With so much to see and do at Smith Mountain Lake both on and off the water, it can be tough settling on the perfect family-friendly itinerary. So we’re sharing our most tried and true, kid-approved activities and attractions to guarantee the whole family has a blast.
Climb Aboard the Virginia Dare
Little ones, tweens and teens will love a sightseeing cruise aboard the iconic Virginia Dare. This 63-foot, 19th century replica sidewheeler offers unforgettable excursions, usually with lunch and dinner included, most days from April through December.
Plan an Angling Expedition
Looking for a memorable outing that multiple generations will enjoy? Kids, parents and grandparents can all participate in a chartered fishing excursion. Plan a half or full day with one of SML’s many qualified local guides, most of whom provide the boat and all necessary equipment.
Hit the Beach
Both SML State Park and SML Community Park have guarded sandy beaches open in season. Read more.
Head to Bridgewater Plaza
The hub of SML is always a great spot to bring the kiddos. Shops, restaurants and an arcade are open year-round. In season, enjoy mini golf, a rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline, carnival games and an ice cream shop.
Cozy Up to Alpacas
Bring the family to a local alpaca farm or retail shop to learn more about these gentle, domesticated animals and the importance of alpaca textiles. Some area farms offer educational tours and special events.
Get Up, Up and Away
Get a bird’s eye view of Smith Mountain Lake with a sightseeing trip from SML Aviation. You and up to three other passengers can soar above the lake, soaking in the beauty and identifying local landmarks.
Try New Watersports
A number of commercial rental companies around the lake offer everything you need to enjoy fun on the water, including skis, inflatables and water toys, wakeboards, paddleboards, canoes and kayaks. Ask about boat rentals, designated captains and lessons.
Dig Into Education and Adventure
One of the nation’s top-ranked 4-H facilities is located on 120 acres of forest, streams and fields right along the shores of Smith Mountain Lake. Dynamic, hands-on learning experiences for kids, teens, adults and families are scheduled all year long, including the popular Harry Potter Camp in October.
Dive Into Local History
Explore Virginia’s rich heritage by visiting the many historic and educational sites in the Smith Mountain Lake region, including Booker T. Washington Monument and the National D-Day Memorial.
Have Bushels of Fun
In the counties that surround SML you’ll find plenty of opportunities to appreciate nature’s seasonal bounty. Local pick-your-own farms offer peaches, plums, nectarines and a variety of berries in the spring and early summer. Late summer and fall are perfect for apple picking and a trip to the pumpkin patch. Explore agritourism.
Spend some quiet time off the water by scheduling a horseback riding excursion. Slocum’s Appaloosa Ranch offers not only miles of peaceful trails to explore in our scenic countryside, but lessons and camps.
Take a Hike
The SML region is filled with opportunities for day hikes ranging from easy to advanced. Enjoy incredible scenery, wildlife watching and good old fashioned family time when you hit one of the trails detailed here and here.
Find the Love
Love is at the heart of every vacation to Smith Mountain Lake and we whole-heartedly recommend you document the sentiment by visiting any (or all!) of the eight LOVEworks scattered around our region. Find a full list and directions at virginia.org/LOVE.
Feed the Fish
A trip to the lake with little ones isn’t complete without a stop at Bridgewater Marina to feed popcorn to the giant carp that gather around the docks. Each bag costs just $1 with all proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia.
Grab a Sweet Treat
There are plenty of places around the area to enjoy ice cream, cupcakes and other special treats. Visit our Dining Guide to find your new favorite.
Hit the Links
If your kids are into golf, make a tee time at one of the area’s public golf courses and ask about camps and lessons. Another hole in one for fun is mini golf. Find details on both options on our Golf page.
Pack up the kids and head out for some cultural exploration. Roanoke’s Center in the Square features an 8,000-gallon living coral reef aquarium, a pinball museum, science museum and more. Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke and Little Town Players in Bedford produce theatrical productions year-round, including musicals and children’s theater.
Introduce your kids to the sport of sailing with an outing or lesson from Smith Mountain Lake Sailing School. Students learn about safety, navigation, wind conditions and proper preparation for a sailing excursion.
Get in Touch with Nature
Smith Mountain Lake State Park offers tons of kid-friendly programs, including night hikes, hay rides, canoe trips, ranger-guided wildlife treks and Junior Naturalists, a program for kids 6-10 that focuses on nature, arts and crafts.
Take in a Movie
Westlake Cinema is a four-plex movie theater with stadium seating, Real D 3D, concessions and games. It’s open year-round and usually has at least one kid’s film showing, sometimes more.
Document your trip and the memories made with you kids by scheduling a family photo session while you’re here. A number of experienced local photographers offer professional services, including help determining the perfect location. Be sure to book in advance!