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LAKE NORMAN HOLIDAY EVENTS GUIDE

a grandmother reads to her grandchildren by a Christmas tree in a StayLakeNorman luxury vacation rental

The holiday season is here and December celebrations are well underway. If you are looking for the perfect place to celebrate with loved ones, look no further than one of our Lake Norman Luxury Vacation Rentals. A stay in one of our Lake Norman waterfront homes is a holiday getaway you and yours will never forget. With homes that sleep anywhere from 8-21 guests you’ll have room for the whole crew. Every one of our homes is the perfect base from which to explore the many Lake Norman and Charlotte area holiday happenings. We’ve gathered up some of our favorites and listed them here to help you experience the holidays like never before.

FAMILY FRIENDLY EVENTS THE KIDS WILL ENJOY

If holiday activities for kids are what you are after, you won’t be disappointed. The list below includes Chanukah celebrations, Winter Solstice celebrations, and Christmas events! If you are looking for where to find Santa, jump ahead to the next section!

The Polar Express Train Ride

When: December 8th – 11th, 13th-23rd

Where: North Carolina Transportation Museum

Participants are encouraged to wear pajamas when this holiday favorite comes to life aboard the trains at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. There will be cookies and hot cocoa and a reading of the Polar Express Book while young ones are transported to Santa’s Village where everyone can remember what it’s like to hear the bell and believe.

Chanukah Celebration at Birkdale Village

When: December 20th

Where: Birkdale Village

Come to celebrate the third day of Chanukah with the Chabad of Lake Norman at Birkdale Village. There will be group activities, hot food, and drinks, all making for a memorable evening with your loved ones.

Movies on Main Presents Holiday Films

When: December 21st, 8-10pm

Where: Charles Mack Citizen Center

Bring a blanket and your friends and family for a free movie night where you’ll enjoy the Holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life!

RCNP Winter Solstice Celebration for Kids

When: December 21st, 3pm

Where: Reedy Creek Nature Preserve

Spend some time with your loved ones outdoors this holiday season at the Reedy Creek Nature Preserve where you’ll celebrate as the seasons shift from Fall to Winter.

three adults smile and laugh with a child in front of a Christmas tree in a StayLakeNorman luxury vacation rental

WHERE TO TAKE PICTURES WITH SANTA

If photos with Santa are part of your Christmas tradition, there are plenty of fully immersive experiences to choose from! The following events will make you and your young ones feel like they’ve landed at the North Pole!

A Classic Christmas in Downtown Mooresville

When: December 9th, 6-9pm

Where: Downtown Mooresville

You’ll not only find Santa in Downtown Mooresville, but you’ll also find ice skating, Christmas carolers, live musical performances, plenty of shopping and dining, hot cocoa and treats, a gingerbread house competition and a life-sized snow globe!

Santa at Birkdale Village

When: November 20th – December 24th

Where: Birkdale Village

The elves have told us that booking an appointment is recommended to ensure a special time with Santa at his North-pole inspired cottage in Birkdale Village. Walk-ups are accepted if time allows.

Zootastic Park Christmas Wonderland of Lights

When: November 18th – January 1st

Where: Zootastic Park

Have you ever heard that Santa has baby kangaroos? He does at Zootastic Park! You’ll also experience 4 million Christmas lights in their drive-thru display. Be sure to stop for hot chocolate, s’mores, and a ride on their carousel or train!

EVENTS FOR THE ACTIVE ADVENTURER

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t explore the great outdoors and the wonderful winter activities this time of year brings. There is ice skating, hiking, snow tubing and even the option of a Holiday 5k!

Ice Skating at the US National Whitewater Center

When: Mid-November – Mid-February

Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center

The Whitewater River has turned to ice! There are two open skating rinks and an ice trail to explore at the Whitewater Center this year. Also available are hot cocoa, beer, and snacks for all to enjoy!

Light the Knights

When: November 23rd – January 6th

Where: Truist Field

Did someone say snow tubing in Charlotte? Truist Field has transformed into a winter wonderland, with ice skating and hockey rinks, a holiday light show, a Christmas Village complete with European treats, and a 150-foot snow tubing hill!

Huntersville Half Marathon and Holiday 5k

When: December 9th-10th

Where: Huntersville

The Huntersville Holiday 5k starts Friday night at 7pm with the Half-Marathon and 10k event starting on Saturday morning at 8am. Runners can compete in two events if they are up for the challenge!

couple exchanging gifts in front of Christmas tree at a StayLakeNorman luxury vacation rental

HOLIDAY MARKET SHOPPING AT ITS FINEST

If holiday shopping is on your to-do list, you’ll discover plenty of beautiful gifts and one-of-a-kind finds at the many Christmas Markets that come to town. Immerse yourself in these European-style holiday markets where food, music, and shopping abounds.

Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market

When: December 9th-11th, 16th-18th

Where: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Come experience a German Christmas Village when the Biergarten transforms into a holiday market, complete with shopping, music, lights, food, fire pits, and of course, plenty of beer!

Mistletoe Market

When: December 4th, 11th, 18th

Where: Camp North End

Camp North End transforms into a Winter Wonderland with 25 of the most amazing regional handmade and vintage vendors. You’ll also find dogs in sweaters, marshmallow roasting over an open fire, live music, food, and drink!

EVENTS FOR LOVERS OF ARTS AND CULTURE

With so many museums, cultural centers, performing arts venues, and galleries so close to Lake Norman there is no lack of events that tantalize the senses and engage the intellectual. These December events are ones that every art lover and cultural enthusiast will love.

Charlotte Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

When: December 9th-23rd

Where: Belk Theater

With live music from the Charlotte Symphony, the Charlotte Ballet’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” is one you won’t want to miss!

Chanukah Concert

When: December 24th

Where: Epstein Family Chabad Center

See Yoel Sharabi perform live on the seventh night of Chanukah during a time of celebration and music. Refreshments will be served and a Menorah lighting will take place. This is a Chanukah event you won’t want to miss!

Kwanzaa Charlotte

When: December 26th – January 1st

Where: Charlotte

Join Kwanzaa Charlotte for 7 days of Kwanzaa celebrations in Charlotte! Each celebration highlights the 7 principles of the Nguzu Saba, which are unity, self-determination, collective and work responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Holiday House Tours at Historic Rosedale

When: December 6th – December 22nd

Where: Historic Rosedale

Walk through rooms of Christmas past as you witness a Victorian Christmas Dinner setting in the Great Hall, a 1940’s wartime family parlour decorated for the Holidays, and a cellar kitchen full of traditions of the African-American community at Rosedale.

Holidays Around the World

When: November 25th – December 31st

Where: The Schiele Museum

Take a journey in the James H. Lynn Planetarium & Science Theater as you experience holidays as they are celebrated around the world in this seasonal film.

Winter Solstice Celebration at UUCC

When: December 21st, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Where: Unitarian Universalist Community of Charlotte

There will be crafts, celebration, and hot beverages as you celebrate the Winter Solstice and the returning sun in this multigenerational, outdoor service. Dress warm and bring a chair!

CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAYS THAT WILL LEAVE YOU BREATHLESS

If you’re looking for where to find the best Christmas light displays in Lake Norman and the surrounding areas, look no further than the following list. These Christmas light attractions will take your holiday celebrations to a whole new level.

4th Annual Lake Norman Lighted Boat Parade

When: December 17th, 5:30-7pm

Where: Lake Norman

This is a Lake Norman Christmas Tradition you won’t want to miss! Boats follow a path from Blythe Landing to Ramsey Creek to the Duke Explorium. Be sure to end the festivities with a delicious meal from one of the food trucks stationed at Duke Explorium.

Speedway Christmas

When: November 18th – January 8th

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway

Less than 30 miles from Lake Norman, the Speedway Christmas at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the Southeast’s largest Christmas holiday traditions. Four million lights follow a four-mile course, set to synchronized Christmas music. The show is open from 6-10pm, rain or shine.

Christmas Town USA

When: December 1st – 26th

Where: McAdenville

Enjoy over a mile of resident’s homes decked out for the holidays in this illuminated Christmas tradition. Viewers can explore by car or foot. Be sure to check the calendar for special events throughout the month.

THE PERFECT STAY FOR THE PERFECT HOLIDAY

Whether you enjoy drinking hot cocoa after a long day of ice skating or taking in the lights after a fun day of holiday shopping, Lake Norman has something for everyone. Why not make Lake Norman the holiday destination you return to year after year? Make your holidays magical by spending them in one of our stunning lakefront homes for rent. Start a new tradition when you cozy up in one of our luxury vacation rentals while making the most of this holiday season with the ones you love.

Article Updated December 5th, 2022

Best Local Breweries and Bottle Shops in Lake Norman, NC

Two women toasting local craft beer on the sand next to a warm fire at their StayLakeNorman waterfront vacation rental.

When you’re a guest with StayLakeNorman, the lake is the star, but you’ll also find an abundance of fun to be had in our community. While the activities change with the seasons, it’s always a good time of year to explore Lake Norman’s local breweries and bottle shops. Breweries are plentiful here, and each offers something unique. Whether you are looking for a place to hang for a casual night out or a curated selection of drinks to take home, you will find every opportunity to sip in style (whatever your style may be) at these local establishments.

