Plug Day has come and gone, and Lake Martin is on it’s way to Summer Pool levels! With the lake filling back up and warmer weather on its way, many of us can’t wait to hit the water for the first time this season. But is your boat prepared? After a long winter in storage, there are a few things you will need to check before your first outing.
Here is our short, 10-point checklist to get you and your boat Summer ready!
1) Plug Your Boat
In celebration of Plug Day, our first checklist item is to “Plug Your Boat.” This might sound obvious, but forgetting the plug happens more often than you think!
The plug is often pulled from the stern of your boat to allow excess water to be drained from the hull. Many boaters tend to leave this unplugged throughout the Winter altogether, but this could lead to a disaster if you forget to put it back in. Double check that the plug is securely placed back into your boat. Just as easily as the pulling plug lets water out, it can let water right back in.
Seriously… Don’t sink your boat!
2) Inspect the Exterior
Statistically, one-third of the boats sink in the water due to damage to the boat’s hull. This could be cracks, gouges, or missing pieces. Damage can easily happen unknowingly while being stored, so be sure to give your boat a once over before moving on to the next step on this list.
3) Review Your Registration and Vessel License
Unlike our vehicles that we drive every day, your boat registration can be an easy one to forget to update.
Be sure your vessel license and registration are current, and readily accessible in the glove compartment before you leave the dock. You will also need to place updated stickers on the side of your boat if they aren’t currently there.
4) Make Sure You Have Your Safety Gear
Check that you have enough lifejackets for every passenger that plans to ride on your boat. You will also need a fire extinguisher (check the expiration date), and a signaling device on board in the event of an emergency – such as a pack of flares, horns, or whistles.
It also couldn’t hurt to have some sunscreen and an emergency kit on board for any scrapped knees while exploring the islands or Chimney Rock.
5) Check Your Navigational and Docking Lights
It is very important that your front red and green navigational lights are in working order, as well as your white light in the back. In addition, your docking lights are basically your headlights to park, so you will want those in full function too.
And finally, you should also toot your horn for good measure. Your horn is there for signaling to other boaters your directional maneuvers as well as if you are in distress … so be sure yours is still in working order!
6) Check Battery, Engine, and Gas
First things first, make sure your battery and electrical system is in working order.
You will also want to make sure to put plenty of fresh gas into your boat before you hit the open water. If your boat wasn’t properly Winterized, you may have old gas in your tank that can slow down your boat and cause issues. You will also want to freshen your oil and check for any leaks.
7) Inspect Trailer Condition
Your trailer should be looked over just as closely as your boat. After all, this is doing all the heavy lifting and transporting! A good practice would be to inspect the hubs and lights before every trip. If you have been in salt water lately, give it a good hose down too.
8) Know Your Buoys!
With the lake waters dropping so low this past year, it was probably a great reminder of how shallow some areas of the lake can get… even when you are a good distance from the shore.
The Lake Martin Resource Association is dedicated to keeping the buoys on the water in tip-top shape, spending a great deal of time replacing and secure buoys for boaters to safely enjoy the waters.
There are several types of buoys you will see on the lake, including “Hazard” and “No Wake.” Make sure you know the difference between the buoy markings before you hit the water – this could save you from potentially costly boat repairs or fines! Learn more about the buoys here.
9) Familiarize Yourself with the Local Boating Regulations and The Area
Let’s face it. It’s been a while since many of us have taken our boating test and we could probably use a refresher course.
I recommend reviewing a few basics such as when to use your Navigational lights vs. Docking lights, proper boating etiquette on the lake (which comes in handy on the busy holiday weekends) and looking over an updated area map of Lake Martin.
Get involved in the community of local boaters so you can ask questions, see photos, and get advice from others in the Lake Martin community. There are several great social groups for the Lake Martin, AL scene!
Lake Martin Resource Association – A great place to get involved in the monthly Lake Martin cleanup efforts or receive continuous updates on hazardous debris in the water and damaged buoys.
Lake Martin Boaters and Lake Martin Q & A – Ask questions and see photos from fellow boaters around the Lake Martin community. These are the largest community Facebook pages for Lake Martin, and are great places to connect with fellow boaters on questions, reviews, boat repair options and events happening in the area.
After following these tips, you may see that you need help servicing your boat, and there are many great places located right here on Lake Martin that can be of assistance! Check out our list of marinas here, as many of them offer servicing. Off the water, you may also want to check out Alex City Marine and Russell Marine Boating and Outdoors.
Now that you have reached the end of your to-do checklist and your boat is in tip-top shape, we can’t wait to see you out on the lake!
I remember my first trip to Alexander City a couple of years ago. I was talking to the locals and I kept hearing about the upcoming Plug Day. Everyone seemed so excited about it. I personally had never observed this occasion before, but was intrigued to learn more. I’m not one to play it off and pretend I know what someone is talking about. I couldn’t anyway-my facial expressions usually give that away. So, as my new friends looked at my confused face, I just came on out and asked-OK, so what is Plug Day? Do I get off of work for this day? Will there be cake in honor of Plug Day? Do we exchange gifts? Is there a celebration?
It turns out that this is a really joyous occasion-and this year it happens on February 18th. There’s a fun explanation to it, and a technical explanation. I will tell you a little about each so that when someone tells you “Happy Plug Day” you will know what it means and will look a lot less confused than I did that day.
Let’s start with the fun explanation! Credit for the fun part has to be given to Lake Magazine. They created this special little holiday to celebrate the start of the rising of the lake water-as Lake Martin transitions to what is called Summer Pool. Think of when you put a plug in a bathtub, and you see the water level start to rise-that is kind of what starts happening to Lake Martin on Plug Day. I know you are thinking it-because I certainly was too-and no, there is not an actual plug that makes it happen. (More on the how in the next paragraph that talks about the technical stuff.) However, it really does work the same way, and is cool to think of the virtual plug at the bottom of the lake as you see the water continue to rise over the next several weeks. During that time, we celebrate everything about Lake Martin, and start to look forward to those Summer days out on the lake cruising around, hanging out on an island, swimming, or wakeboarding and skiing. It’s a time when we think about our memories from past Summer days on the lake, and start planning for the upcoming Summer.
Now, that I have ruined it for you and let the secret out that it’s not really a giant plug that is allowing the water to rise, let’s talk technical. This is the part you can impress your friends with. Alabama Power holds a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate Martin Dam. The terms of that license are determined by an environmental impact study that is about 400 pages long. We are certainly not going to get into all of that today, but I will give you the cliffs notes version. The current license says Alabama Power has to keep Lake Martin’s water at very specific levels-491 mean sea level feet in the Summer and 484 mean sea level feet in the Winter. The Summer levels and Winter levels are commonly referred to as Summer Pool and Winter Pool. As with anything, there are some exceptions that sometimes allow for drought, flood control, scheduled drawdowns for maintenance, and emergencies. Those levels are the norm most years though. FERC even tells Alabama Power the exact dates at which they must start making the transition between water levels. This is all controlled at an Alabama Power facility in Birmingham.
February 18th is when the water level starts it’s rise to Summer Pool levels. At that time, it is 481 msl feet. One thing that is important to note is that this year the lake level was lowered an additional 3 feet in order to comply with Alabama Power’s license with FERC. The license was renewed back in 2015-and the updated license says that once every six years, Alabama Power is required to lower the winter operating water level 3 feet below the normal level of 484 feet. This extra 3 feet of drawdown allows more access to the lakebed, and gives residents a chance to complete construction projects and maintenance on shoreline structures.
They have to make sure that Lake Martin reaches Summer Pool levels-491 msl feet-by April 19th at midnight. That schedule of water level change is called the rule curve. If all things were perfect in nature, you could follow the rule curve and know exactly what the water level will be each day. If we’ve learned anything about nature though, we know that it can be unpredictable. We can get lots of rain, or no rain-you never know. Flood control is what affects the rule curve the most in the Spring. For example, Alabama Power could hold extra water in the Lake Martin reservoir to prevent downstream flooding. What we do know is that by April 19th, Lake Martin will be at full Summer Pool. You can always check the current level of the lake here. Most of us can’t contain ourselves that long though, and as the water level starts rising and weather allows, we are already enjoying the lake fully by that time.
This is it! You’ve decided to take on the big outdoors!
Camping is the perfect way to connect with nature, relax, and unwind – making it one of my favorite pastimes. It can, however, take a few trips to learn the ropes and create a system that works for you.
Here are my secrets and tips, as a seasoned camper, to help you have the absolute best experience on your first camping trip!
1. Plan Ahead-Pack List, Food, and Arrival
Planning is key to a successful and enjoyable camping trip! This will include researching your campground, looking up the local weather, and staying organized.
When getting ready for your first trip, making a pack list will help you remember essentials and think through each aspect of your experience.
Your pack list should include items for your campsite set up, such as your tent, sleeping gear, and flashlight, as well as anything you may need for meals. Keeping your food options basic and “on the go” ready will also help reduce the amount of clean up and gear you will need to bring too.
Another tip is to be sure to arrive at your campsite well before nightfall. You will want to plan to utilize the sunlight to pop your tent, organize your set up, get to know your surroundings, and start a cozy fire before dark.
2. Research Your Campground
Your camping experience can vary greatly depending on where you plan to stay. Although it could be tempting to go all in and blaze your own trail, my suggestion would be to test out the waters at a local campground first.
A campground will likely have ideal campsites ready to go, as well as a few comforts such as a bathhouse, running water, and a general store or office to buy any supplies – just in case you forget something. You can still enjoy the full aspect of nature while not having to necessarily “rough it” on your own!
When buying your camping gear, there are endless options for comfort and accessories. It is perfectly okay to come overly prepared on your first trip, as it will take a few times to figure out what you need. Part of the camping experience is creating a system that works for you!
However, do you need the fancy stovetop grill for your first time camping? Probably not. The campground will more than likely have a fire pit and grill at each site or based around the community.
My tip is to remember to keep it simple, yet efficient. Until you discover if camping is really your passion, I suggest saving your money and skip the fancy fluff. Instead, invest in quality basics, such as a sturdy pop-up tent, a comfortable sleeping bag, and perhaps an air mattress or folding chairs.
4. Setting Up Your Tent
When choosing where to set up your tent, you will want to find the flattest surface possible at your campsite. Make sure it is clear of any rocks, tree roots, and holes.
Second, aim to place your tent on higher ground – this will help if any rain does come during your stay. Setting up on top of an incline, instead of the bottom, will ensure that rainwater won’t get inside of your tent and potentially flood it.
Lastly, I suggest avoiding placing your tent under a tree. Though it may seem like a good idea for shade or pictures, it can actually be a pain in the butt. Wind or rain could lead to a tree branch falling and damaging your setup and, from experience, I know it’s not any fun to clean off tree sap, bird poo, or any other things that fall out of trees.
Instead, find an open, flat space without anything overhead. Plus, just imagine all of those twinkling stars you’ll want to see!
5. Keep a Tidy Tent
Your tent will be your home for your entire camping trip, so be sure to keep it tidy!
One good tip to remember is to take your shoes off before you enter your tent. This will help keep dirt out of your clean sleeping area. It is also a good idea to keep your tent zipped shut at all times. This will help minimize bugs, flies, and creepy crawling things from entering inside.
My biggest tip however is to utilize any space savers that may come with your tent, such as hanging pockets or storage nets. It may also help to pack a storage bin. Not only can it help you keep your camping gear together and organized, it’s a great place to store items that you may want to use but not necessarily keep inside your tent. This storage bin can simply stay in the back of your car, and still have your items on hand… just in case!
6. Double and Triple Check the Weather
This is a big one. I have been camping in thunderstorms, the dead heat of the summer, and below freezing temperatures. Knowing ahead of time what the weather will be like will help tremendously to properly prepare and still enjoy the experience.
Be sure to double check the local weather and radar for the area you will be camping. If it looks like there is a chance for rain, simply prepare by double checking that your tent has a rain fly and perhaps pack a good book to read or a board game to help pass the time. When you are weather prepared, you can still have a great time camping!
Overall, come with relaxation in mind and just remember to enjoy the whole experience. Camping is all about unplugging, unwinding, and simply connecting with nature. My goal is for you to have an incredible first trip so that you too will fall in love with camping and the big outdoors!
When I travel, I am always looking for ways to save money. I mean seriously, who doesn’t enjoy being able to experience all an area has to offer, and knowing you got a good deal on it? It’s a good feeling. Well I am not one to keep my travel hacks to myself, so I wanted to share with you something cool that I stumbled upon that I thought you may enjoy too. It’s something that Sweet Home Alabama has put together and it is called the All in One Ticket. You can enjoy discounts in the Lake Martin area, as well as the nearby Auburn/Opelika area.
What is the All in One Ticket?
This is one ticket that allows you admission to multiple attractions. The ticket is offered for a variety of places in the state, including the Lake Martin/Alexander City area and Auburn/Opelika area. While there are indeed tickets offered for many great places around Alabama, I am a little partial to this area, so let me tell you about all of the fun things on this ticket. This particular ticket seems to cater directly to my personal interests, in the fact that it offers some really cool outdoors experiences, and a couple chances to taste some local flavors.
Also, I love that there are multiple options available depending on how long you plan to be in the area. There is a 1 day, 2 day, and 5 day option. Another great thing is that the ticket is delivered right to your phone. Once you purchase it, it is delivered via text and email. Use your phone to show your ticket at the included attractions, and get admission to each location. It is that easy! In addition to saving a few bucks, the ease of not having to keep up with one more piece of paper makes me happy as well!
Lake Martin and Auburn/Opelika Attractions Included on the Ticket
Location: 4325 Alabama 128 Alexander City, AL 35010
What’s Included: Park Admission
This is one of the largest state-owned campgrounds in the United States. However, even if you are just visiting for the day, you will quickly see there are so many great things to do at Wind Creek State Park. Their hiking trails are amazing, as is their fishing pier. There’s also a great beach right there on site on the shores of Lake Martin. In addition, there is ziplining, mini golf, horseback riding, boat rentals, and much more. I love climbing the silo too-it offers such a great view of the lake.
Location: 124 Shell Toomer Parkway Auburn, AL 36830
What’s Included: Park Admission
Chewacla State Park is a beautiful park that has a 26 acre lake, a swimming area, playground, campground, and picnic areas. They also have great hiking and mountain biking trails that offer a variety of options. Start out at the short interpretive Sweet Shrub Trail, or check out the more challenging mountain biking trails built by the Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers.
There is nothing quite like a wine tasting at Whippoorwill Vineyards. This family owned winery has been nationally and internationally recognized for their wines-and once you taste them, you will see why. They have a variety of flavors spanning the spectrum of sweet to dry. It’s a very cool experience to be able to walk the vineyards and take in the beauty of the area, while getting to try some of their amazing, award winning creations.
Location: 706 North Railroad Avenue Opelika, AL 36801
What’s Included: Tour and Tasting Flight
This is a small batch distillery in downtown Opelika. John Emerald’s collection of creations includes whiskey, bourbon, rum, vodka, gin, and brandy. It is a very interesting experience to be able to actually tour the distillery with one of the distillers and hear about their locally made creations.
The best part about this is that you don’t have to choose-you get to do all of the things included on the All in One Ticket. You will love the ease of using this, and I definitely encourage you to check it out next time you are in the area.
Picture this. Your day is coming to an end and you start to reminisce of your time at Lake Martin. The cicadas begin to buzz as the sun lowers behind the horizon, casting its last beams of light into the sky. You can’t help but stare in awe as a breathtaking Lake Martin sunset unfolds, making it yet again another perfect end to your day.
No matter the season or time of year, Lake Martin is famous for stunning sunsets. Here are 6 perfectly unique spots to catch a sunset you will never forget!
Kowaliga is one of the most popular waterfront dining options on the lake! Based off of the old Hank William’s country song, “Kaw-Liga,” the restaurant pays homage to the old wooden Indian and great country music legend. Not only does Kowaliga serve up great food, it also has an unmatched view of the lake year round.
My sunset suggestion at Kowaliga is to grab a table outside on the massive wrap around porch. From here you can look out at the endless Lake Martin waters and take your time taking it all in. And an extra insider tip….. there is a trash can outside filled with kibble that you can throw out into the water to feed the fish and turtles, adding a little extra fun to your sunset experience.
Wind Creek State Park
Wind Creek State Park sprawls over 1,440 acres of land on Lake Martin, providing miles of shorelines for day activities, hiking trails, and of course, countless resting spots along the water. Though you can get a day pass to access Wind Creek State Park, one of the bonuses of camping here is that most of the campsites are located with views of the lake, if not right on the water itself. Just about anywhere on the state park grounds make for a perfect place to catch a sunset.
However, if you want to take your sunset experience to the next level, I suggest going to “The Silo.” This is actually a historic grain silo on the state park property, believed to be older than Lake Martin itself. Wind Creek visitors can climb to the rooftop of the silo via its winding staircase, which is an adventure all its own. From here, you can catch sweeping waterfront views and a perfectly unique spot for a sunset.
Dining at SpringHouse is an experience all on its own. Located at Russell Crossroads, this restaurant embodies the meaning of rustic southern charm, with some of the most unique cuisine and picturesque views around.
My recommendation is to grab a seat on the terrace on the upper level of SpringHouse. From here, not only can you spot The Stables in the distance but you can also take in views of rolling country hills as far as the eye can see. With an unobstructed view of the sky for miles around, SpringHouse offers a rare opportunity to catch a larger than life sunset.
Smith Mountain Fire Tower
Sitting on top of Smith Mountain, the highest point of elevation on Lake Martin, is the Smith Mountain Fire Tower. Standing at a whopping 90 feet tall, Smith Mountain Fire Tower served as an observation point by local firefighters for over four decades. Since then, it has been renovated into a popular destination point for visitors to come and catch stunning panoramic views of the Lake Martin waters and the surrounding woodlands. This being said, it also makes for one of the most extraordinary places to catch a sunset.
My recommendation is to come early to hike any one of the beautiful surrounding trails, and end your day with a climb to the top of the fire tower. However, be sure to leave as soon as the sun sets… you won’t want to be stuck out here after dark!
Overlook Park is located at the head of the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trails, near the historic Lake Martin dam. This spot is easily accessible and sits right at the trailhead for arguably some of the most beautiful hiking trails and views of the lake in the area.
My recommendation is to pack a dinner and set up your viewing spot at one of the picnic tables onsite. Here you can enjoy a “dinner and a show” from your seat or even catch the sunset from the observation deck overlooking the water.
Anywhere on the Open Water
Of course, nothing beats catching a sunset on the open waters of Lake Martin! With over 800 miles of shoreline, the sky is yours wherever you decide to go. Whether you have a boat to float out into the open waters, or simply a pier and a folding chair… watching the colors dance across the waves from your own personal paradise is quite simply the perfect way to end your day.
So grab your family, a loved one, friends, your pup… or even just a beer. No matter who you want to end your day with, be sure to take a few minutes to treat yourself to a famous Lake Martin sunset!
Surface Temperature: 86 Lake Level: 490.3 (You can always find the current lake level HERE) Clarity: Clear to very clear
Looking back over the summer bite I can honestly say the catches of stripers we have been producing this year has been amazing to say the least. My guide service has had its best luck with live bait. However I have heard reports from the other anglers that they too have done well while trolling with artificial lures. Moving on to the September forecast here on Lake Martin….. In a normal year, this month starts the transition period for stripers changing from the summer bite to the fall ball bite pattern. In saying this, it doesn’t mean you can’t or you will not catch stripers. I’m just saying you will more than likely work harder this month than some of the other months of the year. I probably spend more on boat gas in September than any other time, solely due to each morning it’s like starting all over again scouting to locate them. It’s like yesterday they were here, and today they are not, so the search begins. Sometimes the easiest or most productive way to locate stripers in September is by trolling to cover a lot of big open water. If trolling is producing bites then heck- stick with it! While trolling, mark way points of schools you see, and if your not catching then simply go back to those way points and drop live bait on them. One of these techniques is going to produce a bite. Areas of the lake this month you want to concentrate in are where you find some of your deepest water. I personally like to be fishing in water ranging from 70-120 ft depths. One thing I don’t do in September is waste much time in any water shallower than 50 ft. It just not has been very productive for us over the years in September.
I hope you, along with us, have a successful month here on our beautiful Lake Martin .
While Lake Martin is well known for its fishing, and is a hotspot for spotted, largemouth, and striped bass, a very special fishing experience awaits in the water that feeds Lake Martin, the Tallapoosa River. Here you can find the unique Tallapoosa Redeye Bass. Learn more about this special fish and get tips for fishing for it HERE.
Summer Lake Levels Have Been Extended
Martin Dam-Photo Credit: Dylan Stewart
On September 1, Alabama Power announced that summer lake levels will last a little longer this year. Instead of starting the drawdown at the beginning of September, it will now start on October 15th. You can read more about it HERE.
Though there are many wonderful and unique places to stay while visiting Lake Martin, AL, planning a weekend trip to The Destination ensures a getaway experience unlike any other.
Described as “tents on the outside, a 4-star hotel on the inside”, The Destination is in fact luxury lodging encased in safari tents from South Africa. The inside of each “glamp” is a resort-style home with locking exterior double French doors, wood floors, tile showers, ceiling fans, elaborate furnishings, heating and air, and much more.
The best part? The Destination is located deep within the Alabama woods, giving you a sense of complete privacy and relaxation from the outside world, even though only minutes from downtown Dadeville, shopping, restaurants, and beautiful Lake Martin. It is the perfect “destination” to unload and unwind.
If you are new to glamping, or just ready for an unforgettable weekend/weekdays trip, this article is for you!
History in the Making
What is “glamping” exactly? Glamping is essentially camping in the aspect that you are outdoors and usually deep within nature. However, it is much more glamorous in the sense that you don’t have to pop your own tent, and it is far less primitive. A glamp will have all the luxuries of home, including electricity, running water, and real beds.
The Destination was dreamt up years ago by Skip and Rhonda Courtney, who had been wanting to get into the hospitality business once they retired. They had originally imagined it would be along the lines of revamping an old inn, or perhaps a bed and breakfast. However, the couple ended up stumbling upon glamping and immediately fell in love with the concept. The rest is history.
Located down a long, red dirt road and nestled on 78 acres of beautiful Alabama woods bordered by Sandy Creek, guests staying at The Destination will find themselves in their own little private piece of natural paradise. As Skip would say, it’s just you, trees, water, and the big blue sky.
While staying here, guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as canoeing and kayaking experiences, hiking the creek side and ridge trails, swimming, fishing… or even just simply relaxing.
The good news is, not much. You actually don’t even have to be an experienced camper to enjoy your visit here. The Destination has everything you may need for a comfortable stay, including a fully stocked kitchenette, coffee maker, board games, and even a grill on each private deck.
Skip and Rhonda’s suggestion would be to bring clothes, a good book to read, and whatever food you would like to cook on your private grill. You may also want to plan to pack a swimsuit to soak in your private 7×7 hot tub or take a dip in the creek, as well as a pair of hiking boots, tennis, and water shoes if you plan to hit the scenic trails or wade in Sandy Creek Shoals.
Glamping Options at The Destination
At The Destination, you have your choice of 4 different glamping experiences – each one uniquely based on important moments or memories in Skip and Rhonda’s life. Each glamp comes uniquely furnished to its theme, along with hardwood floors, granite countertops, heating and cooling, personal deck space, and even your own hot tub!
2 Bedroom, 1 Sleeper Sofa Sleeps 6
This glamp is a shabby-chic, beach cottage experience based off of the city of Clearwater, Florida-the town where Skip and Rhonda first met. Its bright Florida-style decor, beach artwork, and plush white furniture will make you feel like you are staying in a throwback 80’s beach cottage right on the ocean’s shore. You can almost hear the waves now!
1 Bedroom, 1 Sleeper sofa Sleeps 4
Who needs to go out West when the ranch can be brought to you? This glamp is your “log cabin” experience at The Destination, modeled after “Ponderosa Ranch”. Its decor mimics that of a cozy ranch cabin, with a sliding barn door, wooden beams, Cowboy furnishings, and of course an overstuffed Western sleeper sofa.
And we have to ask, is there a better way to sing old campfire songs and look up at the Alabama stars than from your own personal hot tub or your very own firepit?
2 Bedroom, 1 Sleeper Sofa
Themed after their famed Music Loft in downtown Nashville, this glamp is a music lover’s dream! This one is decorated with guitars, Music City-themed art, and even signed memorabilia. Along with its edgy and modern interior, this glamp also boasts a massive personal deck, complete with both covered and uncovered areas, as well as lounge chairs, outdoor ceiling fan, and don’t forget the hot tub!
1 Bedroom, 1 Sleeper sofa Sleeps 4
This one is a nautical-themed glamp, named after Skip and Rhonda’s beloved 46’ motor yacht. “Moondance”, which you may also recognize as the famous 70’s musical hit by Van Morrison, the inspiration behind the yacht’s name and now this glamping experience. Decked out in anchors, buoys, and deep navy and gold decor, staying here will make you feel like you’re sleeping on your own ship sailing off to sea.
Live Music at The Destination
One of the newest phases of The Destination is the “Southwind Stage,” where glamping guests and the public both can enjoy live music acts deep in the heart of the woods. The Destination looks forward to welcoming its first musical guests in September 2022 to celebrate their 1 year anniversary!
The Destination truly allows you to experience the “Luxury Of Nature.” To book your stay and learn more about this glamping experience, check out The Destination’s website here.
Lake Martin is a lake lover’s dream playground-with almost 900 miles of shoreline and more than 40,000 acres of stunning views. With so many great places to see and things to do at Lake Martin, it may be difficult to even know where to start. One stop you absolutely have to put on your list through is D.A.R.E. Power Park, which is located right on the shores of Lake Martin, and is maintained by Alabama Power.
Alabama Power puts a big focus on protecting our area’s natural resources, and creating areas for recreational engagement. We are very thankful for all of the free opportunities that they give us to enjoy the outdoors, and D.A.R.E. Power Park is definitely one of the coolest ways to spend at day at Lake Martin. And even better-it won’t cost you a penny. Here’s a few of the things to look forward to when you visit D.A.R.E. Power Park!
D.A.R.E. Power Park is home to one of Lake Martin’s only public access beaches. The beautiful white sand glistens against the sparkling water of the lake, and you will feel like you have taken a much needed escape to paradise. As you sit there in your aquatic wonderland, with your toes in the water and bottom in the sand, you will likely even get to enjoy the small fish playing in the clear waters along the shore. Pack the beach towels and chairs, as well as the very important sand castle building tools. And make sure to bring the sunscreen!
If the kiddos need a break from the water, and want to work off some energy, there is a wonderful playground right there on site. From climbing to swinging to sliding, the Double D.A.R.E. You Playground has it all and the little ones will have a blast. This playground is also ADA accessible and is there for everyone to enjoy.
The Fishing Piers
Fishing is a favorite pastime here in these parts, so make sure to bring your fishing pole and tackle box along for your day at D.A.R.E. Power Park. There are a couple of great fishing piers right there on site at the park that are available for you to use. Lake Martin is known for largemouth, spotted, and striped bass. It’s also home to bream, catfish, and crappie. You can always keep up with our latest tips on the monthly Lake Martin Tourism Fishing Report found here.
Boat Ramp at D.A.R.E. Power Park
While fishing from the pier is great within the park, if you are headed to the lake with your boat, and want to get out on the water, they have you taken care of as well. Since the boat ramp is adjacent to the park, and not actually in it, you have access to the ramp 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. This makes it perfect for those early mornings when you want to hit the water at sunrise to get a start on fishing, or just enjoying your day on the water. They have great parking also, and since they are right next to the park, it is easy to hit the park for a little more fun time once you return from boating.
The Walking Trail
D.A.R.E. Power Park has a scenic walking trail that goes through the park and right along the shores of Lake Martin. The walking trail is paved and is mostly flat. It is an easy trek, and if you came out to the park in flip flops instead of hiking boots, you will be totally ok on this one. It is a very pretty walk though, and I highly encourage you to take the opportunity to check this out. You will likely have a chance to meet some of the park’s residents on this stroll. The park’s many birds and squirrels are there in abundance and often like showing off for visitors.
If you are coming to spend a day at D.A.R.E. Power Park, make sure you pack a picnic lunch for your crew. There are several picnic tables scattered throughout the park, but the one thing that they all have in common is that every single one offers spectacular views of Lake Martin. That peanut butter and jelly sandwich will never taste as good as it does when you are lakeside with your family taking in the beauty of the lake. If PB and J is not your thing, and you want to step it up and show off your grilling skills, you can do that too. Many of the picnic tables also have table side charcoal grills. Our tips are to get there early though to scope out your spot, as these are available on a first come, first serve basis.
Free Pavilion Rentals for Your Private Events
While there are several private picnic tables available throughout the park that are perfect for smaller groups, there are great options available for larger groups as well. If you have a birthday party, family reunion, office outing, or any other type of group event, and want to have seating together for your entire crew, you will definitely want to check out the pavilion rentals. Like the private picnic tables, these also offer great views of Lake Martin. Also, pavilion rental is 100% FREE. It is available on a first come, first serve basis though, so make sure to make your reservations as far in advance as possible. To inquire about free reservations for a private pavilion for your group event, call 256-825-8286.
How to Get to D.A.R.E. Power Park:
By Car: 4633 Young’s Ferry Road Jacksons’ Gap, AL 36861
By Boat: 32.82205. -85.85467
When to Go to D.A.R.E. Power Park:
While the public boat ramp is open year round, the park does have varying hours throughout the year.
While Lake Martin is well known for its fishing, and is a hotspot for spotted, largemouth, and striped bass, a very special fishing experience awaits in the water that feeds Lake Martin, the Tallapoosa River. Here you can find the unique Tallapoosa Redeye Bass. As a matter of fact, the Tallapoosa River Watershed is the only place that you will find this specific fish. Any of the locals will tell you that this is one fish you want to put on your fishing bucket list. They are very aggressive and pound for pound, put up a very hard fight.
What Makes The Redeye Bass Special
These bass are different from other bass because they thrive in water with current, and inhabit the rocky shoals more so than other black bass species. They also have very unique markings that make them look quite different than other black basses, including a turquoise coloration that is especially vibrant in the spring. These bass only survive in cool, clean, free flowing water which makes them especially sensitive to habitat loss and sedimentation.
In Alabama, redeye bass are endemic to the Mobile Basin and thrive in the piedmont streams and creeks above the geographic fall line. You can find them in the Tallapoosa River, Coosa River, Cahaba River, and Black Warrior River. Yes, there are other types of redeye bass in other rivers. However, biologists have determined that each river system in the Mobile Basin has its own unique type of redeye bass…meaning redeye bass from different rivers are genetically different. Biologists have even begun to differentiate redeye bass by naming them by their respective river- Tallapoosa Bass, Coosa Bass, Cahaba Bass, Warrior Bass, etc. So technically speaking, the Tallapoosa is the only river to catch a Tallapoosa Redeye Bass. What makes the Tallapoosa so special is that because the main stem is so clean, these fish live in the main stem of the river. This isn’t always the case in other river systems where they generally only inhabit the feeder streams.
Fishing For Tallapoosa Redeye Bass
Best Time Of Year To Fish For Tallapoosa Redeye Bass: March-October is the prime time to fish for Tallapoosa Redeye Bass. However, April-June is a really cool time to fish for them because the fish tend to be really colorful during this time.
Lures For Fishing For Tallapoosa Redeye Bass: Their diet consists of small terrestrial insects, baitfish, and crayfish, so fly fishing for them is relatively easy to do. In fact, many trout flies also work for redeye bass. Topwater poppers are also a favorite with local anglers. However, if for some reason they aren’t biting topwater, any small streamer that looks like a baifish or crayfish will work.
Best Spot To Fish For Tallapoosa Redeye Bass:Horseshoe Bend to Jaybird Creek is a really popular and easy stretch of the Tallapoosa River. It is about a 6 mile stretch with relatively little paddling. The take out is actually in the extreme upper portion of Lake Martin where the river becomes a lake. You can download a map of the river here or contact Lake Martin Tourism Association to request that a free map be mailed to you.
How To Get Out On The Tallapoosa River: You can rent kayaks from Tallapoosa Wilds, and they make it so easy to get on the river. You meet them at the river at the Horseshoe Bend access point, they deliver your boats, and they then pick you up at Jaybird and shuttle you back to your car. Inflatable kayaks can also be rented and picked up at Float Alabama, although they do not offer shuttle service.
Guided Fishing Trips On The Tallapoosa River
One of our favorite ways to fish for the Tallapoosa Redeye Bass is by going out with one of the local fishing guides from East Alabama Fly Fishing. If you want to enjoy a unique, yet truly authentic Tallapoosa River fishing trip, and fish like the locals, you will want to check this out. They use raft style drift boats that provide access to water that is hard to get to on your own in a canoe or kayak. It also happens to be a really stable fishing platform that lets you focus on fishing, while they focus on maneuvering the raft. We also think it is the most convenient way to hit the water, because it is all inclusive. They will provide food, water, and all of the gear-although you are also welcome to bring your own if you prefer.
Another great thing about going out with East Alabama Fly Fishing is that they really customize the trip based on your desires, skill level, etc. No matter if you are a veteran angler, or if it is your first time fishing, these guys have made hundreds of fishing trips on the Tallapoosa River, and are able to put together the perfect trip for you. They can also accommodate a variety of group sizes. Each raft holds two anglers and a guide. However, with advance notice, multiple boats can be booked to go out together.
About The Tallapoosa River
The Tallapoosa River is a really unique place, with special fish, interesting geology, and beautiful foliage. As a matter of fact, if you plan your trip between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, you will also get to see the Cahaba Lilies in bloom, which is another pretty special treat of being on the Tallapoosa River.
We absolutely, positively love fishing the Tallapoosa River. However, catching fish is often just a cherry on top. It is such a beautiful river, and although it is not too far off the beaten path and is easily accessible to those staying in the Lake Martin area, once you are out there you will feel what a wild and scenic place it is.
Built completely out of bright orange shipping containers, The Landing at Parker Creek is one of the most unique and popular hangout destinations on Lake Martin! Owned by renowned sports anchor and his wife, Herb and Betty Winches, The Landing came to life in 2015. Since then, it has grown to be one of the most popular hangout spots for locals and visitors alike.
Known for its sweeping waterfront views, great food, and lively atmosphere, here is your guide to one of the coolest places to visit on Lake Martin.
Fun at The Landing
The Landing is known for a lot of things… and mostly for being fun. They have several pits set up where visitors can take advantage of a friendly game of cornhole by the water or simply enjoy the wide-open lawn area. And did I mention, it is dog friendly too? It is actually one of the most pet friendly places on Lake Martin.
There is also a beach and swim area to cool off – which makes for a great place to let the kids cut loose.
And of course, with stretches of open water from every angle, The Landing is also a great place to end your day and catch a famous Lake Martin sunset.
Eat at The Landing
One of the draws of coming to The Landing are the endless waterfront seating options. The entire venue is outdoors, with options to sit under the covered porch, shaded dock canopy, or even at high top tables right along the Lake Martin shoreline.
And the food menu is divine too! The Landing offers up a one-of-a-kind menu designed by Hawaiian Chef, Torrey Hall. From sushi to cheeseburgers, and everything in between, The Landing prides itself on a casual, yet unforgettable, open-air dining experience.
Bushwackers at The Landing at Parker Creek
The Landing has a full bar with several adult specialty drinks – including the wildly popular Bushwacker. It’s been said that The Landing’s Bushwacker is one of the best on Lake Martin… and I can say as an official Bushwacker Taste Tester, this rumor is true.
The staff is also incredible and one of the most enjoyable aspects of coming to The Landing. The bartenders not only make up good cocktails, they are also friendly and make it a point to remember your name… and your favorite drink.
Renting a Lakeside Tiny Home at Lake Martin
Just a quick walk across the yard from the restaurant will bring you to Eagles Landing, Lake Martin’s first official tiny home community. Here are 3 tiny homes you can rent out, each one equipped with all the modern necessities for a comfortable and relaxing stay, all while taking in the beauty of Lake Martin.
Each tiny home is also complete with their own boat slip, barbecue grill, and picnic table too. And pet friendly!
How to Get to The Landing at Parker Creek
32.7754° N, 86.0205° W
486 Parker Creek Marina Rd Equality, AL 36026
The Landing is located next to Parker Creek Marina in Equality, AL. You can get there easily by car or dock at any one of their 36 boat slips.
Lake Level: 490.4 Full Pool (You can always get the most up to date lake level here.) Surface Temp: 90 Clarity: Clear
Oh man-In July, not only did we have some record high temperatures, but we also set some record striper catches last month with crazy numbers caught per trip, and per boat. Now to move on to our August forecast…. Our hopes and thinking is that this month may be really good also, and this thinking like this comes from simply that July weather conditions and water temperatures have been like your normal August conditions. Therefore it has our hopes up for one of our better August catches in awhile.
Some (but not all) of our success in August can be contributed to numerous things:
1. Getting on water early (like before daylight)
2. Having the mindset that you may have to cover a lot of water to locate the ever moving stripers
3. Having good live bait
4. Having in place our Scotty Electric Down Riggers ready for trolling if the live bait isn’t working
5. Having a couple of rods rigged with huge top water lures for the occasional trophy surfacing in casting distance
6. Concentrating in deep clear water
7. Not being afraid to search in areas that in any other month you know for a fact there would never be a striper
8. Having our boats stocked with plenty of cold water and Gatorade for ourselves, because if you are not hydrated and feeling your best then you will start second guessing yourself on why are we even attempting to catch fish. Believe me you want a good mindset to make the correct decision when it’s time to perform to the fullest of your ability.
I often am asked why aren’t we fishing close to the dam? Aren’t they at the dam in the summer months? Well the truth is yes, some stripers hang out close to the dam, but that doesn’t mean they are all at the dam or that they are biting close to the dam. If every striper was at the dam you could actually walk across the lake on top of them because there are millions of stripers in Lake Martin. So in reality, don’t spend all your time at the dam.
If you fish for stripers in other states or other lakes, even if it’s in Alabama, you’ve got to realize this is Lake Martin. What might work for you at your other lakes, doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that it will work here. Have an open mind, try something new, and I honestly believe you will be pleasantly surprised what August fishing has in store for you.
If you are interested in a guided trip for some of the best striper fishing on Lake Martin then contact me at 256-401-3089. I would love to have you join us.
If you are out fishing on Lake Martin, you will see hundreds of buoys across the lake that have been placed by the non-profit organization, Lake Martin Resource Association. These buoys are there to keep you safe, and we want you concentrating on your tight lines as opposed to accidents. To learn more about what each of the buoys mean, and what to do if you accientally hit one, go here.
The annual Crank 4 Bank event ended last month. Since April, anglers have been fishing for the tagged fish in Lake Martin. The awards ceremony was held July 9th at The Mitchell House, and we are proud to say that we had 16 winners this year. While we did not have anyone catch the elusive million dollar fish, we did have 16 very happy anglers who each walked away with $1,500. Make sure to plan to be a part of this event next year!
The “Bushwacker” was invented in 1975 at Sapphire Pub in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. It is credited to be the creation of a bartender by the name of Angie Conigliaro and the manager of Sapphire Pub, Tom Brokamp. The two named their new drink after a dog, “Bushwack”, who was owned by a set of flight attendants visiting with their pup. The drink was an immediate hit throughout the Virgin Islands, and eventually made its way to the states via one woman named Linda Murphy. She was the owner of a Florida bar called, “Sandshaker,” and she recreated the Bushwacker for her own bar from memory.
Again, the drink became an instant hit and Florida bartenders everywhere began trying to imitate the recipe. Some have come very close; others have made their own versions with a twist. They say that the Bushwacker is “Florida’s gift to the cocktail world,” although it did originate in the Virgin Islands.
What is a Bushwacker?
The Bushwacker is a frozen cocktail, made up of rums, coconut and chocolate liqueurs, and blended ice cream – making this an irresistibly delicious summertime treat. Though the ingredients generally stay the same, every location has their own twist on how to make this Southern cocktail.
It is safe to say that the Bushwacker has become “unofficially” the official drink of Lake Martin! Here are 4 waterfront venues on the lake that serve up these frozen drinks, each uniquely delicious.
Lakeside at Bay Pines is actually a marina located up towards the north end of the lake in Jackson’s Gap, Alabama. This place is really cool as it has a back patio and an open-air bar sitting right on the water. Combined with the bright color paint scheme and wooden structures, Bay Pines gives off the perfect combination between a beach vibe and a lake atmosphere.
Bay Pines uses real ice cream in their Bushwackers, along with rum, vanilla flavoring, and chocolate syrup. They offer two different “topper” options if you are looking to make your drink a little stronger – a shot of Peanut Butter Whiskey or a shot of 151. These Bushwackers are thick, chocolatey, and delicious!
While you are here sipping your frozen cocktail, Bay Pines also has a great food menu with cheeseburger sliders, chicken tenders, fries and anything else you might need to fuel up!
The Landing at Parker Creek is one of the most popular hangout spots on Lake Martin! It is unique in the fact that it is built completely out of shipping containers. Guests can arrive by boat or car and have endless waterfront seating options along the Lake Martin banks.
What we love about the Landing Bushwackers are that they are actually handmade to order. They use a combination of rum, Kahlua, Baileys, and an ice cream base, topped off with drizzles of chocolate syrup. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they taste really dang good too!
While you are there, you can check out their chef designed food menu, play a round of cornhole, or simply relax on their small beach area.
Bluffs is a floating daquiri bar located at Harbor Point Marina, on the Dadeville side of the lake.
I have to say when we visited this spot, the bartenders made it a point to let me know that their Bushwackers are based off of the Sandshaker recipe in Pensacola, FL. Sandshaker is iconic as their claim to fame is being the “home of the original Bushwacker” on stateside.
These Bushwackers are quick to order at Bluffs. They keep them pre-made in a frozen drink machine, taking no time at all to whip you up a styrofoam cup full. Their key ingredient is that it is made of real ice cream and their Bushwacker definitely favors the coconut rum flavoring. As for the bartender’s recommendation? Add a shot of Peanut Butter Whiskey to the top- they say it is the number one request that they get.
While you are there you can enjoy live music, food, and waterfront views from their patio full of picnic tables.
The Social is one of Lake Martin’s newest restaurants and hangout spots on the water-and they make pretty darn good Bushwackers too!
What is unique about The Social is that they actually offer four different flavors of Bushwackers: Classic, Strawberry, Banana, and Chocolate Banana. This is the only place on Lake Martin that we have seen this many different flavors! They also offer Peanut Butter Whiskey toppers too.
Whether you come during the day or night, odds are there will be live music playing. So order up some food and plan to stay for a while… you will have hours of entertainment as you work through all the different Bushwacker combinations!
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can hear blenders buzzing all across Lake Martin, whipping up endless variations of the Bushwacker. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a designated driver and start your taste testing tour of Bushwackers all across the lake!
While we all want to be out enjoying Lake Martin to the fullest, the most important thing is to learn how to do that safely. Lake Martin is unique in the fact that we have a very special group of volunteers from a non-profit group called Lake Martin Resource Association, but most of the locals around here just call them LMRA. Many of the locals around here are actually members too. The cost of the buoys are covered by membership dues and renewals, plus kind donations.
They tirelessly work to make sure buoys are strategically placed in areas where you want to be careful. Right now there are more than 400 buoys that they maintain. You can see a map of all of the buoys on Lake Martin here. It takes a village, but the members who help financially and the volunteers who are maintaining the buoys all serve an important role in our main goal-to keep you safe while you are visiting us at Lake Martin.
Hazard buoys have an orange diamond on a white background. Most of these are 6 feet tall and are anchored by stainless steel cable and 100 pound concrete anchors. Some hazards are also marked by a pole marker with similar orange and white markings. Be on the lookout for hazard buoys, because these mark underwater obstructions that you may not see from the surface. It could be a rock, stump, sunken object, or underwater shoal. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful to you.
Stay atleast 100 feet away from these and don’t go between two hazard buoys that are within 200 feet of each other. If you see buoys that are within 100 feet of the shoreline, this means that there are shallow waters or hazards between the buoy and the shore, and boaters should not enter into that area.
LMRA tries to identify all hazards at elevation 482 feet msl or higher. These hazard buoys are placed as close as possible to the highest point of the hazard. 33% of the hazard buoys on the lake are lighted. Those you can see from a mile away, and that is great. However, Lake Martin is a very big lake, and these do not cover the whole lake. Even the buoys that you see clearly during the day can be harder to see at night. We don’t advise boating in the dark, especially if you don’t know the lake.
You will also see buoys with an orange circle. Those are the Slow-No Wake buoys. There are also buoys with a diamond and cross in the middle that are used to alert boaters to keep out of a certain area. To learn more about the different buoys, you can check out LMRA’s buoy safety video here.
What To Do If You Hit A Buoy Or See A Damaged Buoy
Sometimes buoys move away from the hazard they are marking, or get damaged. We hope that you exercise caution and never hit a buoy. When you are in those areas, the threat of the hazard is worse than the damage that the buoy will do to you or your boat. Accidents do happen though. If you do damage a buoy, we ask that you please report it so that it can be replaced, and the next boater is not at risk because of the damaged buoy. Don’t be embarrassed, and please do the right thing and let LMRA know about it so that it can be fixed or replaced.
Even if you don’t hit it, but you are out boating and see a buoy that has been damaged, or has moved away from its intended position, please take a moment and report that also. That one small step could save the life of another boater.
Contact information for LMRA is listed on the buoys, but you can also go ahead and save it in your phone. That number is 256-212-1422. You can also email them at email@example.com. All buoys have identifying letters and numbers that identify that particular buoy and its specific GPS location. They will need this info so they can get the buoy back to where it is supposed to be. You can get more information about reporting a buoy here.
We thank you in advance for paying attention to the buoys while you are out on the water. The goal of Lake Martin Resource Association is to keep you safe, so that you can come back to see us at Lake Martin again and again for years to come.
Summer is here, and it’s that time of year when you have to look inside yourself and ask the all-important question……..
Are you Team Beach or Team Lake?
How you answer that question could determine the happiness level of your summer vacation.
Those on Team Beach tend to be the ones that love throwing down a blanket, and spending a day catching rays and feeling the warm sun as it bronzes their skin. These also tend to be the ones that enjoy getting their hands dirty making sandcastles, and splashing along the shorelines with friends and family.
Those on Team Lake enjoy not having to deal with huge ocean waves as they crash against the shoreline, but still love getting on the water and splashing around. They also tend to frown upon the taste of saltwater, and have a great time playing in the water while avoiding any possibility of a shark attack.
Alabama’s Freshwater Coast
Some will tell you to pick a side. We don’t believe you have to though-you CAN have it all. At Lake Martin, you can be Team Beach and Team Lake at the same time. It’s the vacation that makes everyone in your crew happy-no matter what side they fall on. Lake Martin has taken on the nickname of Alabama’s Freshwater Coast, and with almost 900 miles of shoreline, there is a lot of coast. You will find private residences, wooded areas, restaurants, bars, and marinas along the shorelines. However, there a couple of cool public beaches that those on Team Beach have to check out.
Lake Martin’s Public Beaches
While many people do rent a boat while at Lake Martin, two of our favorite spots at the lake happen to be places that you don’t even need a boat to get to. These two public beaches at Lake Martin are available for all to enjoy.
Thousands of people visit Wind Creek State Park each year to camp, but you are welcome to just come out for the day and enjoy the state park to the fullest for just a few bucks. Wind Creek State Park boasts activities such as ziplining, horseback riding, a full service marina, a fishing pier, mini golf, an archery range, and hiking trails. They also have an awesome beach that is open to the public. There is a volleyball court and picnic tables right there, as well as a public restroom. The beach itself is the perfect spot to set up for the day and enjoy looking out at the beauty of Lake Martin. You may even get to meet some of the beach bums that have taken up residence there-the ducks of Lake Martin. This is a fun place to take the family and enjoy time relaxing on the beach. This park is open 365 days a year for your beach loving fun!
Address: 4633 Young’s Ferry Road Jacksons’ Gap, AL 36861
D.A.R.E. Power Park is maintained by Alabama Power and is free to enter. In addition to the beach right on the shores of Lake Martin, the park also has great amenities like a playground, walking trail, fishing piers, playground, and a boat ramp on the adjacent APC property. There are pavilions that can be reserved at no charge. Although they are free to reserve, you must call to reserve them. There are picnic tables scattered around though, and plenty of room to spread out on the beach and make those sandcastles as you splash in the beautiful waters of Lake Martin. The park is open from 9am-8pm 7 days a week June-August, 9am-8pm weekends only in May and September, and is closed October-April.
So whether you are Team Beach or Team Lake, at Lake Martin, you truly can have it all. Just don’t forget the pail and shovel for those sandcastles at Alabama’s Freshwater Coast!
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your days at Lake Martin are sure to be full of adventures, but you will definitely want to fuel up before heading out for a day of exploring. Lucky for you, we have some great local breakfast spots in the Lake Martin area for you to try! Here are 5 locally owned spots where you can stop in, sit down, and fill up your belly before heading out for a day of fun.
This breakfast spot is located inside “The Square” in Downtown Alexander City, which is such a unique venue to begin with. The Square Downtown is a shopping center with a New Orleans-inspired flare to it, including an old-time clock, Bourbon Street signage, and iron-wrought balconies overlooking the walking path throughout.
Alana’s Place in The Square embraces this beautiful and unique ambiance, making it one of the most charming breakfast places in the Lake Martin area. And of course, they are serving up all your Southern breakfast favorites too! From grits and breakfast bowls to biscuits and gravy, Alana’s Place has it all.
My recommendation is to top off your breakfast with a Hazelnut or Salted Caramel Cappuccino and a side of donut holes. You’re welcome.
All the locals know, Who’s Diner is where you go for a great, All-American breakfast! Just off of Highway 280 in Alexander City, this breakfast stop is a classic in the area. It has all the traditional decor, like checkered floors and vintage signage… and who could forget “Mr. Who”, the hotdog man! Kids and adults both love to see Mr. Who and, to be honest, it’s hard to leave the diner without snapping a few photos with him first. We have to say, he is quite the icon!
My recommendation for Who’s Diner is to get one of their “Old Fashioned Omelets”. They are cooked on the flat grill, the old-fashioned way, and come with your choice of grits or hashbrowns and toast. And here’s the secret to the ultimate breakfast upgrade – they offer loaded hashbrowns too. Top it off with a stack of their flapjacks and this will be one breakfast that will keep you coming back again and again.
So slide into one of their booths and bring your appetite… you’re going to need it!
This list wouldn’t be complete without the perfect donut spot! Daylight Donuts has been around the block for almost a decade now, offering up all your favorites like donut holes, cinnamon rolls, and even glazed donuts with Fruity Pebbles. Visitors love to drop in and window shop the glass case, filled with rows of colorful donuts and mixed pastries. Since opening in it’s new location on Broad Street, they now offer Asian Cuisine as well. How cool is that! Donuts and eggrolls for breakfast? I call that a win-win. They also offer alfresco seating, so you can enjoy a sit down breakfast outside.
Whether you drop by for one donut or a box full, Daylight Donuts is the perfect place to brighten your morning routine. See photos of all their mouthwatering donut options here: Daylight Donut Facebook Page
Nirvana Latte is one of the hottest coffee shops in the area, located right off of Hwy 49. It is also one of the best places to grab your breakfast bagels and pastries – seriously. They pride themselves on their pastries! Danishes, muffins, cinnamon rolls… you name it. Not only that, but they have great breakfast biscuit options too, including biscuits made with chicken and Conecuh sausage.
And of course, the plus side of having your breakfast at Nirvana Latte is the opportunity to delve into their extensive list of coffees and unique cold drinks. You can always get a classic hot tea or cold brew coffee… but then again, have you ever tried a “Gummy Bear” with an Energy Whip?
My recommendation is to grab a “Fiesta Panini”, loaded with egg, tomatoes, lettuce, Mozzarella and Cheddar cheeses, and topped off with Avacado spread. And of course, you have to finish your breakfast off with a “Dirty Chai” latte for an extra boost of energy… YUM.
If your morning visit extends into the afternoon, Nirvana Latte also has a “Friends” inspired lunch menu too. Did anyone order the “Rachel”?
What really makes BRU 63 so unique is that it is a full-service coffee shop, located inside Catherine’s Market at Russell Crossroads. Not only do they offer all the classic favorites, such as iced coffees, cold brews, and cappuccinos, BRU 63 also is serving up several exclusive drink items as well. “Revivers,” for instance, are BRU 63’s plant-based energy drink – which is sure to wake your mornings up!
The perk of being located inside Catherine’s Market too is that there are so many grab-and-go snacks and homemade pastries, all of which are made the “old world” way. Catherine’s makes all of their bread and pastries using their small, in-house bakery and only the finest, natural ingredients.
After breakfast, you can also take a stroll around the beautiful grounds of Russell Crossroads, making this one of the most relaxing and scenic breakfast spots on this list. We say come for the breakfast, stay for the atmosphere.
Wherever you go, you will be welcomed with open arms at any of our local breakfast eateries, and invited in as if you were an old friend. Check out our dining page for even more options.
Water Level: 490.38 You can always see the current water level here. Surface Temperature: 90 Clarity: Clear
Hey everyone! June was an awesome striper catching month-as you see in a small example in the picture. Live bait was working well in June. Trolling in June was putting stripers in the box also.
Well, here it is July!!! Where has the spring gone??? Don’t get too disappointed, because here on Lake Martin you can still catch a big trophy in July. Just 2 years ago in July, we boated a 45 pounder and a 25 pounder- same day, same boat. I’m not saying July is your best chance for big fish, but it definitely can happen. With Lake Martin being one of the best striper lakes in the south, and a vacation destination for so many from around the country, we as fishermen and fisherwomen can still enjoy catching- even with numerous recreational boats on the lake. How? Well my guide service has it narrowed down to a real early morning live bait approach which pays off very well. Then when boat traffic starts heating up, we switch right over to running downriggers deep. Alot of the time we are right in the same areas that the heavy traffic is in. So what I’m saying is, there’s always a way to boat stripers. Some days may be challenging, but it can be done. If your not an early riser, then go the last couple of hours in the evening and you too might be pleasantly surprised.
July is also a big month for boating catfish, and for sure, big bream. Take those grandkids off your dock and let them have fun. My grandkids catch full coolers of bream by simply using old bread their KayKay saves for them.
Get out and enjoy what our lake has to offer this month, and who knows, you might even catch a world record.
It may not look delicious to us, but there is a special appetizer that the catfish at Lake Martin go crazy for-and it is so simple to make! Learn more about that, and get our other tips on How to Catch Catfish on Lake Martin.
We’ve been telling you about the game we have happening at Lake Martin called Crank 4 Bank. There are tagged fish swimming in the water, and each one, at minimum, is worth $1,500. Since April 1st, 16 of these fish have been caught. Anglers have until July 4th to catch theirs. On July 9th, there will be a special ceremony for anglers, and awards will be given for those that have tags. We know there will be at least $24,000 given away. However, that is when we will learn if some of those tags are also worth boats, trucks, or even the grand prize of ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Awards will also be given away at that time for Crank 4 Bank’s virtual tournament. Best of luck to everyone, and if you have not caught your tagged fish yet, you still have until July 4th!
At Lake Martin, we love going big on all holidays. I do mean every single holiday….. sometimes we even make up our own (ever heard of Plug Day?) We love celebrating, and Independence Day Weekend is definitely no exception. We love God, our Country, and………Fireworks!
We have two nights in a row of explosive fun, and you will want to check out both. Aside from the actual fireworks displays, there is so much more happening during 4th of July Weekend. We will give you the deets on all of it, but let’s start with where to watch fireworks on 4th of July weekend!
This one happens at the Benjamin Russell High School Band Practice Field and gets started about 6pm. This year Celebrate Freedom will welcome headliner Colton Dixon, who you may remember from season 11 of American Idol. You will also be able to see GFM-Griffith Family Music-performing live, as well as comedian, Mickey Bell. The evening will conclude with an amazing fireworks display presented by Pyro Shows of Alabama. This event is free, and there will be food and drinks available for purchase.
Important to note: This is a Christian, family friendly event. No coolers, alcoholic beverages, or smoking will be allowed since this is on school grounds. You will want to bring your lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on though.
This is actually the Southeast’s largest fireworks show, and it will be happening right here at Lake Martin. The Bank Walkers will take the stage around 6:30pm, and Andrew Jannakos will be performing live at 8. You many remember him from season 16 of The Voice. At 9, the sky will be lit up in all the pretty colors!
Important to note: You are welcome to bring your own lawnchairs and blankets to sit on, and feel free to bring a cooler as well. Leave the fur babies at home for this one though. Tickets are just $10.
More Fun Things Happening Around Lake Martin on 4th of July Weekend
While we are all excited to light up the sky and celebrate America, there are so many other exciting things happening all weekend long in the Lake Martin area. Take a look at the complete list of all that is happening around town, and plan out your 4th of July weekend fun!
Peanut Point is a classic summertime favorite at Lake Martin, Alabama! Their claim to fame is having the best boiled peanuts on Lake Martin since 1988. For generations, boaters and families have been pulling up to the shoreline of bright colored tents for peanuts, souvenirs, and to snap a photo in the iconic big blue chair.
Here’s the “scoop” on everything you need to know about Peanut Point!
The Story Behind Peanut Point
The story of Peanut Point begins over 35 years ago, when a man named Louis would spend time down at his cabin on Lake Martin, fishing and relaxing as many would do on a hot Alabama Summer day. While sitting on the banks of the water, Louis began to boil peanuts in a black kettle pot over open flames, stating that it was “something to do while waiting for the fish to bite”.
Then one day, several years later, a woman popped by for a bag of boiled peanuts. She looked around and commented, “this should be called “Peanut Point!”
And so it has been, ever since.
A Family Tradition
Louis oversaw Peanut Point for many years and as the business continued to grow, he began to show the ropes to his son and daughter in law, Tim and Brenda Dunham. They have since taken over the operations and continue to keep the family tradition alive and booming.
Every Thursday, Brenda and Tim begin boiling peanuts for the weekend, which typically takes about 8 hours to boil each batch. They use a secret recipe that only the two of them know, which is probably why we can’t get enough of them at Lake Martin!
Tim’s mother is 82 years old and still goes to Peanut Point every weekend to help out. In fact, she never misses a weekend. They also find fun jobs for the grandkids to help out too – making sure everyone in the family has a way to be included!
Their hope is to continue to pass down the love and passion for Peanut Point from generation to generation and keep this Lake Martin tradition going for many more years to come.
Grab ‘Em While They’re Hot!
When asked how many boiled peanuts Tim and Brenda go through every summer, their answer is always, “A LOT”.
For $5 cash, you can have your choice of classic boiled peanuts, or even spice things up with a bag of their Cajun-style snack. And don’t forget your souvenir! Just about every boater on Lake Martin has a koozie or t-shirt from Peanut Point.
You will also find the “Snack Shack” ice cream boat posted up at Peanut Point too! It’s the perfect place for everyone to grab something a little sweet and a little salty while enjoying your day on the lake.
Peanut Point is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend every Summer. Tim and Brenda suggest checking the Peanut Point Facebook page for their updated hours.
Since there are no credit card machines at Peanut Point, our biggest tip is to bring cash and an appetite!
How To Get To Peanut Point
Peanut Point is located on the Alexander City side of Lake Martin and can be accessed by land or water.
By car, Peanut Point is a short drive down a 5-mile dirt road. Tim and Brenda recommend simply putting “Peanut Point” into your GPS for easy directions.
When you’re out for a day on Lake Martin, you are sure to hear about Chuck’s Marina. Sure-it is a stop along the way to fuel up the boat, but it’s also one of our favorite places to fuel up ourselves too-as they are home to some of the best pizza and wings you will find on the lake. There’s so much more to this special spot though. We will fill you in on some of the interesting info about this hotspot on Lake Martin, but make sure you put this on your list to visit while you are here. You can boat up or drive up….. some have even been known to come by seaplane. However you get here though, you will be so excited to have found this little piece of tropical paradise at Lake Martin!
History of Chuck’s Marina
This beautiful spot on the lake that is now home to one of our most popular hangouts, has actually been around quite some time. In 1961, J.W. Thompson opened Thompson’s, and rented fishing boats and sold gas from the marina. He also built cabins that he rented out, and sold candy and ice cream out of a house he had on the property.
The 1970’s brought a new owner and a new name to the marina when Chuck Williams and his wife bought the place. They decided it was the perfect place for a ski shop. Their store sold ski equipment and gas, and they also operated a real estate office out of the building where the wine bar, WineStoppers, is now housed.
Chuck Williams sold it to the Hayes family in the early 80’s, but Mr. Hayes unfortunately passed away shortly after, and Chuck took back over the land before selling it to Russell Lands.
In 1993, Greg Harris bought the property, and he and his wife, Jane, still own and operate it. When Greg first bought Chuck’s Marina, everyone told him he should sell BBQ, but Greg felt passionate about sticking to his idea of pizza (and we are so glad he did!) The new pizza spot, Chuckwalla’s Pizza, was built in 2016. Greg and Jane have owned Chuck’s since, and have turned it into one of the most popular hangout spots on Lake Martin.
Yummy Lakeside Eats
Chuckwalla’s is well known around town for their pizza. Everyone has their favorite, but I am more of a veggie lover, and I personally suggest the Chuckwalla special. This delicious treat is topped with sun dried tomatoes, spinach, feta, onions, and mushrooms.
However, Jane will tell you her favorite is the Acapulco Rock. This one is definitely for the meat lovers, and includes pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, onion, green peppers and mushrooms.
She says the top seller though is the Chimney Rock, which is another that will make any carnivore smile from ear to ear. This one can best be described as a supreme pizza, and is loaded up with pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, Canadian and smoked bacon, black and green olives, green peppers, onion, and mushrooms. Basically-a little of everything they can find in their kitchen!
You truly can’t go wrong with any of their pizzas, but they are also known for their wings and sandwiches. As far as wings go, the most popular are the raspberry chipotle, but Jane says her fave would be the lemon pepper. If you are in the mood for a sandwich, the Muffuletta is a big hit, and has ham, pepperoni, salami, provolone cheese, and an olive salad. The Toasty Roasty is a local favorite as well though-this is their version of a roast beef.
The Story Behind Chuckwalla-Their Special Mascot
In 2004, a new green face joined the Chuck’s family. That is when the namesake of Chuckwalla’s Pizza became their official mascot. A Chuckwalla is a lizard that is native to Arizona, but is also found in some coastal islands. Chuck’s offers up an island vibe with their beautiful landscaping, laid back culture, and al fresco dining, so it seemed fitting that the Chuckwalla lizard would make the perfect face of the brand.
Chuckwalla has since been incorportated into their logo, and into their famous, collectible t shirts. Each year, Jane thinks up at least 3 new designs, and the locals are quick to come out and scoop them up to add to their summer wardrobe. Some would say a Chuck’s t shirt is part of the official uniform of summer around Lake Martin. One of the three shirts always has a dog included on it-they are big animal lovers at Chuck’s! The second is a 4th of July shirt, and the third always has a fun, different theme. I am totally in love with this year’s funky themed shirt that they call-Keep on Chuckin’.
Live Music at Chuck’s
Chuck’s is your place to jam out every Thursday and Saturday night. On Thursdays, the live music cranks up about 6 and lasts until 9. Saturdays you can catch some of your favorite local bands performing 7-10. You can keep up with all of the updates on their live music schedule on their Facebook page.
Giving Back To The Community
The owners, Greg, and Jane, are big stewards of the community and believe in giving back. One ongoing effort during the summer is their monthly wine tastings. These ticketed events happen the 3rd Saturday of each month, and serve as assistance to a variety of worthy causes, such as the Lake Martin Animal Shelter, the Dadeville Public Library, and the Tallapoosa Girls Ranch. They have also previously hosted fun charity events like rubber duck races!
Our Tips If You Visit Chuck’s
Get there early. This is a popular spot with the locals on the lake, and people line up for those tasty pizzas and wings. We highly suggest coming early to be able to grab a seat and get in line for food.
Bring the kids and pups. Chuck’s is family friendly, and the kiddos are always welcome. However, only those 21 and up are allowed to drink. And if your kiddos have four legs and fur, they are more than welcome as well! Chuck’s is known for being one of the most pet friendly spots on Lake Martin.
Ask their staff questions. Many members of their staff have been with them for years. They know the area well, and can give great advice if you have any questions related to the lake, or any happenings at Chuck’s.
You may also want to look into reserving a private spot at Chuck’s. WineStopper’s is a cool room with a deck overlooking the water, and it is a great adults only space where you can have your own private area for friends and family for a day at Chuck’s. You will want to reserve this in advance though.
Chuck’s is one of our favorite spots on the lake, and we think you will enjoy it too! Have a great time, and Keep on Chuckin’!
While out boating on the beautiful waters of Lake Martin, Alabama, you have probably noticed that there are quite a few islands around – but did you know that many of these are actually popular landmarks and hangout spots too?
The islands of Lake Martin are home to some of the most fascinating stories, culture, and history in the area. Here are some fun facts and a little background on some of the most well-known islands on Lake Martin!
Ahoy matey! Grab your crew and set sail to explore Lake Martin’s very own Pirate Island. “Guarded” by Jolly Rogers and his skeleton crew, Pirate Island is a local favorite for visitors of all ages to see.
Pirate Island was originally created over a decade ago by one family, and originally began with just a pirate flag, skeleton, and treasure chest. At the time, only one other family knew of this little secret spot, but it wasn’t long before other boaters saw the pirates and word of the island quickly began to spread. Over the years, others began to add to the décor too, and Pirate Island has become one of the most popular and unique destinations for all to enjoy on Lake Martin!
You can find Pirate Island, with all of its hand painted signs, skeletons, and Marti Gras beads, on the Tallapoosa side of the lake, near Madwin Creek.
Acapulco Rock/Chimney Rock Island
Latitude 32.7148° N
Longitude 85.8985° W
Chimney Rock is hands down one of the most iconic landmarks at Lake Martin, Alabama! Located near the Ridge Marina, it is easily recognized by the colorful artwork graffiti and the (usually) large gathering of boats around its cliffs.
To set the record straight, what everyone refers to now as Chimney Rock is actually “Acapulco Rock Island”. The real Chimney Rock is a different island just off in the distance. It can be distinguished by a large stone protruding up from the top of the island’s rocky formation, resembling very closely a chimney – hence the name. Over the years however, Acapulco Rock Island has taken over the Chimney Rock name and is now the famous hangout spot everyone so fondly refers to.
Chimney Rock is also well known for its cliff jumping. On any given summer day, you can usually find a large gathering of boats circling Chimney Rock, with people watching and cheering on daredevils as they leap off of the three main cliffs: Chicken Rock, Acapulco Rock, and Lost Boys. These three cliffs all range in height, anywhere from 20 feet high to a whopping 60 feet above the water.
It should be noted that jumping off of Chimney Rock is very dangerous and people have been seriously injured doing this. We do not in any capacity recommend or encourage people to attempt this jump.
Chimney Rock is known to be a wildly popular hangout spot in the summertime. It is a fun place to meet fellow boaters, soak in some sunshine, and enjoy the show. You can read everything you need to know about Chimney Rock here!
Photo credit: Pelican Point Expeditions
Sand Island is one of the classic islands of Lake Martin! Back in it’s prime, Sand Island was quite the popular hangout spot on the lake. It was basically a massive sandbar that people loved to beach their boats on to spend the day floating in the waters and enjoy the… well, sand.
Sadly, Sand Island today has almost entirely washed away and now all that remains are a small cluster of trees and a solo stone bench. However, it is still worthwhile to give this little island a visit – especially if you are into geocaching! This is a great place to drop by for a fun find. The cache on Sand Island is big enough for treasures to be hidden inside but also challenging enough to make it exciting for even an experienced geocacher.
This island is located in Big Kowaliga Creek, in between Kowaliga Bridge and Willow Point. If you plan to stop by this island, be prepared to jump in for a little swim! Even though the beach is long gone, it can still be too shallow in areas for boats to pull all the way up. You can watch this video on swimming to the island and finding the geocache!
Photo credit: Pelican Point Expeditions
This popular hangout is located near the Martin Dam and can be spotted by two wooden planks reading “Cheeseburger Island” nailed up in the trees.
The island itself is not very big, but if you can find a spot to beach your boat on the small shore, it makes for a great place to float in the clear waters or hang up your hammock to catch a famous Lake Martin sunset. There is also a long wooden, table-like structure in the center of the island that many visitors use to place their drinks or food on during a long hangout day, or even lay out on to catch some sun.
There was once a treasure chest on Cheeseburger Island that had small toys for kids to enjoy during their visit. During my latest trip, the treasure chest was no longer there – however, a geocache is hidden on the island, which makes it still a fun “treasure” hunt after all.
Also known as “Cemetery Island”, Graveyard Island actually lives up to its name. This small 30 yard by 30 yard island is home to real gravesites from a town long ago, with markers dating as far back as the 1820s up to the 1920s (when the waters were flooded in to create Lake Martin). A seawall now protects the old cemetery, helping to continue to preserve its history.
This island is located in the Bay Pines area of Lake Martin, just North of Youngs Island. You can actually pull your boat up and still see the grave markers to this day.
Photo credit: John Denney
This island is another one with a very historical past. It is actually privately owned by the Young family, who were some of the earliest settlers of the area when Tallapoosa County was formed in 1832. At the time (before Lake Martin was built), ferries were a very important mode of transportation locally to cross the Tallapoosa River, and the Young family owned one of the busiest ferry operations in the county. It strategically ran from Young’s Ferry Road near D.A.R.E Park to what is now Young’s Island on the opposite side of the river.
The island itself is 55 acres and at one time actually had a homestead on it. There were also wild goats that roamed the island at one point (long before Goat Island) that were known to lounge out on the home’s big front porch. Unfortunately, it is said that in the early 1900s a fire broke out and destroyed the entire residence. What remains on the island today is the private Young family cemetery.
Okay, so technically this one isn’t an island. But Peanut Point is an iconic stop along the shores of Lake Martin and definitely deserves a shout out!
Their claim to fame is having the best boiled peanuts on Lake Martin since 1988. For $5 cash, you can have your choice of classic boiled peanuts, or even spice things up with a bag of their Cajun-style snack. And don’t forget your souvenir! Just about every boater I know has a koozie or t-shirt from Peanut Point from over the years.
By boat you can find this local favorite right around the corner from Wind Creek State Park and it can easily be spotted by the pop-up tents on the shoreline.
The 4 Islands of the Island Hop Trail at Smith Mountain
Photo credit: Dylan Stewart
This is such a fun addition to our island list! It is unique in the fact that Island Hop Trail is actually what connects a string of 4 islands, but it’s access changes with the lake seasons. Let me explain.
Island Hop Trail is a part of the CRATA (Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association) hiking trail system and is located near the Smith Mountain Fire Tower.
During the winter, the water level of Lake Martin is lowered by 7 feet. It is only then, when the water level is at its lowest point, that visitors can actually walk the Island Hop Trail from island to island.
However, in the summertime when the water level rises back up, the trail is once again buried underneath the water and the islands are only accessible by a quick swim from one to another. Now that I think about it, a swim doesn’t sound too bad after a long hike around Smith Mountain!
These are just a handful of the great islands around Lake Martin! Be sure to keep on the look out for any one of these popular stops next time you hit the water.
Surface Temperature: 82.5 Water Level: 490.37 (You can always find the current water level here.) Clarity: Clear to Very Clear
Well as you already know, spring has wound down and temperatures have been rising- but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your fishing gear because here on Lake Martin, for the most part, fishing is good in June. For catching stripers we will be slowly working our way down to the southern end of the lake to some of the deeper areas- searching for a little cooler water temperatures. The bite will be getting earlier and earlier and almost non existent mid afternoon. It will then will start back right before nightfall, with a good bite throughout the night. Live baiting will be the number one choice for us as a guide service, but sometime this month we will also be dusting off the Scotty Electric Down Riggers and giving the trolling motors a little rest to do some trolling with our outboards. Never underestimate the fun you can have trolling. In fact, I have several clients that prefer this type of fishing. And oh yes, you can catch some trophy size stripers trolling for sure. Don’t forget as always to keep your top water plug tied on a extremely good spinning rod because June will produce a few stripers busting on top. Until next month, be careful and tight lines!
We still have another month left, but already 14 tagged fish have been caught in Lake Martin. Each of these fish are worth at least $1,500.
We had previously told you about Crank 4 Bank put on by OGS Fishing Tournaments. The event started April 1, and there are 200 tagged fish swimming in the lake. Each one of those fish is worth at least $1,500. However, a couple are worth boats, one is worth a truck, and yes, one is worth a million dollars!
People are catching them, but there are still plenty left to catch, and you have until July 4th to catch yours!
Father’s Day is coming up and let’s face it-guys can be so hard to buy for. However, your dad is a special guy and has been there for you your whole life. He deserves to be shown how appreciated he is. This year, I encourage you to be creative, and give him something he will really remember. I realize it can be very tempting to pick up an Amazon gift card as you are checking out at the grocery store. I’m totally guilty of that myself.
One thing we have definitely learned over the last couple of years is that we should cherish our time with our family and create real, meaningful experiences and memories with them. With your Father’s Day gift this year, you can actually create one of those meaningful experiences to share with Daddio. Even better-you don’t even have to leave your comfy couch to purchase these bucket list experiences. And even better than that-my two favorite experiences I am going to recommend for your dad involve two things most southern fathers love-hooks and bullets!
Striper Fishing on Lake Martin
Let’s start with the hooks. Lake Martin is known for its great fishing. Bass, crappie, catfish-we have it all here. Striper fishing is definitely a one of a kind experience though, and you haven’t had the complete lake experience until you have fished for these monsters. The story behind the Stripers is pretty cool itself. The Saltwater Striped Bass-also known as Striper, is technically a saltwater fish. However, even though Lake Martin is Alabama’s FRESHWATER coast, these fish actually survive and thrive in our waters-growing to well over 40+ pounds. Lake Martin is stocked with over 100,000 Stripers each year, and we also happen to have one of the best Striper guides in the country right here in our area-Alex City Guide Service. There is no closed season for Striper fishing on Lake Martin, and you can fish year round. You can reach out to Captain David and purchase a gift certificate as an experience for you and your dad to do together. You don’t even have to pick a time now. There is no feeling quite like reeling in one of those massive fish, and trust us, your dad will totally have a day he won’t forget.
Shooting Machine Guns
Now let’s talk about an experience involving the other thing that southern dads love-bullets. Sure, your father may have been to your typical range and fired a few rounds. He may even be a hunter or collector of guns himself. If you want to really impress dad though, give him an opportunity to shoot some guns that are on any firearm loving dad’s bucket list. Many of the guns in Lake Martin Machine Gun’s collection are very rare, and you would normally only see them behind a glass case or on a movie screen. Here though, you actually get a chance to shoot guns like the M60, M134 Mini Gun, Tommy Gun, and 50 Caliber Ma Deuce just to name a few. You can’t go just anywhere to have an experience like this, and we are thrilled to have a facility like this right here in our backyard. In addition to getting to shoot the guns, a Lake Martin Machine Gun specialist will lead you through a tour of the history and heritage of their firearms. This part is very cool too. Shooting together at Lake Martin Machine Gun is something totally awesome that you and your dad can do together, and is a gift he will remember forever. You can reach out to Lake Martin Machine Gun to purchase a gift certificate and pick a time that is convenient for you to both go and experience this together.
So do the right thing for dad this year. Forgo the traditional gifts, and use this Father’s Day as a chance to make lasting memories with him. He is sure to love either of these options, and will be so surprised! You will want to have a camera ready to catch that smile on his face as he opens his gift-and make sure to take lots of pictures during your bucket list day together too!
Summertime is here at Lake Martin! Which also means its time to kick off our full schedule of live music and concert series.
We love live music here at Lake Martin – so much in fact, it is immortalized in brass and gold! Literally. At Strand Park in Alexander City, you can actually see the “Jazz Fest Sculpture,” which is made up entirely of donated instruments celebrating our local talent and love for music.
Lake Martin and the surrounding areas are proud to be home to some of the greatest up and coming musicians around! We are so excited to welcome many of them back on stage – and new artists too – as we kick off a full summer of live music.
Here is our lineup of some of our favorite music festivals, events, and live series around the Lake Martin area this year!
Kick the Summer Music Festivals off with RxR Fest at Russell Crossroads! Over the course of two days, this free event features highly popular local bands that are sure to get you on your feet and dancing the night away! RxR Fest kicks off on Friday night with a local Lake Martin favorite, Dixie Red – a lively Southern rock band from Lee County.
Then taking the stage will be the high energy, skate folk band “Happy Landing”, traveling in from Oxford, MS to close out the night.
Saturday night continues the fun with the well-known local artist, Russell Craig. Russell Craig has played many shows at the popular “Fridays on The Green” music series, but this will be the first time his full band will take the stage and perform at Russell Crossroads.
Closing the festival will be Lauren Jenkins, a singer-songwriter who has been named an “artist to watch” by New York Times, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pandora, and many more.
RxR Fest is free and family friendly! Your leashed pet friends are welcome too.
Wrap up a fun week of the Sun Festival with the 32nd Annual Alexander City Jazz Fest! Bring out the whole family and get ready to rock with an entire lineup of talented musical guests all weekend long.
The Alexander City Jazz Fest will run for two nights and is set to host 5 unbelievable acts. Night One will be held at Strand Park in downtown Alexander City, featuring musical guests “The Talismen” and “The Hot 8 Brass Band”- who recently performed at the NOLA Jazz Fest.
Kicking off Night Two will be Alabama’s very own, Tristen Gressett! After making it to the final 11 on American Idol, Gressett will take the stage at The Amp along with two additional acts, Joslyn & the Sweet Compression, and none other than the famous American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks.
Jazz Fest is family friendly and free to attend! Vendors will be onsite; however, you are also welcome bring your own food and beverages.
Every year Russell Lands puts on the largest firework show in the Southeast for the 4th of July! And it takes place right here at The Amp. The Amp is an open-air music venue, located on a rolling grassy hill with the shores of Lake Martin as the backdrop behind the stage.
People come from all over the lake to come sit on the grassy lawn and watch the spectacular firework display – however, the concert leading up to the main event is equally as exciting! The Amp holds their annual live-music celebration before the fireworks, and has been known to bring in big name acts such as Sister Hazel, Kansas, Corey Smith, Blackberry Smoke, The Charlie Daniels Band, and many others.
Gates open at 5PM with the live music kicking off at 6:30PM, followed by fireworks at 9PM. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.
With the amazing lake views and great live music, this is one event you won’t want to miss!
The 2nd Annual Lake Martin Songwriter’s Festival is a multi-day event, featuring 20 artists at multiple venues across the Lake Martin area. These highly talented songwriters will be coming in from near and far, including Nashville, Texas, Oklahoma, and right here in Alabama of course! All of these artists have had great success in the music industry and are so excited to be rocking the stage right here at beautiful Lake Martin.
Over the course of 5 days, these artists will be performing at venues across the Lake Martin area, ranging from intimate room settings to large, outdoor stages. The venues will be some of your favorite places to visit around the lake too, such as Lakeside at Bay Pines, Zazu’s Verandah, Chuck’s Marina, The Local at 41 Main, Niffer’s Place, The Social, Lake Martin Pizza Co., The Mitchell House, and many more!
This year the annual Labor Day concert is being extended to two nights! YES, two nights of music on the Town Green at Russell Crossroads. Oh and by the way, there is no charge!
We are so excited to announce the stellar lineup of musicians for Labor Day Weekend 2022!
On Friday night, we are over the top excited to bring two bands from the Auburn area. We’ll start the night with a relatively new band, at 6:30, Supper Club will take the stage. Also Friday night from the Auburn area, but playing all over the country – The Stews! They will take the stage around 8pm and we are just getting started.
On Saturday we again will kick the music off at 6:30. The Bank Walkers, Lake Martin’s favorite cover band, will get things started! Then at 8 o’clock get ready for some of the best harmonies that you have ever heard! As we welcome to Lake Martin, from Athens, Georgia – Hotel Fiction.
Oh yes, we have a great weekend of music scheduled for you and your friends! We know that you won’t want to miss a single note!
Friday On The Green is a free weekly live music series that takes place at the Town Green at Russell Crossroads. It’s fun, family friendly, and the perfect way to unwind from the work week.
Live music plays from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM every Friday on the Russell Crossroads stage from May until September. Along with a few new bands and local talent, Russell Crossroads is excited to welcome back popular musical acts such as Cameron Dubois & Bama Soud, Jonathan Bloom, and many more.
Grab your lawn chair, pack a cooler, and unwind on the Town Green.
Hosted by the Lake Martin Young Professionals, Strand Sessions are free, outdoor live-music events held at Strand Park during the summer, that brings local talent to the main stage in the heart of Alexander City. Not only can you enjoy a fun evening of live music, it’s also a great opportunity to get downtown and visit the local shops.
Strand Sessions are the first Thursday of every month and runs from May through August. This is one local summer music series you won’t want to miss!
Every Thursday through mid-August, Starts at 6:30 PM
Pull up a chair and enjoy a show right in the heart of Dadeville Square! Zazu’s Verandah hosts a variety of weekly entertainment and local musical favorites, such as Smoke and Mirrors, Suzanne Scholz, Chasing Shadows, and many more.
These live music events are free for all to join and take place every Thursday starting at 6:30 PM under the Zazu’s Verandah awning. Be sure to bring a chair and come early! Zazu’s will also have beverages for sale. Check out their Facebook page for this week’s entertainment!
A Few Of Our Other Favorite Local Live Music Hangouts
Our local Lake Martin music venues are front and center for some of the best live-music shows around! Check out the line up at a few of our favorite local spots for a full summer of good food and live entertainment!
As one of Lake Martin’s newest hangouts, The Social is open for brunch, bushwhackers, and of course… live music! They bring in some of Lake Martin’s favorite acts, such as Suzanne Scholz, Smoke and Mirrors, David Jones, and many others. The Social is open Thursday through Sunday, with live music daily. Check out their Facebook page for their full weekly lineup.
Lake Martin Pizza Co has one of the coolest backyard setups in the area! With a full stage, lighting, and outdoor seating, guests can catch shows from wildly popular bands such as Blackberry Breeze and Face the World during their “Reggae Sunday” music series, along with other local musical artists and duos. They also serve beer and wine for guests who are 21+ and up. Come for the pizza, stay for the music! Check out their Facebook page for an updated list of live music.
This is the newest hotspot in downtown Alexander City. Stop by and try some of their craft cocktails, and enjoy live music every Friday and Saturday night 8p-11p. Check out their Facebook page to learn more.
So you’ve booked the trip, and feel like everything is prepared. You have found a place to stay, and even rented a boat to have waiting on you once you arrive at the lake. Now, you get to sit back and just dream of those lake days with the sun shining on your face, the thrill of the watersports that await you, and of course, catching a beautiful Lake Martin sunset while out on the open water. Everything seems perfect-and trust me, it is. This is going to be the most epic vacation ever! However-there is one more thing on your checklist that you need to look into before that lake vacay if you are planning on boating being a part of your time here.
If you are going to be filling the role of boat captain for your crew while you are here, you need to check and see if you need a boating license. The rules are a little different for different people, so we will lay it all out here for you-and give you resources to learn more.
Do you need a boating license if you are an Alabama resident?
If you are an Alabama resident, you do need a boating license. Residents 12 and older can technically get a license, but nobody under 14 is able to operate a boat by themselves. Operators 12 or 13 years old, after obtaining the vessel operator’s license, can only operate if there is someone 21 years old or older on board, who also has a vessel operator’s license in possession, and is seated in a position to take immediate control of the vessel if necessary. Operators 14 years old or older, after obtaining the vessel operator’s license, can legally operate without supervision. It is important to note that no one under the age of 12 is allowed to operate any motorized vehicle-this even includes things like a Sea Doo or Waverunner.
Do you need a boating license if you are NOT an Alabama resident?
If you are not an Alabama resident, you are allowed to operate a boat here for up to 45 days per year with no license. If you are going to be boating more than that though, you will be required to have a boating license. Also, I can’t stress enough that even if a boating license is not formally required, you are required to know how to be safe on the water. Check out Boating Safety 101: Tips for a Safe Day of Boating on Lake Martin and Lake Martin Resource Association’s Buoy Guidelines. Russell Marine offers annual boating safety classes every spring-and even does one just for ladies. It’s a Girls Day Out with a mission! Singleton Marine also does a series of driving and docking clinics throughout the summer. Also, please make sure you know all of the boating rules in Alabama before you hit the water.
How do you get an Alabama Boat Operators Certification/License?
Applicant must go to the Department of Public Safety Driver’s License Examining Office in their county of residence.
Make application and pay appropriate fee ($5).
Answer medical questions.
Successfully complete written/oral exam or show proof of exemption (boating course certificate of completion or age exemption).
Take the proper form to an ALEA driver license exam office to have the “V” class placed on driver’s license.
Proof of Age: All minors must furnish a certified copy of their birth certificate, their original social security card, and a certified statement from the superintendent of the school which the person attends containing name, date of birth, and address.
Cost of Certification: A one-time application fee of $5.00 cash will be charged. There will be a $36.25 issuance fee for the license.
How do you get out of taking the exam?
There are a few exceptions that will exclude you from having to take the exam:
3. Any boat operator who was born prior to April 28, 1954
A great day on the water is a safe day on the water. While we do want you to make sure you have a boating license if it is required, our biggest concern is for you to be safe. If you are stressed and don’t know how to operate your boat or watercraft, you are not going to have a great time. You will also put yourself and others in danger. Take a class, learn the rules, and ask questions before you hit the water. That knowledge will make you more confident on the water, and will make your day so much better!
Chimney Rock is easily one of the most iconic landmarks at Lake Martin, Alabama. Located near the Ridge Marina, it is easily recognized by its colorful graffiti and usually a large gathering of boats. On any given summer day, you can hear music cranked up and see the boats connected and enjoying the Alabama sunshine! Chimney Rock is a staple to the Lake Martin community – and here is everything you need to know to go out and enjoy it!
Chimney Rock vs. Acapulco Rock
To set the record straight, what many refer to now as Chimney Rock is actually “Acapulco Rock.” The real Chimney Rock is a separate island of massive rock formations, that is located near the rock most know as Chimney Rock. It can be identified by a tall, singular stone that juts up at the top, giving the appearance of a “chimney” growing from the stony cliffs – hence the name.
Just beyond this landmark however is another island, Acapulco Rock, which has now taken over the iconic Chimney Rock name and over the years has become the famous main attraction. It is a wildly popular hang out spot on Lake Martin and can easily be spotted by the layers of brightly colored spray paint graffiti and a crowd of boats.
One of the most notable features of Chimney Rock is the colorful display of graffiti artwork across its surface. The spray-painted images are often portrayed in paintings, t-shirts, and photographs. And in many ways, the artwork has become as iconic as the hangout spot itself. Some of the more notable images can date as far back as several decades, somehow surviving the Alabama sun and other ambitious artists.
But what people don’t know is that many of these images actually have special meanings behind the art. Many of the names and college logos are painted in honor of a loved one or in their memory. I took the time to track down and interview a few of the artists this past summer and was surprised to hear their inspirational stories behind braving the climb and painting Chimney Rock.
There are some tips and tricks to painting Chimney Rock, but unfortunately, I cannot share them here. It is not legal to spray paint Chimney Rock – so we do not recommend it. But for now, we will just have to admire the artwork already there and the years of memories currently displayed.
Jumping From Chimney Rock
Disclaimer: We do not encourage or recommend that you jump from Chimney Rock. It is very dangerous, and people have been seriously injured. With that said, on any given summer day, you can usually find a large gathering of boats circling Chimney Rock, with people watching and cheering on daredevils as they leap off of the three main cliffs: Chicken Rock, Acapulco Rock, and Lost Boys. These three cliffs all range in height, anywhere from 20 feet high to a whopping 60 feet above the water. However, locals will tell you that the jump is higher at the top than it appears from your boat.
Hanging Out at Chimney Rock
As a boater, you will find it enjoyable to just sit back and watch the fun. Many people drop by the iconic hang out spot to simply hang out, play music, and catch some sunrays on the boat.
It’s also a great place to pull out a float and swim with other fellow lake neighbors. Just to the left of Chimney Rock is a calmer area where many people will tie up boat to boat with mooring lines. It’s a great way to meet other people on the lake and take a long, relaxing dip in the water.
Hanging out at Chimney Rock is quite an experience. If you are seeking to add a unique little thrill to your day on Lake Martin, Chimney Rock should be at the top of your bucket list!
Where Is Chimney Rock?
Chimney Rock is located on the southern end of Lake Martin near the Ridge Marina. Download a map of the lake here to find your way there.
Chimney Rock Virtual Background
Chimney Rock is one of the most unique landmarks on Lake Martin, so it is only fitting that it is one of our free virtual backgrounds. Spice up your next Zoom meeting-and wow your colleagues with the iconic Chimney Rock in the background. You can also download free wallpaper for your desktop or phone.
Lake Level: 490.2 Surface Temp: 71 -72 degrees Water Clarity: Mostly clear to very light stain
Looking back the last 30 days for me and my team of guides at Alex City Guide Service, the month of April was awesome on big trophy catches. We caught numerous 20- 30 plus pound stripers including a 32 pounder, two 36 pounders, a 40 plus, and two 45 pounders. Of course I’m talking about stripers- that’s all we target. We also caught numerous 22” or longer stripers per daily trips.
Now getting to May- I’ve been saying all spring that I think most of our larger stripers are going to be caught in May and over into to June, just for the simple reason it seems like most everything is running about 30 days behind past year’s schedules. The stripers are just getting into a spawning stage, and for sure they all do not spawn out at same time.
Even though we only target the stripers, I do get updated information from my friends that target bass, crappie, catfish, and bream. The bass fishermen are saying they’ve had some good catches and are predicting even better May catches. The crappie report and pictures I’ve received the last 30 days is absolutely crazy- especially the number and sizes they’ve been catching! My friend Gary that’s a catfish guide said his trips are really producing some nice eating size catfish. And last but not least, people are starting to catch some really pretty bream.
For you pier fishermen, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised how good it’s going to be this month. It always amazes me the catches people tell me about that they get right off their private docks.
That’s about it until next month, so get out and enjoy the south’s best all around recreational and fishing lake- which is Lake Martin!
I’m excited to say that in the first month of Crank 4 Bank, 6 tagged fish have been caught! Each of these fish are worth at least $1,500.
Last month we told you about Crank 4 Bank put on by OGS Fishing Tournaments. The event started April 1, and there are 200 tagged fish swimming in the lake. Each one of those fish is worth at least $1,500, and a couple are worth boats, one is worth a truck, and yes, one is worth a million dollars!
People are catching them, but there are still plenty left to catch, and you have until July 4th to catch yours!
Spring is in the air and everything is coming to full bloom at Lake Martin! But something particularly magical happens between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day every year. The famous “Cahaba Lily” begins to make its long-awaited appearance, with its spider-like petals stretching out and putting on a spectacular show for all to see.
To add to their unique beauty, these lilies are also incredibly rare, attracting people from far and wide just to catch a glimpse of them on display.
Luckily, right here in our backyard is the Tallapoosa River – one of very few homes to these majestic flowers. Here is everything you need to know about the Cahaba Lily, as well as our recommendations on how to catch them for yourself before they disappear for yet another year!
What Makes the Cahaba Lily So Unique
So just why is the Cahaba Lily so unique? For starters, the Cahaba Lily is an aquatic flower – meaning it only grows in running water. But not just any running water. It needs to be swift-flowing water over rocks as well as an area with lots of sunshine. Outside of very rare circumstances, the vast majority of the Cahaba Lily population only grows in three Southern states, with the best and largest populations located in Alabama.
What also attracts people to the flower are its strange, spider-like petals. The Latin name for a Cahaba Lily is “Hymenocallis Coronaria”, meaning “beautiful crown-like membrane.” This is referencing the shape of the flower, often also described as a Spider Lily.
To add to their mystique, the Cahaba Lily itself is almost like a Cinderella story. Each bloom on a lily opens up for only one night a year. After a 24-hour period, the flower closes back up and wilts away, leaving us with only its leaves and stem again until next year.
Though the bulbs and the stems of the plant are impressively resilient to the harsh environments of a river, the flower itself is very delicate. To add to its already diminishing habitat options, there are only about 50 populations left – placing the Cahaba Lily under consideration for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
How to See the Cahaba Lilies
We are incredibly lucky to call Lake Martin a home for these beautiful lilies! Cahaba Lilies grow within the flowing waters of the Tallapoosa River, which also happens to be a popular kayaking spot in the area – particularly the section between Horseshoe Bend and Jaybird Landing. You can read all about kayaking this section of the Tallapoosa River here.
Because of the timing of the Cahaba Lilies in full bloom, this would be a great trip to plan as a unique Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift to your parents. And the good news is, you don’t have to invest in your own kayaks to go see them. There are actually some great tour groups and local rental companies that will be happy to help you out!
Tallapoosa Wilds rents kayaks and canoes and will deliver them to the river. Along with your kayak or canoe, your rental also includes a life jacket, paddles, and a shuttle service from Jaybird Landing to the Horseshoe Bend drop in point. Venture out on your own, or book a guided tour.
The Adventure Center is located in an authentic, rustic cabin next to the Town Green at Russell Crossroads, and they rent canoes and kayaks that you can take to the river. You can also meet with a Russell Lands adventure outfitter to learn more about the area and the adventures that await you.
Learn more about the Adventure Center at Russell Crossroads here.
Float Alabama is a paddle sports store that specializes in selling and renting inflatable kayaks, paddle boards, and rafts. The perk of renting an inflatable kayak is most obviously the space you save. These can be rolled up and taken anywhere – and are yours for an entire 24-hour period.
The Best Time to See the Cahaba Lilies on the Tallapoosa River
We are so lucky to have these beautiful and rare Cahaba Lilies are right here in our backyard. But remember – the best time to catch the Cahaba Lilies in bloom is from mid-May to mid-June. Be sure to plan your trip now, before they disappear for yet another year!
Everyone loves Lake Martin for their own reasons. Most will tell you how awesome it is to be out on the water, whether on a boat, Sea Doo, or kayak. We have almost 900 miles of shoreline, and there is plenty to see and do on the lake. However, with all of the stops at the local lakeside bars and restaurants, hanging out with the music cranked up at Chimney Rock, and the focus on watersports and fishing, it can be easy to overlook one of my personal favorite things to do on the lake……. taking in the beauty of the Bald Eagles that call Lake Martin home.
A Great Comeback Story
Bald Eagles are one of nature’s greatest comeback stories. During the beginning of the 20th century, their numbers declined due to shooting and the effects of DDT and other pesticides. However, the eagles were given full legal protection, DDT was banned, and it made a significant difference. Once listed on the endangered species list, they were removed from the list in 2007. Alabama Audubon says that the population appears to have continually increased since delisting, but the population is still below historic numbers. However, one thing we do know is that Bald Eagles love visiting Lake Martin and making it their home. We have both eagle residents who take permanent residence, and we also have ones that show up for the winter. Even the Bald Eagles realize how awesome Lake Martin is to visit! This is actually a great place to see many birds, as the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail has many stops in our area.
Bald Eagles Right Outside My Door
I will admit, there have been so many times that I have been on the lake and didn’t realize what was just above me. That all changed the day that my friend, John Denney, and I went out eagle watching. He grew up in the area and has been photographing them for years, so I felt confident that if anyone was going to show me an eagle, it would be him. Departing from my lakeside home by kayaks, we went to the first slough by my home, and saw our first pair of eagles. I couldn’t believe it-they had been there all along, that close to me, and I didn’t even realize it! It was a great lesson to me to slow down, be quiet, and be aware of my surroundings. We are so accustomed to being in a hurry these days that it is sometimes hard to just slow down and take it all in. That’s necessary though to be able to acknowledge and appreciate all of the cool things that are happening around us that often get missed. Of course, after seeing that first pair of eagles, I was hooked! That certainly was not the last time we went out eagle watching, and on our record day, which was just a couple of hours out on the north end of the lake, we spotted a total of 6 different Bald Eagles-not a bad day of birdwatching in my book!
How to Spot a Bald Eagle at Lake Martin
I still consider myself a beginner Bald Eagle spotter, but the first thing I look for is the white head. That can be a little tricky if they are in flight, but when they are perched in a tree, if you are looking closely, you can often see the white stand out against the green of the foliage that surrounds them. The adults are larger than a hawk, have a large hooked bill, yellow legs, and a dark brown body. The white head and tail tend to be the most noticeable thing to me though. However, if you just go by that recommendation alone, you are going to miss out on a lot of Bald Eagles. One thing that I have learned since I started appreciating and watching these birds, is that the adults are the only ones that have white heads. When they are first born, they are born with a dark head, and they slowly get more white showing up on their head as they age (kind of like me.) While the white on my head took a little longer to form, a Bald Eagle typically has a fully white head by 4.5-5 years old. As they age, the body feathers and tail also change, but the head is the most noticeable aspect that people see first. There are great resources available online to help you estimate the age of a Bald Eagle.
More senses come into play when birdwatching. While you should visually be on the lookout, Bald Eagles can also be spotted by their strange squeaky cackling. The National Audubon Society has audio of their calls available on their website. The Merlin app is also a great tool for indentifying bird sounds. It can be helpful to give the recorded sounds a listen before heading out on your eagle watching adventure. This will help you to know what to listen for, as you will often hear them before you see them.
In nature, it is impossible to give exact locations of Bald Eagles. However, just like those of us that love the lake life, so do they. Bald Eagles love fishing, and I guess they too have heard about the great fishing on Lake Martin. If you are on the lake, or even the Tallapoosa River, you have a very good chance of spotting one, or two. Maybe you will even get as lucky as us and spot six in a day! One thing I have noticed is that when they find a spot they like, they tend to hang out for awhile. That pair we spotted by my house seems to have taken residence there, and are seen quite frequently in that same slough. So if you do spot a Bald Eagle, it doesn’t hurt to revisit the same spot to try to see them again.
If You Do See a Bald Eagle
When you see a Bald Eagle, just give them their space and don’t disturb them. However, you should consider yourself a very blessed person when that moment happens-I can’t even describe that awestruck feeling. The magnificence and beauty are just amazing, and since they are our national bird, there is also a sense of patriotism that is also felt. Maybe you have seen them in a zoo or bird refuge, but there is a very special sentiment that is felt when seeing them in nature-especially knowing they were on the verge of being gone not that long ago. The next time you are on the lake, I challenge you to slow down, be silent, look up, and take it all in. There is a whole other world above you, and around our parts, you have a good chance at spotting a bald eagle on Lake Martin by just doing those four things.
The last couple of years have taught us many things. One of the main things I have taken away from the pandemic is to treasure the time I have with my loved ones. I have realized that my family and friends are what truly matters, and if anything, that should be priority over everything else in life. Our relationships with those we care about are priceless, and have to be nourished. We have to find ways to enjoy our tribe, have unforgettable experiences, great bonding time, and create opportunities to make awesome memories.
Back in the old days, a family unit looked like a mom, dad, two kids, and maybe a dog. Today, families come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe that is what yours still looks like, or maybe your family unit is just you and your significant other. Maybe your family is more of a framily, and consists of a group of old friends that considers themselves a family. Some family we are given, and some we choose-and that is totally ok. I’m not here to define what a family unit should consist of, but I am here to encourage you to treasure your time with them. Now is the time to bring the band back together and make up for the time we have missed together the last couple of years. Now is the time for a family reunion….. or a framily reunion.
3 Tips for Planning Your Family Reunion
As you get ready to start planning your reunion, there are a few things to think about and take into consideration:
How many people will be a part of the event? A reunion can consist of anywhere from 2 people to maybe even hundreds of people. We love our extended family in the south, and there is no reason you can’t invite the whole gang. Determining a roughly estimated number is the first step in planning a trip though, because all of the other considerations will be based upon your group size.
Where would you like to go for your reunion? A place where everyone in the group can travel and have a getaway is a great way to have a reunion. This gives everyone a chance to get away, and nobody is left with the responsibility of hosting at their home.
What time of year would you like to travel? Let’s face it, it will usually be impossible to accommodate everyone’s schedule, but it is worth including everyone in the conversation and planning with enough notice so that people do have time to plan accordingly, take time off work, etc. When planning the time of year, think about the types of things you want to do, and check to see if some of those activities are more seasonal for the destination you are considering. Also check different times of the year for pricing, as you may find deals on shoulder seasons-the times right before or after a destination’s busiest time.
Some of my personal favorite times with my family have been spent in the outdoors. Being exposed to nature helps us all unwind and just have a great time. Lake Martin offers an endless supply of outdoor fun, including activities like boating, fishing, horseback riding, ziplining, hiking, and more. It’s also ok to have options for those within your group to go and enjoy different activities in smaller groups, and then come back together for communal family time. If grandma wants to go ziplining, and the cousins want to go ride horses, that is totally fine. You can come back together afterward, tell each other your stories of your day’s adventures, and still have plenty of time to enjoy with the whole family together.
Places to Host a Family Reunion at Lake Martin
There are great options for staying together as a family at Lake Martin, and having that space to spread out. Here are just a few of our favorite lakeside spots for family reunions at Lake Martin:
Wind Creek State Park is right on the shores of Lake Martin and offers RV camping, tent camping, and camping cabins. Many families enjoy this space because there is ample room to camp, there are multiple activities within the park, and there are great pavilions to host family meals and such. Even if you don’t stay here, getting a pavilion for a day and hosting a family day at the park is still super cool.
This lodge is a warm, welcoming space with a large covered patio, lush lawn, and an oversized boat dock for boats and watercraft. There are 12 guest rooms, a kitchen, wet bar, and a conference center. The Lodge at Cocktail Slough is a great private area where the family can all stay together, be able to cook meals together on site, and enjoy the lake life. Your family will have the whole lodge to yourself during your stay.
This is a 4 house vacation rental complex on Lake Martin. Collectively, the houses can sleep up to 48 people. All of the homes have fully stocked kitchens, and they share two separate picnic areas with tables, chairs. BBQ grills, and a fire pit. What’s nice about Holiday Cove is that it comes with lawn games, a kayak, boat dock, and its own white sandy beach.
If you want to offer a variety of lodging options for your family members, that is possible too. Plan the group activities, and then let them choose their preference of where to stay. We have plenty of places to stay in the area including hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, a campground, and even glamping (aka glamourous camping.)
Surface Temperature: 62-64 Lake Level: 489.58 (As of April 5-You can always keep up with the current lake level here.) Clarity: Slightly stained
Lake Martin fishing in April has always been awesome. My parents always said that when the dogwoods are blooming, then the crappie were biting- and year after year that same saying holds true, and especially for the trophy striped bass here. April may be one of my favorite months here on our lake. Last year some of our biggest stripers came in March, but this year is different and I predict most of our 40+ pounders will be boated in April- mainly due to this years weather conditions and water levels coming up a little slower, which means a little later spawning.
A few suggestions to help you this month are things you have read time and time again in my articles, but I only repeat this a lot because it’s what works for us on our lake in April. First of all, catch you some good live bait here on the lake and pull them behind some planer boards in the major feeder creeks and river channel. Next, always keep a couple of spinning rods ready rigged with top water lures, because if you are on the water enough this month you’ll definitely get some huge stripers exploding on the surface close to you. Some ( but not all ) of my favorite top water lures are Redfins, Spooks, Chug Bugs and the occasional Whopper Ploppers.
April is always a busy fishing month for all type of anglers- especially the weekend anglers- so if you get a chance to fish during a weekday then take advantage of it. If not, you’ll still enjoy the weekends on the water. We guide 7 days a week and enjoy every day we are on the water- especially in April. With more and more anglers fishing these days, always have a back up area to fish. Someone may beat you to your favorite spot, and if you have a secondary plan, then you will spend more time fishing than riding and looking. Believe me folks, with 880 miles of shoreline, you will always find a quiet spot to catch fish on Lake Martin.
I hope your April brings you many bent rods and lots of great memories.
We would like to give a special thanks to David Hare with Alex City Guide Service for providing our monthly fishing report.
You can check out a complete list of our local fishing tournaments here.
Catch The Million Dollar Fish Swimming in Lake Martin
If I were to tell you that one fish could change your life…. would you believe me? What if I told you that fish was worth a cool million dollars? The first time I heard it, I thought that was great for the pros and I thought it would be exciting to hear about one of them catching it. Then, I realized that this little game of chance isn’t just for the pros. Of course, one of the pro anglers in their beautiful bass boats and immaculate tackle collection could be the one to catch it. However, a grandma and grandson sitting out on their back dock could also be the ones to reel that fish in, or I could be out in my kayak fishing and be the lucky one. This is an even playing field for everyone who loves fishing, and likes a little game of chance to go with it. It’s not about catching the biggest fish, or the most fish. All that matters is that you catch the RIGHT fish. It’s called Crank 4 Bank-and it started April 1. But-you still have plenty of time, as you have until July 4 to catch this fish or one of his 199 other tagged friends. Get more information here.
Send Us Your Fishing Pics
We would love to see what you are catching on Lake Martin! Want to show it off in next month’s fishing report? Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
In a world of hotels and Airbnb’s, there is no shortage of unique places to stay when visiting Lake Martin. However, there is just something charming about sleeping in a cabin while visiting the lake. Here are a couple of unforgettable cabin options for rent on Lake Martin, Alabama.
Cabins at Wind Creek State Park
Wind Creek State Park is a beautiful, 1,440 acre land that stretches across the shorelines of Lake Martin, Alabama. Here guests can lay out on the private sandy beach, climb the historic silo, or enjoy endless activities such as ziplining, horseback riding, archery, putt putt, and much more. And the good news is, you don’t have to pop a tent or rent an RV to camp here. Wind Creek State Park actually has 7 different camping cabins, each one unique and ready for your stay! All of the camping cabins at Wind Creek State Park are located right on the shores of Lake Martin.
Renting Cabins at Wind Creek State Park
Renting a camping cabin at Wind Creek State Park is not only an affordable option, it also gives you the opportunity to stay at one of the most exciting locations on Lake Martin!
Cabins 1, 2, and 3 are all dog friendly and come complete with a kitchenette that provides a microwave, coffee maker, toaster, and small refrigerator.
Cabins 1 and 3 both have one bath, two sets of bunk beds, and a queen sleeper sofa – making it a comfortable option for up to 6 people to stay.
Cabin 2 is handicap accessible with one accessible bath, one twin bed and one set of bunk beds – making it a great option for up to 3 people.
Cabins 4, 5 ,6, and 7 are all furnished with two queen beds, a sleeper sofa, table, chairs, and one bath. All four of these cabins have the same interior design, except for cabin 4 – which has vaulted ceilings. These can all sleep up to 6 people.
All camping cabins come complete with a bathroom, tables, chairs, and a kitchenette with a microwave, coffee maker, toaster, and small refrigerator. Each camping cabin at Wind Creek State Park is unique and we encourage you to select the one that best fits your camping needs.
For full dimensions and details on individual cabins visit their website. To rent a Wind Creek State Park camping cabin, use their online reservation tool. For more information on things to do at Wind Creek State Park, check out our blog.
The interior of the cabin itself is like stepping back into time. Along with memorabilia of the great Hank Williams, the cabin is decorated true to the 1950 time period, complete with wooden flooring, modest living room furniture, and even a vintage card table doubling as your dining area. But this is much more than just a nod at the decade. The décor is actually an exact replica of the original cabin that Hank stayed in, right down to the checkered curtains and decorative plates sitting on top of the fireplace mantle. A photo of the original living room hangs on the wall, where you can compare the similarities between now and then. The shores of Lake Martin are just outside your porch-it’s just you and the beautiful, peaceful lake waters just steps away.
Renting the Hank Williams Cabin
The Hank Williams Cabin is a charming two-bedroom, one bathroom home located right on the Lake Martin shoreline at Children’s Harbor. Each bedroom itself has two twin size beds, a wooden dresser, and a fresh set of linens and towels, making it a comfortable stay for up to 4 people. The kitchen comes with a working oven/stove combination and refrigerator, as well as a modest supply of your basic dining needs – such as drinkware and plates.
Renting the Hank Williams Cabin is a popular choice for small wedding parties (such as groomsmen) to get ready in before the big ceremony at the chapel. While the cabin is available to wedding parties anytime, it is available for anyone to rent November-February. We recommend this for anyone who is looking for an opportunity to spend a few nights in the historic Hank Williams atmosphere and enjoy the tranquility of Lake Martin. To rent the Hank Williams Cabin, visit Children’s Harbor Rental Facilities or contact email@example.com.
You can also read more about the Hank Williams Cabin here.
Our Advice on Renting a Cabin at Lake Martin
Whether you decide to enjoy the activities at Wind Creek State Park, or take a step back in time at the Hank Williams cabin, you can’t go wrong with either of these options for cabins on Lake Martin. Both cabin options offer you the chance to wake up lakeside, and enjoy the lake to the fullest extent possible. Our biggest recommendation for both though, is to book early, as they are very popular places to stay at Lake Martin.
Church in the Pines is perhaps one of the most unique and iconic structures on Lake Martin. Built on the shorelines of the lake waters, this non-denominational church draws attention from visitors all across the country. It is not unusual to see all 800+ seats filled during the warm weather months, or guests pulling up by boat to catch a Sunday service.
With its distinct, open-air structure and dramatic backdrop of the Kowaliga Bridge, it’s really no wonder why Church in the Pines is a treasured icon at Lake Martin.
The Story Behind Church in the Pines
Originally built in 1953, Church in the Pines is easily one of the oldest churches (and perhaps one of the first) on the shores of Lake Martin, AL. It started as a small, pine straw covered arbor, where weekenders could catch a Sunday service without having to leave the lake and head back into town for church.
You see, in those times you didn’t skip church on Sunday morning – especially after a few rowdy weekend nights. As to not be seen as “heathens at the lake,” folks with cabins decided to build a church locally. This way, instead of rushing home at sunrise to catch church in town, they could hear a Sunday teaching at Church in the Pines and catch a few extra hours at the lake!
Another perk to building Church in the Pines was that it was located on the water, which opened up the opportunity for people to come to church by boat. Many times, people would simply anchor their boat in the harbor and listen to the teaching without ever stepping ashore. This was a very casual approach to church and looked down upon by some. But nonetheless, the practice stuck and has become one we have fondly embraced over the years.
Over the next couple years, Church in the Pines began to grow in popularity and in 1956 it transformed from the original pine straw arbor into the large, A-frame building we now know it as today.
However, there were struggles to find preachers in the beginning days. It’s been said that the well-known, “big city” pastors were hard to come by, as they were usually teaching at their own congregations on Sundays and were often times leery to come down to the lake.
Then came along Rabbi Eugene Blachschleger. He became the first staple preacher in 1954 and led Sunday service at Church in the Pines for 10 years, alongside the first organist, Alfred Sidney “Sid” Jay. You can see both of them honored on a plaque near the altar of Church in the Pines, along with the founding members of the church.
Over time however, it became easier to persuade guest preachers to spend their Sundays at Lake Martin. They were said to be well-fed and entertained at the lake “cabin”, making an invitation to teach at Church in the Pines suddenly a coveted opportunity.
In addition, payments to the preachers were made as undisclosed offerings in brown paper bags from the congregation. As time went on, these bags became “heavier” to say the least. As word got out about the brown paper bags, it suddenly it wasn’t so hard to get guest preachers to Lake Martin on Sundays. Stories have it that preachers would compare the weight of their brown bag to others for bragging rights, as the heavier the bag usually meant more people attended their service. Kind of a funny story when we look back on the history of the times!
Church in the Pines Today
Since that time, Church in the Pines has grown into the wonderful, non-denominational haven many of us come to enjoy today. It also continues to host guest preachers every weekend, as well as visitors from all across the country. You can check out their calendar of guest speakers here.
Church in the Pines holds services every Sunday at 9AM. During the warmer months, you can often expect to see all 800+ seats filled with people under the shade of the A-frame roof, as well as sitting on blankets stretched all across the surrounding hill.
And yes, the tradition of pulling up by boat still lives on to this day. On warmer Sundays, especially when the lake water levels are up, it is not uncommon to see the shores next to Church in the Pines filled with boats anchored and eager guests ready to catch a teaching.
Weddings at Church in the Pines
For anyone who loves Lake Martin, Church in the Pines is a dream wedding venue for your big day.
With its open-air structure and dramatic backdrops of the Kowaliga Bridge, Church in the Pines is one of the most beautiful and iconic wedding ceremony options available. Plus, your venue rental includes a $250 donation to Children’s Harbor, who offers programs and services at no cost to seriously ill children and their families. You can read more about using Church in the Pines as a wedding venue here.
Popular Services at Church in the Pines
Along with weekly Sunday services, Church in the Pines is known for “packing the house” so to speak for the big holiday weekends. It is famed for their Sunrise Easter service, Memorial Day service, and even a Christmas Eve service during warmer Winters.
However, if I had to pick a favorite, a particularly popular service is the 4th of July.
Members of the congregation always look forward to the tradition of hearing a teaching from John Ed Mathison, a preacher from Montgomery, AL. He famously jokes every 4th of July that, “whomever comes forth with a fifth on the fourth, may not come forth on the fifth.”
To add to the lighthearted fun, John Ed Mathison also has a brother, George Mathison, who usually preaches the Memorial Day weekend service. They often tease about who had the bigger crowd in attendance at their Church in the Pines sermon… almost like bragging rights. It’s funny how some things never change!
We take pride in the Lake Martin community on how close Church in the Pines is to our hearts, and cherish the traditions that have come from the years of gathering there. The roots of the church were formed for people to stay a little extra time at the lake, bond with friends and family, and create memories that last a lifetime.
In the words of Ben Russell himself, Church in the Pines and the people were “the backbone of today’s great Lake Martin community” and can be credited for why the lake is the way it is today.
If I were to tell you that one fish could change your life…. would you believe me? What if I told you that fish was worth a cool million dollars? The first time I heard it, I thought that was great for the pros and I thought it would be exciting to hear about one of them catching it. Then, I realized that this little game of chance isn’t just for the pros. Of course, one of the pro anglers in their beautiful bass boats and immaculate tackle collection could be the one to catch it. However, a grandma and grandson sitting out on their back dock could also be the ones to reel that fish in, or I could be out in my kayak fishing and be the lucky one. This is an even playing field for everyone who loves fishing, and likes a little game of chance to go with it. It’s not about catching the biggest fish, or the most fish. All that matters is that you catch the RIGHT fish.
Crank 4 Bank Details
The game is called Crank for Bank, and it is put on by OGS Fishing Tournaments between April 1, 2022-July 4, 2022. Even though they are one of the great fishing tournament organizers in our area, I wouldn’t call this your traditional fishing tournament. Actually, I wouldn’t call it a tournament at all-it is totally different, and allows anyone with a heart for fishing to be on an even playing field to have a chance to win. April 1-July 4, you are invited to fish on Lake Martin and take a chance at catching that dream fish-or one of his many friends worth $1,500, 2 boats, or a truck. Yes-while my eye is on that one fish worth a million dollars, there are still plenty of other valuable prizes to be won as well. There are a total of 200 tagged fish who will be swimming all over the lake, and are all worth prizes. However, in order to be eligible to win any of these prizes, there are a few things you need to do before you even hit the water. I want to share these instructions with you now, because if you are out and catch any of these fish, and have not taken the proper steps prior, you are not eligible to collect any winnings. Can you imagine how painful that would be to catch the fish, but then not be able to collect the winnings? Don’t be that guy (or girl). If you want to play, take note of the basic rules below.
Do These 3 Simple Things Or You Win Nothing
First and foremost, you have to have an Alabama Freshwater Fishing License if required by Alabama law. But come on, if you are out fishing, you need to have that anyway-you don’t want to get busted without it. And in this case, if you catch the winning fish and don’t have an Alabama Freshwater License at the time the fish was caught, you get nothing. Get information on getting your fishing license here.
Next, you have to be registered ahead of time for the contest. Yes, you have to buy a ticket, and you can get your ticket and get registered by clicking here. If you don’t, and you catch a tagged fish, you get nothing. No-you can’t go and get registered after you catch your winning fish. You have to do it at least 2 hours before you catch your tagged fish. Check out this video that walks you step by step through the registration process.
Read the rules (and then read them again.) Make sure you completely understand how to upload the pictures of your fish and know what to do when you catch a tagged fish. You can check those out here.
More Fun Prizes
Another cool thing is that those who choose to participate, also get to be a part of the virtual fishing tournament. Again though-this is not like your normal fishing tournament. Basically, you catch a fish, and regardless of size, you upload the picture. They will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place big fish winners, as well as weekly big fish winners. They will also have a random drawing every other week and select winners that way as well. It’s just another way you can win, and is something that anyone can do regardless of your fishing experience.
What Does The Million Dollar Fish Look Like?
The fish that are tagged and put in Lake Martin are all largemouth or spotted bass. They might be small or large-we don’t know. What we do know is that the fish will be wearing a special fashion accessory that sets it apart. You will see the tag on the fish, and will know it is one that is a part of the Crank 4 Bank contest.
Where Is The Million Dollar Fish?
Right here in Lake Martin! The tagged fish are released in different locations on Lake Martin, from up the river beyond Highway 280, to Parker Creek near Kowaliga. The lucky fish could be anywhere on the lake, and your chance is as good as mine. Download a copy of the Lake Martin map and start plotting out your game plan of spots to hit.
Do People Ever Catch The Tagged Fish?
Yes, yes, yes! Last year we had 16 total winners. One took home a Skeeter Boat, and the rest took home $1,500. Some people were super lucky and caught more than one tagged fish. You have just as good of a chance as anyone, so we hope to have you out there on the lake with us as we search for the Million Dollar Bass!
Doing Good For The Fishing Community
Another thing I really like is that a portion of the proceeds from the Crank 4 Bank tickets goes to help high school fishing teams. These teams are often underfunded, and I think it is kind of cool to be a part of giving back to something that invests in our future anglers.
Lake Level: 484.72 feet (Please note that the lake level started increasing on February 18, as it makes it’s way toward Summer Pool, which is 491 feet. 484.72 feet is the lake level as of March 3, but you can always check the current lake level here.) Surface Temp: 48 on lake, 43 up river Clarity: Very stained on north end and partially stained in Kowaliga area
It was a really good February for quantity and the occasional 15-20 lb. stripers, but in March, we will be on the 20-40 lb. class.
March will definitely kick off trophy class stripers here on our lake! As of right now, the biggest we know that was caught on Lake Martin was by Alex City Guide Service’s own guide, JB, and it was 52 lbs. In 2021, our biggest was 45 lbs. on March 15, 2021, and was caught by one of our clients.
Concentrate on both the lake and major creek channels this month, because both will be producing. If you are a weekend warrior, plan on sharing the lake with hundreds of others since it’s tournament time, but remember, you have just as good of a chance as anyone to catch fish.
If you are into catching crappie, some of the most frequently visited areas for crappie are the river, Camp ASCA, Wind Creek, and Elkahatchee Creek .
For you that like to catch stripers off your dock at night, well this is the month that it gets cranked up big time. If you don’t have a Green Monster Fishing Light, well you don’t know what you’re missing. Give my friend David Carlee a call. Tell him I sent you, and he will fix you up. He is the owner of Green Monster Fishing Lights, and they are built by him right here on Lake Martin (yes he even installs them.)
Looking back over several years, Lake Martin and the month of March never fails to produce some of the biggest stripers in the south. Don’t get get me wrong, there are other good striper lakes around the USA, but in my opinion, year round and year after year, Lake Martin never fails to produce high quality stripers. Some reservoirs have off years but in my 42 years of fishing for stripers on Lake Martin, I can honestly say we have just not had a bad year, and I think it’s not going to do anything but get better and better over the next several years. Lake Martin’s water quality and 880 miles of shoreline, along with its abundance of bait fish, is just a haven for the elusive salt water striped bass.
I often get asked from clients if they can bring their fly rod along, and of course I say yes. I would love to carry you to some of our spots that produce some action on top this time of year. In fact, one of my clients got a 33 lb. striper several years back on a fly rod, and it would be awesome to see someone do that again.
I hope you all get out this month and enjoy the outdoors- there’s nothing better than a pretty March day on the water fighting a big ole striper. Beware though, it might be the most addictive thing you have ever done.
If you’d like to book a trip here on Lake Martin, please consider us as we are the # 1 guide service on the lake. TEXT ANYTIME 256-401-3089
Lake Martin is Alabama’s Freshwater Coast, but to fish Alabama’s freshwaters, in most cases, you must have a freshwater fishing license. But-you can feel good about your purchase, because the money raised from the sale of fishing licenses supports the protection and enhancement of Alabama’s aquatic resources. Except for the issuance fees and internet or telephone convenience fees, 100% of your license fee goes to management of, protection of, and education about Alabama’s natural resources.
It is such a beautiful time to be outside enjoying the trails, and we have a variety of them for you to try. They are all unique, and have varying levels of difficulty. Hike just for fun, or start the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge-it is free to participate! If you hike a portion of all of the trails, you will earn a free patch and certificate. Get information on all of the trails, and the downloadable hiking log here.
This was not only the final battle of the Creek War, but it also ultimately resulted in the United States government obtaining over 23 million acres of land through the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814. This park offers so much history. You can walk the trail to see historical sites, or drive in your car through the sites and listen to the stories on their audio tour. They also have a newly redesigned museum for you to visit. There is no charge to visit this park, and they do have a Junior Ranger program so the kiddos can earn their badge. Learn more about the park here.
Wind Creek State Park offers a variety of nature programming each month including changes to meet and learn about wildlife, take guided nature hikes, and participate in arts and crafts projects. You can keep up with all of their monthly events on our event calendar. All of these activities are 100% free, but if you are not camping at the park, it does cost just a few bucks to get a day pass to get in for the day. However, while you are there, you can also climb the silo, hang on the beach, play in the playground, and fish from the pier.
Think of this as a giant, worldwide scavenger hunt. It involves hiking, tracking, and following clues to find secret containers that are hidden all around you. There are over 200 geocahes in the Lake Martin area alone, and it is a blast to get out with your family and friends and put your detective skills to work. Learn more about geocaching here.
Did you know there are over 400 species of birds that you can see in Alabama? There’s alot that you can actually see in the Lake Martin area, as the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail runs right through here and has some pretty cool places to visit here. Birdwatching is free and it is very easy to get started. For tips on going birding, and learning how to identify birds by sight and sound, go here.
Your wedding day is one of the most important events of your life! And many will say picking out your venue is the first step to successfully start planning your big day. Here is your ultimate, all-in-one guide to some of the best wedding venues at Lake Martin, AL!
Paint your wedding inspiration on the pastoral canvas of the rustic and charming yet refined and inspired backdrop of the scenic Stables. The Stables offers both indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception sites. The Stables venue fee includes a deep clean of the stables, 220 natural wood folding chairs, 6 rustic benches, tables, built in bar, white lights, carriage ride, parking assistant and various props.
Why It’s Unique: Imagine a rustic, elegant celebration set among the ancient oaks of Russell Forest along Lake Martin. Allow The Stables to set the stage for the wedding of your dreams by providing and setting up tables, chairs, benches, pews, a built-in bar, and parking assistant. Think of The Stables as a setting worthy of film sets—and truly unforgettable celebrations.
Deep clean of the stables
220 natural wood folding chairs
6 rustic benches
Built in bar
Contact: For more information, go to their website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SpringHouse offers stunning and expansive outdoor vistas as well as a warm central hearth that inspires comfort in a multi-level setting surrounded by rough-hewn beams and granite and hand-forged ironwork set to accommodate small intimate gatherings or larger receptions. SpringHouse can accommodate parties of 200+ people.
Why It’s Unique: A warm, inviting venue, SpringHouse offers panoramic views of lush rolling hills and five distinctive spaces. Architectural details reflect the beauty of its natural surroundings which creates a timeless backdrop for any event. That natural harmony is complemented by their fresh, southern cuisine and a gracious, intuitive staff committed to creating unforgettable experiences.
Knowledgeable staff and bartenders
Customizable bar menus
Tables and chairs provided in dining areas for up to 150 guests
Buffet and drink station serving pieces
WellHouse room fits 12 guests for use as a ready room, newlywed meal, or breakroom for the band
Golf cart for photographer to use during couple photos
Early tent and rental installation
Contact: For more information, go to their website or email: email@example.com
Large enough for a family reunion, business retreat or any wedding event! One end of the lodge has twelve hotel-style guest rooms with two full beds in each. The other end is a large gathering room arranged into several intimate clusters, dining space, commercial kitchen and wet bar all with panoramic views of Lake Martin. The downstairs has a variety of uses – it has a large open room that overlooks a cozy lakeside patio.
Why It’s Unique: A multipurpose space with breathtaking views of Lake Martin, The Lodge is a warm, welcoming space with wood-beamed ceilings, expansive covered patio, lush lawn, and oversized dock for boats and watercraft. Twelve guest rooms, kitchen, wet bar, and conference center make it a versatile space for private celebrations.
Use of the entire property Thursday-Sunday
11 double occupancy bedrooms and 1 handicap-accessible bedroom with a kig bed
All bedrooms have a private bathroom and television
Large great room with comfortable furnishings, dining area for 21, and stone fireplace
Wet bar, commercial kitchen, and large icemaker
Downstairs conference center equipped with drop-down screen and mounted LCD projector
Large patio with seven iron tables
Two-tiered lawn perfect for ceremonies and receptions
Large dock for boats and watercraft
Contact: For more information, go to their website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mitchell House is a gorgeous, Alabama antebellum home with picturesque white pillars and a charming southern atmosphere. Brides fall in love with the scenery, espeiciall the bridal suite, gazebo, and most of all, the historic ginkgo tree. The Mitchell House makes for stunning photos any time of the year, especially if you are lucky enough to have the golden tree in bloom!
Why It’s Unique:
There are two things that make the Mitchell House incredibly unique.
One, the history behind the house is tied to the creation of Lake Martin itself. S.Z. Mitchell’s father was a local physician, whose claim to fame was inventing the electrical grid system. He later became friends with Thomas Edison and invented hydroelectricity-thus, the creation of the Lake Martin dam.
Secondly, the Mitchell House is home to the oldest male ginkgo tree in the United States. It has been established that this tree is 101 years old was was planted as a seedling by the son of S. Z. Mitchell upon his return home from WWI. Still to this day, the ginkgo tree blooms brilliant gold leaves every year, putting on a remarkable and rare show for all to see.
Full access to the Mitchell House and 2-acre landscape
A 40 x 40-foot permanent tent that seats up to 175 attendees, with wooden flooring, chandeliers, and draped curtains.
Use of on-site wedding décor
An elegant Bridal Suite that is complete with light up vanity mirrors and stylish salon chairs. It is large enough for 8 ladies to get ready at a time comfortably.
Groom’s Room for dressing
Guest Room for family dressing
Kitchen for caterer’s use
Banquet room that seats 50
Conveniently located near the local courthouse and the soon to be open Miller Hotel- Not only does it give your family and wedding party a nearby place to book a stay, they can literally walk to the wedding venue from their hotel room.
Contact: For more information, go to their website or email: email@example.com
Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast is a majestic, three-story mansion located in the historical area of Alexander City. Here, brides can enjoy the elegance of a Southern and timeless venue along with the luxury of being pampered with bed and breakfast perks, such as on-site lodging and three-course meals during their stay. This gorgeous venue can easily accommodate wedding ceremonies and receptions of any size.
Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast also prides themselves on offering an unrushed wedding experience, allowing you to take your time and enjoy one of the best days of your life at Lake Martin.
Why It’s Unique: This house originally belonged to the Herzfeld family, who immigrated to the United States in 1875. After running a dry food store in Alexander City, he founded the Alexander City Bank and was its president for many years. Herzfeld, among a couple other prominent citizens, was responsible for bringing the first mill to Alexander City which eventually led to the establishment of Avondale Mills.
It also has some of the most customizable wedding packages available at Lake Martin, offering everything from a “Luxury Elopement” package-designed to pamper a couple on their personal day with flowers, massages, and even a romantic three-course meal-all the way up to large, 300-person wedding ceremonies and receptions.
And as far as location, Mistletoe Bough is near the historical area of Alexander City, offering restaurants, shopping, and entertainment right at your fingertips. This is great to suggest for guests to check out who may be coming in from out of town.
Full access to on-site linens, tables, chairs, a gazebo, and décor
Access to the entire mansion, including the 5 bedrooms – each with their own individual bathrooms
Rooms for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to get ready for the big day, each elegantly decorated with artwork of Monet and Rembrandt
Brides have full use of the luxurious 2-acre property, including a Coy Fish pond, waterfall, a European style courtyard with inlaid marble, and a trellis filled with a canopy of overflowing purple and white flowers
A three-course breakfast the morning of your wedding, so no worries on arranging food… just focus on the fun ahead
A personal coordinator to handle details the day before and day of your wedding. For the larger wedding package, you have full access to a wedding planner 6 months to a year in advance, helping you coordinate all the intimate details of your special day (think: catering, flowers, bar service, DJ services, etc.)
Contact: This year is their first wedding season, so your perfect dates are available for 2022! Don’t wait long to tour it though – this majestic venue is sure to fill up quick.
For all the details such as pricing and packages, go to their website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Overlook Farms is one of the newest venues in the area-and it is absolutely stunning! This wedding venue brings the charm of a mountain lodge to Lake Martin, surrounded by scenic woodlands and lake views in the backdrop. It also boasts a giant grassy lawn, making it the perfect space for larger ceremonies and receptions.
Why It’s Unique:
Decorated with horned chandeliers, water fountains, and rocking chairs-this is easily one of the coolest and trendiest venues on the block. It’s “mountain lodge style” has an incredible balance between a country vibe and a chic elegance that your guests will absolutely love.
The main entertainment room has an open space floor plan, with beautiful, exposed wooden ceiling beams, adjustable lighting, and a stairway to the second story indoor/outdoor balcony. This is neat, as your guests can actually mingle upstairs while also looking down to the party below. It also offers surreal views and what I imagive would also make for a great place to throw your bouquet!
Also unique is the fact that you have the option to have your musical entertainment indoors or outdoors. Yes, the inside can hold an entire band or DJ set up… so no worries about rain cancelling your big plans.
Full access to the venue and lawn
Use of the caterer’s kitchen (industrial ovens, refrigerators, spacious counter tops and industrial sized ice machine) and indoor bar
Tables, linens, and chairs for up to 200 people as well as on-site décor
Brides and grooms have separate, luxurious on-site rooms to get ready in. Both have closets for storage as well as marble showers and bathrooms
The venue is available as early as noon on Friday for set up and as late as 11PM on Saturday… so no hurrying your guests out the door
This is also one of the only wedding venues that offers views of Lake Martin waters, making it a hidden gem you won’t want to overlook
Contact For more information, go to their website or email: email@example.com
Hold your dream wedding on the shores of Lake Martin at New Water Farms! Located in the Sandy Creek area, this wedding venue is a 22-acre working farm that also serves as a ministry retreat. It’s claim to fame are the epic waterfront views and diverse sceneries, giving brides endless location options for their ceremony and reception.
To use the owner’s exact words, New Water Farms is “your own little world for the day.”
Why It’s Unique:
Along with waterfront views, New Water Farms is home to an orchard, vineyard, beach area, and multiple facilities to host your ceremony and receptions. It also has several buildings such as “The Guest House” and “Porch House” that are available to rent for the wedding parties to relax and get ready in.
An indoor and outdoor reception area is also available, know as “The Lodge.” This is a multipurpose building with glass garage doors that can be opened or shut, depending on the weather. It also has an incredible and spacious kitchen that caterers love to use!
To top it off, New Water Farms has a stunning open-air chapel located on the point of a peninsula, making for dramatic waterfront views while you say, “I do.”
Access to the chapel, beach, lawn, or Vineyard for your ceremony
Access to the Lodge, Back Porch, or lawn for your reception
Tables and chairs for 225 attendees
8 Adirondack chairs
Yard games such as croquet, corn hole, bocce ball, and frisbee golf
Options to rent additional facilities such as a golf cart, tent, “The Guest House” and “The Porch House.” Bunkrooms are also available as additional accommodations.
Contact: For more information go to their website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Creekside Lodge gives you all the feelings of a true lake wedding! This rustic yet elegant waterfront property has beautiful panoramic views of Lake Martin, giving brides endless photo opts and staging opportunities for the big day. In addition to the Main Event Center area, Creekside Lodge also offers indoor and outdoor open floor plans, a lovely covered and open-air deck, an outside bar, and two piers on the water – making this a dream location for a waterfront wedding.
Why It’s Unique:
Along with planning your wedding, brides also have to consider accommodations for attendees. In addition to being a waterfront property, Creekside Lodge offers 27 beautifully appointed lodging rooms, including three grand suites – making this a perfect and convenient choice for all of your out-of-town guests. Plus, everything you need is located on the property for not only your ceremony and reception, but also for guest entertainment, such as an on-site swimming pool, coffee bar, and plenty of deck space to relax right on the edge of the Lake Martin waters.
And of course, there is a beautiful bridal suite for the ladies but what you will also love is the attention to the Grooms Lounge. Let’s face it, the groom and groomsmen usually don’t get great rooms for the wedding day. But at Creekside Lodge, the second floor Grooms Lounge is complete with its own bar, comfortable seating, and even its own outside deck.
Up to 100 fruitwood banquet chairs (interior Main Event Center)
Up to (10) 6 ft. round tables with seating for up to 100 (interior) of main dining
Seating for 50 in the Blu Room
Wrought Iron tables and chairs for 60 (deck)
Bistro Tall tables & chairs for 20
Bridal Suite for the Bride and her bridesmaids (Sleeping arrangements up to 6) 2 night maximum
Groomsmen Lounge available at additional fee (Staged for Groomsmen for day of or seating for 40 as a stand-alone event)
Contact: For more information, check out their website or email: email@example.com
Zazu’s Verandah is a beautiful event space with a moden twist of “city-chic” meets “rustic-country.” The newly renovated space is perfect for small to medium size wedding receptions, with your guests socializing amongst the original exposed brick walls, heart pine floors, and a beautiful haint blue ceiling. It brings the feeling of the Lake Martin countryside to your reception! This is also a great location for rehearsal dinners and bridal luncheons.
Why It’s Unique
Zazu’s Verandah was originally home to the 1914 “Hick’s & Oliver Building” located in Dadeville, AL. One of the biggest features to me is that the event space has a built-in kitchen, making it the perfect place for easy catering planning. It also has three bathrooms, one being ADA compliant, as well as built in acoustic panels for live musical performances. And no worries about adult beverages-they have their license for wine and beer.
Venue space for 80 attendees
Access to the caterer’s kitchen and cozy front porch
10 farm tables and 80 chairs for your event
Contact For additional information, go to their website or email: info@ZazusVerandah.com
With capacity of over 800, Church in the Pines is a perfect setting for larger weddings. It is a beautiful open-air facility perched on the edge of scenic Lake Martin. From the three spacious aisles to the rustic wooden cross hanging above the pulpit, Church in the Pines will provide a unique experience that will make memories for a lifetime.
Why It’s Unique:
Church in the Pines started in the 1950’s, making it one of the original churches in the Lake Martin area. It is also one of the most beautiful venues too, with the Lake Martin waters and iconic Kowaliga Bridge uniquely as the backdrop behind the alter. Though brides have the option of decorating the venue as they’d like, the beautiful wooden beams and stone aisleways are more than enough to dazzle your guests.
In addition, when you choose Children’s Harbor as your wedding destination, you are also choosing to support seriously ill children and their families. $250 of your rental fee is a tax-deductible donation that helps Children’s Harbor continue to offer our programs and services at no cost to seriously ill children and their families.
Church venue with seating for up to 850
Grounds around the Church in the Pines
The bathhouse, which includes a bridal suite
$250 donation to Children’s Harbor
For more information, go to their website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
With capacity of 125, Children’s Chapel is the perfect setting for a small, intimate wedding of just family and friends. It sits on the edge of the beautiful Lake Martin waters, with the famous Children’s Harbor Plymouth Lighthouse and the Kowaliga Bridge as the backdrop. Whether you choose to have your special day inside the chapel or on the grounds by the lake, Children’s Chapel is the perfect destination for an iconic and classic Lake Martin wedding.
Why It’s Unique:
Children’s Chapel is a beautiful, classic white chapel with wooden flooring, red covered pews, and tall, high-rise ceilings. Not only does it have a sound system inside, the Chapel also has both heating and cooling – making it a perfect ceremony option no matter the time of year. To top it off, there is a bell tower and small balcony inside that overlooks the entire congregation in the Chapel.
Outside, the Children’s Chapel has some of the most iconic landmarks of Lake Martin available, such as the famous Plymouth Lighthouse as well as the Kowaliga Bridge – making this one of the most photographic locations and backdrops you will be able to find. It’s no wonder that it is one of the most sought-after wedding destinations in the region.
In addition, when you choose Children’s Harbor as your wedding destination, you are also choosing to support seriously ill children and their families. $250 of your rental fee is a tax-deductible donation that helps Children’s Harbor continue to offer our programs and services at no cost to seriously ill children and their families.
Grounds around the Chapel including the Lighthouse
Bathrooms and Gazebo
Use of the baby grand piano
$250 donation to Children’s Harbor
For more information, go to their website or email email@example.com
Nestled under the shade of 100 year old pecan trees lies The Orchard Venue. This beautiful estate is intimate enough for small groups to live in luxury, but grand enough to host all your family and friends for a special celebration. The Orchard on Washington is located minutes from downtown Alexander City, but also a short distance from Lake Martin. The beautiful venue is gated, and private with sprawling grounds that provide the perfect backdrop to outdoor weddings, receptions, and large family reunions. The grand home hosts corporate events, supper clubs, family celebrations, bridal teas, baby showers, engagement celebrations, and even small weddings.
Why It’s Unique:
The Orchard is unique because is offers a private home as well as the gated outdoor venue. The home at The Orchard was 5 spacious bedrooms with multiple beds, and 5 1/2 bathrooms. The kitchen is a chef’s dream! The pool is surrounded by a screened porch as well as an outdoord stone fireplace.
The most popular wedding package includes The Orchard Venue (grounds and entire home)
(Thursday 4:00 p.m.- Sunday 1:00 p.m.)
Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner
Bride and Bridesmaids sleepover at The Orchard & a spot to get dressed for the big day
Wedding and Reception
Bride and Groom stay at The Orchard on their wedding night
Contact: For additional information, go to their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The event venue can host corporate events,weddings, rehearsal dinners, receptions, birthday parties, baby showers and much more. It has an onsite serving kitchen for catering and parking for 50 plus vehicles.
Why It’s Unique:
This venue is perfect for small intimate gatherings, and is conveniently located with lots of parking. They also have very affordable package prices.
Fifteen 60” round tables
Ten 8’ banquet tables
100 banquet chairs
Three large screen televisions with cable
Bluetooth powered PA system with Mixer/Amp connects with phone or mobile devices
Three cordless microphones
For more information, go to their Facebook page or email email@example.com
If you are planning a wedding in the Lake Martin area, and would like to set up tours of any of our venues, or need help making arrangements for lodging, meals, and other activities, Lake Martin Tourism Association is happy to help. We can also provide welcome bags for your guests with information on all of the fun things to do in the area. Just let us know how we can be of assistance to help with your big day! Reach out to us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
So you like to be out in nature, taking in the fresh air, smelling the flowers, and feeling the sun on your skin? You enjoy the peaceful serenity of it, and maybe it is your exercise outlet also. You may be a hiker, runner, boater, kayaker, or an explorer who just likes to get out and see what treasures you can find in the beautiful outdoors. However, what if I told you there is another awesome hobby you can enjoy simultaneously? If I told you that hobby was birding, I would probably get two reactions.
The first would be the intimidated reaction. To be a “birder” sounds so official. It can sound as if the only ones who get to wear that title are those who have studied ornithology in school for many years, or those who went through years of scouting and literally earned a patch proclaiming them as a birder. It sounds like something that requires special underlying knowledge and probably a lot of travel. An actual birder is probably a person who travels the globe in search of that one rare bird, right? You probably also have the mindset that there is a lot of special equipment involved. If you are already intimidated by the hobby, you are also going to go ahead and already assume that equipment is going to break the bank.
The second reaction I would get would be those that already know they are a birder. If you are out in nature already, and enjoy watching birds when you see them, you are a birder. If it makes you smile to sit in the backyard and see the birds that show up for happy hour at your birdfeeder, surprise-you are a birder too. When I asked Sarah Randolph with Alabama Audubon how she defined birding, she said “Birding is simply the act of watching or listening to birds, or the appreciation and wonder of birds.” You can do this anywhere-even at your own home. So congratulations, if you are one that is already out enjoying the great outdoors in other ways, you are officially a birder also, because that just comes with the territory. You now get to go ahead and add birder to your list of credentials too.
No matter what category you fell into, we want to share with you just how easy it is to be a birder, and give you a few of our tips to get the most enjoyment out of this awesome hobby.
Find A Great Place to Watch Birds
You can do this anywhere-even at your own home. However, if you do want to get out and hit some areas that have been identified as great areas to see birds, there are plenty that await you. In the Lake Martin area, we have the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. This particular birding trail actually has 40 sites across 9 counties-that’s a lot of exploring for you! It covers everything from Alabama’s highest mountain to the shores of Lake Martin. You can see cool birds in these areas anytime of the year, but it will vary some by the season. Bald Eagles and Osprey soar over the lake year round, and lots of ducks tend to hang out on the lake when the weather turns a little cooler. Warblers come in droves each spring and fall, and you will see swallow-tailed kites in the summer. There is never a dull moment when it comes to birding in the Lake Martin area. Russell Lands has a naturalist that offers presentations and guided nature tours. Keep an eye on their schedule of events to see when these events are happening. Make sure to keep an eye on the event schedule for Wind Creek State Park also, as they too host educational sessions about birding and guided nature walks. Alabama Audubon also hosts field trips throughout the state.
Getting The Right Gear For Bird Watching
The first, and easiest place to watch birds is at your own home, so the first gear to get would be a couple of strategically placed bird feeders. Make sure you have them in spots where you can easily view them from far enough away. If your birding adventures take you out in nature, you may also want to have a good pair of binoculars. If you see that you enjoy waterfowl or shore birds, you may consider at some point investing in a good scope for viewing. A good field guide is also helpful to be able to identify birds that you see. You can grab one at a local bookstore or even download one on your phone.
I think the best way to get started with anything is to just get out there and do it. If you are outdoors anyway, take the time to be more observant of what is around you. By slowing down and paying attention, you will hear the melodic tunes of new feathered friends that you may have previously missed out on as you were in a hurry and less aware of your surroundings. I’m a hiker, but I’m definitely not the hiker who is trying to see how fast I can complete a trail. I’m the hiker who is easily distracted and will stop if I hear my favorite jam. In the forest, my favorite jam tends to be the song of the bluebirds. I usually hear them first, and then will find them playing and putting on a show. So my best advice is to slow down, be very aware of your senses of both sight and sound, and remember 3 important words-Just Look Up!
Learn To Identify Birds
We mentioned the field guides that show pictures of birds so that you can identify them by sight. I do suggest having one of those with you. However, many times you will hear a bird before you see it, and it is totally possible to be able to identify it by sound as well. If your friend yells your name from the other side of the room, chances are, you know who it is before you see them. You have learned their voice-and you can learn the voices of your new feathered friends too. The Merlin app has a great song ID tool that you can use. Alabama Audubon also has many courses throughout the year, including some that incorporate bird melodies into them.
Checklist of Alabama Birds
Alabama has quite a bit of diversity in the habitats that are offered to birds, and because of this, there are over 400 species of birds that can be found here. There is plenty to see without going far, and once you start seeing more, you may want to keep up with your finds. The Alabama Ornithological Society has a checklist of birds that you can see in Alabama.
Lake Level: 480 (You can always check the current lake level here.) Clarity: Lightly stained to clear Surface Temp: 52 degrees
As you see in picture of Brian Mancuso from Atlanta, we are already catching some trophy fish. This is one you would expect to be a springtime fish. The winter water temps have so far been warmer than normal, so we are catching very nice stripers both deep (downlining) and shallow (by pulling boards). The stripers are still feeding on smaller than normal bait fish, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon- probably not until March. In February there will be a few more sea gulls than usual, which is always a good thing because it’s another tool to use to locate the Lake Martin stripers. Never pass up an opportunity to graph for stripers when sea gulls are in the area. At some point in February, the Red Horse Suckers will start spawning here. They make an excellent striper bait, and when they are spawning it makes it much easier to catch them for a good day of fishing. If you come fishing on your own this month, don’t forget our lake is down an additional 3 feet from the normal winter pool. This means you are going to have many more hazard areas to avoid, so be careful and keep an eye out for the buoys. Also, I do not advise running anywhere north of the railroad trusell until we get much more water depth back in the lake. This is also the month to start booking your spring time trips with us as March, April, and May are some of our most consistent months to catch the 25-45 lb stripers Lake Martin has to offer. Who knows you might break our lake record of 52 lbs….. and yes, it was a March fish. In March of 2021, our biggest was 45 lbs and was a top water fish.
For a complete list of 2022 tournaments, click here.
Safe Boating on Lake Martin-Watching Out For the Buoys
At Lake Martin, our water level fluctuates between summer pool level and winter pool level. This year, the water level is down an additional 3 feet-for a total of 10 feet below summer pool. This can make fishing alot of fun because you can see some of those hot spots. However, with the water level lower, it is extra important to be safe and pay attention to the buoys that are there to tell you of hazards.
We are thankful that we have a wonderful non-profit group called Lake Martin Resource Association that works tirelessly to keep our water and land clean, and also to maintain our buoys.
Lake Martin is a haven of special memories for many of us. It’s a place where folks come to unwind, create family bonding moments, and tell dock-side stories that last a lifetime. It’s a timeless destination- and no wonder why it would be a perfect choice for your engagement.
When thinking of your dream place to propose, it is easy to get stumped on creative ideas. After all, it’s a story you two will share for years to come. And everyone will want to know, “how did you do it?”
And I am excited to say, I am writing this article based on my own proposal at Lake Martin, so I have a few ideas that can help you have the perfect engagement too.
Do You Know What You Want For Christmas?
This past fall, I had the dream proposal of a lifetime at Lake Martin. It honestly was like something out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. And above all, it was a complete surprise.
It was the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday to be exact. Word on the street was Santa Claus was going to be at Russell Crossroads for their annual holiday celebration, and Stephen and I thought it would a great opportunity to snap a few photos for our Christmas card this year.
When we arrived, Russell Crossroads was already buzzing with excitement from the festival, and we took our place in line with all the eager kids and their parents waiting to see Santa on the big stage. We laughed as we waited, joking about what we would say if Santa asked us what we wanted for Christmas. A weekend getaway? Our college football team winning the Iron Bowl?
Well, that’s when it happened. We finally took our seats on Santa’s lap and Stephen asked me, a bit more seriously, if I knew what I wanted for Christmas. I laughed, thinking he was still joking.
But that’s when Stephen stood up. It was in that moment that he says, “Well, I do know what I want ….”
As he got down on one knee, there was a sudden realization of what this was all about. I was overwhelmed with surprise and excitement as Stephen asked me to marry him. Santa laughed – he was just as surprised as I was! And the crowd clapped and cheered as Stephen slipped the ring on my finger.
Proposing with Santa, and both of our reactions, makes it a fun story that we now love to share with everyone who asks!
Your engagement proposal is one of the most exciting days of your life! And you too can have a fairy tale engagement at Lake Martin. Whether you are looking to put on a big show or prefer an intimate, private setting – here is our list of Top 10 places on the lake to pop the big question.
Top 10 Engagement Spots At Lake Martin
1. Smith Mountain Fire Tower
Hands down, the Smith Mountain Fire Tower has some of the most exceptional views of Lake Martin available. Along with endless hiking trails and a scenic pavilion rest stop, the tower most famously has an overlook enclosure at the very top, offering 360-degree views of both picture-perfect woods and miles of Lake Martin shorelines that stretch as far as the eye can see.
This spot makes for great photos and is stunning any time of the year too, which makes it a perfect engagement option no matter the season. Plus, visiting the tower is a fun outdoor activity that is sure to get your other half out without suspecting a thing.
If you are imaging an incredibly unique proposal with breathtaking water views, the Smith Mountain Fire Tower is my top suggestion for you.
2. A Horse Drawn Carriage Ride or Horseback Riding at The Stables
You, too, can have a storybook engagement at Russell Crossroads – and you don’t even have to wait for Santa to do it. The Stables at Russell Crossroads is a beautiful, two-story equestrian center sitting on rolling hills and acres of picturesque, wooded forest.
If you are looking for something a little more elegant yet leisurely for your proposal, The Stables offers horseback riding and horse drawn carriage rides – a perfectly romantic way to cozy up together and take in the views side by side. They even offer options to arrange private picnics in the forest.
This is also an ideal setting if you would like friends and family involved. After you pop the question, loved ones can be waiting at The Stables with champagne and cameras to celebrate the special moment.
No matter how you plan to do it, there is something so beautiful and romantic about the rustic atmosphere, which is probably why The Stables is one of the top wedding venues in the area too.
And just think – what better way to celebrate your big day than to plan your wedding at the same place you got engaged?
3. The Lighthouse At Children’s Harbor
When you think of Lake Martin, you can’t help but think of The Lighthouse. It is an iconic staple to the Lake Martin community and represents a safe harbor and peace on the waters.
This to me is the perfect location for a timeless proposal. The Lighthouse is located at Children’s Harbor and sits on the shoreline of Lake Martin, with the Kowaliga Bridge resting in the background. It’s easily one of the most photographed icons on the lake and no matter the time of day, the views are absolutely breathtaking.
You can work with the Children’s Harbor staff to reserve the location and make the moment your own. There is also a charming little white chapel onsite too, that can be reserved as a wedding venue – just saying.
4. Overlook Park At The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail
This is one of the most popular spots to visit at Lake Martin, and for a good reason!
The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail is located near the Lake Martin dam and is most notably known for its scenic trail loops and famous overlook view of the lake. This area is called “Overlook Park”, where visitors are greeted with displays about local wildlife, beautiful hiking trailheads, and one of the most iconic views of Lake Martin.
There is no shortage of places to propose at this destination. You could spend the day hiking the trails to enjoy nature and see famous sights, such as Chimney Rock. There are also picnic tables and benches at Overlook Park to enjoy a lunch together and take in the beauty of the moment. Then when you have your courage up, you can pop the question with one of the most memorable sceneries at Lake Martin.
5. Fireworks on the 4th of July at The Amp
Fourth of July is one of the most exciting holidays of the year on Lake Martin! Every year, Russell Lands hosts the largest firework show in the Southeast at The Amp, along with a concert packed with special guests and live music.
The good news there’s no boat needed to enjoy the fireworks or the concert. Guests can easily access The Amp by car and sit on the big grassy hill to enjoy views of the lake behind the stage. In my opinion, the hill makes for the perfect place to lay out a blanket, pop open a cooler, and snuggle up close to your sweetheart under the stars.
Then, as the firework show comes to a crescendo, you can pop the question while colors light up the night sky. Your proposal is sure to go off with a bang!
6. Wind Creek State Park
Wind Creek State Park is a gorgeous destination that stretches over 1,440 acres of woods and Lake Martin shoreline, complete with beautiful hiking trails and endless options for outdoor activities. It also has the largest public access to Lake Martin, offering you the opportunity to spend a fun and memorable day on the lake without having to own a boat or lake house.
There are plenty of options to include family and friends in your special day if you’d like, such as renting a pontoon boat to hit the open water or perhaps planning a mini camping trip.
Plus, there is a historic Silo at Wind Creek State Park – as old as Lake Martin itself. You can actually climb to the top of it and catch stunning sunsets and lake water views from the rooftop, making it a unique and beautiful spot to bring your significant other to wow them before asking the big question.
Check out all of the activities Wind Creek State Park has to offer and see if they spark an idea for your perfect proposal!
7. The Zipline
If you are looking for a daring and adventurous proposal, I present to you the zipline at Lake Martin! Within Wind Creek State Park is the Screaming Eagle Adventures Zipline Canopy Tour. You can take your significant other across 11 ziplines and 6 skywalks, making it an exciting and epic date leading up to your big moment.
Something unique about this zipline experience is that your guides actually take pictures at various points during your tour, capturing the most memorable sights along the way. When booking your appointment, I suggest giving them a heads up that you are planning to propose and ask your tour guide for the locations that they take the souvenir photos.
Imagine, your significant other ziplining up to a platform and you are already there, down on one knee. With their camera ready to capture the special moment, all you need to do is make sure you have steady hands and a safe place to store the ring!
8. A Dinner Proposal
Maybe you have an anniversary coming up or have been planning a romantic getaway to Lake Martin. If you are looking for a table setting to pop the question, the good news is you have endless options. Here are my top two picks:
For an elegant dinner proposal, SpringHouse at Russell Crossroads immediately comes to mind. Nestled on rolling country hills, SpringHouse has one of the most unique settings and menus on the lake. Set the tone with their southern inspired cuisine and a few glasses of wine, then make your way to the beautiful walking path through the woods. As the sun begins to set and fireflies glow in the trees, it makes for a fairytale moment to ask for your other half’s hand in marriage.
If you are looking for a casual dining experience with water views, my top suggestion would be Kowaliga Restaurant. It has a lake lodge feeling to it and pays homage to the great Hank Williams and his famous song, “Kow-liga”. Even better are the sunsets and lake views. Kowaliga sits on the shoreline of Lake Martin and has a beautiful wrap around porch and small beach area. It would be a great place to have dinner with family and friends or enjoy a sunset together as a couple before making your big ask. Check out all of the lakefront dining options on Lake Martin here.
9. Sunset On The Water
You can’t go wrong with a classic proposal on the Lake Martin waters. After enjoying a day visiting iconic locations such as Goat Island, Chimney Rock, and Pirate Island, you and your sweetheart can set sail to just about anywhere that there is open water and catch a famous Lake Martin sunset.
As you watch the sun slip beneath the horizon and brilliant colors paint the sky, you can pull out your ring and let it sparkle as you ask your love to marry you. To make sure you get your timing just right, visit Sunrise-Sunset.org for the exact sunset time for that day.
10. A Meaningful Place You And Your Partner Share On Lake Martin
Maybe it’s the location of your first visit to the lake? Or favorite place to catch the sunrise?
From fishing trips, to endless restaurants and adventures- choose a place on Lake Martin that holds a special memory for the two of you. Your significant other will love that you included a personal touch to your proposal and it will be a happy memory to begin your new journey.
It can feel like lot of pressure on making sure you get the proposal right, but the most important thing is to remember to make the moment about the two of you. Hopefully this list gives you some ideas to find the perfect place to start your own Lake Martin memories!
And after your significant other says, “yes,” be sure to check out our upcoming article on Wedding Venues at Lake Martin to say, “I do!”
With Christmas and New Year’s behind us, I bet you thought you were finished with the holidays for awhile. However, one of my favorite annual holidays is coming up, and I wanted to make sure you were aware of it too. Tuesday, January 25th is National Plan for Vacation Day! This is a special day started by the U. S. Travel Association several years ago where we are encouraged to plan our time off. We work hard, and we deserve that vacation time. Let’s face it though, as we get further into the year, and busy with work, school, and other projects, we often don’t take the time to actually sit down and think or talk about what travels we want to accomplish that year. As we get busier, and time goes on, it gets much easier to say “Oh, we will do that someday,” or “Maybe next year.” Let’s break that bad habit now! If we have learned anything from the past couple of years, it is to appreciate the time that we have with the ones that we love. It is our duty to make time to make those memories. It is time to realign our priorities to focus on doing something that makes us happy this year, and experiencing something new. I promise you, work will be there when you return.
Things to Think About as You Get Ready For National Plan For Vacation Day
– What type of experience do you want and need this year? Do you need a laid back relaxing trip with someone bringing you drinks as you lay by the water? Or do you want to be hiking mountains and seeing the world from a view you have never seen?
-Who do you want to make memories with this year? Your family? Your friends? Your dog or cat? Yourself? There is no right or wrong answer to this. And solo travel is totally acceptable. If there is something you want to see or do and it’s not the vibe of the rest of your crew, leave them at home. You don’t want to someday say you didn’t do that one thing because nobody else wanted to go.
-What destinations offer the type of experience you are seeking? Maybe you already know the answer to this question because it is something you have been dreaming about for quite some time. If you don’t though, get online and start exploring!
-Research what time of year is the best time to experience what you most desire. When I wanted to see the northern lights in Iceland, I planned my trip down to the very week. I even based it on the moon phase and amount of light that would be in the sky. It’s never guaranteed, but I did see those northern lights and it was fantastic! For most things, you may not have to get that specific on timing, but you do want to know the best time of year to go. For example, if you are wanting to catch a Striper, the cooler months are really great, and you have several months to choose from. You may also want to take into consideration weather, peak times, lower travel prices at different times of the year, etc.
So that gives you a few things to think about as you get ready for National Plan for Vacation Day. Now, let’s look at a few fun ways to celebrate and start planning.
If you don’t know where you want to go:
-For the very open minded: Hang a map of the world on the wall, put on a blindfold, walk up with a marker and put an X on your destination. No cheating-wherever you select is where you go
-For those travelling with others: Have a get together that night with the family or friends that you intend to travel with. You can do this even if you aren’t able to be together. My best friends all live in different locations, but platforms like Zoom bring us all together! Zoom Happy Hours are definitely a thing, and if you have friends in other places, you have to try it. You have a couple of options with this whether you are physically together or just virtually together. You can select one person that gets to make the destination choice for that year, or you can have each person choose a place of interest and you discuss the options. I have even heard of families having each person put together a fun Powerpoint presentation on where they want to go. Everyone then votes and that is their vacation for the year. You can also write the options on pieces of paper and draw from a hat. There are several ways to do this, but the important thing is to commit to a destination.
-For those travelling alone or with pets: The world is your oyster, and you can do anything you want to do. This is a great position to be in. What is it that your heart most desires to see or do? This year, you get to do that. There is nobody that can change your plans and once you commit to that destination or experience, start your planning!
-For those on a budget: Vacation does not have to be an expensive thing. You don’t have to leave the country to have a great time. You don’t even have to leave the state, or your town for that matter. Sometimes just grabbing a tent and heading out to camp in your own town is the best getaway. You are away from home and your daily responsibilities, and you still have a chance to have a completely different experience from your everyday routine. My favorite trips involve being outdoors. There is just something about fresh air, trees, and water that rejuvenates my soul. There are definitely ways to have this experience on a smaller budget. Your vacation can also be a long weekend-you don’t have to be away for weeks at a time. If you do need a little more money for the experience you are dreaming about, start saving now. The great thing about planning for vacation in January is that you can start budgeting sooner. Look at the areas where you can save. For example, if you are spending $10 to eat out everyday, start making your lunch at home. That $10 over the course of a year will save you $3,650. That’s a good amount of money to put toward your next adventure!
Making the Commitment
While you don’t have to plan the whole trip on January 25, there are a few commitments that you can make on that day.
-Pick your destination
-Pick your dates
-Put in your PTO for those dates now so that your employer can plan accordingly for you to be absent from work
-Post a picture of your destination on social media and tell the world about your goal. Once you tell others your goal, you are more likely to keep it.
-If others are coming along on the trip, delegate tasks of who will plan what parts of the trip.
-Order a vacation guide from the destination of your choice. If you are interested in visiting the Lake Martin area, you can order one here.
Now that you have made the commitment of where you are going, when you are going, and who you are going with, the fun really begins! Aside from the actual trip, the dreaming and planning phases can be pretty exciting too! If others are going with you, let everyone get involved-even the kids. Let them pick one thing they want to see or do. Someone can be responsible for picking lodging, activities, meals, etc. Letting everyone pick at least one small aspect of the trip gets everyone excited and gives them all something to look forward to.
When I have been planning a trip, I have often printed off a picture of where I was going and taped it to the top of my computer monitor. Whenever I was working, I would frequently gaze at that photo and it gave me instant happiness and motivation. I truly believe that seeing that made me work harder, because it showed me what I was working toward.
Get Your Free Zoom Backgrounds To Show Off Your Vacation Choice
In honor of National Plan for Vacation Day this year, Lake Martin Tourism Association has created a special little gift for you. Instead of taping that picture to your computer monitor like me, we have something even better to help you get excited about that trip if your travels happen to be bringing you to Lake Martin. As a way to show off to others where you are headed, we have chosen some of our favorite spots, and created free virtual backgrounds for you to use on your next virtual meeting, featuring some of the coolest spots on and around the lake. You can also use them as free downloadable wallpaper for your computer and mobile devices. We hope this helps you as you get excited about your trip!
If you want to know more about the Lake Martin area, get some insider tips from some of our locals here.
And if you need one on one help, you can reach out to me directly anytime email@example.com and I am happy to give you advice on the area.
Whether your travels bring you to Lake Martin, or someplace else in the world, I just ask one thing of you-make the commitment to make the memories this year. You deserve it!
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ve heard the phrase, “Winter is Coming.” Well, winter is here, and at Lake Martin, that is a good thing! It has brought with it a playground full of fun for us self-proclaimed adventurers and explorers.
It’s no secret that we in Lake Martin live for those summer days on the lake. We love feeling that warm sun on our skin, and whether we are wakeboarding, skiing, boating, catching Friday on the Green at Russell Crossroads, chilling on the beach at Wind Creek State Park, or just hanging out at one of our favorite lakeside places sipping on a cold Bushwacker, summertime at Lake Martin is like no other place. If I was a betting woman, I would bet that most around here would tell you that summer was their favorite time of year. Today though, I speak in defense of one of my favorite seasons. I want to tell you why winter at the lake is so special-and why this winter holds special significance.
The one big change that happens on the lake in the fall/winter is the lowering of the water level. You can read more about that here. Most years, Alabama Power lowers the lake 7 feet, but every 6 years, they lower the water level an additional 3 feet. This year is that special year, and currently, the water level is 10 feet below what it is during the summer. This means that those with lakefront property can do work on their docks and seawalls, but it also lends a little treat to us explorers.
One of my favorite people that I have had the opportunity to do some exploring with is Mr. Harold Banks. You have probably heard that name before, as he is the namesake of the Harold Banks Canoe Trail. In 2009, he became the first person to solo paddle the entire 258 miles of the Tallapoosa River from its origins in Paulding County, Georgia, to its end at Fort Toulouse near Wetumpka, Alabama. In 2015, the 25 mile stretch located in Tallapoosa and Chambers counties was named in his honor. Paddling that trail is an adventure in itself and you can learn more about that here.
Although Harold is probably most widely known for that paddling voyage in his little red canoe, he is a man of many adventures. When we were on one of those adventures last summer, I remember him telling me of the special significance of this winter. Knowing I am one that loves picking up rocks along my path and seeing the unique formations that can only be found in central Alabama, he explained to me the treasures that we would find as the water level started dropping. I’m not talking about lost treasure chests around Pirate Island, although that is actually a real place on Lake Martin. I’m also not talking about the lost diamond rings that Susie lost while skiing, although with the water level lower, those kinds of treasures exist also. It’s definitely the best time to take out the metal detector or go magnet fishing. The treasures that Harold explained to me are the things that us explorers appreciate most-new trails for us to hike and exposed geologic wonders that are usually hidden beneath the waters of Lake Martin. I couldn’t keep this all to myself, so I wanted to share two of this favorite things about this time of year.
Hike The Island Hop Trail at Smith Mountain
Smith Mountain hiking trails are maintained by the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association, and are a great place to access the exposed shoreline. You can hike the Lakeshore Trail that hugs pristine, still wild shoreline, until you come to the Island Hop Trail which crosses land bridges to 4 islands that are accessible only during the low winter pool. The entire exposed lakeshore opens up many miles of walking possibilities to explore nature. You can look for unusual pieces of driftwood, hunt for arrowheads, and find freshwater mussels as big as your hand.
Take advantage of these special trails while you can though, because once the water starts rising in the spring, you won’t be able to access them until the following winter. And don’t forget, it will be another 6 years before you can explore them to the extent you can right this second. And as a bonus, hiking any of the trails at Smith Mountain also counts toward your completion of the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge.
Explore The Geology Of The Lake Martin Area
Collecting pretty rocks is another great activity during the winter months at Lake Martin. Even during the summer, I am one of those people that gets overly fascinated with the geological finds in the area. Every time I get ready for a hike and go to pick up my hiking bag, I wonder why it is so heavy…. until I open it up and remember all of the great finds I found on the previous voyage. While the water is down, you are able to uncover even more great treasures.
Did you know that Tallapoosa County is nationally known as a rockhound super site because of the abundance and diversity of minerals?
This area has seen violent geologic upheaval. To oversimplify, the Lake Martin area lies along a line where the ancestral continents to Africa and North America once collided, then split apart. Extensive volcanic activity and massive earthquakes reshaped the earth. Three parallel fault lines still pass right through the Lake Martin area.
Layers of rock have been twisted and folded over to create complexity seen few other places. You must peel back the vegetation and topsoil to reveal this complicated geology, and the receding waters of Lake Martin expose where that occurred. Harold told me he has found garnets bigger than marbles laying on top of the ground. He also says he has found smaller gem quality garnets embedded in schist, large sheets of mica, and quartz crystals. There are some areas where the patterns and colors of exposed rock resemble abstract art masterpieces, and it is hard to fathom that these scenes are natural.
A Few More Cool Things To See During The Winter At Lake Martin
We have hundreds of miles of shoreline surrounding Lake Martin, and Harold says that you will find miracles of nature in every mile. Take it all in and enjoy it. You may even have an opportunity to get a glimpse of migratory waterfowl visiting from far away, see fox squirrels and turkeys, or even catch a deer swimming across a narrow, shallow channel. His advice though is to get out there and just start walking. The water level will start rising on February 17th. It will rise slowly, and you can always keep up with the current water level here. Right now though, while the water level is at the lowest it will be for 6 years, it is absolutely the best time to be out there finding those unique treasures.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Mr. Harold Banks for his input in this article, and for his mentorship in exploring central Alabama.
Ahhh… the Polar Plunge. A classic and entertaining event where hundreds to possibly thousands of people across the globe strip down into their bare nothings and race into a freezing cold body of water. It’s thrilling, it’s daunting… and it’s for a good cause!
Though I have always suspected the Polar Plunge was a decently newer event created by my generation, I couldn’t be more wrong. The concept has actually been around since the early 1900s, with the first one taking place in Boston, MA, in 1904. It has swept the world in popularity, with plunges in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and even South Korea. And we can’t forget about the one in Antarctica, where every year scientists plunge into the icy waters as a rite of passage. Yikes!
The 2022 Lake Martin Polar Plunge will take place Saturday, January 15th at Kowaliga Restaurant, with doors opening at 10am.
The good news is cocktails will be ready to be served when the doors open for anyone who may need a little liquid courage before the plunge! All guests will receive 4 tickets for food set up in corresponding stations from Kowaliga Restaurant’s special Polar Plunge menu.
The plunge itself will take place on the beach at noon. In years past, anywhere from 200 to 300 people have attended as spectators to watch as brave souls race into the frigid Lake Martin waters. It is said that typically 100 participants actually take the plunge, which surely makes for good entertainment.
For any newbies like myself, you may be wondering… how far do you actually go in? Typically, plungers will just run a short distance into the water and then run back out. How far in you want to go is completely up to you!
In addition to the main plunge, there will be several contests as well with cash prizes. “Dash For The Cash” is a short race out to a buoy, placed approximately 25 yards out from shore. Participants swim out to the buoy, circle it, and then race back to land. The first swimmer back wins a $100 cash prize.
The second contest is for the best Polar Plunge costume. Dressing up in unique costumes is not required but has become a fun, funky tradition for the event. The Lake Martin Polar Plunge has seen everything from Mary Poppins to nuns to the Statue of Liberty… and even a dinosaur! There is no theme to the costume contest, so you can get as creative and outgoing as you’d like. Anonymous judges will be walking around and sizing up the costumes, and the winner will be walking away with a $100 cash prize.
All events and contests will be wrapped up by 12:30pm. Changing station tents will be set up for participants to quickly get out of their wet clothes and into something a little more comfortable to enjoy the rest of the hangout celebration.
The remaining portion of the Polar Plunge is a family friendly event, with live music, lawn games, s’mores, burn barrels, and much more! This is such a fun day to kick off the new year and support the local Lake Martin community.
Plunging For A Cause
Even though the Polar Plunge is a fun-filled and silly day, more importantly, it is a great way to give back to the community. Traditionally the Polar Plunge event supports a local charity or nonprofit, and this year the Lake Martin Polar Plunge will benefit the Lake Martin Resource Association, or LMRA. LMRA advocates for the safety and cleanliness of Lake Martin. Not only do they organize multiple trash cleanup initiatives throughout the year, but the organization also oversees the hazard buoys for boaters on the lake, repairing and replacing dozens of damaged, expensive buoys every year.
This year, LMRA wants to invest raised funds from the Lake Martin Polar Plunge in lighted buoys for the lake.
Tickets for the Lake Martin Polar Plunge are $30, which includes a food ticket, day of entertainment, and funds to LMRA. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or you can purchase there here ahead of time.
Tips For A Successful Plunge
If this is your first year taking the plunge, here are some helpful tips from past pros to make sure it is a fun and memorable experience!
Tip #1: Wear Water Shoes or Socks
The shore can be rocky while running in, and you can’t always be sure what will be underneath your feet. Wearing water shoes or a pair of socks will help protect your feet and possibly give you that extra grip to get out of the cold water quickly!
Tip #2: Wear A Smart Plunge Outfit
Although many will be decked out in fun and outrageous costumes, most will be in either a swimsuit or clothing. Be sure your plunge outfit is something without a lot of buttons, zippers, or snaps and is something you can quickly change out of. Remember, the water will be cold, and your fingers will more than likely be pretty numb, making buttons your worst enemy. Loose-fitting clothing is easy to pull off your soaking wet body as well as to change into afterwards.
Tip #3: Bring a Towel and Change of Clothes
After you come racing out of the freezing cold waters, smiling and proud, the first thing you will want to reach for is a towel to dry off and a warm set of clothes. My suggestion would be to have a spare change of clothes close by that are loose-fitting and easy to pull on, such as a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and even sweatpants. You may want to consider bringing a bag to place your wet clothes or swimsuit into afterwards. And no worries about where to change. There will be tents set up at Kowaliga Restaurant for participants to switch into their dry clothes, so we can all enjoy the remainder of the day hanging out warm and dry with fellow plungers.
Tip #4: No Need to Be the First One In
If this is your first time taking the plunge, there is no need to fight to be the first one in the water. There can be 100+ people running into the lake behind you; so if you get into the chilly water and decide you want back out quickly, this could prove to be very difficult. My suggestion would be to hang back and let the pros dive in first- then follow suit so you can comfortably go as deep into the water as you would like.
Tip #5: Enjoy the Experience
Yes, it will be cold. And yes, you may think about chickening out. But participating in the Lake Martin Polar Plunge will not only give you bragging rights for a year; it will also be a fun memory and story to tell your friends and family about for years to come.
The biggest piece of advice I have heard from the Polar Plunge pros is to just run in and “rip it off like a band aid,” so to speak. And once you are there, shivering and numb in the water, enjoy the experience for what it is- for those few precious moments, you are one of the craziest and most daring members of the Lake Martin community.
Water Level: 482 (You can always check the current lake level here.)
Surface Temp: 60
Clarity: Clear to lightly stained
December was awesome striper fishing. We were catching them every single day- and lots of them! Yep it’s cold, but that just turns Lake Martin Stripers on!! The colder it is, the better the bite. Our best day ever so far (quantity wise) was 3 Januarys ago. I had 5 clients on my boat and they boated 92 in 5 hrs. (And no, we did not keep all of them.) This month I don’t see any reason we can’t do that again, or possibly even break that record catch. One of the many things our clients like about January fishing is we don’t have to go as early because the bite is good all day long-and it’s not an issue if we aren’t on the water at daylight. I’ll personally be doing two different types of approaches to catch these beasts. One is down lining live bait in water approximately 40-60 feet deep. The other approach is for the clients that want mainly big quality stripe. For them, I’ll be pulling planer boards with huge shad in shallow water. Believe me, there’s some giants waiting for some big baits in that shallow water! As in many different months here on Lake Martin, January is another month that stripers will be roaming the entire 44,000 acres and 800 miles of shorelines. There isn’t a bad place this time of year to try your luck at the stripers.
As always please wear your PFD, because if you unfortunately end up in the frigid waters here, you will not make it long before you cramp up and find yourself in a world of trouble. Also this year the lake is down 10 ft + or – and for those not used to these changes in water depth, the shallow and dangerous areas can catch you off guard quick. One thing I always do is let someone (if not several people) know where I’m launching from, and what area I intend to fish in just in case I have an accident. That way, they would at least have a starting point to look for me.
Alexander City is home to some of the best local shopping, family entertainment, and events in the Lake Martin community. It is also home to the most diverse Sportplex in the region. Of course, when I hear the word “Sportplex,” athletic activities automatically come to mind. And even though it is a paradise for sports lovers, there are so many different activities you can do in addition to just, well, sports.
If you are looking to pick up a hobby or try something new, here is my list of four fun things that I encourage you to try (that you might not have known existed) at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex!
Join a Sports League or Club Activity
The Alexander City Sportplex is the perfect place to pick up a new hobby, activity, or even join a community sports team… no matter what age you are!
It is no question that the Alexander City Sportplex is one of the best community sports facilities around the Southeast. Perhaps what the Sportplex is most known for in the community are its sports fields. There are 20 fields total that are dedicated for hosting youth games, as well as state and regional tournaments. Teams travel to Alexander City from far and wide to hold their sporting events, and they are equally fun for spectators to watch!
When there aren’t games in action, the fields are open for public use… which brings me to the first item on this list: taking up a hobby or joining a league at the Sportplex.
The Alexander City Sportplex is home to a vast variety of adult sports leagues that are led by members in the local community. These leagues cover everything from adult kickball to softball, and even flag football! The Sportplex is always adding new and exciting teams and leagues to their lineup, keeping it new and fresh year after year. You can check in with the Sportplex here for an update on registration and start dates for leagues year-round.
If you’re looking for a hobby that is a little less competitive, the Senior Center hosts a variety of clubs and activities for anyone 50 years and older. This includes bingo, quilting clubs, exercise classes, various games, and social events. My recommendation would be to check out the square-dancing nights hosted every month!
No matter what age you are, the Alexander City Sportplex has an activity waiting for you to join!
Spend Time Outdoors on the Nature Trail or at the Dog Park
As an avid hiker and runner myself, I can more than appreciate having such a diverse hiking trail right in our backyard. The hiking trail at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex is a scenic 3-mile trek throughout the woods where runners and walkers alike can catch fresh air and see various wildlife year round. Because of its beauty and accessibility, the trail has been added to the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge. The cool thing is, just walking a portion of it will get you one step closer to earning your hiking challenge patch. Another fun fact – the trail is also a part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, which highlights the best public locations for bird watching year round. My recommendation is to wear a comfy pair of tennis shoes and hit the trail with a set of binoculars to try and see how many different types of wildlife you can spot!
If you are bringing a four-legged friend to join you on your walk, I also highly recommend stopping by the newly renovated dog park. I personally can’t think of a happier place to be. This fenced in area is located just behind the girls softball field and allows for pups to run free, make new friends, and be the “goodest” of boys while playing on the obstacle course designed for dogs. The renovations include brand new fencing, a sitting area, and various dog attractions.
Walking the hiking trail and playing in the dog park sounds like the perfect afternoon outdoors to me!
Make a Splash
Even with the lake in our back yard, there are some ways to make a splash without hitting the lake. If your kids have had their fill of swimming, I have an equally fun option for you. Let me introduce you to the Splashplex. This is an incredibly popular play area for parents to bring their little ones to get wet and wild in the sun. Even better, it is also wheelchair accessible with a sidewalk leading right up to the entrance.
The Splashplex is a seasonal adventure and runs by the rule of thumb that it opens when the weather is warm enough to get in, until the days are too cold.
Check Out the Lake Martin Rodeo
This one may be somewhat of a surprise to a lot of readers, but the Alexander City Sportplex is also home to a couple of the biggest seasonal events around the lake each year. My personal favorite and go to recommendation for this one is the Lake Martin Rodeo!
Thousands of visitors flood into Alexander City for the rodeo weekend every year-and for good reason! Hosted at the horse riding area at the Sportplex, the Rodeo is slam packed with family friendly entertainment, live music, vendors, a petting zoo, rodeo clowns, and even a mechanical bull for anyone brave enough to give it a try.
Something that really intrigued me at the rodeo is an event called “Mutton Busting”. This was a new concept for me, and I absolutely love it. The idea behind the Mutton Busting event is for young kids to get to experience their own “softer” version of a rodeo by riding sheep inside an enclosed arena. The kids try to stay on the sheep as long as possible, and the last child riding wins an award. Of course, all kids are limited to a safe weight for the sheep, and this is designed to be a fun way to engage the youngsters.
But what really has everyone talking are the main acts. In years past, the rodeo has consisted of eight professional events that headline the evening with a series of specialty acts in between. These are pulled in from all across the Southeast and Midwest and include everything from trick riders to Spanish bull fighters. And the good news is all of the acts are rotated every year, so even if you attend back to back rodeos, you’ll never see the same show twice.
The Alexander City Sportplex is a diverse and fun environment for the entire family- even the furry pups! This article is a great introduction to everything the Sportplex has to offer, but there is so much more to discover. From sports to events, and everything in between, I encourage you to check it out for yourself and take full advantage of all the wonderful activities you can find at the Alexander City Sportplex!
Another wonderful year at Lake Martin is coming to an end and there is excitement as a new one is just around the corner. For everyone who is looking to ring in the new year at the lake, here are my suggestions for an unforgettable time this New Year’s Eve!
For An Early Bird New Year’s Eve
I have spent many a New Year out celebrating well beyond midnight. But to be honest, some of my favorite ones were spent at home and laying comfortably in bed by the time the ball dropped!
This option is for those who still want to go out and celebrate ringing in the new year, but like me, sometimes prefer to be home early with our own bottle of champagne. For the early bird New Year’s Eve goers, Zazu’s Verandah has you covered!
Zazu’s Verandah is a cozy and newly restored event space located in the Dadeville Town Square. They will be rocking this New Year’s Eve with live music starting at 7pm as well as plenty of wine and beer for sale. The best part is, the ball drops at 10pm at Zazu’s Verandah, so you can call it an early night and still have a great evening of memories to remember New Year’s Eve.
For additional information on Zazu’s Verandah New Year’s celebrations, you can call 256-307-2188.
For A New Year’s Eve With Kids
I remember several years growing up as a kid where my siblings and I would stay up late to watch the ball drop with our parents. It was always an exciting experience to try and keep our eyes open till midnight and finally reach the big countdown! I have also heard hilarious stories of my friends, now grown up and parents themselves, faking a ball drop at 8pm so they could send their kids off to bed early.
Luckily for all of the parents reading this, I found a fun New Year’s Eve option that you can do together with your kids this year. Niffer’s Place is hosting a family-friendly countdown celebration on New Year’s Eve. If you’ve never been to Niffer’s Place on Lake Martin, now is the time to try it out. It is located in Dadeville, and is known to have the best burger menu on the lake as well as a fun, vibrant atmosphere which makes it perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
The New Year’s Eve family-friendly countdown is their most popular event of the year, complete with party hats, great food, and tons of excitement for parents and kiddos. And if you are looking for an early night, you’re in luck. Niffer’s holds their countdown at 7pm and tops off their event off with a sparkling juice toast!
If a family fun New Year’s Eve is just what you are looking for, then be sure to reserve your table now for December 31st as they go quickly. You can check out more information on their Facebook page.
For A Casual New Year’s Eve
I have done my fair share of dressing up for New Year’s Eve, but sometimes I just want to leave the heels at home and have a good old-fashion night out. If this is a little more up your alley, I have two perfect places for you to check out.
The first one on my list is Alexander City’s newest bar-The Local at 41 Main. It’s located right in the heart of Downtown Alex City and has a charming, welcoming vibe that makes you feel right at home as soon as you walk through the front door.
I put this one first on my list as they get started early on New Year’s Eve. The Local opens their doors at 2pm and will have all the college football games on television-and they will be serving up plenty of cocktails to get you warmed up for the night. One drink in particular that caught my attention on social media was their “Skrewball Smores” drink – a hot chocolate and peanut butter whiskey cocktail topped with whipped cream and graham cracker crumbles. I could easily have a few of those before starting my New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds! Then starting at 8pm on New Year’s Eve, The Local will have live music gearing up with Bo Jones, and will be handing out party favors for guests. And of course, the evening will be topped off with a champagne toast at midnight to ring in the new year! This is the perfect spot to spend your NYE on the Alexander City side of the lake. Check out more about The Local on their Facebook page.
The second option on my list for a casual New Year’s Eve is spending the evening at Copper’s Grill at Stillwaters. Copper’s Grill is located at the Stillwaters golf course and is a beautiful venue overlooking the green. They are known for their delicious food menu, great service, and my favorite – live music.
For New Year’s Eve this year, Copper’s Grill is offering an exclusive experience for ticketed guests starting at 6pm. This will include a delicious food buffet as well as an open bar. Then starting at 9pm, Copper’s Grill turns into a come one, come all atmosphere! Everyone is welcome to join in the celebration with lots of dancing, party favors, and DJ Marky Mark rocking the tunes until the ball drops at midnight. And of course, a complimentary champagne toast will have us all cheering, “Happy New Year!”
I may leave my heels at home, but I’ll be sure to bring my boogie shoes! Copper’s Grill attire for the night is casual and comfortable, but they welcome anyone to come dressed in their New Year’s best if they choose!
For more information on their NYE celebrations or to reserve tickets for the exclusive portion of their event, call: 256-373-3536. You can also stay up to date on their Facebook page.
For A Fancy New Year’s Eve
One of the best ways to celebrate December 31st is going all out, dressing to the nines, and completely pampering yourself. And why not? It’s an evening designed to reflect on the year past and celebrate a new beginning.
If this style of celebration is more your speed of things for New Year’s Eve, SpringHouse at Russell Crossroads is my suggestion for you. SpringHouse prides themselves on being a dining experience unlike any other, with foods inspired by the history of the region and flavors locally sourced to create their own masterpieces of southern classical cuisine. And of course, their New Year’s Eve dinner is no exception.
This year SpringHouse is hosting a lavish eight-course wine dinner to celebrate the New Year, featuring an array of their favorite dishes to date and promising to be their best experience yet! The evening kicks off at 5:30pm with traditional seating for guests to gather and share this elaborate experience together.
If a wine and dine night out is what you are looking for this New Year’s Eve, be sure to secure your seat early by contacting (256) 215-7080. You can also find the New Year’s Eve menu posted on the SpringHouse Facebook page.
For An Outdoor New Year’s
There is nothing like kicking off a brand-new year with a refreshing hike and taking in the beautiful views of Lake Martin! And as an avid hiker myself, this is perhaps my favorite option of all.
Wind Creek State Park is hosting hikers of all ages on New Year’s Day to join in the fun of their annual First Day Hike along the Campfire Trail. This is especially exciting, as the Campfire Trail winds not only through the beautiful forest at Wind Creek State Park, but it also peaks around the shorelines of Lake Martin, so hikers are able to take in all the beautiful waterfront views as well.
Speaking from experience, be sure to bring your cameras so you can snap photos of all the wonderful wildlife and stunning views to remember your first day of 2022 by. You can also bring along a pair of binoculars to catch birds and animals at play. You may even spot an eagle or osprey!
On January 1st, 2022, hikers will be meeting at the North Picnic Trailhead at 11am for the 1.8-mile loop. The trail difficulty is moderate and suggested for persons 4 years and older. And of course, leashed pets are welcome! For more information, please call 256-329-0845 or email Scottie.Jackson@dcnr.alabama.gov
And those are my top New Year’s suggestions for you! Hopefully with all of these options, you will surely find the perfect way to celebrate the new year! And as 2021 comes to an end, I want to wish you and your loved ones a very prosperous and happy New Year filled with joy, cheer, and adventure!
Peacefulness. Clarity. Creativeness. Appreciation for the world around me. Those are just a few of the things I feel when I experience nature in solitude. Don’t get me wrong-I love enjoying the great outdoors with my friends and family, and having those experiences with them. But just like in our everyday lives, we need that balance of companionship and alone time-and we need that in our time in nature as well. If you hike a trail with others, and go back and hike that same trail alone, and you will notice that you will have a completely different experience-and both bring tremendous value.
When you are alone, you have the ability to really be at one with nature. You have the time to stop and smell the flowers-literally-if you so choose. If you want to stop and smell the sweet aroma of those flowers for an hour, you can do so. You are not on anyone else’s time schedule, and are under no pressure to complete your hike in a certain amount of time. If you want to sit and listen to the sound of the bluebirds singing their melodic tune, you can do that. I also notice that when I am alone in nature, with no words to share with others, the clutter of my mind disappears, and I find clarity in my thoughts. If there are concerns I am experiencing at that time, it’s as if I am able to hear the answers within the winds of the pine trees. With that freeing feeling also comes a little creativity. With the things that keep us busy and hold us back in our crazy everyday lives, the solitude and peacefulness of nature allows our minds to open and truly be able to think. Some of the best ideas I have ever had have been born from one solo walk in nature.
Of course with all of the positive things that come along with this solitary time in the great outdoors, there are still some things that you need to think about in order to make your experience as pleasurable and as safe as possible. There will always be people who tell you how dangerous the world is. The truth is, if you aren’t safe and aware of your surroundings in any situation, there can be hazards. Trust me though, you can do this! There are definitely ways to prepare for your solo hike, and be safe. By preparing and taking precautions, you are able to truly allow yourself the comfort level to experience nature as you should. I have been exploring nature on my own for many years, and whether I am alone or with a friend, I always have pepper spray on one hip and a knife on the other. I have never needed to use either of those things, but it is something that brings me comfort. The tips I am going to share with you are certainly not meant to be a comprehensive list of all things to take into consideration when solo hiking. Different people will swear by the importance of other things, such as hiking poles, a first aid kit, and bug spray. These are definitely important too. However, my mission today is simply to give you a place to start. These are five basic practices that I always try to remember in an effort to make my hikes as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Research Your Journey
Before you take on any hike alone, or even with a hiking partner for that matter, I encourage you to learn about the trail you intend to hike. This is especially true for those newer to hiking, but it is even a good idea for those more experienced. Every trail is different, and honestly, that is one of the things I like the most about hiking. However, each one comes with their own challenges and it is good to know which ones have steeper terrain and are most suited for those with more hiking experience. It is also very important to know the length of the hike, know how well marked the trail is, and know if it is a loop or a trail that you will hike and turn around to come back. If the trail is a loop, the mileage noted will show the entire length of your hike. However, for one way hikes where you will have to turn around and come back to your starting point, double check to make sure if the mileage noted is for one way or roundtrip.
There are many places to find information on established trails, and people in the hiking community are some of the friendliest you will ever meet. There is always someone willing to share their experiences on certain trails and give you information to prepare you for your journey.
No matter where you are heading, you can always check out the local tourism office website. Here in the Lake Martin area, the website ExploreLakeMartin.com has great info on the local trails-and even has details on a hiking challenge that they do.
AllTrails is a great website to get information on trails all over the world, and be able to see reviews from others. Wherever you are, it’s also not hard to find local hiking groups on social media. Here in the Lake Martin area, there is a Facebook group called Lake Martin Hikers. There is also another great group called Alabama Outdoor Adventurer. While that particular one caters to trails across the state, you will frequently see people posting about the trails in our area. I have found people to be very nice and supportive in both, and if you have questions about a certain trail, there is always someone ready to jump in the conversation and tell you everything you need to know. These also tend to be good places for inspiration and have helped me find new trails to hike.
Let Someone Know Where You Will Be Hiking
Before I head out on any hike, I always tell someone I am heading out into the woods. I have never had an issue where anyone has had to come looking for me, but it is better to be safe and at least have someone know where you are. It’s also great to share your location with a friend or family member. Modern technology makes this super easy. I am an iPhone user, but admittedly I am not what you would call a techie. All I have to do though is click on a contact in my phone, and go down to the area where it says “Share My Location.” It gives you options to share your location for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely. I suggest choosing indefinitely, because you can always go back at the end of your hike and stop sharing. Again, I have never had an instance where someone has had to come looking for me. However, I do think it gives me a little more confidence that if I did fall and twist my ankle or something unexpected happened, there is always someone who knows where I am and can easily find me. We don’t like to think about unforeseen circumstances, and I have had countless solo hikes that have been completely safe, but this is one important thing that I ask that you do before heading out into the woods alone.
One of the most important things about enjoying the outdoors is hydration. During the summer months, it is extra critical to watch the temperature and be careful about going out during extreme heat. Even if it feels fine when you step outside, you don’t know the coverage that awaits you on the trail. A trail that looks like it has a lot of shade and canopy at the beginning of the journey, may have no coverage at all a mile in. Being exposed to the direct sun can overheat you quickly. During the summer there are times that you may want to forgo that hike altogether, or turn around if you see that the terrain and lack of canopy have the capability to expose you to direct sunlight. Heat stroke is no joke and is not something you want to experience-especially on your own. Of course you want to make sure you have more than enough water on those summer hikes, but you may not pay as much attention to staying hydrated in the fall and winter. Don’t get too comfortable and forgo carrying water along though. Even when you are out in the cooler months, you will still be exerting energy and need to make sure you stay hydrated. In my opinion, the backpacks with a bladder are by far one of the easiest ways to carry water. These bags have a removable bladder which you can fill with water, and they have a tube that allows you to drink directly from the bag. There’s actually several brands to choose from, and they are eco-friendly and super easy to carry around. I received a CamelBak as a gift several years ago and I love it. I’ve only had to replace the bladder once, and it has been one of the most used gifts I have ever received.
Have The Right Shoes
I also can’t undermine the importance of having the right shoes. Cinderella’s whole life changed because of one shoe, and once you hit the trails, you will quickly see how life will change with the right shoes too. I remember life before the right shoes. Your typical walking/running shoes are fine for flat paths. However, the first time I hit a trail with inclines and steep sides, I realized the lack of grip I had. It wasn’t just a comfort issue, it was a safety issue. Of course the wrong shoes pose a risk whether you are alone or with others, but that consequences increase if you are alone. After that hike, I took myself to a local outdoors store that day and started trying on hiking boots. What I quickly found on that shopping trip is that there are a lot of options. I tried several on and discovered many were totally uncomfortable. Maybe there is a breaking in period, I don’t know. However, it was immediately clear that there were some that were not going to work for me. Luckily the store I went to had an incline that you could walk up and down to see what they felt like when you were walking in different situations. That makes a lot of difference. You don’t want shoes that are too tight, but you also don’t want too much movement when you are going up or down. I tried them all that day, and I’m so glad I did. What may be right for me may not be right for you. I did find that one was a clear winner for me though. The one that was most comfortable to me, and gave me the most security going up and down that incline, was a high top boot by Merrell. I knew I wanted something that was waterproof also, and whatever brand and style you decide on, I definitely recommend finding one that has that one feature. It has come in handy many times and has kept my feet warm and dry. Mine are so comfy and have made me more confident of being able to hike different terrain. The pair I have now has lasted for years and they are still going strong.
Stay On The Trail
If you have gotten this far, it’s pretty safe to assume you are one with an adventurous spirit. That is such a great quality in my book, but it’s also important to be smart with your adventurousness and always stay on the trail. Hiking solo is not the time to take the road less travelled. While we with that thrill seeking desire want to see all there is to see, it is important to remember to be the trail hiker, and not the trail blazer. The trails are marked and it is very important to stay on the marked path. Trust that those that have gone before you have blazed the trail and have made a path that is worthy of all your thrill seeking. They have marked a path that is safe though, and by going off of the path, you can easily get lost or run into hazardous situations. You never know what hazards await, and you don’t want to find out.
You CAN Do It
Hiking alone is something you can do-and do safely. It is a peaceful experience that I hope you find as fulfilling as I do. Even as a solo hiker though, it is great to take advantage of some of the resources such as your local online hiking groups. They can provide a wealth of knowledge about the trails, and can be great resources in giving you additional tips to help you on your way. This is only meant to be a starting point in your journey, and the more you get out there, the more you will learn. These tips are also meant specifically for day hiking. Backpacking and multi-day hikes are a whole other ballgame, and while they are something you can aim to pursue as well, there are many more needs required for those. I would also like to point out that while I did mention a couple of brands, I have no affiliation with them. These are just simply brands that I have used in my personal hiking that have worked well for me. I am a big proponent of trying different ones to see what works best for you. By making sure you have adequate gear and having prepared ahead, I’m confident that you will be doing lots of independent adventures in the near future. One more thing to remember though-if you are going to be hiking solo…….. you are going to have to up your skills on taking selfies!
(As the lake level continues to decrease through December, you can always check the current level here.)
Surface Temp: 68
With December now on us, we look back for a moment on how great the bite in November was. November never fails to produce large stringers of Lake Martin stripers .
Moving forward to the December fishing report, the bite will just continue to be awesome. The striper will be schooled together in huge numbers throughout the lake. I have already been seeing sea gulls gathering here on the lake, which has been a big help in locating bait fish and stripers. Keep a watchful eye out for the gulls diving, and have a Redfin tied on for some top water action.
This month we will be down lining live baits as well as pulling boards with live baits on top, because both approaches work well in December.
Be extra careful this winter here on Lake Martin, due to our lake levels falling 10 feet instead of the normal 7 feet. There will still be lots and lots of great fishing-however there will be more hazards to watch for.
If you are still in search of the right gift to get someone for Christmas, please consider getting a gift certificate from us here at Alex City Guide Service. It’s the only certificate I know of that you can get now and not have to pay for until it is used.
Congrats to Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation’s State Championship Winners
Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation (ABN) held their state tournament at Lake Martin November 5-6. It was a great weekend, and Lake Martin and Wind Creek State Park were proud to host them. They even conducted a Fishin’ 4 A Cure (F4AC) competition, where competitors pay an extra fee for F4AC, with money going to fight childhood diseases at Children’s of Alabama. The 2022 ABN season kicks off in February with a return trip to Lake Martin. Thanks to Greg McCain for sharing a few pictures of the proud winners. See more pictures and read more about the state tournament and some of the anglers’ strategies here.
Brent Reaves (R)-Angler of the Year and Richard White (L)-Non-Noater Angler of the Year
Jeff Corley (L) and Will McCree (R)-Winning Team
Will Davis- Winning Angler
Phillip Sherrill- Co-Angler Winner
Upcoming Fishing Tournaments at Lake Martin
December 4 Wind Creek Bass Trail Event #2-OGS December 4 ASABFA-Students December 5 Reel Money Team Trail December 11 Russell Marine Winter Bass Clash-OGS December 18 David Reaser Benefit
You can always check out a complete list of tournaments here.
It would be such an understatement to just say we love Christmas around here. Although we have a tendency to go all out on most holidays, Christmas is definitely one of our favorites! You’ve seen the Hallmark movies with the adorable little Christmas towns-well, that’s us! Fun activities abound around Lake Martin at Christmas time, and many of them are completely free. Our goal is to help make your holidays even more special, and below is our list of 10 free things that you can do around Lake Martin this Christmas.
1. A Walk Through The Trees At Pennington Park
Pennington Park, 360 Real Estate, and Everything’s Art! are excited to offer the opportunity for families and businesses to help celebrate the Christmas season. Once again, they have turn the park into a Christmas Wonderland with over 50 Christmas displays sponsored by 48 local businesses. This year the Park will be open and lit from 4:45pm until 10pm nightly until Jan 3rd. In addition to the displays, there will be a full-size Santa sleigh suitable for photographs and a mailbox for kids of all ages to send letters to the North Pole (Santa WILL respond).
2. Christmas Open House at Creekside Lodge
The Christmas Open House at Creekside Lodge is a great chance to check out this beautiful lakeside hotel while it is all decorated for Christmas. They are also partnering with the Tri-County Children’s Advocacy Center and will be collecting gifts for children who have endured trauma.
3. It’s A Wonderful Life-Live Radio Play
Alexander City Theatre II will present “It’s a Wonderful Life Live Radio Play” by Joe Landry free to the community at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 5 on the Betty Carol Graham Center stage at the Alexander City campus of Central Alabama Community College. Set in a 1946 radio studio, the play relates the story of George Bailey, who learns what life would be like for those he loves if he had never been born. In the process, he helps his guardian angel win his wings. Each actor plays up to five parts in the production, changing voices and nuances of appearance with each one. This heartwarming production is a great way to bring out the spirit of Christmas for the whole family!
4. Christmas At Stone Ridge
Stone Ridge Baptist Church is hosting their first Stone Ridge Christmas Fest on December 5 and is inviting everyone to attend. This family event that includes dinner, reindeer games, cookie decorating, a Nativity scene, and more. You can even have your picture made with Santa!
The Alexander City Chamber of Commerce Hometown Christmas Parade will be happening December 6. The parade winds its way through the streets of Alexander City the first Monday of each December. Spectators are invited to line the parade route to watch bands and dancers perform, see the festively decorated floats, and wait for the much anticipated arrival of Jolly Old St. Nick himself.
7. Christmas Music In The Air At Zazu’s Verandah
Christmas Music in the Air at Zazu’s Verandah is a special night with David Jones performing all of our Christmas favorites. The event will take place inside the Listening Room at Zazu’s Verandah, and there will be beer and wine for sale.
8. Christmas at the Creek
Although this one is just for the campers, all of the actual activities are free. If you are looking for a reason to get out and camp at Wind Creek State Park (as if you needed a reason), Christmas at the Creek is it! There is so much fun going on for the whole family. There will be a PJ Parade, a Jingle Bell Hayride, Gingerbread decorating, Ornament making, North Pole Socials, and the annual Campsite Christmas decorating contest.
9. A Downtown Christmas
A Downtown Christmas takes place in downtown Alexander City. Come get in the Christmas spirit in beautiful downtown, get your picture taken with Santa, decorate ornaments with Mrs. Claus, write letters to Santa, check out the Polar Express train, enjoy food trucks, and more!
10. Live Nativity
The Live Nativity is such a beautiful thing to see in downtown Alexander City. You can walk or drive by, and see the the Live Nativity that is put on by the youth from 1st UMC. They go all out for this-and it even includes live animals. While you are downtown, you can also stroll around, enjoy the downtown Christmas decoration, enjoy festive Christmas music, and shop our unique shops for the perfect last minute Christmas gift.
Lake Martin is known for our great outdoors, but did you know that we have some really wonderful Christmas shopping in our area too? We have picked out a little something for everyone here-even that person that is so hard to buy for! Check out some of our own local picks for fabulous Christmas gift ideas!
Make sure to plan accordingly for the day after Thanksgiving and check out some of the best Christmas shopping at the Holiday Bazaar at Russell Crossroads. You’ll find everything from jewelry, soaps, paintings, pottery, woodwork, lotions, furniture, and much more! We hear Santa will be making a stop that day too! The fun will be happening Friday, November 26th 9am-4pm.
Head to Russell Do it Center in Alexander City and check out the best mower a homeowner can hope for. Just one in a new line of mowers on display, the Maverick by Bad Boy Mowers will upgrade your lawncare experience.
Whether its an old horn from Atwater Kent or an original Model A, they all have an uncommon, amazing sound when your cell phone is inserted into the base – which just so happens to be from an old collection of hat molds. Each one is a conversation piece offering a beautifully unique look but is yet so functional amplifying music or even just a notification of a call or text from your cell phone.
Back by popular demand, the book A to Z Lake Martin has been reprinted, and is being sold at Tippy Canoe! Authored by Katie Hines Porterfield, and illustrated by Lila Graves, this cute book is the PERFECT gift for young and old.
Myra bags has an exceptional line of quality women’s and men’s travel bags, canvas totes, leather and Hairon bags. These pair great with awesome Game Day jewelry-no matter if you are cheering for Auburn or Alabama.
The weather is perfect for those nights by the campfire or the fire pit, and what better way to make them better than with everyone’s favorite outdoors treat-S’mores! Tippy Canoe carries a variety of S’mores builder kits including the traditional S’mores builder, animal shapes, and even a S’mores fishing pole.
Do you have a Christmas party to attend this holiday season? Head on over to Catherine’s Market to grab all your party favor essentials! The Foil Decor serving tray is the perfect way to transport all of your homemade dishes. Throw in some locally sourced snacks and a bottle of wine and your party list is set.
The Seven Angels bracelet is a design by Ronaldo Jewelry. Handcrafted in the USA, Ronaldo Jewelry is a family-owned, heritage brand founded on the principles of integrity, intention and individuality. Every piece of Ronaldo Jewelry is thoughtfully designed to help tell your story.
Wrap yourself in the irresistible softness of this iconic CozyChic knit-an extra soft and cozy easy-care fabric that won’t shrink, pill, or wrinkle. A celebrity favorite, this blanket is sure to add a dash of simple elegance to anyone’s home décor.
This local family owned vineyard makes some of the best wines you will ever try-and with the majority of them being made from muscadines, their wines also pack an extra punch of antioxidants, making them even more healthy than most mass produced wines. With 11 wines to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect bottle for the people on your list.
Lake Martin is home to a variety of outdoors activities including hiking, boating, camping… and even the wildly popular treasure hunt, “geocaching”. Put on your tennis shoes and get out your thinking cap – this “secret” activity will have you hooked for hours of fun!
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a thrilling worldwide scavenger hunt filled with hiking, tracking, and following clues to find secret containers that are hidden all around you. There is probably a geocache near you right now and you don’t even know it!
“Geocaches” are containers that are hidden in plain sight. They range not only in a variety of shapes and sizes, but also in difficulty levels too. The goal of geocaching is to use your sleuthing skills to track down these hidden containers and sign the paper log inside. Some geocaches even have little treasures hidden inside!
But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Even though a geocache will never be buried underground, they can be hidden up in trees, under park benches, disguised as fake rocks … they can even hide underwater. They are designed to challenge you to think outside the box and get creative. If you are feeling stumped, you can just check the clues in the app for additional hints or tips in the comments.
Geocaching is fun for all ages, not to mention a great way to be active outdoors and explore new places in your area.
There are over 200 geocaches in the Lake Martin area alone. These hidden containers can be spotted at popular attractions and just about anywhere you enjoy the lake!
A geocaching hotspot we recommend for beginners is Wind Creek State Park. There are over 30 different geocaches located within the park grounds, all ranging in sizes and difficulty which makes it the perfect place to start out and test your skills.
My personal favorite places to geocache however are the islands of Lake Martin. You will need a boat to access these – and prepare to get wet! My first island geocache was “Sand Island”. Over the years the island has been washed away to nothing more than a few trees and does not have a place to pull up a boat. Needless to say, I ended up taking a quick swim in the lake to find this cache. But it was worth it!
It can be exciting to hit the road and find your first geocache! However, you might also be wondering how to get started. Here are helpful tips that will lead you in the right direction to have a fun filled and successful day of geocaching.
Always Bring a Pen
This is the number one tip! Imagine working hard to find that clever geocache… and not having a pen to sign the log. Small geocaches will not have a pen handy and even the larger ones with pens may have run dry. The geocaching app does let you log the geocache virtually, however, there is a certain level of satisfaction in finally signing the log in person after a good hunt.
Download the App (if not compass savvy)
The geocaching app is a great tool for geocachers of all levels, especially if you are not compass savvy enough to use coordinates from the website online. The app allows you to not only see all of the geocaches in your area, it can also give you directions within 20 or so feet of the geocache, bringing you close enough to the location but still not giving the geocache away. It is also a great way to log your find and check cache activity.