The Ultimate Smith Mountain Lake Guide For Winter & Spring
If you’re looking for a break that includes lakeside calm and four-seasons beauty, consider our Smith Mountain Lake guide for winter and spring in Virginia for your next getaway. You’ll enjoy cozying up in your rental on snowy winter days, enjoying springtime mountain air or having fun experiencing the many winter and spring activities Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding area have to offer. You may even find yourself packing up the rental vehicle to go further afield for some of the best winter and spring activities Virginia has to offer.
Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding area offer several ways to enjoy winter weather. Cross country skiing, snow tubing, or just building a snowman next to your rental are all things you can do when the white stuff blankets the area.
Smith Mountain Lake Guide to Water Activities
Believe it or not, the water of Smith Mountain Lake doesn’t freeze in the winter! That means you can enjoy water activities like boating and fishing, even when there’s snow on the mountaintops. You’ll want to stay away from in-water activities like swimming, skiing, or tubing as the water will still be cold. Take a guided fishing tour or wrap up in your warm clothes and head out for a cruise on your own rented vessel. In spring, when the snow thaws and the temperatures rise, you might dip your toes in, along with the boating and fishing – but don’t stay in the water too long!
Southwest Virginia Boat Show
Even if you’re not planning to buy a boat, the Southwest Virginia Boat Dealers Association puts on a massive boat show annually in February. The Roanoke Boat Show features all sorts of watercraft including speed boats, jet skis, and pontoons. You may not be hitching one to take home with you, but you can always dream or plan your next purchase for when you get to the shores of your home waters. Details for the 2021 boat show are to be announced.
See Smith Mountain Lake without having to captain the boat yourself. The Virginia Dare offers narrated sightseeing cruises around the lake. The double-decker paddlewheel boat puts around the lake for views of places like the house on a private island, Smith Mountain Dam, a Nantucket-style housing development, Sail Boating Club, three islands, an antique carousel and more! Make sure to bring your camera to capture all the breathtaking views.
Our Smith Mountain Lake guide to the surrounding area has plenty of restaurants to keep your belly full when you don’t want to cook for yourself. From breakfast to dinner to all the snacks in between, there’s an area restaurant to satisfy your hunger. Grab a slice at Lago Pizza, enjoy all your Italian favorites at Vinny’s, or pull up your vessel to the dock outside of Drifter’s for delicious seafood, barbecue, or new American foods. Head into nearby Roanoke for Asian cuisine, Cajun and Creole flavors, or Latin, Spanish, Cuban, and Caribbean flavors.
Like the game that takes place on larger course, mini golf is a game you’ll want to play when there’s no snow on the ground. During your springtime getaway to Smith Mountain Lake, grab a putter and a golf ball and putt your way through 18 holes of twists, turns, and obstacles at one of the area’s two mini golf courses. Harbortown Mini Golf at Bridgewater Plaza is an 18-hole course that is built right on top of boat docks – providing plenty of challenging fun as well as an unmatched view of Smith Mountain Lake. The course is open daily from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Smith Mountain Lake Dam
Smith Mountain Lake is a reservoir formed by a dam at the natural gap of Smith Mountain along the Roanoke River. You’ll learn about this and more when you visit the dam’s visitors center, which overlooks the dam. There are exhibits that tell the history of the dam, how power is generated, and the two-lake complex of Smith Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake. There is also a picnic area located below the Smith Mountain Dam on Leesville Lake that is open to the public every day. Ask about Covid-19 restrictions at the visitor’s center before planning your trip.
Blue Ridge Institute & Museum
Head to Ferrum to learn more about the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area. There are several permanent exhibits as well as a rotation of temporary exhibits for you to enjoy and learn more about the area. There are several virtual/online exhibits as well. Step back in time at the institute’s farm museum, which takes visitors back to how life on a Blue Ridge farm used to be in the 1800s. The BRIM also hosts the Blue Ridge Music Trails of Virginia, the Southwest Virginia Heritage Guide, and the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, three pathways through the area that give you a taste of Virginia’s folk heritage.
Lace up your hiking boots and grab your water, camera, and sun gear. The Blue Ridge Mountains hold plenty of hiking trails where you can stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh mountain air. Paths like the Roanoke River Greenway, Mill Mountain, McAfee Knob, and Triple Crown are some great hikes to see springtime in the area. You’ll go further afield to find many of these trails, but there are plenty that keep you close to the shores of Smith Mountain Lake, too.