Breweries

D9 Brewing Company
9815 Sam Furr Rd, Suite J #313
Huntersville

With a community-oriented taproom and peaceful outdoor space, D9 is an ideal place to gather with a group and sample some of Lake Norman’s award-winning brews. Don’t forget to check out the events calendar – they always have a number of things going on! On weekends, you can typically find a food truck parked outside, or you can always order Mexican food from a local Lake Norman restaurant to be delivered to the taproom.

Primal Brewery
16432 Old Statesville Rd
Huntersville

Primal Brewery craft beer glass being filled at the tap.

Inside, Primal Brewery has “low ceilings, warm finishes, and no TVs” to promote a sense of community and conversation. Outside, the beer garden is extensive with picnic tables, fire pits, and a steady rotation of some of the area’s most popular food trucks. You will have no problem finding a spot to relax, unwind, and drink like a local here.

Ass Clown Brewing
10620 Bailey Rd E
Cornelius

Ass Clown Brewing specializes in bold and unique flavors and has one of the largest selections of beer of any local brewery. The taproom is tucked away in an industrial park, but it is cozy and welcoming once you’re inside. Food is not available on site, but there are many restaurants on Lake Norman from which to order, or you are welcome to bring your own.

Lost Worlds Brewing
19700-D One Norman Blvd
Cornelius

At Lost Worlds Brewing the vibe is all about adventure. An impressive taproom leads to an expansive (and dog friendly) beer garden. From live music to yoga classes to pop-up markets and a rotating selection of food trucks, there’s always something happening at Lost Worlds!

Hoptown Brewing Co
107 Plantation Ridge Dr
Mooresville

Hoptown is known for serving a wide variety of beers with different tasting profiles that appeal to different tastes. Among the most popular is their “Sip it Forward” blonde ale, which allows you to give back to a charity of your choice by voting with a token that comes with your beer. Pizza and Mexican food are available to order from one of the nearby Lake Norman restaurants, along with bar snacks and charcuterie boards in house.

People drinking Hoptown Brewing craft beer on a busy outdoor patio at dusk.

King Canary Brewing Co
562 Williamson Rd
Mooresville

King Canary Brewing Company craft beer brewing equipment

King Canary Brewing was built on “love of family” and the homey vibe inside conveys this immediately. The outside provides a peaceful place to sit awhile and enjoy the water views of Lake Norman cove. Here you’ll find a space that appeals to everyone in your crew, including a gaming nook for the kids! Check the calendar online to be in the know about fun food truck appearances, special events like trivia and workshops and even the occasional pop-up market!

Ghostface Brewing
427 East Statesville Ave
Mooresville

Ghostface Brewing is your place for both great beer and an extensive menu – the highlight being their wood-fired pizzas. Everything is made from scratch using high-end, local ingredients. Live music and trivia nights add to the friendly and welcoming vibe you’ll notice right when you walk in the door.

Bottle Shops

Barley Market
20052 Zion Ave
Cornelius

Barley Market is a tucked-away neighborhood bottle shop and tasting room with a rotating list of favorite beers on tap. You can also create your own 6-pack of craft beer or pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy at home! It’s a casual and comfortable place to chill out and enjoy the ones you’re with!

Side Bar Bottle Company
208 S Main St
Davidson

This new spot in downtown Davidson boasts a chic and intimate atmosphere for a drink or two before heading out to dinner or maybe on your way home from one of the awesome Lake Norman restaurants in the area. While you can certainly stop in and find a curated wine and beer selection to go, the spot is so adorable you’ll be tempted to stay awhile.

B Squared Bottle Shop and Tasting Room
13812 Cinnabar Place
Huntersville

The tasting room at B Squared is large yet cozy with exposed brick walls and string lights. They serve high-end small plates to accompany your selections from among the varied, rotating brews on tap. Of course, the retail space offers plenty of enticing options to take home with you as well!

Beer, Wine, and Food Delivered

And if you’re a guest at a StayLakeNorman waterfront vacation rental and just aren’t up for going out, keep in mind that Carolina Gourmet offers gourmet meal delivery accompanied by local beer and wine if you choose.

5 Holiday Cooking Tips from a Pro

Male chef serving dinner to a large group of people around a Thanksgiving table with waterfront views overlooking Lake Norman.

