By Kara D. Barmoy
Baltimore Watchdog Contributor
The water lined with houses, trees, and wildlife stretches for 17 peaceful miles. Its relaxing vacation-like environment plays as a greeting for visitors.
Anyone who comes to Lake Anna in Virginia can see how it is like a world on water, a place where your boat is your car, restaurants overlook the water, and the people often float their days away on rafts and tubes.
For newcomers to the lake, locals and weekenders will intrigue them with the way they all appear to be friends or even extended family.
Summer is the prime time to visit, when the environment revolves around the water. But the extended summer season runs from April through October. And to miss the crowds, visiting while school is in session is the time to go.
“The lake itself is beautiful, and when it is fall, seeing all the red and orange reflecting off the water is breathtaking,” said lifetime resident Courtney Coutts.
Tourists can chose from a variety of places to stay, including state park cabins, campsites, hotels, houses for rent, and those wanting a full lake experience can even rent a houseboat for a week or weekend.
Coutts said that boating is an experience in itself.
“If going out on the boat means just riding around, then perfect. That is one thing I wouldn’t want to miss,” Coutts said.
Experiencing the boating environment is a must for those visiting. Touring the lake by boat is a great introduction and is a way to see activities on the water, restaurants, and learn about boating safety.
“Learning boating safety is a good way to get to know the lake, and will also get you a welcome spot on anyone’s boat for more fun in the future,” said Lance Wolack, developer of Lake Anna’s website, Lakeannabuzz.com.
One doesn’t need a license to rent or even drive a boat. For those who plan to return to the lake, a license is a good way to ensure boating knowledge.
At dinnertime, restaurants that give off the impression that you have been immersed in the tropics, with live music, fake palm trees, and outdoor water view seating, can be reached by boat.
Restaurants that can be reached by land or water include the No Wake Zone, Tim’s at Lake Anna and Anna Cabana. Other restaurants that can be found off the water include Chef Lee, Asian Café and Vito’s.
“Of course you won’t want to miss when the whole lake shows up to the ‘No Wake Zone’ on Thursday night for half price burger night,” said Kyle Austin, resident and founder of Crunkfest, a well-known wakeboard competition.
Wakeboarding is a sport that most non-lake goers haven’t experienced, but it is an activity that can be seen anywhere you look at Lake Anna. Many locals have grown up wakeboarding beginning at a young age. Some wakeboarders can even be seen doing flips and spins far above the wake.
“It isn’t something you can do without training, but it is something everyone can do with a little instructions,” said Eric Apple, local Lake Anna wake boarder.
There are multiple wakeboard schools that are run out of Lake Anna, including the “Kyle Barmoy Wakeboard School” and “Wake Dude,” both taught by former professional wakeboarders. There are also two wakeboard shops on the lake. Patrons can rent or buy wakeboards, wake skates, or wake surfers and can also buy clothing and lake souvenirs.
Wakeboarding is more than just a fun thing to do around the lake, Austin said.
“Wakeboarding is huge aspect of life to a lot of people in every generation,” he said.
It has become so huge that Austin and a group of his friends came up with an idea to start a wakeboard competition called “Crunkfest.”
“The contest consists of three types of water sports- wakeboarding, wake skating and wake surfing,” Austin said. “There are many types of categories to break up each person’s skill level to make it as fair of a contest as possible.”
Competing isn’t the only thing to be enjoyed at this event. It is, “a big party on and off the water to bring friends and families together from all around,” Apple said.
Lake Anna is a place where if you are looking for something to do, you will find it. The Friday night fishing tournaments are something that can’t be missed.
“Anyone near the marina better look out,” Apple said. “The fishermen will run you over on their way out to the tournament.”
The fishermen all join together at the Lake Anna Marina Friday nights, and then they race to find the best fishing spots. After the tournament ends, everyone heads back to the marina for the weigh in, to discover who caught the biggest fish.
“From the Lake Anna state park, local restaurants and events you will never go a weekend without something happening,” said Austin. “Lake Anna plays host to winery events, and now the Lake Anna Brewfest, which is an all around fantastic time. There are also triathlons, poker runs, live concerts and much more.”
The Lake Anna state park is a place where kids and families can enjoy themselves. The sand can be relaxing for adults, while the kids can play and swim, while supervised by lifeguards. The State Park beach includes snack bars where lunch can be enjoyed.
The State Park provides more than 15 miles of trails, for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Visitor center exhibits trace the history of Lake Anna’s gold mining and it also highlights the park’s beautiful natural features.
Gold mining at Lake Anna started back in the 1800s, and has become a large tourist attraction for those who come to the lake.
“For those coming to the lake a first time, the state park is a good place to find out more about the lake, and a way to find out about all the events,” Wolack said.
Lake Anna has evolved over the past years by becoming more commercial and more tourist friendly. Just a few years ago, there were only a couple of restaurants, no grocery store within a half hour drive, and no places to go in the off-season. It has become a well-loved get away for every season, not just for summer vacationers, but a place for people to visit during all seasons.
Locals love Lake Anna and tourists want to return due to the atmosphere itself.
“It’s certainly a community on water that people identify with and consider themselves a part of,” Wolack said.
Days on the lake never seem long enough, but the good thing about Lake Anna is it will be the same when you wake up.
As the sun sets on Lake Anna’s shore, it seems to be a representation of the environment itself, relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful. It’s a view so beautiful, a picture will need to be snapped.