Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Top Family Activities on Smith Mountain Lake

Family by the lake

Smith Mountain Lake, or SML as we locals call it, offers family-friendly activities year-round. Here’s what you can do with your family this weekend:


Getting out on the water is the best way to explore the lake. There are several marinas in SML that offer dockage and slips, including:

These marinas offer repair and maintenance services, along with lodging and waterfront dining. Annual events, such as the highly anticipated boat show and cardboard boat regatta, take place here throughout the year. You’ll also find recreational vehicle (RV) parks in and around SML for your convenience.

Don’t have your own boat? Rent one from any of the marinas mentioned above.


SML is a renowned fishing spot. Bring some rods and spend the day fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Electrofishing surveys have found that largemouth bass in SML can weigh up to two to four pounds, depending on the season. Drop your bait in the coves for a chance to catch these beauties – shallower waters and low boating traffic will work to your advantage.The highest concentration of largemouth bass can be found upstream, as you go further away from the dam. Smallmouth bass can be found in the reservoir’s lower portion.Other sport species include catfish and sunfish.


If you’re feeling more adventurous than usual, try wakeboarding. One of SML’s most popular water activities, wakeboarding enthusiasts will enjoy the lake, which hosts amateur and professional competitions. Still learning to wakeboard? The Smith Mountain Wake Company offers age-appropriate lessons to kids and adults alike.


For something more laid-back, try kayaking. It’s a low-key workout that helps you burn calories and build muscle strength. Admire views of the surrounding mountains as you paddle out into the water.There are numerous kayak rentals in SML, some of which offer discounts if you visit during off-season. Crazy Horse Marina, for one, offers kayak rentals, in addition to tubes, floats, and slides.


Your family will have plenty to do on land as well. Smith Mountain Lake State Park offers hiking and camping opportunities. Located on the northern shore of SML, the protected area is populated by creeks, rock shelters, and sandy beaches. Go on a guided hike and admire the scenery. Rough it up and sleep under the stars.


You can also play miniature golf at any of these places around SML:


Enjoy the perfect picnic setting at Smith Mountain Lake State Park’s camping sites. Bring food to share and just bask in the peaceful surroundings. Smith Mountain Lake Community Park, located in the portion of SML that falls within Franklin County, is also a great spot for a picnic. Roll out a blanket and soak in the view.

Lakeside dining

Feast on steak, pizza, and fresh seafood right by the water. Waller’s brings you a varied menu and live music in a lakeside setting. Jack’s Place offers American-Italian fare and craft beer in a Caribbean-themed environment.The on-site restaurant at Mitchell’s Point Marina serves crab cakes and fish and chips. The best tables can found in the outdoor patio. Their tiki bar offers amazing drinks.

Heath’s Waterfront Grill serves crab legs and fried calamari, while The Landing Restaurant is known for excellent cuisine and stunning views of the lake.

Live in SML and enjoy these fantastic activities year-round. Call me, Jane Sullivan Horne, at 540-493-1690 for more information.