If you’ve ever watched the 80s movie Dirty Dancing, then it’s easy to understand why the film has become a cult classic. But in addition to actors Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, the music (and, of course, that sensual dancing), the location where the movie takes place plays just as an important role as the dancing itself. Fans of the flick will be happy to know that Kellerman’s Mountain House (where many scenes in the movie were filmed) is alive and well as Mountain Lake Lodge, and you need to go there for the time of your life.
If you confuse Mountain Lake Lodge with Kellerman’s, there’s good reason. There was so much branding in the film that showed the property as Kellerman’s that you might catch yourself referring to the property as Kellerman’s. Nestled in the heart of Virginia’s New River Valley of the Appalachian Mountains, Mountain Lake Lodge is located in Pembroke, VA and can be an amazing family vacation any time of year.
Now, if you’re a Dirty Dancing fan, a stay at Mountain Lake Lodge definitely doesn’t disappoint. There are 11 original locations from the movie that were filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge, so nostalgia is literally around every corner — or cabin. The hotel hosts six Dirty Dancing -themed weekends, but be warned: they sell out super fast. According to one staffer, “Those weekends are a lot of fun. There are Baby’s, Johnny Castle’s and Penny’s walking around everywhere!” The themed weekend includes meals, a costume contest and dancing, a screening of the film, group and private dance lessons, lawn games, a Dance Party, and a Dirty Dancing Trivia.
Some flick aficionados might say is a highlight is the Dirty Dancing Scavenger Hunt, where you’ll walk the entire property looking for clues to memorable scenes and locations. For example, Clue Number One says, “Take a photo at the place where Baby and Jake Houseman had a heart to heart moment” to “Do a bunny hop where guests tried on wigs, played games, and other recreation activities were announced by megaphone.” Or you might “Take a photo in the ‘Welcoming Area’ where Max Kellerman and the bell hops greeted the Houseman’s.” You’ll see many fans eagerly searching for spots (like the lake) to pose for pics or reminisce about the movie.
Sure, it might be fun to sit in the spot where Baby and her family dined at the Harvest Restaurant, or visit Baby’s cabin, but you can also turn in your items and show your snaps at the Mountain Lake Outfitters, where you can not only buy some serious Dirty Dancing swag, but you can also get a souvenir post card, too. While there are some insane souvenirs on the first level, be sure to check out the bottom level of the store, where the real Dirty Dancing gear is. (It’s also the location where you’ll book your activities, too.)
But if you thought that you can’t get to enjoy Dirty Dancing because the events are sold out, think again. Even if you on a non- Dirty Dancing -themed weekend, there’s still so much movie magic to soak up and enjoy. Those nostalgic feels start as soon as you start making the long drive up Mountain Lake Road (Mountain Lake Lodge is on a mountain, after all). But once you reach the top, you’ll immediately see the Lodge and recognize it as one of the first scenes in the film when Baby Houseman and her family arrive for a fun summer full of activities — and memories.
Mountain Lake Lodge Activities
And speaking of activities, there is so much for you to do at Mountain Lake Lodge, whether you’re a fan of the film or just looking for a fun getaway for you and your family. Heidi Stone, CEO, has done an impeccable job turning the legendary landmark into a true destination for couples and families who are seeking time to simply enjoy being with each other — with a dash of Dirty Dancing thrown in for good measure.
You’ll find that there is so much to do during your stay, but again, the options aren’t so overwhelming that you can’t just enough a walk through nature and unwind, either. You can take a Guided Gator Tour, which will take you to some of the prettiest parts of the property. Be prepared for a bumpy ride, though, as the Gator Tour can handle some pretty tough terrain. If you’re looking for some bubbly good fun, Bubble Ball is where it’s at. You’ll go inside an inflatable plastic body ball as you try to bounce your way to the goal — and knock a few friends and family members down in the process — for some guaranteed laughs.
Into archery? Well, Mountain Lake Lodge, as part of its Adventure Center program, offers both Archery Tag and 3D archery, the latter which allows you to take aim at small wooden targets like a woodchuck and raccoon, and, if you dare, a Bigfoot. You won’t have to worry about a trip to the ER, since the special arrows use soft-tip ends that keep everyone safe while improving their accuracy.
You’ll want to make at an appointment for Clays At the Overlook for some really cool clay shooting. A certified NSCA instructor is on hand to ensure safety and to provide group and private lessons. You’ll be provided with ammo, targets, vests, firearms, and eye and ear protection, shooting at an altitude of 4,000 feet. Ages 12-17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and photo ID is required.
When you’re looking to become one with nature, there’s no better way than trying out the Treetop Adventures. There are two zip line courses (one for kids and newbies) and another for more advanced explorers. The courses will have you climbing and taking your body (and mind) to new heights — literally — before zip-lining down to the end. Additionally, there are over 22 miles of walking, hiking, and mountain biking trails through the preserve for those looking to take it slightly slower.
During hot summer days, you’ll need a way to cool down — and fast. That’s when taking a dive (not too deep, of course) into one of the two pools on the Mountain Lake Lodge property will offer a fun way to beat the heat. With gorgeous views of both Mountain Lake Lodge in one direction and Baby’s Cabin in the other, guests will have a great time soaking up the sun while staying cool. The Activities Director plays awesome music, and there’s a snack bar where you can grab something quick and yummy to eat. And when you want to take a break from swimming, you just might “die” when you get to tie dye your own Dirty Dancing shirt! Just steps away from the pool, show up in your swimsuit and create a cool effect on the shirts, which come with instructions on how to care for them.
