Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 25, 2024.
With 520 miles of shoreline, there are so many things to do in Lake Norman, no matter which part you’re exploring! Lake Norman is the largest artificial lake in North Carolina, touching four counties and multiple towns that we’ll cover in this guide.
Here’s how we’ve organized this guide, starting with Lake Norman’s location:
- Where is Lake Norman?
- Things to Do in Lake Norman by Town
- More Things to Do Near Lake Norman
You can skip ahead to any of these sections or continue reading about where to find Lake Norman on a map!
Where is Lake Norman?
Lake Norman is located in Central North Carolina, and it stretches into four counties:
- Catawba County
- Iredell County
- Lincoln County
- Mecklenburg County
List of Things to Do in Lake Norman by Town
We will highlight a handful of Lake Norman towns within Iredell and Mecklenburg counties. In this guide, we’ve left out a few towns near Lake Norman, including Denver, Dallas, and others.
With those exemptions noted, here is a list of things to do at Lake Norman by the towns we’ve included.
- Eleven Lakes Brewing
- Hello, Sailor
- Jetton Park
- Ramsey Creek Park
- The Waterman Fish Bar
- Summit Coffee
- Whit’s Frozen Custard
- Carolina Raptor Center
- Carolina Renaissance Festival
- D9 Brewing
- Discovery Place
- Rural Hill
- Carrigan Farms
- Downtown Mooresville
- Lake Norman Antique Mall
- Racing Activities
- Carolina Balloonfest
- Fort Dobbs
- Red Buffalo Brewing Co
- Rescue Ranch
- Southern Distilling Company
- Daveste Vineyards
- Lake Norman State Park
Cornelius is a historic and quaint town located along Lake Norman. Just off of I-77 (Exit 28) and only 20 miles from Charlotte, Cornelius boasts 70 miles of lake shoreline.
There are plenty of places for visitors to rent jet skis and paddle boats, enjoy boutique shopping, and more. Here are a few things to do in Cornelius.
Eleven Lakes Brewing
Address: 10228 Bailey Rd #201, Cornelius
Located in an unassuming industrial park, Eleven Lakes Brewing packs a punch of hops! Serving both traditional and contemporary brews, there’s something for every beer drinker at Eleven Lakes Brewing.
Christina checked out the Apricot Habanero, which she can confirm kept her warm and happy!
Address: 20210 Henderson Rd, Cornelius
Beautiful, chic, and crave-worthy. Hello, Sailor busted on the scene in 2018 and is owned by the same culinary geniuses of Kindred.
As you dine by the lake, expect elevated Southern dishes with exquisite cocktails. Watch as diners arrive dockside and chow down on NC shrimp, hushpuppies with yuzu butter, and crispy catfish served alongside beef-fat fries.
Address: 19000 Jetton Rd, Cornelius
Jetton Park is another excellent place to catch the sunset in Lake Norman! The park encompasses 104 acres and includes a boat launch, hiking trails, a sunning beach, and a playground.
No matter what time of day you visit, this is one of the best things to do at Lake Norman.
Ramsey Creek Park
Address: 18441 Nantz Rd, Cornelius
Enjoy a small beach, boat launch, dog park, and fantastic playground at Ramsey Creek Park. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and an entrance fee per car ($5 per car for county residents and $10 per car for non-county residents) is required during those months.
Off-season, there is no fee to enter the park, and perfect for relaxing by the water. In addition, Ramsey Park Creek is a fantastic location for sunset!
The highlight of the playground for us was the kiddie zip line! The 20-foot-long zip line is perfect for young kids, and there are plenty of park benches for parents to relax.
The Waterman Fish Bar
Address: 9615 Bailey Rd, Cornelius
If you are looking for delicious raw oysters, fresh fish, and craft cocktails, The Waterman Fish Bar is an excellent restaurant in Lake Norman to satisfy those needs!
With happy hour oyster deals and a comfortable wrap-around patio, this spot is perfect for hungry families who want something high-end at an affordable price.
Davidson is the adorable Lake Norman town that belongs in a Hallmark movie. The college town has boutique shops, 12 miles of greenways, and is proudly walkable.
Address: 131 N Main St, Davidson
If there is only one meal you have in Lake Norman, make it a reservation at Kindred. Your meal will start with light, fluffy milk bread, which is worth raving about.
The James Beard-nominated restaurant is one of the many concepts from culinary powerhouse couple Joe and Katy Kindred. The menu changes seasonally, but if you see squid ink pasta listed, make no hesitations and order it!
