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Nothing quite captures the ambiance of everything we love about summer like the lake, especially our lakes in North Carolina. The summers aren’t quite so scorching hot, and you have a lush, green mountain backdrop to add to the scenery. For anyone reading this who might be a lake bum, we’ve compiled a list of ways of how to have fun at the lake in Western North Carolina.

The question of how to have fun at the lake on your next North Carolina vacation starts with choosing the perfect lake house vacation rental. We can help you find a lakefront vacation home with views, a single-family rental that can fit everyone, and more. This guide to how to have fun at the lake includes fun lake activities like fishing, boating, tubing, kayaking, swimming and picnics. Learn about fun things to do at the lake with friends and family. We’ll also tell you about some of the best lake towns in North Carolina. 

lake house vacation rentals in north carolina

Lake House Vacation Rentals in North Carolina

Step one in having fun at the lake is choosing the perfect lake house for your North Carolina lake vacation

Where do we begin? If you are coming to the Western North Carolina mountains, you need to know which lakes you have the option of visiting before you figure out where you want to stay and how you’re going to have fun on the lake.

The most popular lakes to visit in Western North Carolina are:

Lake Glenville – Lake Glenville is 6 miles long and has 26 miles of shoreline for you to enjoy.

Fairfield Lake – This private lake is located in the Country Club of Sapphire Valley and remains a private lake to those residents and guests who are renting one of our vacation rentals in this community, and taking advantage of the amenities.

Lake Toxaway – The largest private lake in North Carolina, Lake Toxaway is a prestigious, private lake that is only available to residents and their guests, which would be you if you are renting one of our Landmark Vacation Rentals in Lake Toxaway.

Cliffside Lake – This public lake in Highlands is admittedly much smaller than the above three, but if you’re looking for a simple day of lake fun and you aren’t looking to spend the day on a boat, this a great place to picnic, swim, and walk the lake on its designated path with the family dog. This is a great option if you’d like to enjoy a mountain lake with small children.

Luckily for you, we have vacation rentals that give you access to all of these lakes! You can even rent a home right on the water.

What Do You Do at a Lake House?

what do you do at a lake house

Now that you’ve decided where you are staying and which lake you’ll have access to, how are you going to enjoy your time there? We have plenty of suggestions:


Many people flock to the North Carolina mountains each year for fishing. Many of our lakes and streams are stocked with a variety of fish. In Lake Toxaway, there are approximately 720 acres of fishable water, including a children’s pond for the littlest members of the family. If you are staying in one of our Landmark Vacation rentals there, you will have an abundance of options for fishing spots!

Don’t forget, no matter where you choose to spend the day fishing, you’ll need a North Carolina fishing license. You can purchase one at McNeeley’s Ace Hardware or Lake Toxaway Trading post. There are different types of licenses for NC residents and non-NC residents and they cost different prices, so make sure you ask about this.

Have any other questions about fishing on one of our North Carolina lakes? Brookings Anglers, with locations in both Highlands and Cashiers, is one of our greatest local resources for all things fishing. You can stop by there for any fishing gear you might need, or you can ask them about their guided tours if you are new to the sport. Whatever the case, we have many resources to help you figure out how to have fun on the lake while fishing.


Of course, we have to mention boating first. If you have your own boat, perfect! You’re already ahead. If you don’t, we can recommend a few places to rent one. We’ll get to that later on. You can choose to rent pontoons, tritoons, and more. You can use your boat as an oasis to sit in the middle of the lake and relax, or you can use it as the headquarters for other water sports you want to try.


You’ll definitely need a boat for this high-speed water activity! This one is a favorite for kids and teenagers. Attach a tube to the back of your boat and let the lake goers in your family have the ride of their life, and tell them to hold on tight.

Canoeing / Kayaking

Pick your preference and have it your way! Canoeing or kayaking is an awesome way to not only get some exercise outside and burn energy, but it’s a great way to take in the mountain lake scenery at your own pace. And of course, it’s a great workout! You can always bring your own, or rent one.

Jet skiing

If an adrenaline rush is what you live for, you’ll love this fast-paced watersport. Jet skiing can give you the speed and thrill if you want some excitement on the lake. You can cover lots of ground and see it all in no time!


Simple enough, right? Doing cannonballs off the dock and wading around in the lake will never go out of style, and you don’t need to spend a dime to do it, either! We always recommend a life vest, though, for everyone in the family.


Of course, this doesn’t need to be done on the lake, but if you prefer a more slow-paced vacation and just want to take in the scenery with no fuss, packing a picnic and maybe even some corn hole boards would make for a great way to have fun at the lake.

Where to Rent Your Lake Toys

If you are figuring out how to have fun on the lake, you have to figure out where to rent any lake toys you might want! We have a few suggestions to get you started:

What Every Lake House Should Have?

what every lake house should have

The only difference between staying in a landlocked home is the obvious one—you’ll be right on the lake. There are some things you’ll need to make sure you have on hand in case of emergencies so your North Carolina lake vacation is as fun as possible. There isn’t anything inherently dangerous about staying on a lake. These essentials are just good to have on hand, especially if you have children. Our lake house vacation rentals have a rustic charm about them and the perfect scenic backdrop—a serene and beautiful glistening lake. Some of them may already come with some of these items.

Here are some lake house must-have safety items to bring with you:

  • Battery-operated flashlights
  • First aid kits
  • Life vests
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio

What Do I Need for a Week at the Lake?

They say the longer you stay at the lake, the more you’re able to fully relax. And we want to make sure you’re able to do so while having the maximum amount of fun at the lake.

This is the ultimate list of essentials to pack for a week on the lake:

  • Swimsuits (bring a few extras)
  • Plastic bags for wet swimsuits
  • Extra changes of dry clothes just in case
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Water shoes
  • Towels (ask about your rental. It may already come with towels)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Safety items from the list above
  •  Cooler
  • Noodles, gloats and inflatable tubes
  • ·Fishing poles and fishing equipment
  • Remember to get your fishing license if you don’t have it
  • Boat registration if you’re bringing your own boat
  • Games like football, volleyball and Frisbee
  • Any essentials for your pet like water bowls, food, dog toys and beds
  • Plastic cups and bottles
  • Waterproof speaker
  • Portable phone chargers

Landmark Lake House Vacation Rentals

We live and play by our surrounding mountain lakes, and we know the best spots to go hang out by the water. We also have some incredible luxury vacation rentals on the water for those of you who love lake life. You can truly get a taste for what it might be like to stay a night, a week, or a lifetime by visiting one of our lakes. Let us help you find what you’re looking for so you can figure out for yourself how to have fun at the lake in Western North Carolina. Contact us today to start planning your next North Carolina lake vacation!