By Melanie Threlkeld McConnell*
Lake Junaluska, NC – Swimming pool, walking trail, golf course, kayaks and tennis courts – all signs of a great vacation spot and all at Lake Junaluska, the crown jewel of outdoor recreation in Haywood County.
Just ask Jeff Bennington, 45, whose family moved to the lake fulltime in 2009, and couldn’t be happier.
“No need to go anywhere else. You can do all your activities right here,” he said. The family walks and bikes the trails (Bennington everyday), fishes the lake and the lower dam, and plays tennis.
“Lake Junaluska has a special place in our heart,” Bennington said. “It has a very spiritual presence. It’s a relaxing and stress free area, with the mountains and the lake and the spectacular view. The fishing’s phenomenal. And we have a blast at mini golf in the summer time.”
One of the busiest places at the lake in the summer is the Lake Junaluska Aquatic Center, home to the swimming pool and boat rentals. The pool is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, with recreational swimming from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and lap swim from 8 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. The pool is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays for recreational swimming. Daily admission to the pool is $6 per person. Lodging guests swim for free.
With a 200-acre lake, there’s plenty of room to maneuver a paddle boat, kayak or canoe. At $5 for 30 minutes, it’s certainly worth a glide across the lake. Boat rentals may be purchased at the Soda Shop in the Kern Center. Free activities include tennis, shuffleboard and mini golf.
Make it easy for the family with a Summer Activities Pass, $110 for lake residents and $160 for non-residents – probably the best deal in town. Each package includes four passes that gets users free admission to the pool and to the evening boat tours, one free greens fee at the Lake Junaluska Golf Course and discounts off of boat rentals, lake dining, and purchases at the Lake Junaluska Bookstore and Café.
So why go farther than Waynesville’s own backyard this summer? That’s what Jeff Bennington wonders. “We view this as a vacation all year round.”
For more information about Lake Junaluska’s outdoor and recreational opportunities, call 828.452.2881 or visit www.lakejunaluska.com/activities.
* Melanie Threlkeld McConnell is a freelance writer, former AP newswoman, editor and media consultant based in Waynesville, NC.