There are plenty of places in Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding area where you can pick up some essentials for your trip as well as some souvenirs to remember the fun and exciting time you had while relaxing lakeside. Head to Bridgewater Plaza where you’ll find Gifts Ahoy, Smith Mountain Lake Gifts, and other boutiques and local shops. Head into nearby Roanoke for venues like Valley View Mall, the Roanoke Antique Mall, galleries, bookstores, and more. You’re bound to find something fun to take home.
Birds and Wildlife
When the snow and ice thaw from the caps of the Blue Ridge Mountains, local birds and wildlife awaken from their winter slumber. When out hiking or biking the many trails the area has to offer, you’ll want to keep your camera and binoculars handy to catch glimpses of deer, red-tailed hawks, bears, eagles, and other wildlife.
Our Smith Mountain Lake guide would not be complete without mentioning the biking trails. There are over 300 miles of singletrack for breathtaking mountain biking excursions along the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. You can also opt for a more casual road biking ride and head out on the Roanoke Valley Greenway system for some exercise while enjoying springtime in the Blue Ridge Mountains around Smith Mountain Lake.
Smith Mountain Lake celebrates winter and spring holidays in style. Christmas light shows and events, live music, Christmas craft fairs, and more dominate the winter season. In spring, be on the lookout for fun events celebrating Easter or everything else “spring” in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Smith Mountain Lake Guide: Racing Events
Each spring, Smith Mountain Lake hosts the Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon (individual), the Smith Mountain Lake Spring Triathlon Relay, and the Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Aquabike (individual). The triathlons consist of a 750-meter swim of the lake, a 20K bike ride, and 5K run. The aquabike event features a 750-meter swim of the lake and a 20K bike ride. You can register online for each race.
Smith Mountain Lake Fishing Tournament
The Mercury Marine Blue Ridge Big Bass Classic occurs every year on the waters of Smith Mountain Lake. Anglers as young as 12 can cast a line into the water in pursuit of their next big fish story. The three-day event takes place on a Friday-Sunday in April. All races have the same start time. Prizes include cash, fishing gear, and even a new fishing boat! Anglers under 18 must be accompanied by a part or another adult with written parental permission to be provided to event staff prior to the start of the event.
Virginia Museum of Transportation
Head to Roanoke and learn about Virginia’s place in transportation history. Marvel at antique automobiles and trucks, vintage steam, electric, and diesel locomotives, and more all located in a historic freight station. Get to know more about early and developing aviation including ballooning, passenger travel, air mail, and even flight attendant uniforms from the 1940s to today. Set sail with the small naval exhibit that features models of many types of ships from the early modern era to the mid-20th century, including several named Roanoke throughout history, as well as the luxury cruise ship SS United States.
There are several breweries and vineyards serving up the best craft beers and local wines Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding area have to offer. Visit Hickory Hill Vineyards and Valhalla Vineyard, and Ramulose Ridge Vineyards for a tasting and take some back to your rental to enjoy later.
Also on our Smith Mountain Lake guide, there are many breweries serving up great craft beers. You can’t go wrong stopping in at Hammer & Forge, Bick Lick, Beale’s, Sunken City Brewery, or one of the many other establishments. Some offer a delicious meal to accompany your brew. You’ll want to check out some of their regular offerings, as well as any special seasonal brews on tap.
Spring Valley Farms & Cabins
Make the drive to Moneta and the Spring Valley Farm. Meet the horses, or head over to the petting zoo for a chance to meet Richard – a female llama – and her many petting zoo friends. You can also book a trail ride on horseback. Riders must be at least eight years old. There is no riding double with children unless you are riding your own horse. Riders of larger stature are asked to inform the farm before arriving so they may pair you with a horse that can handle the larger size. Trail rides are available Monday-Saturday in two-hour increments from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Advanced reservations are required.
Harvester Performance Center
Head over to Rocky Mount for some live entertainment. There are live shows throughout each month, and some past performances have included big names like Boz Scaggs, David Grisman, Don Felder (formerly of the Eagles), Lee Greenwood, Charlie Daniels, and more. Upcoming shows are featured on their website. Most shows are from 8-10 p.m.
Bridgewater Plaza is known for its amazing shopping, dining, and attractions. Rent a boat at the marina, spend some time at the Lucky Duck rock wall, bungee trampoline, or other attraction, cool down with a treat from Ice Cream Cottage, or have a slice at the Pizza Pub. Don’t forget to stop by and see the carp. The fish range in size from 24-36” long! Bring your camera and some popcorn – they’ll eat it out of your fingers!
Hot Shots Family Entertainment Center
The venue provides mini golf and a whole lot more. The mini golf course features 18 challenging holes where you can putt your way around ponds, streams, and even a 200-ton waterfall. Hot Shots Hideaway is an indoor venue where you can watch your favorite sporting events on one of seven big screen HD TVs. There’s a full-service bar for the adults, and something for the kids’ bellies, too. The Hideaway even has the special baseball and football viewing packages so you won’t have to miss your team’s next game.
