Worried about having to pay a toll to get to a Charlotte-area lake?
With no such plans in place for Interstate 77 heading south out of Charlotte (as there are for I-77 North toward Lake Norman), the Lake Wylie area is a cost-free commuting solution – not to mention a spot with plenty of attractive places to live and great water sports.
The Lake Wylie area is made up of several Charlotte suburbs that are much closer to uptown than Lake Norman, including Belmont in Gaston County and the S.C. communities of Tega Cay and Lake Wylie. Charlotte’s Steele Creek area, the Palisades, River Hills and Baxter, a neighborhood in Fort Mill, S.C., are also nearby. The new Riverwalk development sits on the banks of the lake between Fort Mill and the larger S.C. city of Rock Hill.
Riverwalk includes homes, apartments and condominiums, with plenty of recreational options and a waterfront restaurant. Folks can walk or bicycle along a pathway along the water’s edge or head out on the lake on a kayak.
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Another unique aspect of Riverwalk is the nearby Giordana Velodrome, where numerous cycling events are held each year.
Want to just walk around instead? Head out to Fort Mill’s Anne Springs Close Greenway, Steele Creek’s McDowell Nature Preserve and Belmont’s Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
Still, water sports remain the big attraction to living on or near Lake Wylie, which is always dotted with kayaks, pontoon, sail and ski boats – as well as jet skis – on warm days.
Several marinas are available, including two large ones (Lake Wylie Marina and Pier 49 Marina) on either side of the Buster Boyd Bridge, which spans the river at the town of Lake Wylie.
There are also water sports to watch from the banks of Lake Wylie. The Tega Cay-based Carolina Show Ski Team holds exhibitions on selected Fridays during the summer at Windjammer Park. In 2014, the USA Kayak Polo Nationals were held on Tega Cay’s Nivens Creek.
And while you’re passing over the state line while driving on that toll-free stretch of I-77, it’s hard to miss Carowinds, which continues to be one of the Charlotte area’s top tourist attractions. It now features the Fury 325, the world’s tallest giga roller coaster.
The area has plenty of shopping options. Staying on the area’s two major thoroughfares of South Tryon Street (N.C. and S.C. 49) and Steele Creek Road (N.C. and S.C. 160) will get you to Steele Creek’s Rivergate shopping center, the town of Lake Wylie or Baxter’s Town Center.
David Scott, an Observer sports reporter, has lived in the Lake Wylie area for 7 years.
Ride the rides at Carowinds: The region’s biggest amusement park straddles the N.C.-S.C. border and features Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster.
Survey the gardens: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in nearby Belmont has 380 acres on the shores of Lake Wylie and offers gardens, fountains and a conservatory featuring tropical plants and orchids.
Fun in the sun: Windjammer Park, which sits on a point in Tega Cay overlooking Lake Wylie, has a playground and beach and – during early summer months – offers exhibitions by the Tega Cay-based Carolina Show Ski Team.
Know your history: Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, founded in 1760s, was one of the first seven churches in Mecklenburg County established by Scots-Irish settlers.
Strolling by the water: The Riverwalk neighborhood in Rock Hill offers a trail that winds along Lake Wylie. Perfect for a walk or a bike ride.