Whether you’re looking for Lake Lure Dirty Dancing filming spots, the best Lake Lure restaurants, Lake Lure hotels to stay in, or just a list of things to do in Lake Lure NC, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got all of that and more like when to book rooms at the Lake Lure Inn, which Lake Lure Beach is best, and which Lake Lure things to do are good for kids or just adults!
Thanks to the Rutherford County Tourism Board for hosting me for this trip. While lodging, meals, and activities were provided complimentary for this trip, all opinions are 100% honest and my own. This post also contains affiliate links. If you purchase something via these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Where is Lake Lure NC?
Before we get to the list of things to do, let’s start with the basics – where is Lake Lure? It’s about an hour north of Spartanburg, 90 minutes west of Charlotte, and 45 minutes east of Asheville, NC.
The other thing to note is that while I’m talking about things to do in Lake Lure, not all of these things are actually technically located in Lake Lure. They’re all in Rutherford County (other than Tryon), which is the overarching county that contains Lake Lure but some of them are in Chimney Rock as well. So really these are all things to do in the Lake Lure area but maybe not technically Lake Lure.
I’ve included a map at the very bottom of this post to help you see how close everything really is even if it’s not in Lake Lure technically. I had some confusion on my things to do in Gulf Shores post so wanted to be clear before I got started on my list!
Fun Things to Do in Lake Lure NC
Last summer I had the chance to not only visit Lake Lure but to go to the Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Festival, check out a few Lake Lure hotels, and even eat at some of the best Lake Lure restaurants! Before my visit to Lake Lure NC, I honestly had no idea it even existed, which is sad because I am a pretty big Dirty Dancing fan and Lake Lure is a huge Dirty Dancing hotspot!
So today I’ve put together some of the best things to do in Lake Lure NC based on my own experiences last year!
Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Fan Must-Sees
Let’s start with one of the biggest draws to Lake Lure NC – its Dirty Dancing history! Lake Lure was where a number of the most iconic scenes in the movie Dirty Dancing were shot – Baby on the stairs, the staff camp dance scenes, Baby asking her dad on the golf course for money, and more.
In addition to just having Dirty Dancing filmed in Lake Lure, there are also a number of places you can go and things you can see that have Dirty Dancing history tied to them like the hotel where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey stayed during filming, a foyer built with wood from the Dirty Dancing dance floor, and more!
#1 – Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Festival
One of the biggest must-dos for Dirty Dancing fans is the annual Lake Lure Dirty Dancing festival, held in August every year. It’s a 2-day event that starts with an outdoor showing of Dirty Dancing on Friday night then an entire day of festivities Saturday including dance lessons, watermelon races, dance numbers, shopping, food, and of course the lake lift competition.
And don’t miss out on the after parties – there are normally a handful of them and include more dancing, movie watching, and tons of outdoor fun! We went to one at the Rumbling Bald Resort, and it was well attended and entertaining to say the least!
You can get all the details and the full schedule for the 2018 Dirty Dancing festival here! It’s going to be held on August 24-25th and going to be amazing once again!
Check out all the fun in the video in this post!
#2 – Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Lake Lift Competition
The culminating event of the Lake Lure Dirty Dancing festival is a big lake lift competition where couples try to do the infamous lift in the lake. It’s both hilarious and heartwarming to watch this community come together to cheer on their neighbors, friends, and family in a little friendly competition. In addition to the people at the festival who watch, the area where the competition is done is actually open to the bigger lake so tons of people brought their boats to the opening as well.
But the best part of the entire festival last year was seeing a couple get engaged during the lake lift competition. They tried (and didn’t do so great) to do the lift in the lake and after their turn, the guy got down on one knee and proposed to her right in the middle of the lake. It was magical.
So even if you don’t go to the festival, don’t miss the lake lift competition! It’s definitely one of my favorite things to do in Lake Lure!
#3 – Play Golf Where Baby’s Dad Did
If you want to see where Baby ran up to her dad and asked for money on the golf course, check out the the Par 3 Hole 16 on the Bald Mountain Golf Course. It’s a bit tricky to get to if you’re not playing a round of golf, so ask in the clubhouse or main Rumbling Bald Resort Lodge for help finding it.
Just imagine Baby nervously asking her dad to help with Penny’s predicament and lie to her dad for one of the first times in her life.