But not all activities are outdoors. On certain weekends, Mountain Lake Lodge offers the Kellerman’s Paint & Sip Weekend, where you can channel your inner artiste. With the help of actual artists, you’ll paint a picture while sipping some, ahem, adult beverages. It’s a zero-judgment zone, and artists of any skill level are encouraged to paint the prototype provided or explore their inner feelings and paint anything they want. You’ll most certainly walk away with a painting you can be proud of — and feel pretty “happy”, too.
Mountain Lake Lodge Accommodations
Activities aside, you know that the key to a great vacay certainly starts with the accommodations. There are several options on property, from staying in the famed Main Stone Lodge, to the Front Lawn Cabins and Historic Rustic Cabins (which doubled as the location for the staff’s quarters in the film). But if you’re looking for Baby’s Cabin, it’s now known as the Virginia Cottage, and offers three bedrooms plus three private bathrooms, and can sleep up to 10 guests. Be advised that this is one of the most popular properties on site (and part of the Scavenger hunt), so if you book this utterly cool cabin, you might have fervent fans creeping up to your cottage to take some photos.
If you want to get away from it all, staying in the Blueberry Ridge Mountain Homes is a must. The cabins are only a couple of minutes away from the Lodge, but feel like you’re completely nestled in nature. They’re perfect for large families or even a romantic retreat. They come with fully-equipped kitchens (there is even cookware to prep meals if you want), a dining area, and even a laundry room to dry off bathing suits after a long day splashing around in the pool. In a “they’ve truly thought of everything” moment, there are much-loved board games (think Monopoly and Battleship) provided for free so that you can play with your family and have a tech-free fun time, too. Breakfast can be eaten on the balcony overlooking the trees, with nothing to listen to but the sounds of nature. And if you’re wondering how you’ll make your way down the mountain from your cabin, there are cute (and fun!) golf carts that will tote you and your tots around that you can drive all over and park on the property.
Mountain Lake Lodge Dining Options
Currently, there are four places to eat at Mountain Lake Lodge. The one that you’ll probably find yourself eating at most often during your stay is Harvest. And if it looks familiar to you, it should: scenes from Dirty Dancing were filmed here. In fact, you can sit at Baby’s Table, which is still the authentic seating used in the film. Movie settings aside, though, Harvest is truly a delicious rustic farm to table dining experience. The seasonal menu is a tribute to the food and flavors of the Southwest Virginia region.
Breakfast options include a generous buffet of anything and everything you might want to eat (such as grits, biscuits and gravy, sausage, and eggs), as well as menu items like a Breakfast Burrito, Steak & Eggs, Southern Style Buttermilk Griddle Cakes, or even Country Fried Wild Boar Cutlet.
After a busy morning, your family is going to be famished, and lunch menu items like a Big Bison Burger, Chicken Fried Steak or Fried Fish Tacos should fill their bellies. An absolute must-have is the Fried Green Tomatoes, which come with pimento cheese, tomato jam, and jalapeno bacon — and are heavenly.
Dinner at Harvest is delightful. Fan favorites include the Cast Iron Chicken (made with prosciutto, sweet peppers, wild mushrooms, and sherry cream sauce), Seared Salmon, and Grilled Elk Medallions in a Cumberland sauce. If you have picky eaters at your table, there’s a kid’s menu that your littles will most definitely love, including some fab fries and chicken fingers, mac ‘n cheese, and pizza.
When you’re hankering for a more pub-like experience, head on over to Stony Creek Tavern. It has an ah-mazing view of the front lawn, and you can hang out with friends both old and new while you sip some wine and dine on Pickle Fries, Mountain Cheesesteak, and our fave, Overloaded House Chips (with blue cheese, bacon, and shredded cheese). Yum.
If you’re looking for more grab-and-go options, Mary’s Market & Café has you covered. It offers to-go breakfasts, sandwiches, snacks, salads, and sigh, hand-dipped ice cream. It’s snuggled between Stony Creek Tavern and Harvest, but it’s a must-visit during your stay at Mountain Lake Lodge.
Mountain Lake Lodge Specials
Mountain Lake Lodge offers several specials that can appeal to your interests — and your budget. By far, one of the most popular packages is the Kellerman’s Film Package, which comes with two nights lodging, a Welcome Cocktail in the Souvenir Kellerman’s Glass, an exclusive gift bag with a Kellerman’s Beach Towel, a special screening of the movie during your stay, the Dirty Dancing Film Scene Scavenger Hunt, and a $200 dining credit.
The Stay & Play Package is also great for families who just want to relax. It offers a two-night stay for four people, breakfast at Harvest, and lunch by the pool. Available from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Summer Breeze Package offers three nights lodging (you book two nights and stay the third free), $100 recreation credit, a $100 dining credit, and breakfast every morning. And for couples looking for a gorgeous getaway, the Couples Retreat Package offers 2-night lodging minimum, a champagne bottle in your room upon arrival, and breakfast at Harvest each morning.
Staying at Mountain Lake Lodge is like stepping back in time — literally. But from the cool accommodations to all the activities you and your family can enjoy, you’ll truly have the time of your lives.