Tennessee is known for its stunning landscapes and abundance of outdoor recreational areas. The state is full of beautiful lakes and reservoirs that are perfect for nature- and adventure-loving families. The six best lakes to visit for big families are Center Hill Lake, Douglas Lake, Kentucky Lake, Watauga Lake, Watts Bar Lake, and Dale Hollow Lake.
Center Hill Lake
Center Hill Lake is a man-made reservoir near Smithville, created by the construction of a dam. The lake is open for recreational activities and many large vacation homes are available near Center Hill. There’s plenty of local rentals for large families, from chalets and cabins to hotels and camping grounds.
Additionally, the lake boasts several marinas where you can either park your boat or rent one to take out on the water. In either case, you can go fishing year-round, with tournaments held in the summer.
Douglas Lake is a popular outdoor destination in eastern Tennessee, being only a few miles from Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This region in eastern Tennessee is full of vacation rentals for families of all sizes – and perfect if you’re looking for a cabin getaway.
Generally, fishing is one of the most popular activities at Douglas Lake, but please note that you need a fishing license. Additionally, the lake is perfect for swimming, boating, and includes hiking trails in the nearby mountains.
Kentucky Lake is a large, navigable reservoir that straddles Kentucky and Tennessee. It’s one of the best lakes for fishing in the eastern United States, with crappie, bass, bluegill, and catfish.
Boating options include the ability to bring a deck boat, pontoon, runabout, houseboat, powerboat, ski boat, or fishing boat.
Family activities in the region include hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting, off-roading, and wildlife viewing. As a popular tourist destination, there’s no shortage of accommodation near Kentucky Lake – even for big families.
Watauga Lake, near Elizabethton, sits near the Appalachian Mountains and Cherokee National Forest. The region offers beautiful lake and mountain views where you can fish, swim, and go boating. Due to Watauga’s location being a bit off the beaten path, you’ll find fewer tourists here than at other lakes in Tennessee.
In addition to swimming, boating, and fishing, you can also camp out in the Cherokee National Forest. Other family-friendly activities include paddling or canoeing, take a guided hiking or biking tour, or visit nearby Butler Museum.
Watts Bar Lake
Watts Bar Lake is located halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, in central Tennessee. The reservoir was created by the Watts Bar Dam and offers tourists paddling, fishing, swimming, and camping. Fishing is best at Watts Bar in the summer months, between April and November. Several marinas surround Watts Bar Lake, where you can find boat rentals, restaurants, and resorts. For nature-lovers, the Betty Brown Memorial Walking Trail offers a scenic hike that winds around the lake’s shoreline.
Dale Hollow Lake
Dale Hollow Lake is a reservoir on the Kentucky/Tennessee border that offers boating, swimming, floating, skiing, kayaking, and fishing. The lake houses the largest federal trout hatchery east of the Mississippi River and hosts annual fishing tournaments in April and November. Tourists can rent boats, dine, or stay at one of the four marinas situated around the lake as well. Off the water, Dale Hollow has plenty to keep you and your big family busy: hiking, biking, golf, trail riding, and historical sites. As a popular outdoor destination in northern Tennessee, Dale Hollow has resorts, lodges, cabins, and individual vacation rentals.
Final Thoughts on Tennessee Lake Vacations for Big Families
Whether you fancy trout fishing on Dale Hollow Lake or hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains near Douglas Lake, Tennessee’s lake regions have countless activities to offer vacationers. Therefore, a visit to a lake is the perfect trip for a big family because there are enough activities to keep everyone busy. For your next vacation in Tennessee, head to one of these six beautiful lakes.