#4 – The Esmerelda Inn & Restaurant
Not only does the Esmerelda Inn have amazing food, it also has a very historical foyer built from the wood salvaged from the gymnasium where Baby and Johnny performed their final dance. Go for the foyer and stay for the amazing food and outside seating area. The view from the Esmerelda Inn is breathtaking!
#5 – Take a Pontoon Boat Tour to See Baby’s Stairs
Whether or not you’re a fan of Dirty Dancing, taking a pontoon boat tour of Lake Lure with Lake Lure Tours is an absolute must. You’re at a lake after all, you have to get out on a boat! If you ask nicely, your boat operator might just take you into the private waters so you can see where the iconic stair scenes leading to the staff camp in Dirty Dancing were filmed! It’s all private property so you can’t get super close, but we got close enough that I could easily recognize the stairs from the film!
The rest of the pontoon boat tour is amazing as well. Beautiful scenery, relaxing water ways, and gorgeous water if you want to jump in and take a dip! Best place for boat trips? Lake Lure Tours!
#6 – Stay in the the 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa
Want to be as close to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey as possible? Stay where they did during filming – the 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa. You could even stay in one of two Dirty Dancing themed cabins on the property!
It’s an absolutely beautiful hotel with tons of history, great food, and the most incredible collection of antique music boxes ever. Just know that if you’re planning on visiting during the Annual Dirty Dancing Festival, rooms book up way in advance so book early.
The Lake Lure Inn also has a full-service spa, an amazing looking weekend brunch (with a chocolate fondue fountain), and it’s right across from the Lake Lure Beach where you could spend the entire day!
But the most amazing thing about the Lake Lure Inn is the hospitality. During the Party Rock Fire a few years ago that impacted Lake Lure, the Lake Lure Inn literally opened its doors to help house and feed evacuees and firefighters fighting the fire.
Honestly there were so many stories about people helping people in Lake Lure during the Party Rock Fire, I could write an entire post on that – just know customer service at the Lake Lure Inn is top notch.
Other Great Things to Do in Lake Lure NC
As I mentioned, many of the things in the list above are great whether or not you’re a Dirty Dancing fan. So if you skipped that portion of the post and just came directly here go back so you don’t miss out on things like the pontoon boat ride, the Lodge on Lake Lure brunch, and the amazing views from the Esmerelda Inn & Restaurant. They have Dirty Dancing significance but are way more than that!
These are some other things I highly recommend doing while visiting Lake Lure to have the time of you life.
#7 – Visit Chimney Rock at Chimney State Park
Spend an afternoon hiking up to the top of Chimney Rock and then down to the Hickory Nut Falls at the bottom of the Chimney Rock trail. Honestly there’s plenty of hiking in the area – those are just two of the highlights and can keep you busy and outdoors for a few hours! The hike up Chimney Rock is only a 499 step trail but can be a bit strenuous since it is uphill; the 75-mile views at the top of the rock are totally worth it.
#8 – Explore Chimney Rock’s Main Street
Stop on Main Street right after you leave Chimney Rock State Park for some good old-fashioned shopping, eating, and exploring. From Bubba O’Leary’s General Store to Bayou Billy’s Popcorn where you can try up to 10 different types of homemade soda, there’s plenty to see and buy on Main Street.
# 9 – Walk the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
If you’ve never walked across a flowering bridge, you’re missing out. Flowering bridges are one of the most incredible things ever – they’re basically bridges that have been turned into gardens. The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is only one of two flowering bridges in the country and boasts over 700 species of plants and flowers. It’s pretty phenomenal to look at.
One of the coolest parts about the flowering bridge is that when they add new pieces to the bridge, they do them in themes and allow different groups in the community to participate. One year they did chairs, one year was doors, and so on. The added elements really make for an amazingly artistic adventure as you walk from one end of the bridge to the other.
There’s a reason the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is the #1 rated attraction in Lake Lure on TripAdvisor, and it’s not just because it’s free to walk across!
#10 – Spend a Day at the Lake Lure Beach & Waterpark
A day at the Lake Lure beach is a must if you’re visiting when the temperatures are right. We went in August and the water was absolutely gorgeous! There are tons of different beach areas throughout Lake Lure including beaches at the Rumbling Bald Resort, the main beach (with water slides) right across from the Lake Lure Inn, and pretty much beaches everywhere you drive around the lake.
Take an afternoon to play in the water, knock off some of the things on your summer bucket list, and just relax. The Lake Lure Beach & Waterpark has both beach area to relax as well as slides, splash areas for the kids, and more!
