By Dana DiSante
Surrounded by scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is an ideal weekend vacation for families or a romantic getaway for couples.
As winter approaches, weekend getaways become more difficult to arrange. The cold weather can discourage travelers, but Smith Mountain Lake thrives when wrapped with fall’s foliage or covered with winter’s frost. Nicknamed The Jewel of the Blue Ridge, this lakeside town offers a variety of outdoor adventures, art galleries and dozens of restaurants that offer charming ambiance and resort-style luxury.
To map out your mountain excursion, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association’s app can help. The Blue Ridge Parkway-Travel Planner mobile app, which is compatible with Android and Apple, maps trails, wildlife and driving routes to help visitors see everything the Roanoke region has to offer. Additionally, the National Park Service contributed to the app to help visitors discover the natural splendor of Smith Mountain Lake.
Below are some can’t-miss spots you should add to your itinerary:
The Bridgewater Plaza is located near shops and restaurants, so visitors can spend the day hanging out while enjoying the surrounding mountain landscape. For those interested in feeding fish as opposed to catching them, visiting the carp at the plaza is a great way to connect to the lake. For young thrill-seekers, The Lucky Duck, an adventure and entertainment center, leads Smith Mountain Lake in extreme activities. Elsewhere, you can play mini golf at the Wild West-inspired Harbortown Miniature Golf Course. Art appreciators can head to The Little Gallery on Smith Mountain Lake, which highlights artists from across the globe. // 16430 Booker T. Washington Highway, Moneta; 540-721-4594
It isn’t difficult to persuade visitors to tour Hickory Hill Vineyard and Winery. Tasting the different wine blends available while taking in a picturesque view of the mountains makes for a tranquil vacation. The farmhouse, built in 1923, is a historic landmark that the entire family can appreciate, as kids are welcome at the vineyard, too. // 1722 Hickory Cove Lane, Moneta; 540-296-1393
Spring Valley Farm and Cabins
Whether you are an experienced equestrian or have never ridden a horse before, this animal farm has unparalleled riding trails and scenic views. Or, you can let someone else take the reins during an old-fashioned carriage ride. Children are welcome to participate in instructor-led pony carousel rides around the lake and pond. // 1190 Horseshoe Bend Road, Moneta; 540-309-6884
The construction of the Smith Mountain Lake Dam helped brand the lake as an environmental wonder. Today, the visitor center provides an inside look into how the dam was created with historical accounts, interactive exhibits and scale models of the Roanoke region. // 16430 Booker T. Washington Highway, Unit 2, Moneta; 540-721-1203