Lake Lure – Lake Lure, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Lake Lure

Lake Lure, North Carolina

Practice your Dirty Dancing lifts in the manmade lake where Johnny Castle himself did. 


In the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains rests a 720-acre manmade bit of heaven known as Lake Lure, although film fans may know it better as the lake where Johnny Castle taught Baby to lift.

While it looks like a naturally occurring feature, the body of water now known as Lake Lure didn’t appear until 1927. The area was slowly settled starting in 1902, and by 1925, a power company had come to the area to establish a dam on the Broad River. Once the river was dammed, the lake only took a couple of years to fill up, and a brand new rustic lake town was formed. 

While it is beautiful in its own right, the lake and its attendant town are likely more recognizable from films than from family vacations. Most notably, the lake is seen in Dirty Dancing. Scenic areas in and around the lake, as well as the Fairfield Inn, were also used for some of the filming locations. The staff cabins were demolished not long after production, but the steps to the bridge are still there. The town even started an annual Dirty Dancing Festival in 2010, and in 2013, began donating part of the proceeds to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in memory of Patrick Swayze. (Note that part of the movie was filmed at Lake Lure and part at Mountain Lake in Virginia.  The hotel portrayed as Kellerman’s is at the Virginia location.)

Other movies shot in the area include Last of the Mohicans and Firestarter, but it’s the memories of dance and romance that keep the lake alive.

Know Before You Go

In mid-October the leaves along the winding roads you'll take there are gorgeous! Dirty Dancing tours are available for a fee. The address provided here will take you to the visitors center.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web