#11 – Visit the Tryon International Equestrian Center
While not technically in Lake Lure, if you like horses at all – a visit to the new Tryon International Equestrian Center in nearby Mill Spring is an absolute must. I’m not even a horse lover, and I could appreciate the attention to detail, the bonus fun elements like the carousel and candy store, and of course – the good food!
We ate breakfast at Roger’s Diner and while its classic fare was good, it was the ambiance that really sold me. The restaurant is decorated like an old fashioned diner and the hospitality at Roger’s Diner reminds me of everything I love about the south.
This year the Tryon International Equestrian Center is actually hosting the FEI World Equestrian Games, the biggest event in equestrian, September 10th-September 23rd. It’s a great time to visit, watch an entertaining sport, and enjoy everything that the Equestrian Center has to offer.
Lake Lure Restaurants with a View
Everywhere you look in Lake Lure NC there’s a view of something beautiful. Mountains, lake, flowers, blue sky – it’s all just gorgeous. These restaurants all have good food and and even better view of North Carolina’s beauty! And eating at these three restaurants rounds out this list with #12-14!
#12 – The Point of View Restaurant
This restaurant is literally named Point of View on Lake Lure because it has one of the most gorgeous views of Lake Lure imaginable. It’s pretty much right at the point of Lake Lure and if you sit outside, you can see straight across the lake.
We actually had breakfast here before it was open to the public, so I can’t give any specific recommendations on the lunch or dinner menus – but the breakfast was delicious, so I’m guessing most things on the lunch and dinner menus will be as well. I totally want to go back just to try Point of View’s Champagne chicken and chicken ambassador!
#13 – La Strada at Lake Lure
This is another one with you guessed it, a view of the lake. LaStrada is located right around the corner from the Lake Lure Inn and has a beautiful view of the Lake Lure Beach and the hilly landscape behind it. All of the Italian food we tried at LaStrada was top notch with the famous garlic rolls and pizza being must-try menu items.
The freshly made cheesecake platter brought out at the end was also to die for, so make sure to ask what the desserts of the day are when you go!
#14 – Tree Tops Restaurant at the Lodge on Lake Lure
The Lodge on Lake Lure is one of those places I want to come back and visit every year. It’s rustic, it’s historic, and it’s just beautiful. We were able to walk through a couple of the suites during our stay, and they’re just beautiful. It’s like staying in your very own Lake Lure cabins, except not. There are only 17 guest rooms so if you want to stay here – it’s another place to book in advance!
And the view? The view from the back of the lodge is phenomenal and a different view than you’ll get from the other restaurants included in this post because the Lodge on Lake Lure is tucked into a little nook of the lake about 10-15 minutes from everything else in this post. And there’s plenty of space to enjoy that view with a huge outdoor patio and seating area, which is often used for private events and special occasions.
The food at the Tree Tops Restaurant was easily the most gourmet out of all the restaurants in this post. Dinner is offered Thursday through Saturday nights with a three course fixed menu that includes starters, entrees, and desserts. The service in the Tree Tops Restaurant was pretty slow so just know that you’re in for a leisurely meal full of good food at a slow pace.
Lake Lure Hotels
My three main recommendations (in this order) for Lake Lure Hotels would be:
- The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa – it’s close to all of the action, has amazing historical significance, and I love that there’s an on-site spa
- The Lodge on Lake Lure – just seems like an incredible place to relax, enjoy good food, and spend a weekend on the lake
- Rumbling Bald Resort – better option for families or big groups who want multiple rooms, mini golf courses, and beach access
All three Lake Lure hotels are good choices so just make a decision based on what’s right for your budget, your group, and your itinerary for the trip!
Closest Airport to Lake Lure NC
Lake Lure is one of those places that is probably best visited either on a road trip or you’ll want to rent a car. Neither of the airports below are very close, but they’re definitely doable with a car.
- Asheville Regional Airport is about 45 minutes from Lake Lure
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport is about 1 1/2 hours from Lake Lure
Lake Lure Map
I’ve put together a map of all of these things to do in Lake Lure NC to help you get oriented. Most things are pretty close to one another but with a few outliers, I always find it’s helpful to have a map handy to plan out our trip! The only location not plotted on this map is the Tryon International Equestrian Center since it’s such an outlier location wise off in Mill Spring.