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Anyone from or have visited Smith Mountain Lake, VA?

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Hey all.

There's not much of a reason to ever leave the beautiful finger lakes region that we have here in western NY but we love to travel and explore when time permits. I have stumbled upon pictures and research of a lake in Virginia that peaked my interest and reminded me of the clean water nestled in between picturesque hills here in Canandaigua. Smith Mountain Lake, VA has made my "must visit" list based on what I've read and learned about it. I love Virginia and have visited many areas but SML is off the beaten path and has been bypassed on the Interstate during our travels. I was hoping I'd find someone on here that has visited, vacationed or maybe even lives or has a boat on the lake that could share their opinion about the area. If it sounds good, maybe I will schedule a cottage rental or vacation with the family. Maybe even rent a boat for a day next summer. What are the do's/don'ts? What area is the best? Where would you recommend I avoid? Is the water as clean as our NY finger lakes? Etc.... Share you thoughts. Take your time....I've got all fall, winter, and spring to consider and plan...lol. Thanks.

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Don't know how the Finger Lakes up in NY are so I unfortunately can't compare for you. However, I will say that SML is a fairly clear lake depending on time of year, weather, etc. When swimming, I could usually see my feet....for someone who usually boats in rivers that's pretty clear water.

Geographically, the south side of the lake is where you want to be for recreation. The north side is narrower and less pretty/clear it is where the better fishing is. As you can see from the map its not a huge lake by any stretch, but the surroundings can be quite beautiful. We have several great memories with the mountains in the background of our boating activities.

As far as places to stay, depending on your interest you may not need to rent a house. SML has a few "hotel" style places that you can rent out for a week or weekend that provide boat launch and dock for guests. I've stayed at Bernards Landing (the only one I can personally recommend) and we were very pleased. There were very nice docks available for the guests. A beach area with grills, a swimming pool and rec center, as well as just generally beautiful grounds. We just rented a place for 5 days through the website. There also happened to be a beer festival on the grounds that day!

The surrounding area has a blend to provide as well from hiking to history. For a moving day, check out the D-Day memorial in Bedford. You may need a pick me up after that, so hit the Bedford Wine Trail. I can say any of the wineries are particularly good but Virginia is home to unpretentious wine. Most of these mom and pop shops are more than happy to let you into their homes and just hang out, talk, and sip for a while.

I wasn't very impressed with the restaurant options around, so we tended to buy groceries and cook for ourselves. There is a very nice Kroger not to far from everything. Bernards is about 20 minutes by car off the "main drag" so you have to stock up while you are out so you don't have to go out often.

I'm sure I could come up with more, but let me know what you are interested in and I'll try to provide more detail.


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