As the season approaches, we could think of no one better to coach us through some holiday cooking tips than Chef Peter from Carolina Gourmet, our trusted advisor here at StayLakeNorman for all things food and celebrations. As a seasoned veteran in cooking for a crowd, we asked him to share his wisdom in hosting Thanksgiving dinner and helping it go more smoothly for the typical home chef. Here is what he told us:

1. Choose Quality Ingredients

Chef Peter’s first piece of advice was that ingredients matter. They are the stars of the dishes you are making, and choosing fresh and natural ingredients will elevate whatever you are serving. He said that buying top-quality ingredients makes the biggest difference in the presentation of the meal and will prepare you to cook like a chef.

View of a cooked Thanksgiving dinner displayed on a wooden table including turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and a small orange pumpkin

2. Prep in Advance

In thinking about cooking for Thanksgiving in particular, typically with many more components involved than the average dinner, Chef Peter advised that anything that is served cold can be washed, sliced, or chopped ahead of time. Dessert can also be made in advance so that you don’t have to worry about it on the day of the event.

3. Prepare a Checklist

Another important reminder from Chef Peter is to make sure that you are NOT going to the grocery store on the day of your event. “I think it’s very important to have a shopping list and everything bought a couple of days before you actually start cooking,” he said. (And don’t forget staples like your salt, pepper and olive oil!) “Sometimes we forget about all the little things we need in order to make a meal really good. But it’s the little things at the end of the day that make a great difference. This is why I always use a checklist for everything.”

4. Make a Timeline, and Get Creative!

When it comes to timing, Chef Peter advises that, along with your checklist, you prepare a timetable for when things need to be in the oven or on the stove, and for how long. It’s important not to overbook your space! The next tip he gave was really valuable: “It’s also helpful to think about what are the other things that you have around the house that you can use to make a meal as well,” he said. “What can I cook on my grill, for example, that takes away from the kitchen space? If you turn your grill on really low, you can take your roast or turkey and you can put it on the grill to free up the oven space for other things. Just keep it really low and use it more as a holding cabinet. The turkey will stay nice and warm rather than actually cooking.” He also encourages being creative with other kitchen appliances, like a slow cooker, deep fryer, or toaster oven.

People toasting wine glasses and smiling around a Thanksgiving table with a gourmet meal in the foreground

5. Enlist Helpers

Lastly, keep in mind when you are preparing to host Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or another holiday, that no one can do it by themselves, not even professionals. While you may be able to handle the cooking on your own, there are so many other details to attend to when you are hosting a group. It’s ideal to be able to designate someone else to do the additional tasks like setting the table, serving drinks, and entertaining guests. 

Chef Peter sums it up like this: “Cooking for a crowd is a big task, and that’s why it’s so important to have the checklist, create a timetable, and give it a walk through. Just like if you’re planning a wedding, you’re not going to leave it to chance. You get involved with your caterer, you get involved with the seating arrangements, you get involved with who is going to do what and so forth.”

Take it from the pro: preparation is the key to a successful and enjoyable (and maybe even stress-free?) holiday meal.

Vacation Rental Safety Tips You Need to Know

Blog banner with the title "Vacation Safety Tips You Need to Know with Short-Term Rental Safety Expert, Justin Ford" and headshot of Justin Ford.

Vacation safety tips are on everyone’s mind as they are planning a trip, or they should be. Here at StayLakeNorman, we are lucky to be connected with Justin Ford, Director of Short-Term Rental Safety at Breezeway, who is an industry expert in vacation rental safety. We sat down with him to ask a few questions about what travelers should consider when booking a vacation rental.

As a vacation rental safety expert, what do you look for in a listing or on a website when booking a vacation rental yourself?

It’s really important for me to know that the organization I’m working with has a commitment to safety. For example, if you’re going on a cruise, it’s really nice to know that they do a lifeboat drill before you get on board. If you’re flying, it’s really nice to know that they’re going to do a safety check before you take off. So I’m looking to see that a vacation rental does that same thing. I’m looking [at a listing] to see if they have checked all the boxes. I’m looking in the photos to see if they have smoke alarms. In the photos, does it look like they have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen? I think that’s probably the biggest one. If they’ve got a fire extinguisher out and visible in the kitchen, that to me immediately says, “wow – there’s someone who’s taken that extra step. They get it.”

What about when you first arrive at your vacation rental, is there anything you would look for when you first check-in?

Low angle view of a white male testing a smoke detector in a vacation rental home.

Yeah, when you first check-in, you’ve got to do a full safety check and figure out what you’re going to do in an emergency. It’s really important to embrace the worst-case scenario. We do that with so many other parts of our lives, but in our own home, we don’t do it every day. So we just assume when we go into someone else’s home that they’ve done that for us, and they may not have. Yes, we can look around and say, there’s the hot tub, there’s the pool…but also, if there’s a fire, how am I getting out of here? And is there something to tell me that there is a fire so that I can get out of here?

