Lake Martin Love


My grandfather grew up in a tiny mill town in Alabama near Lake Martin. When the 44,000-acre lake was created in the 1920s, it was the largest man-made body of water in the world—just up the road from his home. And so his family built a small cabin on the quiet lake that they’d visit on weekends long before that was something people did.

The lake—and the cabin—have come a long way. Today, my grandmother (my grandfather passed away a few years ago) has created what I think of as one of the most relaxing places on earth out on their point. Boats with thousands of summer visitors buzz around the popular lake all summer, but her little slice of it feels perfectly secluded.

I’ve visited every summer since I was a kid—I was there last weekend—and it’s one of my favorite places to spend a few days by the water. If you’re considering a trip (which you should), here are some spots I’d recommend on your visit.


The Landing at Parker Creek: This is a newer addition to the lake, but the laid back restaurant has become a fast favorite. It’s easiest accessed by boat and features a swimming area, live music, games, and a variety of spots for dining and drinking. Play a game of corn hole or ring toss before pulling up a stool at the outdoor bar and cooling down with one of the creamy famed Bushwacker cocktails.


Chimney Rock: If you’re looking for the party on a summer Saturday afternoon, this is the place. Hundreds of boats line up, often tying themselves together and turning up the music, near this spray paint covered rock where (slightly crazy) people launch themselves from various heights. It’s not remotely safe, but it’s a ton of fun.


Peanut Point: This place has been around for decades, but I only discovered it a few years ago (it’s a big lake). On a sandy pine-shaded point a local couple boils and sells thousands of peanuts all summer long. Snag one of the cajun-flavored bags if you can.


Catherine’s: I’m a sucker for an artisanal market and this one is pretty charming. In addition to rows of gourmet groceries, the European-style market features an airy cafe, bakery, wine tastings, and mouth-watering cheese selection.


The AMP: I got lucky because this gorgeous open-air amphitheater with panoramic views of the lake is within walking distance of my grandmother’s home. But regardless of where on the lake you’re coming from, this grassy hillside is a great destination for its summer concerts and events.


Church In The Pines: I don’t usually include churches as part of travel destinations, but I really love this church. Tucked into the woods and facing the lake, the huge open-air space is at once simple and stunningly beautiful. They have guest preachers and musicians all summer long, and its a great spot to spend a peaceful Sunday morning.


Northward Bound

One of my favorite ways to spend a sunny Saturday is exploring the Lake Norman area north of Charlotte. During the week, traffic makes this area miserable. Seriously, nothing is worth the agony of the parking lot that I-77 becomes at 5 pm. But on Saturdays it’s easy-breezy—and actually a pretty drive as far as interstates go.

On last Saturday’s perfect pseudo-spring afternoon I went with friends up to Davidson to meander around before dinner at Kindred, celebrating my friend Jenn’s birthday. Wandering in and out of shops on its charming Main Street reminded me how much I enjoy this area. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite spots in case anyone else was inspired to spend their weekend hours leaving the city for some of its cutest ‘burbs:


Check out the vineyards. Daveste (above) is at the northern most point of the lake in Troutman. It’s a simple, pretty vineyard with an airy tasting room and outdoor seating overlooking a pond. There are lots of vineyards farther north on 77, but this is a good one for a taste of the local grapes.


For a playful twist, make a trip to Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville. You feed animals like giraffes and deer from your hand. It’s kind of a weird experience, but it’s also pretty fun. (Warning: You will find bits of animal feed in your car for weeks after this trip. Turns out, wild animals are not neat eaters.)


During the warmer months, stop at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville for a swim. It’s a pick-your-own farm for some seasonal crops and offers fun hayrides in the fall, but the coolest thing at this farm is its rock-quarry-turned-swimming-hole where you park in a field and take a path through the woods to this hidden gem.


If you’re looking for a casual bite, go to Alino Pizzeria in Mooresville. I really can’t stress enough how much I love this place. It’s the best pizza restaurant I’ve ever been to. Ever. And it’s housed in a cool old mill. It’s relaxed and casual while also being chic. I would eat there every day if I lived in Mooresville. Every. Freaking. Day.

I don’t really feel like I need to express how much you need to eat at Kindred if you haven’t yet. I’ll let all the national accolades and James Beard nominations do the talking for me. But seriously, go there. And order the fried oysters and the birthday cake dessert. I realize that’s a weird combo, but both those things are just so good.

If you have extra time, check out the Davidson Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. There’s a woman there who sells Mason jars filled with fresh goat cheese and tapenade. Buy them. And then grab a fresh loaf of bread at Millstone Bakehouse to smear that on. Unfortunately, there are no photographic examples of this due to being distracted by eating it. So, you’re just going to have to trust me on that one.