We are lucky to have Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, and Mountain Island Lake in our backyard, but if you want to venture out of the Charlotte bubble, we have gathered up some of our favorite weekend (or week-long!) lake getaway locations, all less than a 2-hour drive from home.


High Rock Lake

Driving Distance from Charlotte: 1 Hour 

On the border between Davidson and Rowan counties, High Rock Lake is the second largest lake in North Carolina behind Lake Norman. It was named after neighboring High Rock Mountain, the tallest mountain in the Uwharrie Mountains. While High Rock Lake originally started as a hydroelectric power project in 1929, it has since transformed into a boating and fishing paradise. Best known for its bass, catfish, and crappie, High Rock Lake was even home to several Bassmaster Classic fishing tournaments in the 1990s.

Website: High Rock Lake



Lake James

Driving Distance from Charlotte: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes 
Located at the base of  Linville Gorge, North Carolina’s own version of the “Grand Canyon”, Lake James was established as a State Park in 1987. With clear water and stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, soak up all that nature has to offer by kayak, canoe, or boat. Our tip: take advantage of the 25 miles of walking and mountain biking trails and the large, sandy beach at Paddy’s Creek while visiting the park.

Website: Lake James State Park



Badin Lake

Driving Distance from Charlotte: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes

One of the best ways to experience Badin Lake is by camping in nearby Uwharrie State Park so you can explore all that the area has to offer. From swimming and hiking to fishing and horseback riding, there is something for everyone. There are four recreation areas with campground camping — Arrowhead Campground, Badin Lake Campground, Canebrake Horse Camp, and Uwharrie Hunt Camp — plus group camping options at Badin Lake Group Camp. Interestingly, history buffs are also drawn to Badin Lake because a World War II B-25 bomber has rested at the bottom of the lake for more than 70 years. There are lots of intrigue and conspiracy theories surrounding the crash and the unrecovered wreckage.

Website: Badin Lake Recreation Area



Lake Tillery

Driving Distance from Charlotte: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes
Also located in the Uwharrie Lakes Region, Lake Tillery is a man-made lake whose 100+ miles of shoreline cross weaves around both Morrow Mountain State Park and Uwharrie National Forest. There are great opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and water sports throughout the lake. If you are looking for some activities beyond the lake, there is also mini-golf and three Lake Tillery museums nearby.

Website: Lake Tillery



Lake Lure

Driving Distance from Charlotte: 1 Hour and 45 minutes 

Lake Lure is one of North Carolina’s most famous lakes because the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed in the area (there is even an annual Dirty Dancing Festival held in September). This man-made lake is a great spot for an extended vacation because there are numerous activities available and amazing sights to see.  You can rock climb, hike, mountain bike, and zip line in nearby Chimney Rock State Park plus explore nearby Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Of course, if you just decide to forgo all activities to spend time on the lake, we get it!

Website: Town of Lake Lure



Have you vacationed at any of these lakes closed to share? If so, share your recommendations in the comments below. We would love to hear from you (and have a little help planning our next vacation)!




Cover Image: Lake James Rentals