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.
Fun Things to Do in Lake Lure NC
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! I even did a retreat back in the day at another popular spot for Dirty Dancing fans in Virginia!
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!
So today I’ve put together some of the best things to do in Lake Lure NC based on my own experiences! It’s truly a great place and the perfect way to spend a couple of days enjoying the great outdoors. It’s on my list for our next family vacation for sure!
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 Dance Festival
One of the biggest must-dos in the past for Dirty Dancing fans was the annual Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Festival that had dance lessons, watermelon races, and more.
Unfortunately the Dirty Dancing version of the festival has been cancelled and replaced with a Lake Lure Dance Festival instead. While it’s not Dirty Dancing themed, it will still have the Asheville Ballet teaching dance moves, live bands, an artisan village with handcrafted items, and of course – food!
This year’s event is a one-day event being held on Saturday, September 16th and you can find all of the details here.
If you want to see what the festival used to look like, check out the video in this post!
#2 – Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Lake Lift Competition
The culminating event of the Lake Lure Dirty Dancing festival used to be a big lake lift competition where couples try to do the infamous lift in the lake.
It was 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 when I went 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.
Unfortunately this is no longer happening, but I had to keep these pictures in because they were superb!
#3 – Play Golf Where Baby’s Dad Did
If you want to see the filming location 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.
If you’re more interested in golf than the movie, you can take a few swings on the nearby Apple Valley Golf Course as well.
#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!
Unfortunately the Esmerelda Restaurant and Inn are closed throughout 2023 for renovations. Check out their website to stay up to date on when the grand reopening will happen.
#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 tours? Lake Lure Tours!
Don’t want to do a tour? Lake Lure Tours also offers motorized and non-motorized boat rentals (no water skiing allowed).
#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 beautiful 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 for scenic views and then down to the Hickory Nut Falls at the bottom of the Chimney Rock Park trail. Honestly there’s plenty of hiking in the area – those are just two of the highlights and can keep the entire family busy and outdoors for a few hours, especially if you appreciate great views!
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 to see even more of Hickory Nut Gorge.
In addition to the hiking, the welcome center in the Chimney Rock State Park also has a den area and daily animal encounters that would be a great activity for kids, or adults if you’re not into the outdoor activities like rock climbing.
#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 of Chimney Rock Village.
There’s also a place for ice cream (because isn’t there always) if you look hard enough!
# 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. And this particular one started as the historic Rocky Broad River Bridge and now it’s a flowering bridge.
The Friends of 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. It’s truly a way to make an old bridge feel more like a new bridge every year.
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! It’s such a unique experience that everyone should check out! It’s easily one of my favorite places in all of Lake Lure.
#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! It’s open year round but my favorite time to enjoy is when the water is a little warmer during summer months (from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend).
There are tons of different beach areas throughout Lake Lure including beaches at the Rumbling Bald Resort, the main beach (with a water slide) 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, go for a paddle board ride, knock off some of the things on your summer bucket list, and just relax. The Lake Lure Beach & Water Park 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 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.
Or if you’d prefer to actually get on a horse and go for trail rides (or no trails), you can rent horses or book tours at Cedar Creek Stables along with other stables in the area.
12 – Eat at 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! Pick a restaurant with a view and enjoy the food and scenery.
If you need recommendations try LaStrada at Lake Lure. The garlic rolls, pizza, and cheesecake platter were top notch!
#13 – 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! (Don’t worry if you don’t get in, there is always another lake house available to book).
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.
More Things to Do in Lake Lure
If those things aren’t enough, these are some of the other things that I have on my list for next time we visit that came recommended by locals, friends, or my readers! If you have others to add, please let me know in the comments!
- Canopy Ridge Farm Zipline – this is ranked as Lake Lure’s #1 thing to do on TripAdvisor. My kids weren’t old enough for this last time we were there, but it looks amazing!
- Right Track Toy Train Museum – if you have a train lover, this small museum has tracks with working trains that date all the way back to the 1900s! There’s also a place with small toy trains and push trains for kids making it a great too hot to be outside day activity. Sadly, the museum will be closing permanently after this summer.
- Water Sports Adventures – if you want to get out on the water on an adventure on an inner tube, water ski, or wakeboard Lake Lure Adventure Company has tons of options to choose from, including ones for the kids!
- Morse Park – if you just want somewhere to sit down for a few minutes while the kids get out some wiggles, Morse Park has a playground, basketball court, picnic tables, and more. Plus, it’s part of the Town Center Walkway that also connects to the Flowering Bridge.
- South Mountains NC State Park – this is one of two state parks (the other is Chimney Rock) in the Lake Lure are and one of the best places to enjoying the great outdoors through fishing, biking, and hiking!
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? The town of Lake Lure is about an hour north of Spartanburg, 90 minutes west of Charlotte, and 45 minutes east of Asheville, NC in Western North Carolina. It’s in the Blue Ridge foothills and a great place to have a good time!
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. Plus the beach is within walking distance.
- The Lodge on Lake Lure – just seems like an incredible place to relax, enjoy good food, and spend a weekend on the lake! It’s a great way to splurge!
- Rumbling Bald Resort – better option for families or big groups who want multiple rooms, mini golf courses, and beach access. Plus, they have everything from a cozy cabin to a huge group cabin.
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 FAQs
Lake Lure is known for being one of the sites that the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. However, it’s so much more than that with a gorgeous lake, beautiful state parks, and plenty of places to get out and relax and play in the great outdoors.
Lake Lure is a great place to go swimming as long as you follow the laws of the land. Currently it’s against the law (and unsafe) to swim in Lake Lure off the shore of any town-owned property other than the town-owned beach. There are some other rules an regulations about swimming in Lake Lure here. Look for the question about where to swim in Lake Lure.
Portions of the movie Dirty Dancing were filmed at various locations around Lake Lure, North Carolina.