The South's Best Lake Towns 2022

Lake Lure
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

A vacation in a lake town is a guaranteed dose of old-fashioned family fun. Unlike beach towns, lake towns never close for an off season, so there's always plenty to do and see year-round. With serene scenes, mountain-framed horizons, and breathtaking stretches of river and lake valleys, lake life looks different in every state, and we're here to celebrate them all.

Our readers voted on their favorites, and while no two stays are alike, we're sure that you'll find plenty of rest and relaxation in each of them. (They come highly recommended.) From a time-capsule-worthy main drag in Greensboro, Georgia, to a sun-soaked chain of lakes in Winter Haven, Florida, these are the South's best lake towns of 2022.

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10. Florence, Alabama

Florence, AL from the Sheffield Bluffs
Cliff Billingsley/Getty Images

What do Frank Lloyd Wright, shellfish, and the Tennessee River all have in common? You can find traces of all of them in Florence, Alabama. Take a tour of Wright's Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Alabama. Test your muscles and head downriver to Wilson Lake, where there are plenty of spots to stay and enjoy fresh shellfish by the water. Admire the view of the Tennessee River from the McFarland Park Fishing Pier and be sure to grab a bite to eat at Stanfield's River Bottom Grill with a dockside view of the harbor.

Plan your trip.

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9. Heber Springs, Arkansas

Heber Springs, AR
Marine2844 / Getty Images

Long-time locals and even some visitors are convinced that there's something in the water in this lake town. Surprisingly, they're not talking about the lake water–although there's plenty of enjoyment to be had there. Legend has it that seven mineral springs in Springs Park have healing powers. Enjoy the natural beauty while hiking through the park, or set out for a swim in nearby Greers Ferry Lake.

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8. Conroe, Texas

conroe texas
Visit Conroe

Conroe, Texas, has made its name as a live music destination with shows happening in town almost every day. When you're wiped from a day spent on the water and under the sun at Lake Conroe, there's nothing like kicking back at a local brewery and enjoying some tunes. At B-52 Brewery, you'll find them serving up a new brew release every Friday alongside live music performances.

Plan your trip.

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7. Davidson, North Carolina

Lake Norman, Davidson, North Carolina
Courtesy of the Town of Davidson

The red-brick sidewalks and friendly locals in this town are sure to make you nostalgic for childhood days on the water. At The Soda Shop, centrally located on one of Davidson's main drags, you'll find vintage sips and classic comfort food any time of the day. After spending the day on Lake Norman, North Carolina's largest man-made lake, pop into any of the locally owned shops for a handmade souvenir.

Plan your trip.

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6. Seneca, South Carolina

Seneca, South Carolina
Courtesy of the City of Seneca

"The City of Opportunity" offers plenty of rest-and-relaxation opportunities to its visitors. Explore the Seneca Historic District where wraparound porches are a staple on every home and Southern charm is a way of life, then grab a bite to eat at Dimas Brothers Café before renting a kayak at Lake Keowee Marina to take in the views on the water.

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5. Greensboro, Georgia

Greensboro, Georgia - Lake Oconee
Courtesy of Greene County CVB

Take a stroll through this town, and you'll understand why it's a popular destination. Enjoy Greensboro's historic charm: Main Street bustles with locally owned businesses and eateries, and Lake Oconee is a destination for water activities. You can even catch a game of golf on one of the many greens located across the lake. Watch the sun set over the town while grabbing a pint at Oconee Brewing Company, or beat the early bird crowd and catch the sunrise with a side of coffee and buttermilk pancakes at Café 44.

Plan your trip.

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4. Guntersville, Alabama

Best Southern Travel Destinations: Lake Guntersville
Van Chaplin

You're sure to catch your fix of small-town charm and slow country living in this Alabama town. Alabama's Lake Town lives up to its moniker by offering plenty of activities on and off the water. Browse Art on the Lake, where a variety of local art can be viewed and purchased; enjoy a zipline adventure at Screaming Eagle at Lake Guntersville, where you'll catch a great view of Northeastern Alabama forests and learn about the efforts Guntersville has made to restore the North American Bald Eagle population; and finish your stay with the best of lakeside cooking at Wintzell's Oyster House.

Plan your trip.

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3. Mount Dora, Florida

Mount Dora, Florida
Getty Images

An hour north of Orlando, you'll find this quaint small town full of antique shops and historic charm on the edge of Lake Dora. Stay at Lakeside Inn, Florida's oldest continuously operating hotel, and get your fill of delicious Florida cuisine, offered by chef Norman Van Aken at his restaurant 1921. Be sure to make a stop at the iconic Mount Dora Lighthouse, one of only three registered freshwater lighthouses in the country.

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2. Winter Haven, Florida

winter haven florida
Visit Central Florida

Most people visit Florida for its beaches, but land-locked in the center of the Sunshine State is Winter Haven, a spot known for its Chain of Lakes. Whether you explore its canal-linked lakes via paddle board or a water boat cruise, you'll find plenty of lakeside dining with fresh afternoon catches along the way. Traveling with kids or an inner child at heart? Consider a visit to the LEGOLAND Theme Park.

Plan your trip.

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1. Lake Lure, North Carolina

Lake Lure
Robbie Caponetto

Nestled in a valley between the Piedmont region and Appalachian Mountains, this town has been luring people to its picturesque waters for years–especially since it was the filming location for Dirty Dancing. If you're looking to have the time of your life, this quiet lake town is meant for you. Every outdoor activity you can imagine–swimming, hiking, rock climbing, golfing, canoeing, fishing, water skiing, and more–is possible at Lake Lure, and you'll still find plenty of time for relaxation once the sun sinks behind Chimney Rock each evening.

Plan your trip.

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