Are there any red flags that people should be aware of, either during the booking process or upon arrival at a vacation property?

When you’re booking a property and you speak to somebody like a reservationist and you ask them about safety features, such as, “when was the last time you checked smoke alarms in this property, or does the property have smoke alarms? Does it have fire extinguishers?” If there’s any hesitation by the person you’re booking with and they have to think about it, that to me is a red flag.

If you call a hotel and ask that question, they’re going to say “absolutely, we do monthly fire safety checks. I just saw the fire department come through here the other day.” But when you call [a vacation rental] and they say “Hmm… I don’t know. I’ll have to check. I’m not sure.” That’s a really big red flag to me that they haven’t put a safety culture in place enough such that the reservationist is instantly saying, “Oh, yeah, absolutely. We check all of our properties for safety all the time. I know that our crew was out last month.”

A red flag when I go to a property is certainly if the smoke alarms look old and yellowed. If they’re older than 10 years or if the batteries are missing in the smoke alarms, that’s a problem.

On the part of the property owner, it’s a lack of awareness of trip hazards. We know that 83% of all accidents in short-term rentals come from slips, trips, and falls. And so many property owners are so focused on aesthetics that they don’t recognize that. For example, that throw rug that’s loosely placed in a kitchen may look great, but you might as well have frozen the floor into a sheet of ice because someone’s going to slip and fall on that.

For guests, I think one of the biggest things that they overlook relates to kids and understanding that yes, you’re on vacation and you want to relax, but you can’t drop your guard. In fact, you’ve got to lift your guard because now your kids are in an unfamiliar environment. You’ve got to be more aware than you typically are to make sure that they’re going to be safe.

outdoor seating area next to in ground pool with tall safety gate surrounding it at a StayLakeNorman luxury vacation rental

Any specific vacation safety tips you would give to families with young children?

Again, you can’t drop your guard, you have to lift your guard. Here’s a story that expands on the point I’m trying to make. It was almost two years ago that it made headlines. A man went to a vacation rental and his kid found a gun in a dresser drawer. That was the big news. A sheriff’s deputy left his gun behind and people couldn’t believe a gun was left behind in a vacation rental and the kid found it. That was not big news to me. We know over 40% of guests travel with a gun. It’s not unusual, it happens. The big news there was in the last paragraph of that story. It was that the kid had found the gun within five minutes of arrival in the second dresser drawer down in the master bedroom. What the heck is a kid doing, arriving at a vacation home and searching dresser drawers in the master bedroom? That’s the story there. You’ve got to respect and understand that kids want to explore in this new environment and you’ve got to get ahead of them. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve explored it. And don’t be surprised when they suddenly show up with matches that they found in a cabinet drawer. You may never even have talked to them about matches because you don’t have matches in your own house.

Are there any ideas you could give to parents in anticipation of providing the safest environment for their kids on vacation? Should they be having conversations with them ahead of time? Should they be doing a safety sweep when they get in the house?

I haven’t heard anybody do this yet, but it’d be great if, a few hours before arrival, the property owner sent the guests a text message saying “Hey, you’re checking in soon. Now’s the time to take a pause for a minute and talk to your kids about safety before you arrive at the property. There’s a pool there, so you should remind them that they can’t go into the pool without permission, etc.”

The same thing goes for parents. You’ve got to have a talk [with your kids]. I think just getting people to pause for a moment. They’re excited- half of a vacation is the planning and the travel to get there. Encompassing that safety piece into the planning is key.

Tell us what has made you so passionate about the work you do.

I look at what I do as just common sense. Getting people to see things differently is really what drives me the most. To point out the obvious and help people get to that level where they now are looking at things differently, that’s why I get up every day. That and knowing that people recognize that, with this information, we may have just saved some lives here.

Thank you again to Justin for his valuable insights and important vacation rental safety tips! To help you prepare for your next trip, we’ve compiled a list of quick safety checks that you can do upon arrival at any vacation rental. Just a few minutes is worth your peace of mind! And to see Justin in action, check out his spot on Good Morning America!

