Your guide to Lake Life at Birmingham’s most accessible spots

Birmingham, lakes, lake life
Living that lake life. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Feeling the need for a weekend getaway? Then grab your quaranteam and head to the lake for some fresh air, sunshine and vast amounts of social distance. Here’s a peek at four lakes within easy driving distance from Birmingham.

1. Lay Lake

Birmingham, Lake Martin
Ride the waves. Photo via Kelley McCallum

Located about 33 miles from Birmingham, Lay Lake makes a quick weekend escape when scenic water views are calling your name. Stretching 12,000-acres, the primary uses of the lake are hydroelectric generation and recreation.

Distance from Birmingham to Lay Lake: 59 min via US-280 E and Chelsea Rd

Where to Stay

In need of a place to stay during your visit to Lay Lake? Consider these vacation rentals and RV Rentals.

What to Do

Birmingham, Lay Lake
Lake views. Photo via Lay Lake’s Facebook page

Water skiing, tubing, kayaking—you can be as adventurous as you’d like on Lay Lake. But did you know Lay Lake is known for its great fishing? On any given day you’ll find anglers of all skill levels casting their lines and making photo-worthy catches. You’ll also find many fishing tournaments taking place throughout the year.

When you bait your hook and throw out your line, you’re likely to catch:

  • Spotted Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Bream
  • Crappie

Purchase or renew your Alabama fishing license here.

Parks and Trails

Before you cannon ball into that cool lake water, pack a picnic and visit one of these nearby parks:

Where to Eat

VJ’s Restaurant: hamburgers, sandwiches, steaks + more.
Address: Co Rd 46, Shelby, AL 35143

The Point Bar & Grill: burgers, fries, pizza + more.
Address: 231 Paradise Point Dr Suite B, Columbiana, AL 35051

2. Logan Martin Lake

Birmingham, lake
Pups love the lake life. Photo via Vicky Lewis for Bham Now

Just 30 miles east of Birmingham on the Coosa River, Logan Martin Lake awaits visitors with 17,000 acres of beauty.

Sandwiched between Logan Martin Dam on the south and Neely Henry Dam on the north, the reservoir earned the nickname of “Lake of a Thousand Coves” by locals.

Distance from Birmingham to Logan Martin Lake: 54 minutes via I-459N and I-20E

Where to Stay

Looking for a rustic cabin stay? What about a lakefront house? No matter what you desire for your lake getaway, you’re sure to find it. Check out these cabins, condos and houses for rent.

What to Do

Birmingham, Logan Martin Lake, lakes
Logan Martin Lake. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

From boat rides to water skiing, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do at Logan Martin Lake. But you may want to grab your rod and reel—this lake offers some of the nation’s finest bass fishing.

Here are some species of bass you’re likely to catch:

  • Hybrid
  • Largemouth
  • Striped
  • Spotted
  • White

Purchase or renew your Alabama fishing license here.

Where to Eat

The Back Porch: surf & turf, fried crab claws, shrimp + more.
Address: 270 Marina Dr, Talladega, AL 35160

Dock’s: burgers, quesadillas, seafood, wings + more.
Address: 2401 Stemley Bridge Rd, Pell City, AL 35128

3. Lake Martin

Birmingham, Lake Martin
“Chimney Rock” is one of Lake Martin’s most popular spots. Photo via Lake Martin’s Facebook page

For fun in the sun this summer, Lake Martin is the ideal spot. Located on the Tallapoosa River, it’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the US. 

Distance from Birmingham to Lake Martin: 1 hour, 51 minutes via I-65S

Where to Stay

There are hundreds of vacation rentals and RV rentals available at Lake Martin. Just browse and book. 

If you want to rent a boat or purchase one new or used, consider the following places:

Things to Do

Birmingham, Goat Island, Lake Martin
At Goat Island, it’s all about the baaa. Photo via Patience Itson for Bham Now

From swimming and boating to water skiing and fishing, there is tons to do during your visit. Here are some things to put on your radar:

Goat Island: For all you goat adorers out there, you’ll want to spend some time at Goat Island. Just as its name suggests, this strip of land on Lake Martin is home to a heard of free-roaming goats. They aren’t shy either! They’re more than happy to accept pets and steal your snacks. They may even follow you back to your car. 

Chimney Rock: This late rock formation is one of Lake Martin’s most popular hangout spots. Stretching 60 ft. high, boats drop anchor to watch adventurous lake goers jump off the rock into the cool water below.

Where to Eat 

All that fun in the sun is sure to work up a powerful appetite. Here are some places to grab a bite:

Niffers Placecasual, family-friendly environment and a variety of food and drinks. Inside dining, curbside and delivery available. 
Address: 7500 Highway 49 South, Dadeville, AL 36853

Spring House: fine dining and savory southern cuisine.
Address: 12 Benson Mill Rd, Alexander City, AL 35010

Oskars Cafe: burgers, sandwiches, salads, seafood + more.
Address: 6684 Hwy 49 South, Dadeville, AL 36853

4. Lewis Smith Lake

Birmingham, Smith Lake
Gorgeous view on Lewis Smith Lake. Photo via Smith Lake Alabama’s Facebook page

For a quick road trip that lands at the lake, consider Lewis Smith Lake. Typically called Smith Lake, you’ll find it just 20 miles northwest of Birmingham.

Distance from Birmingham to Lewis Smith Lake: 53 minutes via I-65N

Where to Stay

You can always rent a lake house at Smith Lake. But if you love camper-style living, consider these RV rentals.

Things to Do

Birmingham, fishing, bass, lakes
What a catch! Photo via Patience Itson for Bham Now


As you take in those lake views, you’ll want to grab your fishing pole. With a generous population of bass, you’re sure to make a catch.

Purchase or renew your Alabama fishing license here.


Do you love the feeling of wind in your hair and sunshine on your face as a boat carries you swiftly across the lake? Whether you’d like to rent a boat or purchase one new or used, here’s where to go:

Where to Eat 

La Plaza Bonita Mexican: tacos, burritos, margaritas + more.
Address: 6530 County Rd 41, Arley, AL 35521

Lakeshore Inn Restaurant: breakfast, lunch + dinner.
Address: 364 Lakeshore Dr, Double Springs, AL 35553

What’s your favorite lake near Birmingham? Let us know how you live, love, lake on social @bhamnow.

Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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