When it comes to prime outdoor locations, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one as versatile and pleasing as Lake Norman in North Carolina. Located just a quick 20 miles north of downtown Charlotte, Lake Norman has so much to offer that you’ll want to schedule more than a day or two here.
Boasting 500 miles of shoreline, the sparkling waters of this inland freshwater sea and its surroundings provide a breathtaking natural beauty. You’ll also find charming small towns bordering its edges, like Davidson to the north and Huntersville to the south.
But the real star attraction of the area is the lake itself, perfect for a day of boating with family and friends or getting in some of the best bass fishing anywhere. You can also enjoy one of the many water activities available, such as paddle boarding or kayaking.
In other words, there is something spectacular for everyone here.
Whether you love spending all day out on the lake or enjoy sitting on its banks observing the scenery, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that. It’s the type of place where good fun, good food, and good people all come together.
What is Lake Norman Known For?
Lake Norman is known as the largest man-made lake in North Carolina, covering over 32,000 acres. Built by Duke Energy starting in 1959, the lake area has become a preferred living location for commuters and retirees alike. It is also one of the most popular lakes in the South for boating, attracting growing visitors each year.
In addition to its size, Lake Norman is also known as an exceptional fishing destination. The area boasts many fishing tournaments throughout the year and is often classified as the best-spotted bass fishing in North Carolina. Anglers, both novice and professional, flock here from all over the country to compete.
Does Lake Norman Have Good Fishing?
Tournaments aside, if you enjoy fishing, Lake Norman is the place for you. All ages will love the experience on the lake and its high fish populations. And the best part is, you can fish all year long here. As a matter of fact, some of the best bass fishing occurs starting in December and goes all the way through the winter.
Fish you’re likely to catch at Lake Norman include largemouth bass, spotted bass, white perch, stripers, catfish, carp, bream, and crappies.
The introduction of spotted bass to the lake in the 1990s s led to an increase in fishing here, and not just for the tournaments. Overall, spotted bass have adapted well to their nonnative waters, and their populations continue to rise. Lake Norman also stocks the lake with the highly adaptable striped bass.
Regulars suggest night fishing in summer, shallow water fishing in spring, and cold weather fishing for stripers in winter.
5 Best Things to Do at Lake Norman
Whether you spend a few hours on the lake or all day, there’s always something special to do in the Lake Norman area.
Tour Lake Norman by Boat
With its over 500 miles of shoreline, a boat out on the lake will allow you to see the most of the area. Enjoy a full day touring around the lake, stopping off to swim, or throw out a line whenever you feel like it. Find a secluded cove to enjoy a picnic lunch or sunbathe in the middle of the lake while you watch all the activities around you.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a boat of your own. Here at Boatsetter we offer a wide variety of boat types and sizes for every occasion. Take out a Lake Norman boat rental to take out for the whole day or only a few hours.
Lake Norman is huge, and you’ll never feel crowded while out on it. Rent a fishing boat for the day, make your way to your favorite fishing spots, or find new ones to try. You can also join a guided fishing tour to get familiar with the lake first.
Participate in Water Activities
If you like to actively participate in water sports, you’ve come to the right place. Many boats on our platform offer all the equipment you would need for an exciting day on the water activities. Some of our boats include jet skis, wakeboards, water skis, and more!
Explore Lake Parks or a Nature Preserve
North Caroline is full of natural beauty, so it’s no wonder that the Lake Norman area offers several expansive parks for its residents and visitors alike.
Four of the most popular lake parks in the area include:
- Jetton Park: Located in the town of Cornelius, Jetton Park sports over 100 acres for you to hike, bike, walk your dog, or sit and admire its beautiful landscaping with breathtaking views of the lake.
- Ramsey Creek Park: Also located in Cornelius, Ramsey Creek Park spreads across 46 acres, offering nature trails, a swim beach, playground, and various picnic tables and shelters.
- Lake Norman State Park: Head to the north end of the lake and explore the expansive Lake Norman State Park. Here you’ll find over 30 miles of mountain biking trails, as well as hiking trails that take you along the edge of the lake. You can also swim from its beach during the summertime.
- Blythe Landing Park: Head to Huntersville and relax in the 24-acre Blythe Landing Park. Enjoy the picnic areas or start up a game of sand volleyball on one of its courts.
Another option is to make your way to the Latta Nature Preserve. Not only can you enjoy nature and hiking here, but also learn about birds of prey and a little history of the area.
Within the Preserve is the Carolina Raptor Center, an educational venue with eagles, hawks, falcons, and vultures. You’ll also find the Latta Plantation, an 1800s living history museum complete with costumed reenactors.
Explore Quaint Towns Bordering the Lake
Explore the small towns around the perimeter of the lake and enjoy popular restaurants, unique shops, and historic main streets.
A few spots to visit include:
- Huntersville: Birkdale Village offers everything you need from unique shops to larger well-known stores, restaurants, nighttime entertainment venues, and a movie theater.
- Cornelius: The town of Cornelius offers unique markets and upscale restaurants, along with an old downtown area to explore.
- Davidson: Davidson is home to the quaint campus of Davidson College. Its walkable downtown area offers unique shops, like The Village Store and Davidson Chocolates.
Lake Norman Popular Restaurants
You’ll never need to venture far from the water to find Lake Norman’s most popular restaurants. Here are a few of them.
Hello Sailor: A cross between a fish camp and a chic waterfront restaurant, Hello Sailor is one of the most popular restaurants anywhere on Lake Norman. Its interior retro charm pulls you in, but it’s the food that keeps you there. Enjoy a lobster roll, fried flounder, or their signature fried bologna sandwich, along with their famous hush puppies.
Port City Club: Enjoy this terraced waterfront restaurant with its classy casual dining style. Popular orders include everything from crab cakes to the Carbonara Pasta.
Kindred: This swanky restaurant is located in a restored pharmacy building and offers both indoor seating and sidewalk tables. Enjoy a craft cocktail while waiting for one of the unique chef-driven dishes on their menu.
Famous Toastery: For breakfast or a weekend brunch, head to the Famous Toastery in downtown Davidson. Enjoy an avocado omelet, pancakes, or any one of the other various breakfast dishes available.
FORK!: In Cornelius, give FORK! a try if you like farm-to-table fare. Fresh options abound here, thanks to the many local markets and farms in the area.
131 Main: Enjoy freshly caught fish dishes every day, or order off the menu at 131 Main. You’ll want to add a side of their staple item, which is the skillet cornbread with its drizzles of warm honey.
Pinky’s Westside Grill: Head to Pinky’s Westside Grill in Huntersville to satisfy your appetite for incredible burgers. This restaurant has already been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and you’re sure to find a favorite, much like Guy Fieri did when visiting here.
Lancasters BBQ: North Carolina is known for its barbecue, and some of the best in the Lake Norman area is at Lancasters. Order up one of their barbecue plates and add as many delicious sides as you like, including fried pickles and mac-n-cheese.
Once you venture into Birkdale Village in Huntersville, you’ll have a few choices when it comes to popular restaurants. These include:
- Red Rocks Café
- Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar
- eeZ Fusion
- Dressler’s Restaurant
Visit Lake Norman Today
The Lake Norman area is a destination worthy of your time and attention, especially if you love to go boating, fishing, or participate in any type of water sport. Find what draws you the most, and visit Lake Norman today. You won’t regret it.