping on the Eastern coast of the United States from Charleston, a beautiful city on the coast of South Carolina that’s full of history and culture, to Savannah, another southern pinnacle that is supplied with an old world charm and a modern flair. If you’re traveling from Charleston to Savannah via Interstate 26, then be sure to check out Historic Downtown Summerville before heading out, as it offers plenty of shops and restaurants along with historic sites like Old Towne Hall as well as several parks throughout the town where you can relax and take in the scenery. Elsewhere, plan to visit the over 35,000 artifacts on display at the Charleston Museum or simply visit the Market, located in downtown Charleston. The Market is home to different shops and restaurants, including local favorites like The Grove, Sticky Fingers Bakery & Café and more.

Once in Savannah, you’ll be able to inundate yourself with the first place you should stop is Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens. This plantation is home to a beautiful 18th century mansion and an authentic working rice plantation. You can take a tour of the plantation or just walk around and enjoy the beauty for free. Secondly, you should consider taking a tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. Understandably, a cemetery might not be the most fun sight to see, but Bonaventure Cemetery contains many interesting sculptures, mausoleums, and gravestones and is also known as “America’s Most Haunted Cemetery.” Lastly, for a little more culture, be sure to check out the Telfair Museum of Art and Jepson Center, as these two art museums showcase works by famous artists such as Picasso and Monet and also host different events throughout the year such as Jazz Concerts.

Ride the Rails in Europe

Outside of an enticing road trip, Travel + Leisure also suggests that you inject some wonder and excitement into your summer vacations by traveling by train in Europe. While there are many reasons to travel by train in Europe such as cost effectiveness or environmental efficiency, the most obvious and alluring is that it’s a great way to see the beautiful countryside of this area of the world. While it’s possible to drive through Europe, there are many beautiful spots where you’re not allowed to stop and walk around, or even pull over and snap a picture.

Hop Aboard a Cruise Line

Another suggestion for summer vacations from the article is to hop aboard a cruise, as they offer a variety of activities and entertainment that will make your trip memorable, whether it’s with family or friends. Once on a cruise, every element from food to entertainment is elevated. The cuisine that’s found on board cruises is delicious and plentiful, allowing you to choose from fine dining at a restaurant with white linen tablecloths and waiters in tuxedos or casual dining at an open-air deck buffet– depending on the mood you find yourself in. Similarly, cruises have many entertainment options available including live shows performed by professional entertainers, dance performances, piano bars and discos. Outside of performances, you can also find plenty of things to do during your down time such as golfing or shuffleboard tournaments, proving that there’s something for everyone.

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The Greatest Florida Islands for Your Vacation

There’s a simple reason as to why images of palm leaves, clear blue waters, and white sandy beaches enter the mind when one attempts to picture the perfect island vacation. It’s because the iconography of the over 4,500 Florida islands located in Florida’s archipelago is akin to the idyllic summertime retreat, and thanks to this useful article detailing the best islands that the Sunshine State has to offer from Southern Living Magazine, you’re one step closer to making that unforgettable island vacation yours in the near future.

The Sunshine State doesn’t necessarily need an overabundant amount of help when it comes to attracting tourists to make their way down to Florida in the summer months for some rest and relaxation. Not only is Florida the country’s fourth most populous state, but it also has a long-standing history of alluring an enormous amount of visitors in the summer months to its wide selection of vacation spots, welcoming beaches, and amusement parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. 

In fact, in 2021 the state’s tourism industry was responsible for welcoming 122.4 million visitors, which was a decrease from the record 131.4 million visitors in  2019, and with early recent statistics indicating that “Florida had 30.8 million tourist visits between last October and December, a slight increase over the fourth quarter in 2019,” this upcoming summer is looking to be just as promising for the domestic tourism magnet.

Because there’s such a proclivity for vacationers to automatically have palm trees and destinations like Orlando or Pensacola enter their minds when they’re beginning to plan out a summer retreat, it’s all the more alluring to escape to an isle off the coast of Florida so that you can enjoy the scenery, personality, and natural majesty of the state without all of the crowds. Luckily, Southern Living’s Betsy Cribb has compiled this list of the seven best Florida islands in the state for your next trip. These locations range from barrier islands such as Amelia Island, which is located only a less-than-an-hour drive away from Jacksonville, Florida, while still toting a State Park that invites you to peruse its “over 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness along the southern tip of Amelia Island.” Seriously, if you’re looking for a destination that is straight out of an idyllic beach read or cathartic third act in a romantic drama, make it a point to book a trip to Amelia Island, as it’s “the only Florida State Park that offers horseback riding on its beaches” thanks to Kelly Seahorse Ranch.

Another stand-out island from the list is one that prides itself on offering its visitors “all of the modern conveniences that most vacationers have come to expect, but [also] has tempered its growth by clearly placing quality offerings above quantity.” Such is life on the barrier islands that blends both a relaxing and family-friendly atmosphere, Sanibel Island. Located only two and a half hours from Tampa, this fish hook-shaped island treasure is indicative of a bygone era when it comes to American vacation spots. This is because it’s filled with 17,000 acres of lush, picturesque landscape that’s framed by the San Carlos Bay and the Gulf of Mexico while also having no stoplights, high-rise buildings, nightclubs, or big-chain grocery stores.

Because of these carefully-implemented regulations when it comes to city planning, Sanibel Island offers its guests a comfortable, memorable experience where they feel transported to another world entirely. In fact, this attention to detail in the experience is most present in the fact that Sanibel Island is most known for its outrageous abundance of pastel-colored seashells that are quite literally calling out for tourists to bring home with them to remember the times they had on the island.

Additionally, the island features the world-famous J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and its approximately  “6,000 acres of mangrove jungles and wetlands [that] encompass a large portion of the island.”  Nearly 70% of the island’s total 17,000 acres are protected, ensuring that the magic of Sanibel Island will be preserved for your next trip to its sandy shores and many years afterward.

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