Address: 624 Jetton St #110, Davidson
Milkbread has delicious fluffy donuts that will melt in your mouth. Soft, light, and sweet, these might be some of our favorite donuts in North Carolina!
If donuts aren’t your vibe, Milkbread also has a variety of toasts and bowls for more power to fuel your mornings.
Address: 128 S Main St & 120 Patterson Ct Cir, Davidson
Summit Coffee has cafes all across the Southeast, but the fabric of this sustainable brand started in Davidson.
With a focus on sustainability, Summit Coffee sources ethically and provides “bring your own mug” discounts, composts, and waste and energy audits. You can even find their Transparency Report on their website!
Beyond the environmental impacts Summit Coffee works to reduce, it’s just good coffee. Delicious, inventive lattes, beans to go, and some of the best pastries we’ve had!
Whit’s Frozen Custard
Address: 428 S Main St, Davidson
The Davidson location of Whit’s Frozen Custard was the second one to open and maintains a small-town, locally-owned vibe. You are guaranteed fresh creamy ice cream with all the flavors made on-site!
Huntersville has quite a few attractions that get confused for being located in Charlotte. But that’s okay because we are here to focus on things to do in this Lake Norman town.
Carolina Raptor Center
Address: 6000 Sample Rd, Huntersville
We at NC Tripping support only nonprofit animal education experiences focusing on education and conservation. For example, Carolina Raptor Center is located in Latta Plantation Nature Preserve on 57 acres and focuses on birds of prey.
There are over 35 species of native and exotic raptors on a 3/4 mile trail. In addition, you will see hawks, falcons, eagles, vultures, and more!
Carolina Renaissance Festival
Address: 16445 Poplar Tent Rd, Huntersville
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is one of the largest Renaissance fairs in the country, comprised of a 25-acre amusement park within a 325-acre woodland area that transforms into a whimsical storybook village named Fairhaven.
The award-winning festival transports visitors back to the medieval ages with spectacular shows, feast-worthy food, and entertainment.
Discovery Place Kids
Address: 105 Gilead Rd, Huntersville, NC
The museum focuses on learning through hands-on interactive exhibits, including one on local crops, milking a “cow,” and being in the pit crew on a race car!
We recommend checking out Discovery Place Kids and burning some energy while learning in Lake Norman!
Address: 4431 Neck Rd, Huntersville
The 265-acre farm offers educational programs, walking trails, and an annual corn maze that serves as its primary fundraiser.
Address: 9815 Sam Furr Rd Suite J #313, Huntersville
D9 Brewing Co. is one of Charlotte Metros’ largest breweries and has locations in Huntersville, Charlotte, and Hendersonville. The community-focused brewery has events going on all the time, including trivia and live music.
Known for its sours, Christina enjoyed a chili hatch double IPA and gave it her stamp of approval!
Mooresville is also considered a Lake Norman town and sits in Iredell County. Known as “Race City USA,” Mooresville is only 30 minutes from Charlotte.
It wouldn’t be a trip for us without a visit to some North Carolina breweries, and Mooresville has some good ones. Here are a few:
- Ghostface Brewing (427 E Statesville Ave & 225 S Broad St) is a very popular brewery in Mooresville. At its two locations—one serving pizza and the other serving as their “Beer Lab”—Ghostface has a rotating tap that suits all beer palates.
- Jolly Roger Brewery (236 Raceway Dr #12, Mooresville) is veteran-owned and known for its deep flavors and pirate-themed names.
- King Canary (562 Williamson Rd, Mooresville) is where you’ll find inspiration and flavor, from IPAs to fruited sours. This Mooresville brewery is where beer lovers go.
Address: 1261 Oakridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville
Mooresville is also home to one of our favorite pumpkin patches and places to go apple picking! In addition, Carrigan Farms offers multiple other events throughout the year (including strawberry picking in the spring) and also has a swimming quarry in the summer that is very popular!
Mooresville’s historic downtown district is only part of where all of the fun happens! But we suggest it be among the first Lake Norman towns you visit.
Downtown Mooresville has a vibrant local scene that is wonderful for residents and travelers! Throughout the year, exciting events held downtown include food truck festivals (June through October), charity wiener dog races, and more.
Read More: 20+ Awesome Museums in Charlotte and Nearby!
Lake Norman Antique Mall
Address: 467 E Plaza Dr, Mooresville
The Lake Norman Antique Mall occupies a renovated mill and is a Mooresville gem.
You can spend hours browsing the different vendors looking for the perfect vintage piece or eclectic antique to take home. Every time we visit, it seems like more and more treasures emerge from nowhere!
As Race City USA, Mooresville boasts more than a few racing-related activities and places to go. Here are some of the best:
- GoPro Motorplex (130 Motorplex Dr, Mooresville)
- Kyle Busch Motorsports (351 Mazeppa Rd, Mooresville)
- JR Motorsports (349 Cayuga Dr, Mooresville)
- The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame (119 Knob Hill Rd, Mooresville)
- Penske Racing (200 Penske Way, Mooresville)
Beer, history, and balloons are what you’ll find in Statesville, but there’s even more to enjoy in this great town, including some of our favorite things to do near Lake Norman.
Carolina Balloon Fest
Statesville is a hub of activity for hot air balloons and even hosts the annual Carolina Balloon Fest in October. The Statesville-based festival is the second-oldest hot air balloon festival in the world, bringing in close to 40,000 people to the area each year.
Balloons fly all weekend, and it is undoubtedly a sight to see.
Address: 438 Fort Dobbs Rd, Statesville
Travel back to what was an essential outpost for British settlers during the French and Indian War. Fort Dobbs Historic Site consists of the fort, 19th-century log structures, and a mile-long outdoor trail.
Events are often held here with live reenactments.
Red Buffalo Brewing Co
Address: 108 N Center St, Statesville
Red Buffalo Brewing Co started in a garage with old-world style beer and an innovative twist.
The vibe at Red Buffalo is just as important as the hops—with live music and a laid-back atmosphere. It’s where you can enjoy a couple of pints and laugh with friends any evening.
Read More: The Best North Carolina Breweries
Address: 1424 Turnersburg Hwy, Statesville
Rescue Ranch is a non-profit animal welfare organization founded by NASCAR driver Ryan Newman and Krissie Newman. This isn’t a petting zoo or animal experience, but Rescue Ranch offers tours and hands-on learning about animal care.
Tours must be booked in advance and include a personal guide to provide detailed information about the education facility.
Southern Distilling Company
Address: 211 Jennings Rd, Statesville
Southern Distilling Company is one of the Southeast’s largest craft distillers. Their grain-to-glass whiskey exemplifies the 100-year-old Statesville tradition of distilling.
You’ll find bourbon, rye whiskey, and brandy at ABC stores and Southern Distilling Company’s 25,000-square-foot facility. In addition, we recommend a visit to this Statesville distillery to look at the tallest stainless steel and copper still in North Carolina.
Read More: Distilleries in North Carolina
Iredell County’s Troutman is one of the smaller Lake Norman towns, but you’ll find some exciting things to do here.
Address: 155 Lytton Farm Rd, Troutman
Artisanal cheeses are available for a perfect picnic supplement. Davesté Vineyards also seems approachable for families and ideal for an afternoon.
Lake Norman State Park
Address: 759 State Park Rd, Troutman
Lake Norman State Park is one of our favorite places to get outside. Enjoy its 30-plus miles of trails, camping, boating, and a beautiful sandy beach for swimming.
Our favorite trail is the Lakeshore Trail, which can be shortened into a 2.6-mile loop and is perfect for kids and hikers of all abilities.
What Are Your Favorite Things to Do in Lake Norman?
No matter where we find ourselves in the Lake Norman area, we know there will be something fun around the corner. You can see what we’re talking about inside each of the towns we’ve shared.
If you’re familiar with this part of the state, what are your favorite things to do at Lake Norman and nearby? Let us know here in the comments or by email.
Don’t forget to share your Lake Norman adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.
Things to Do Near Lake Norman
Beyond these Lake Norman towns, there are even more places to visit, including NC’s largest city.
Concord is only 35 minutes from the Lake Norman towns we’ve mentioned and has plenty of activity for everyone! Catch a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (or Speedway Christmas!), enjoy watery thrill rides at Great Wolf Lodge, or shop till you drop at Concord Mills.
Kannapolis often gets lumped together with Concord, but the quaint town outside Charlotte has plenty to offer! Check out a Cannon Ballers game, learn about music at the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and check out the Dale Trail!
Visiting this town is definitely one of our favorite things to do near Lake Norman.
Read more: Minor League Baseball in North Carolina
You can’t leave out the Queen City when you are looking for things to do near Lake Norman! Whether paddling at the US National Whitewater Center, riding the rollercoasters at Carowinds, cruising through Uptown for the best restaurants in Charlotte, or enjoying a pint in NoDa, there’s plenty to do in the big city.
More Things to Do in Lake Norman and Nearby (NC Travel Guides)
With 520 miles of shoreline, there is more to experience around Lake Norman! We’ve created more NC travel guides that cover things to do near Lake Norman! Here are a few of them.