Why Southern Lake Lovers Will Always Choose the Lake Over the Beach

Trip to the lake, anyone?

Lake Lure in North Carolina
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

When the summer temperatures soar and the humidity becomes unbearable, Southerners seek solace along the water. But crowded beaches aren't for everyone. Many prefer the lake life, which is found in abundance in the region's plentiful waterways, an easy drive from major cities. So many early memories include fishing excursions, trips on boats, and relaxing on the dock, so it's easy to see why some choose the lake over the beach. Still not convinced? This roundup of reasons may convert you to a lake lover too.

The Unique History of Southern Lakes

Because the South doesn't have many natural lakes, rivers were dammed to create hydroelectric power and manage flooding starting in the 1900s. The Tennessee Valley Authority and Georgia Power are two of the groups responsible for the lakes we have today. Small towns were displaced to make room for these lakes and stories abound of what lies beneath them. South Carolina's Lake Murray has bomber airplanes and railroad tank cars submerged while Lake Norman in North Carolina is said to have a former summer camp underneath.

Outdoor Recreation

There is no shortage of things to do on the lake, from fishing to boating, waterskiing, kayaking, wakeboarding, and tubing. Watersports on the ocean require a bit more experience, especially surfing, while lakes are beginner-friendly since you don't have to worry about tides or waves. There are also marinas where you can rent boats and jet-skis if you don't have your own. The South's lakes have also hosted important events like countless fishing tournaments. Lake Lanier even held the rowing and kayaking competitions during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Charming Towns

Some of our favorite towns in the South are along lakes, with rows of shops and restaurants and each with a unique energy. They serve as the perfect gateways for exploring the lakes, where you can pick up essentials for your time on the water.

To name a few, Lake Lure, North Carolina, which famously stood in as the backdrop for the film Dirty Dancing, is now hosting an annual festival where dancers reenact the iconic scene. Greensboro, Georgia is the gateway to Lake Oconee, the second largest lake in the state with a Ritz-Carlton resort and a popular restaurant with legendary buttermilk pie. For over a century, residents of New Orleans have escaped to the small town atmosphere on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in the towns of Mandeville and Covington. Lake Ouachita, near the thermal baths of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is home to a rare species of jellyfish and offers scuba diving to experience the wildlife.

No Sand, No Problem

If you don't care for the sand, the lakes are for you. Some have shorelines and artificial beaches, but for the most part, the best places to enjoy the lake are on boats and docks. There's nothing quite as nice as relaxing on the porch of a lakefront accommodations, ranging from rental homes to luxury resorts. You also don't have to worry about beach parking or lugging your gear with you, fighting for a spot on the sand. Just show up and enjoy!

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