Every since I found out Dirty Dancing was filmed in Lake Lure, NC, I have wanted to go! We finally decided to make the trip! The real-life resort town featured in Dirty Dancing. Seriously? To stand in the same exact spot where Baby Houseman practiced her dance steps and carried a watermelon? Yes, please!
It only took me 30 years after the release of Dirty Dancing, but I finally got the chance to visit Lake Lure. I had the time of my life! Yes, I swear; it’s the truth. And I owe it all to Jerry for taking me to this location that is literally in the middle of nowhere!
A handful of exterior scenes, and most of the interior scenes were filmed in Lake Lure, NC at The Camp Chimney Rock for Boys and Girls – now a gated subdivision called Fire Fly Cove. While the lift in the lake was filmed at Mountain Lodge, most of the footage around that scene, including the dance on the log, were filmed at Lake Lure. The stairs where Baby is seen practicing her steps, and where she carried the watermelon still stands, although it is now on private property and the white bridge has been removed.
Jerry and I drove to the location, but I would have had to get out and walk into someone’s back yard to see the steps, I was too chicken. The only way you can see the steps is to take the guided boat tour with Lake Lure Tours boat company and they will point out the location from a distance.
I even went back the next morning at 0700 thinking I could pretend to be a resident if the neighborhood out on a morning jog and go behind this house to get an up close picture of the steps, but I was too scared. I ran down to the water, but I just could not bring myself to go into someone’s back yard.
There’s no better way to get to know Lake Lure than on a guided boat ride with Lake Lure Tours (2930 Memorial Hwy.). The lake views of Chimney Rock and Rumbling Bald Mountain were spectacular! Tours are $16 per person and leave every hour on the hour. We got there at 1:56, so we did not have to wait – we got right on a boat and took off!
Unfortunately all of the buildings where the staff quarters scenes were filmed, and where Baby and Johnny’s dance rehearsals took place, were demolished in the 1980s. There was a gymnasium on the camp that was used to film the final dance scene in the movie, however it burned down in a fire in the late 1980s. The floor of the gymnasium was salvaged and it lives on in the lobby of the nearby Esmeralda Inn. I did go into the Inn, however, I did not take pictures.
While filming the movie, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray stated at the Lake Lure Inn & Spa. You can actually book “Baby’s Bungalow” or “Johnny’s Cabin” starting at $250/night. I walked into the Inn, but there are no pictures or memorabilia.
If you do decide to stay here, the best feature of this hotel is its location. The Lake Lure Beach is right across the street and the inn is within easy walking distance of several restaurants, including La Strada, where we had a late lunch. This popular Italian restaurant overlooks Lake Lure. I had read that the garlic rolls are a La Strada staple and it was definitely true! Pay the extra $0.85 to get the marinara sauce – so worth it!
My lasagna was a solid choice, but Jerry’s cheese pizza – not so much.
If I go back to Lake Lure, I will bring my Stand Up Paddle Board and paddle over to the back of that house with the stairs and just pretend that I am exhausted and need a break, because: