About White Lake North Carolina

White Lake, North Carolina is a small town with a crystal-clear lake that features the self-proclaimed Safest Beach in the US. The southern gem offers the perfect road trip getaway for you and your family with plenty of activities and some time for relaxation, too! 

This oasis is located in Bladen County and is a next door neighbor to Elizabethtown.  With a small population of a little under 1,000 year-round, White Lake retains its small-town charm despite welcoming 200,000 tourists each summer. The town itself has a total area of 2.6 square miles with the body of water taking up 1.6 square miles of that area. 

Although the land surrounding the lake has been developed and vacationers flock to the area each summer, the lake has unusually crystal-clear water. This is one of the main draws of the beautiful destination. White lake is a subterranean spring-fed lake, leading to slower rate of water seeping into the lake and less sediment. This factor paired with the white sand bottom of the lake leads to the pristine water conditions. 

The lake has no currents, tides, or hazardous depressions, making it very safe for families. It’s an incredible place to getaway for some skiing, swimming, boating, and wakeboarding. The lake features plenty of exciting things to do off the water, too.  

kid playing in the sand

Don't forget to hit the beach and just play in the sand

History of White Lake NC 

Although there are many theories on how White Lake came about (including a giant meteor crashing to Earth), there’s no firm answer. However, we do know when the town began commercializing. The very first commercial operation in White Lake opened in 1901. Ralph Melvin opened a public beach property which was an entertainment hub for locals and tourists. The property featured dancing, food, and a place to lay your head at night. 

The growth of White Lake didn’t stop there and it became a tourist town by the 1920’s. During this time, the popular Goldston’s Beach was developed. The town added arcades, rides, and hotels. With all of this development, tourists were starting to come in swarms. The town hosted extravagant dances and big bands began stopping in town for performances. 

grand regal white lake goldstons pier

By the 1950’s, White Lake had become an expensive resort area with a booming tourism industry. In July of 1957, a large fire took down many of the waterfront buildings on White Lake. Even Goldston’s Beach, still a favorite spot today, was impacted. With the help of other North Carolinians, the town turned things around quickly. From 1967 – 1973, White Lake hosted the Blueberry Festival. The White Lake Water Festival also started around this time and is still thriving today. 

Water sports have always played a big part in White Lake’s history. In fact, the “White Lake Ski Heels” became a beloved part of local culture in the late 1970’s. This team of athletes began performing across the state and eventually took their talents nationwide. They performed at both Disney World and SeaWorld in their heyday. Some teammates even took their talents international, skiing in Japan and during Olympic events.  

paddle boards

Want to be more active? Try paddle boarding.

What to Do in White Lake 

Water sports are still a big draw for tourists in the White Lake area. The 1,200 acres of water leaves plenty of room to enjoy your favorite water activity; whether that’s wakeboarding, water skiing, jet skiing, or simply swimming. The white sand beaches are also great for a little sunbathing and relaxation. 

For even more water thrills, visit the White Lake Waterpark. The park features a lazy river, bumper boats, kiddie splash pad with bucket dumps, a sinking submarine, and children’s slides. Plus, there’s a 100,000 gallon wave pool, Double Turbo Twister slide, and a 2,000 square foot swimming pool.  

Back on land you’ll find arcades, souvenir shopping, and bingo. You can also take a short 15-minute drive to Elizabethtown for go-karts and mini golf. Between the two towns there is an 18-hole golf course. 

grand regal hotel arcade white lake

Fun for all ages, and a great option if you need a rainy day activity or want to get out of the sun for a bit

If you’d like to take a step back in time you can catch a bit of history while visiting. Harmony Hall Plantation is a 1760s-era home located in nearby White Oak. The fully-restored Harmony Hall is one of the oldest homes in North Carolina. Call 910-866-4844 for more information.

Don’t miss the annual White Lake Water Festival, a long-time local favorite. The festival includes food, craft vendors, a parade, and live music. There’s also typically a car show and activities for the little ones in your family. 

White Lake is also within a 10-mile radius of a few local vineyards. Pay a visit to Cape Fear Vineyard & Winery for sample flights or to enjoy a delicious meal. The property also features a bunny petting area, donkeys, and display of sculptures from NC artist J.A. Cobb. They’ve also recently added distillery to their accomplishments and offer local gin and rum options. Lu Mil Vineyard offers a tasting bar that is open daily. It’s a quiet and peaceful spot to sit back and sip some wine for the afternoon. 

Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the local hot spots! Ski Burger is a small joint that offers southern bites such as a fried bologna sandwich or country ham and eggs for breakfast. They also offer burgers, chicken, and sandwiches for lunch. Hot Rod’s Grill is another local spot that serves diner food such as burgers, shrimp baskets, and BBQ. 

Lakeside at White Lake NC

Naturally beautiful

White Lake Hotels, Rentals, and Camping 

White Lake provides several types of lodging including campsites, cabins, house rentals, and hotels. Check out these popular choices below: 

The Grand Regal at Goldston’s Beach offers a modern stay that recently combined several of the lake’s most popular places to stay. Get a piece of history with Goldston’s Beach but a spark of fresh with the newest addition to the lake’s shores. 

White Lake Hotel is a family-centered spot with cottages and rooms for rent. The rentals all have fully equipped kitchens and will give you that true “home away from home” vibe.  

Camp Clearwater is North Carolina’s largest family campground. They have 1,300 feet of private beach and four piers for direct access to the water. 

Park Shore’s Campground is a smaller campsite that offers space for traveling families. For more information, call 910-862-4849.

Home Rentals
White Lake’s shores have many homes available for rent throughout the year. The best place to search is VRBO or Airbnb. Rental prices start at just $71 a night. 

Whether you plan to drive by for the day or spend a week over the summer, White Lake is a perfect small-town getaway with pristine waters so clear you might think you’ve landed in the Caribbean. When you visit, don’t forget to tag @carolinatravelr in your photos and let us know what you think! 

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