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Your guide to Lake Norman
All About Lake Norman
The largest manmade lake in North Carolina, Lake Norman offers 500 miles of coastline and several marinas just north of the Charlotte metropolitan area. On a hot summer day, the surface of the lake is dotted with boaters, kayakers, and waterskiers, while swimmers splash into the water from the shores of Lake Norman State Park, which has a 125-yard long swimming beach. You can also catch a sunset dinner cruise here, or go on a sailing excursion through the lake’s island passages and winding coastline. The lake area is also home to numerous hiking and biking trails, including a popular network comprising more than 30 miles of single-track mountain biking routes.
Several towns dot the shoreline around Lake Norman, the largest being Cornelius, Davidson, and Westport, where you can grab amenities, explore a historic Main Street, or enjoy a crab cake sandwich at a waterfront restaurant. With Charlotte just a short drive away, Lake Norman is an ideal lake getaway that’s still close to a big city.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Lake Norman
As most of the area attractions are centered around the water, summer is a popular time for Lake Norman cabin rentals. You can expect mostly hot weather at this time of year with occasional rain (so pack rain gear just in case). The shoulder seasons bring pleasantly crisp temperatures that are great for hiking among spring’s wildflower blooms or mountain biking among the orange hues of fall foliage. Winters can get cold by the lake with occasional snowfall.
With so many towns and communities throughout the lake region, there are plenty of events to keep you busy throughout the year. Huntersville hosts the Loch Norman Highland Games in April, featuring dancing, bagpipe bands, and traditional Scottish food. Starting in October, the town celebrates a Renaissance Festival that runs through the end of November.
Top things to do in Lake Norman
Lake Norman State Park
Located on the northern shore of Lake Norman, Lake Norman State Park draws hikers, bikers, and horseback riders to this lakefront recreation area. This is a popular spot to swim, as the park offers numerous amenities, including a bath house and concession stand, on a grassy knoll above the water. You can also catch the popular Lake Shore Trail here, which offers expansive views of Lake Norman.
Davidson is a small college town on the western shores of Lake Norman. The town’s Main Street, which is just a short walk from the water, offers farm-to-table eateries, streetside cafes, and artisan shops along with seasonal farmers markets. You can browse a beloved bookstore here, or pop into a diner serving old-fashioned floats and sodas.
Cap off a day at Lake Norman with a sunset sail across its deep blue waters. Several local operators offer dinner cruises on water crafts ranging from large yachts to more intimate sailboat voyages, departing from marinas and towns across the area.