- Restaurants and Bars
- Burn Your Socks Open House at Virginia Inland Sailing Association
- Moonshine Regatta at Virginia Inland Sailing Association
- Smith Mountain Lake State Park
- Independence Day weekend fireworks off the points near Parkway Marina
- Feeding fish at Bridgewater Marina
- Feeding huge carp at Smith Mountain Dock and Lodge
- Black Water Sailing Association Night Race
- Commodore’s Cup at Virginia Inland Sailing Association
- John B. Bernard Cup at Virginia Inland Sailing Association
- Overnighting Destinations
- Bridgewater Plaza Public Docks
- Christmas Tree Island Private Dock and Cove (Island is for sale, presently 33% off original asking price. Trespass on the island at your own risk.)
- Crazy Horse Marina Public Docks
- Crystal Shores Marina Public Docks
- Smith Mountain Lake State Park Public Docks (designated for day-use only but that is not enforced at time of writing, possibly due to very low usage of these docks)
Mexico Viejo (in English means “old Mexican”) is often busy, so aim to visit at off hours like the middle of the afternoon or on a weekday.
Most of the staff are fluent in English and Spanish, so you can order in whichever language seems fun. Service is consistently good with a classic American-Mexican restaurant menu, starting with complimentary tortilla chips and salsa.
The view of the cove from the upstairs windows is fantastic. The downstairs open air dining area is out of the weather and pleasant too, although the view suffers from lower elevation. The atmosphere is better than a common Mexican restaurant.
There is a ship’s store onsite with ice, and plenty of excellent transient docks with spare room. Unauthorized overnighting at the transient dock goes without complaint. Sailors will appreciate making the public dock on a close reach without tacking as the wind wraps around the cove.
Sailors will appreciate how the wind can wrap around the cove as it blows from the marina. With slight adjustments to course and sails, sailors can make the public docks on a close reach without additional tacks.
Read more at Mexico Viejo’s website here.
Best (in order of goodness)
- Mexico Viejo at Crazy Horse Marina
- This Mexican restaurant features fantastic service, food, and views. Decor is classic Mexican restaurant. There is often a wait during normal busy hours. So go at 3:00 p.m. There is ample public dockage and a ship’s store with ice.
- Smith Mountain Dock & Lodge
- This is a fantastic little slice of Americana, usually busy but with efficient service from a plethora of staff. Boat boys and girls help tie off and launch on the public dock, and will pump fuel if desired. Dockage can be tight, but there is a ship’s store. Order inexpensive short-order fare while standing over a glass panel looking down into the lake. Eat outside on the public dock tables. Feed the carp.
- Heath’s Waterfront Grill at Mariner’s Landing
- Heath’s is the second nicest restaurant on SML. Decor is light, clean and modern, but seems a little cheap, like it came from Ikea. Service is decent. Food and views are good. There is ample public dockage, but no ship’s store.
- The Landing at Bernard’s Landing
- The Landing is fine dining on SML. Decor is well done and classic. Views are excellent. Rumor has it the chef can be temperamental, which may add some adventure to the meal. There is ample public dockage, but no ship’s store.
- Mango’s Bar and Grill at Bridgewater Plaza
- Mango’s typically has less than mediocre service with a great outdoor atmosphere adjacent to a mall and marina. Service improves dramatically when business is slow. Avoid busy times to avoid loud intoxicated rednecks.There is ample public dockage with fuel and many stores.
Worst (in order of badness)
- King’s Point Pub at Lake Haven Marina
- This dive is dark, dinghy, and inconsistently open, including on weekends.
- Waller’s at Crystal Shores Marina
- Waller’s is hillbilly heaven. Decor is great, open air and islandy. Expect slow to non-existent service and a crowd of loud intoxicated rednecks anytime, including Thursday afternoon. Dockage is tight, but the boat boys and girls are excellent, help tie off and launch, and will pump fuel if desired