The 10 Best Lakes for Swimming in North Carolina

If you want a change of landscape from the states East Coast, the best lakes for swimming in North Carolina are worth visiting.

You can book a nearby accommodation in these lakes and you can also enjoy a fun time outdoors on your own or with friends and family.

The following lakes are worth visiting if you’re an active person who loves swimming outdoors.

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10. Falls Lake

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Falls Lake is situated only 10 minutes away from Durham. With good accessibility, the lake features 5 approved swimming areas. Watersports are also popular here and you’ll find private boaters as well as boat rental companies here. Some local tour guides can also take you around the lake to attractions such as the Rolling View when you’re done swimming and when you simply want to spend a bit more time out in nature.

9. Cliffside Lake

Cliffside is a top destination for families. You can take your kids swimming here and the best part is the lake has its beach and dock. But you also need to know boats aren’t allowed on Cliffside Lake which means you won’t be able to fish from a boat. If you still want to catch impressive trout, you need to fish from the shore. When you want a new challenge for you and your family, you can begin hiking the surrounding area for a few waterfalls that your kids are going to be impressed by.

8. Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake Reservoir is another top North Carolina destination for swimmers. It has a few designated areas for swimming as well as for kayaking and paddle boating. In theory, the lake is maintained by the local community and its off-limits. In practice, you can swim here respecting others and their activities. You’ll also have to share the lake with bird watching enthusiasts and there are plenty of hawks around it. For more details on the lake, you can call one of the yacht clubs running events on Beaver Lake.

7. Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie is technically both in North and South Carolina. But its vast area makes it a perfect destination for multiple activities which include swimming. You can start your adventure anywhere alongside its hundreds of miles of shoreline. Those traveling in groups can also chip in to rent a yacht from the local club. If you’re the type of person who also loves shopping you’re at the right lake as well. North Carolina antiques can be found in the nearby specialized stores.

6. High Rock Lake

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High Rock Lake is another top destination if you want to swim and go out kayaking. The location is most attractive for its bass but there are so many options to spend your time here. You can even find accommodation right on its shores with a personal dock.

Watersports are also allowed here. If you like waterskiing, your swimming sessions can be taken to a new level on the lake. Food options aren’t limited either. We recommend stopping by Mortiz Restaurant for a fresh lunch or dinner.

5. Lake James

Lake James is a good location for a few days away from the city. You can swim and hike here but you need to expect other tourists as it has been featured in a few movies. Most people with kids who come to the lake are also interested in the Holly Discovery Trail which is an easy hike. There’s even a small restaurant to visit after an active day spent outdoors.

4. Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake is mostly known for its rugged beauty. It’s one of those lakes which seems untouched and this makes sense as it’s under the umbrella of the National Park Service. Swimmers normally head out to Panther Creek in the area and it’s worth having a look at the area before heading off to the nearby trails. But since the shoreline remains largely untouched, you’ll be mostly walking around the lake for its natural beauty.

3. Lake Santeetlah

We recommend Lake Santeetlah mainly for its incredible swimming location and the accommodation options for 2 or 4 people. You can stay at small cabins right on the lake’s shore which makes swimming access much easier. With a shoreline stretching more than 70 miles, these small cabins are numerous. This is also the reason why many kayakers also come here to spend their weekends.

2. Lake Lure

Lake Lure is an impressive swimming destination with a constant flow of visitors. Most people come to see the lake that has been featured in Dirty Dancing. A small part of visitors also loves the nearby walks they can have on the trails around the lake. Guesthouses here are also some of the best in the state with options even for large groups. When you want to take a break from all the swimming, we also recommend visiting the nearby Canopy Ridge Farm for some zip-line fun.

But if you’re there for water activities only, you can also arrange rentals for a swimming alternative. Kayaks, canoes, and boats are found here easily. But most swimmers rent a paddleboard to get going on the lake for hours each day.

1. Lake Norman

If you’re after an even larger lake, you need to visit Lake Norman. With over 500 miles of shoreline, it ensures you won’t get bored with the same views. You can travel and camp around the lake and swim in a different location every day.

But the lake also offers plenty of cabins with their dock to swim from. Houses for up to 10 guests are very popular here. Then there are a few hiking trails you need to see as well. They’re all properly marked. In the evening, you can head back and relax before heading out to party locations around the lake as it’s also known for its nightlife scene. With so many things to do, Lake Norman has something to offer regardless of what you like to do and how long you like to swim.