Vacation rental safety checklist:

  • Check for working smoke alarms on every level, in every sleeping area and as required by state law
  • Check for working carbon monoxide alarms on every level and as required by state law
  • Check for a fire extinguisher within 30 feet of all cooking appliances, including grills
  • Check to ensure cleaning products that could pose a threat to young children are safely stored away from their access
  • Check all cabinets and drawers in the kitchen accessible to children for any hazards, like matches
  • Check all dresser drawers accessible to children for any hazards
  • Check underneath coffee tables and couches if traveling with a crawling infant
  • Check hot tub and/or pool area to ensure children won’t be able to access them except with an adult
  • Make sure gates close and latch as they should, pool alarms are operational, and windows are secured
  • Have a conversation with your kids about safety

Best Lake Norman Hikes to See Fall Colors

Wooden dock leading out to Lake Norman with colorful fall foliage

Autumn brings lots of things to do in Lake Norman, with cooler temps and the beautiful changing landscape! If you’re here visiting, you’ll be compelled to act like a local and get out in nature. The vibrant colors of this time of year cannot be matched! Best of all, the weather stays mild through the end of the year, making a hike the perfect Lake Norman activity throughout the season. Whatever your skill and adventure level, there is something for you here.

Hikes with a Lake Norman view 

If you are looking for a hike with a variety of trails in both length and difficulty, Lake Norman State Park in Troutman has something for everyone, from pleasant strolls to more challenging hikes. Spend an hour or all day exploring this expansive park and you will surely be rewarded with some of the best views the area has to offer!

If a shorter, easier, but equally delightful walk is what’s calling you, Jetton Park in Cornelius is right on the lake and easily accessible. You’ll also find a playground, picnic areas, and a non-swimming beach with an idyllic view of the lake. The 1-mile loop around the park is paved, so it is stroller and bike-friendly!

Another ideal spot to admire fall foliage is Rock Springs Nature Preserve in Denver.

This 108-acre preserve is protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy and is home to a variety of plants and wildlife. The trail is gentle, uncrowded, and well-maintained.

Kid-friendly hikes

If you’re seeking a picturesque setting with views of falling water and historic buildings, try the South Fork Rail Trail in Lincolnton. The sights are sure to keep little ones engaged and you’ll likely come across some great photo-ops too!

Lastly, Mountain Creek Park in Sherrills Ford is a hidden gem for families. Not only does it have a number of hiking and biking trails (including a paved ADA-accessible trail that winds through a quiet cove,) but it also boasts the most epic adventure playground! There is also a small nature center with informational displays and exhibits, live reptiles, books, and hands-on activities for kids to learn about local plants, insects, and wildlife.

Plan your perfect day

Idyllic view of Lake Norman in the Fall

As a StayLakeNorman guest, we can help you plan your perfect day on the trails. Contact our Concierge Services for additional resources, maps, and even a picnic lunch to take with you! Creating your ideal experience is our specialty. And when your adventure is complete, you won’t have to leave the beautiful scenery behind. Returning to your waterfront StayLakeNorman home away from home will reward you with a cozy place to rest and even more breathtaking views. 
Looking for even more hiking resources? Check out All Trails and Carolina Thread Trail!

Top Reasons to Visit Lake Norman in October

Everyone loves visiting Lake Norman during the summer months, but did you know October is the locals’ favorite time of year around the lake? Lower temperatures, lower humidity and significantly lower rental rates are just some of the reasons to visit Lake Norman in October!

Events & Festivals

With crisp nights and mild days with average temperatures in the mid-70s, Lake Norman weather in October is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Some of the top festivals and activities in the area for folks of all ages include the Carolina Renaissance Festival, Carolina BalloonFest, Scarowinds, Laketoberfest Music and Brew festival, Carrigan Farms for pumpkin picking and hayrides, Rural Hill Amazing Maize Maze and Ghosts of Davidson.

For the avid sports fans, there are quite a few exciting events taking place in October ranging from NFL to NASCAR. Watch the Carolina Panthers take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or catch your favorite driver speed through the checkered flag at the Bank of America Roval 400.

Boating & Fishing

Another Lake Norman favorite pastime in October is boating. With fewer boats and wakeboarding, October is meant for cruising around the lake to appreciate nature’s fabulous art show as foliage colors change and reflect off the waters.  StayLakeNorman has a large selection of premium tritoons available for rent that can be delivered directly to your waterfront vacation rental for your convenience.

Traditionally when temperatures drop, feeding activity picks up for bass and crappie, just two of Lake Norman’s favorite fish to catch.  Make sure to check that your fishing license is up to date!

Take advantage of significantly lower rates now. Give StayLakeNorman a call at (704) 924-0510 to plan your visit to Lake Norman this October and get the recharge you need for those busy last 2 months of the year.  

Dog Friendly Restaurants in Lake Norman

Golden at a dog friendly restaurant in Lake Norman

Whoever said you have to go to your favorite restaurant without your four-legged best friend? You shouldn’t have to leave your best friend behind while you are going out to get some great tasting food, regardless of where you are headed. If you are looking for dog- friendly restaurants in Lake Norman, StayLakeNorman has you covered! Here is a list of the top-rated best dog friendly restaurants in Lake Norman your family and you need to visit!

