Smith Mountain Lake attracts visitors from around the world to Virginia's Blue Ridge, and it's a wonderful spot for a relaxing getaway.
Described as the "Jewel of the Blue Ridge," Smith Mountain Lake offers over 500 miles of shoreline, some of the best fishing on the East Coast, and a laid back atmosphere that is infectious. It also features unforgettable scenic views.
Amy Hunter is a resident of Virginia's Blue Ridge who spends quite a bit of time at Smith Mountain Lake (SML) and shares many of her experiences through stunning photos on Instagram and Facebook. She recently took some time to talk with us about the lake and what makes it such a special place for locals and visitors.
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do? How long have you lived here?
I’m a mother of two grown boys and I've been married to my husband, Eddie, for 29 years. I grew up in West Virginia, which is why I have a love of mountains in my blood.
My family traveled to Smith Mountain Lake for vacations during the 60s and 70s - another reason it is special to me. I’ve lived in Roanoke for 31 years and am a Sales Consultant for a fashion design company based in New York City.
Based on your amazing pictures, it’s clear you spend a lot of time at Smith Mountain Lake. How would you describe the lake to someone who’s never been?
Big water, big mountains, big skies! It is one of the largest and deepest “mountain lakes” on the east coast. When looking at Smith Mountain from the water, you have the feel of being in the islands because it rises so majestically up from the water.
Because of the big water that SML offers, the skies are vast, which offer great vantage points for viewing incredible sunrises and sunsets. Seeing is believing! You have to see it to understand what has made it one of the most beautiful communities in the East.
What are some experiences at the lake that you’d recommend to visitors?
Pack a cooler of food and beverages and spend and entire day cruising by boat along the 500-mile shoreline and take in the incredible mountain vistas and beautiful homes, or stop in at the many waterfront restaurants.
For a “go-as-you-are” type restaurant, the Portside Bar and Grill is a restaurant built on a big dock and has a real “island-feel” to it and some of the best wings you will find anywhere. For a more upscale dining experience, The Landing Restaurant at Bernard’s Landing is highly rated.
For those who don’t have access to a boat, there are many places to rent boats and PWCs [Personal Watercraft Rentals]. There are also many rental properties available at SML.
Take a lunch/dinner cruise on the Virginia Dare, a replica of a 19th Century side-wheeler. It is a great way to get on the water and sit back and relax and take in the breathtaking views of Smith Mountain and the big water views of the lake.
It seems like there’s never a bad time to take a gorgeous photo at the lake. Is there a particular time of day and time of year that really stand out to you as great photography opportunities? Do you have a favorite photo you’ve taken at the lake? What makes it so memorable?
In October, when the sun rises up almost perfectly between the two mountain ranges that come together at the dam. I captured a photo last year of the fog lifting off the water and the sun peaking through as it popped up between the mountains.
But, I also snapped one this summer of an incredible sunset that is a close second to it.
The photo opportunities at SML are limitless, which is why I rarely go anywhere without my camera in hand, and why I take hundreds of pictures every year. It is a very photogenic place!
We’ve talked before about how you live in Roanoke, but have a condo at Smith Mountain Lake. How great is it to have the convenience of a city and scenic beauty of a large lake within such close proximity to each other?
It is like going on vacation every weekend! Because Roanoke is only 45 to 60 minutes depending on where you are on the lake, it is such an easy commute and such a great getaway! Roanoke is a wonderful small city, but it is so nice to have less than an hour drive to a beautiful body of water that is so tranquil and scenic and leave all the stresses of work back in the city. It can really recharge your battery, so to speak.
We purchased our place at the lake when our boys were very young. They grew up there on summer weekends and will tell you they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
Our region is full of fun things to do. What are some adventures in Virginia’s Blue Ridge that are still on your bucket list?
We appreciate Amy taking the time to answer our questions! Check out more of her photos by following her on Instagram at achunter78. Don't forget to also share your pictures of Virginia's Blue Ridge with us on Instagram by using our #BlueRidgeDay hashtag.
Here are a few other links to help you plan a vacation at Smith Mountain Lake: