Hi. I’m Berkeley and I grew up in Spindale, NC. Population: 4,285 … on a good day. The towns surrounding Spindale are just as small. When I was a kid, it felt even smaller. For most kids, when you grow up in a small town, you can’t wait to leave. My friends and I all planned for the day we would leave for college. We all had an understanding that if you don’t go to school or work far away, you’ll never leave this town. For many, Lake Lure is a symbol of relaxation and easy living. For the local teens, it’s just another small town to parade around in Rutherford County. Coming back home for a summer has made me regret the years I spent wishing away my hometown. With the beautiful views and simple way of living, is living here all so bad?
As a Kid, I Couldn’t Wait to Leave and Would Think … Just Get Me Gone
Growing up in a small town meant that a decent movie theater was a 30-minute drive. Any big city is an hour away, and so is any airport. As kids, we based a town’s worth through its material value – movie theaters, stores, restaurants. To the kids growing up in Rutherford County, it felt like it had nothing for us. We were interested in where to shop, not where to hike. Of course, hiking was part of family excursions. After church every Sunday, my dad lugged my siblings and me to various hiking locations around the area. But the thing was, we didn’t want to hike or be outside. What we wanted was to hang out at a mall with our friends and do big city things. We spent full weekends in Lake Lure on the water or by the beaches. Our parents would drag us there, and we pretended like we hated this forced family fun. Be with my mom all day? No thanks!
Coming Back Home Changed My Views
Coming back to Rutherford County for the summers has made me rethink how I grew up. I wasn’t unfortunate to be raised in a small town – I was lucky. I was forced to spend time outside and appreciate the beauty of nature. I grew up looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains every day, wondering how many shades of blue there are. Growing up in a small town shaped me to be who I am today. I went to a tiny school in a tiny, close-knit community. I couldn’t go anywhere in town without seeing someone I knew. It’s made me a friendly and easy-going person. Traffic is light, and the only road rage I get is from slow drivers on mountain roads. And that’s another perk of being raised here: you learn to drive curvy mountain roads like a race car driver (and many of the locals sure do believe they are race car drivers).
Now, I Appreciate Where I Come From and Can’t Wait to Get Back Home
I look at the mountains surrounding this county, and I am in awe. Why didn’t I see those when I was younger? I plan my weekends around where I want to hike next. Why didn’t I go to these places when I lived here? I come from a living postcard, yet I couldn’t even see that for myself while living here. Sometimes you never know what you have until it’s gone, but I was fortunate enough to come back home, even just for a season (and summer is definitely the best season here). Growing up in a small town and returning to it means that you find appreciation for where you were raised.
Take a step back and embrace the beauty in Rutherford County. Coming back to a town that I promised myself I would never return to has reassured me that you can find the good in everything. Admire the lake life, but explore the small town mountain life, too.
Things I Took for Granted That I Now Long For:
Here are just a few of the things that I took for granted during my childhood growing up in this small town – and now I long for them. I’d encourage you to experience them too.
- Being surrounded by mountains. Going to college near the beach has made me yearn for the mountains all year long. I am always overcome with a wave of excitement when I finally see the mountains on the horizon during a long drive home. They symbolize home. I can look in all directions and see mountains colored blue from the humidity. How many other places are like that? Our views in this small town are truly breathtaking.
- Hiking. We live in a place where hiking is right around every corner. Ken’s Rock, Chimney Rock, Party Rock – what is it with all these rocks? Don’t forget about Big Bradley Falls, Little Bradley Falls, and all the falls in Dupont State Forest. We are surrounded by waterfalls, mountains, and astonishing views. Do not let a trip to this area go by without a hike.
- Curvy mountain roads. All mountain roads lead to another. With confidence, I can drive down any winding, curvy road with the mountains in sight. While I may be able to handle the curvy roads like a race car driver, nothing soothes my soul more than a peaceful mountain drive. You should try it sometime.
- Boat rides on Lake Lure. Nothing is more relaxing than taking the pontoon boat out to the middle of the lake to be surrounded by the mountains. The best memories I have are jumping off the boat dock with my siblings and diving off the boat to swim in the coves. If you’ve not experienced the lake by boat, you are missing out. Rent a boat or take a boat tour of this beautiful place.
- Fourth of July at Lake Lure. The fireworks show over Lake Lure is truly amazing, but the best part was eating apple pie and BBQ with my family. At nine o’clock, we would all come running from the lake to our boat for a prime viewing spot.
- The Christmas lights in Forest City. The best part of Thanksgiving was going to downtown Forest City after dinner to watch the lights magically turn on. The lights have been a tradition for years, and it has definitely made winter a wonderland in this snow-less town.
- Davis Donuts. Rutherford County is known for its plethora of diners and restaurants that don’t last long. However, there are a few that have lasted for decades. Spakes, Scoggins, Shake Shop, and Point of View to name a few. They are all delicious, but no one does donuts better than Davis Donuts, and no other restaurant or shop has a more welcoming hospitality. If you want to feel the southern charm of Rutherford County (all while eating some good donuts), take a drive to Davis Donuts in Forest City.
If you have not yet taken part in these activities on this list, I urge you to do so now. This list embodies the essence of Lake Lure and the surrounding area. To the locals, I cannot stress enough how important it is to explore your hometown and to appreciate all that it offers. Rutherford County has more to it than you might think, I promise. To our visitors and guests, I urge you to explore even more. Get out on the lake and have fun, but remember that there’s more fun and exploration within a thirty-minute radius waiting for you.
Explore This Crazy Good Place Before It’s Too Late.
More Crazy Good Fun:
- For our top picks for nearby hiking trails, see Top 12 Hikes Around Lake Lure, NC – A Hikers Paradise
- Or, visit our “Best of Guide” to Area Parks, Paths and Scenic Trails Around Lake Lure
- For a list of all our detailed hiking trail reviews, see Area Hiking Trails In Lake Lure NC and In Nearby Towns
- If waterfall hikes are what you’re looking for, cool off with these 7 Scenic Waterfall Hikes Around Lake Lure, NC
- If you’ve got kids and are looking for more for super-fun things to do with them, see 27 Things To Do With Kids in Lake Lure, North Carolina
- If you’re hungry after a hike, we can help with that too. In the Lake Lure Chimney Rock area, check out: Eat Your Way Along 74A – Discover What Locals Love About Lake Lure Dining or if you’re in the Rutherfordton/Forest City/Spindale area, see 5 Legendary Restaurants of Rutherford County North Carolina
- Thirsty? We got you covered with our Beer Lovers List of Area Favorites & Asheville Breweries