Top 5 Dog Friendly Restaurants in Lake Norman

1. The Toucan’s Restaurant

Originally established in 2020, the Toucan’s Restaurant is the restaurant to go to if you want to get a taste of the local cuisine. It is a place to mingle with locals, order some great food and enjoy a few drinks with friends, all with your furry best friend by your side. Relish the warm ambience of a traditional dining experience, or head out to the patio to enjoy a lovely view of Lake Norman in the most relaxed environment possible. Savor a plate of crab cakes, a delicious island burger topped with local ingredients or shrimp fajitas for some island flair. 

2. Apps and Taps

If you are looking for that traditional pub atmosphere, Apps and Taps is the waterfront restaurant to visit. Apps & Taps is a Lake Norman waterfront restaurant best known for its live events. You don’t want to miss Purple Madness, the Prince tribute band. Grab a beer and admire the lake with your dog as you listen to live music. In addition to great music, catch a bite of classic pub food! Enjoy classics such as Irish potato skins, BBQ pork sliders, crab cake sandwiches or seared Ahi-Tuna. Find the perfect food to satisfy your taste buds!

A dog waiting patiently in a patio area at a dog friendly restaurant in Lake Norman.

3. Hello, Sailor

Feeling like you want to paw-ty? Grab your pup and head over to Hello, Sailor for the Lake Norman atmosphere you have been looking for. Serving fresh seafood daily, Hello, Sailor is a restaurant with a retro charm and local Lake Norman flair love. This is the perfect place to go if you want to enjoy great food and great company.

4. Eddie’s on Lake Norman

This is another quality Lake Norman restaurant you can visit with your pooch on their lakeside patio if you both have a hankering for fresh, local favorites. Eddie’s prides itself on using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients possible. Many of the meals you get from Eddie’s are crafted from old recipes, handed down through the generations. You can taste the history in every bite! Even the pickiest pooch will love something on the menu.

5. North Harbor Club

Try one of Lake Norman’s most popular and longstanding waterfront restaurants, North Harbor Club. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, the North Harbor Club offers exceptional dining with fresh ingredients topped with the perfect touch by their Executive Chef complemented by the waterfront ambience of Lake Norman. They have nine boat slips for you to dock your boat, so come on out and have an amazing meal and a good time. Dogs need to eat too…why not with a view?

There are many different pet friendly restaurants in Lake Norman. Many of these restaurants welcome dogs of all breeds and sizes in their outdoor patios or tables. Hopefully now you have found plenty of restaurants to visit with your pup during your next visit to Lake Norman.

StayLakeNorman: All Dogs Stay Free

StayLakeNorman is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the Lake Norman area. Over the years, StayLakeNorman has worked diligently to help promote Lake Norman as the amazing vacation destination it is, for both family and pets. 

At StayLakeNorman, we believe that dogs are like family. We love dogs and don’t want you to leave them behind. That is why when you book one of our pet-friendly rentals, ask us about our All Dogs Stay For Free policy. Don’t leave your dogs at home! Bring them along for the family fun!

Dogs (up to 2) stay free. Dogs must be approved prior to reservation by the StayLakeNorman and a separate Pet Addenda must be signed.

A Family Vacation To Lake Norman

Family on Vacation

Getting the family all together in one place can be a difficult task. Make it easier by taking a Lake Norman family vacation to get away from the distractions and stresses of everyday life. Unplug and relax in luxury in one of the StayLakeNorman Luxury Vacation Rentals. Certainly, there are so many Lake Norman things to do, the entire family can get in on the fun. Have fun in the water or take part in various activities on land that the whole family can enjoy.

Fun On The Water

Lake Norman is a vast man-made lake. In other words, it is so large, it spans across four counties and has 520 miles of shoreline. You can take part in just about any water-related activity on Lake Norman. From fishing to wakeboarding to swimming, the possibilities are endless. StayLakeNorman’s sister company offers a selection of rental boats with sports packages to take out on the lake. Or step aboard some of the river boats or yachts offering cruises with a dinner. There is endless fun out on the water and plenty of lake to enjoy and explore. You can even take a sunset cruise or learn some exciting information about Normie, the fictitious Lake Norman Monster, on a relaxing tour of the lake.