Booker T. Washington Birthplace
The birthplace of Booker T. Washington is a national park that’s not far from Smith Mountain Lake. He was born a slave in April of 1856 on the Burroughs family plantation. As an adult, Washington was an educator, author, and African American civil rights leader. You can wander through exhibits in the visitor’s center, enjoy a picnic in the picnic area, learn about the role of livestock on a 19th century tobacco farm, and learn about gardening techniques. You can also wander the ¼-mile Plantation Trail that passes by reconstructions of 19th century farm buildings. Explore open buildings and read from the park brochure about the activities inside each building. You can also choose a longer walk along the 1.5-mile Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail that takes you through the surrounding fields and forests.
Elmwood on Ice
Enjoy some wintertime fun in Roanoke at Elmwood Park. The ice skating rink there has become a fun favorite winter activity for visitors and locals alike. Not far from Historic Roanoke City Market, as well as other shopping and dining hot spots, it’s the perfect way to spend a winter day.
Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs
While catching an NHL game will have you driving further afield than you may like, you can still catch your favorite winter sport. The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs are part of the Southern Professional Hockey League and games are packed full of fun and excitement. The team plays their home games at the nearby Berglund Center in Roanoke.
International Wine Festival
This adults-only event happens every winter in Roanoke. The Taubman Museum of Art features wines from around the world at its International Wine Festival. Enjoy tastings, pairings, tips from wine experts, and even a souvenir wine glass to take with you and enjoy your favorite back at your rental. You’ll also be able to stroll the museum and take in its art collection.
Mill Mountain Zoo
Walk on the wild side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visit Mill Mountain Zoo for a glimpse of birds like vultures, magpie, and cranes. Wander your way through the zoo to find Asian small-clawed otters, red pandas, snow leopards, and other mammals, turtles, tortoises, snakes, and other reptiles. There are also unique events like Night Howls each third Thursday of the month from October-March, or the film festival in February where you can see short films related to animals, conservation, and nature.
Roanoke Pinball Museum
Visit a museum that doesn’t feel like a museum! You’ll see and be able to challenge friends and family to games on machines like “Beach Queens” – a machine dating back to 1960, to The Munsters Premium Edition and Black Knight: Sword of Rage Premium, both from 2019. Come enjoy the museum Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7:45 p.m. and Sunday 1-5:45 p.m. Two-hour “play sessions” are available from open to close each day, with a 15-minute break between sessions. Total occupancy is currently limited to 35 people per two-hour session.
Smith Mountain Lake Guide to Crowds
While the small lake community of Smith Mountain Lake isn’t exactly known for its crowds, northern Virginia in the wintertime isn’t the first place people think to go. The summer season is busiest, with lake activities like swimming, boating, and more in full swing, so having the lake “to yourself” without the increased tourist traffic of the spring and summer seasons is a major bonus when planning a winter getaway to Smith Mountain Lake. Crowds still won’t be a major problem in spring, as the area is more of a summer getaway. With the snow gone, you can enjoy hiking trails through the mountains, and seeing nature bloom as it wakes from its winter nap.
Smith Mountain Lake Guide to a Wild Winter and Sensational Spring
You came to Smith Mountain Lake to explore and experience a new place on a fun, relaxing getaway with loved ones packed full of winter or springtime fun. Make sure you enjoy a stress-free, worry-free stay and book a vacation rental provided by Premier Vacation Rentals. Your small family or sweetheart getaway calls for a cozy two-bedroom unit surrounded by a Blue Ridge spring or winter landscape or plan a break or family reunion for your larger group with a four-bedroom unit. No matter your vacation style or needs, there’s a Smith Mountain Lake rental for you, whenever you need a break – winter or spring. Take in a fresh breath of mountain air crisp with snow from a private outdoor space like a balcony or patio. Bundle up and head out on the lake, hike a path just blooming with springtime flowers, or stay cozy and warm inside your rental on a brisk day. Many units include flat screen TVs, cozy and stylish furnishings, and beautiful master suites. Make your favorite warm winter meal in the fully equipped kitchen, then spread out in an open living area for some winter relaxation with a book or your favorite TV show. Retreat to a private bedroom for a good night’s sleep before another day of Smith Mountain Lake fun. For a luxury stay like no other, choose a premium unit to include perks like stainless steel appliances, wood floors, and more to make your stay comfortable and memorable for years to come.
Call us today to start planning a fun-filled Smith Mountain Lake visit for winter or spring!