Staying On Shore

Aside from kicking it back lakeside at your vacation rental, there are many fun things your entire family can do on land. Take in the views with a hike or bike around the lake on the many trails that surround it. See which member of your family has a need for speed by hitting the asphalt by racing to the checkered flag in go-karts at the GoPro Motorplex. Similarly, climb to new heights by visiting the Cliff Hangers climbing center. It comes loaded with various levels of rock walls and bouldering areas. Get a little exotic by spending the day at Lazy 5 Ranch. You can take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon to see Henry Hampton’s home of unique animals. Most importantly, enjoy seeing and petting various animals while learning about them up close and personal.

A Comfortable Lake Norman Family Vacation Perfect For Your Family

If you want a comfortable stay with your family on Lake Norman, you will be sure to find it with StayLakeNorman Luxury Vacation Rentals. There are plenty of options to choose from. From a lakeside villa that can sleep up to 18 guests or a cozy cabin that sleeps up to 8 and room for your four-legged best friend. Take a look at StayLakeNorman’s different accommodations to find the perfect fit for your family. Stay close to all the Lake Norman things to do and waterfront views. Your Lake Norman getaway is waiting for you.

The Perfect Lake Norman Waterfront Rentals

Staylakenorman logo

You have your dates picked out and marked on the calendar and want to go to North Carolina for your getaway? Not quite sure just where you are staying yet? Lake Norman waterfront rentals are perfect for those looking for a warm getaway with access to fantastic waters and beautiful views. StayLakeNorman Luxury Vacation Homes has a variety of wonderful luxury lakefront vacation rentals for the perfect stay.

A Simpler Taste

If you are searching for more of a cabin style stay and enjoy life a little more simply, there are a number of rentals that could fit you. Blarney Bay is the perfect example of the more simplified properties available. With more of a lakeside cabin feel with an elegantly modern layout, you will feel right at home. Soak in the sun on the deck or relax on the covered patio. Enjoy the views of the lake. Create your own meals comfortably in a full kitchen set up. You will have plenty of space with an open floor plan to move around comfortably. The water is only a few steps away so you can easily make a splash or access the lake with a watercraft.

Living In Luxury

For more of a luxurious taste in accommodations, a rental like the Lake Norman Playaway Vacation Home is a fantastic choice. Designed with impressive architecture, open deck areas on shore, and covered deck areas out over the water makes every area of this home tasteful. Modern furniture and appliances ensure that your stay will be optimal in comfort and functionality. Meander down to the lake where there is a comfortable spot for sitting around a toasty fire and socializing with family or friends. Luxury lakefront vacation rentals like this one can be found in different styles and sizes on the StayLakeNorman website.

Picking The Perfect Lake Norman Waterfront Rentals For You

To help you find the perfect rental for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • How many people do I need to accommodate?
  • Will I be bringing my pet?
  • What is my budget?
  • Is this stay for a wedding?

All of these questions will help narrow down your search. From there you can pick your favorite style. Flip through the options to see all of the rentals that range from luxury to simple and cozy. Once you have your rental picked out, pick up the phone and make sure you reserve it before someone else snags it. What is the final step? Arrive at your rental and have an incredible experience with StayLakeNorman Luxury Vacation Homes on Lake Norman. Your perfect rental is waiting for you and visit Lake Norman today!

North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival

NC brewers music festival

What better way to spend an early-summer day than swaying to the beat of a good tune while sipping on a locally crafted brew? When you are looking for things to do near Lake Norman, North Carolina, the North Carolina Brewers & Music Festival may be just the thing for you. Each year, just south of StayLakeNorman in Huntersville, Rural Hill hosts a festival full of local music and excellent beers.

When and Where is The North Carolina Brewers and Musical Festival

Every year in May, a small corner of Huntersville, North Carolina draws a crowd of music and beer lovers alike. Local bands and brewers take the stage and put out their best work for patrons to enjoy for Friday night, and all of Saturday. There are two stages where several bands perform. From mid-day until late afternoon, you can participate in beer tasting and find your new favorite locally crafted brew.

Taking Part In Festivities

To participate in all of the festivities, you can purchase tickets on their website. With single day or special event passes, you can enjoy the weekend in the best way to fit you. You can find vendors set up throughout the festival, so if you miss the Saturday beer tasting, you can still get your fill of unique brews. You can also stay up to date on all changes and line-ups by following their Facebook page that has continuous updates on the festival.  

Where To Stay

If you wish to stay in your StayLakeNorman luxury rental, it is a reasonably short drive to get to the festival and back to your accommodations afterward. This way you can enjoy the day and make sure you are in complete comfort to finish the night out. Pick your favorite rental and have an incredible weekend of brews, music, and the beautiful Lake Norman. If you are looking for fun things to do near Lake Norman North Carolina during an early May stay, check out the North Carolina Brewers & Music Festival.