While the North Carolina mountains are already bursting with fall color, peak leaf season in our area is the next few weeks. So head up for a hike around Lake Norman State Park or take a walk through quaint downtown Davidson to see the leaves.

Another great place to enjoy the arrival of fall in the Piedmont is on the lake. Longtime lake spot, The Rusty Rudder, closed earlier this month after the lease for the 15-year fixture wasn’t renewed. So where does that leave people who want to enjoy a lake view?

Here is my vote for your best options.

Best lakeside restaurant overall: Port City Club

18665 Harborside Dr., Cornelius, between Exit 25 and Exit 28.

One of the best choices for food of any lakeside establishment, Port City works as well for a date night or girls night as it does for dinner with the kids or a stop off the boat. The menu has everything from flatbread pizzas (which also work great as an appetizer for a crowd) to sandwiches and dinner entrees like seared grouper and Filet Mignon.

There is a small open deck area and a big covered deck with windows that can be completely open or closed in the winter. The best part is the beach-like seating that even has table-side fires when it gets chilly.

See how relaxing it can be?

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Best lakeside spot for drinks after work: North Harbor Club

100 N. Harbor Pl. D, Davidson.

Chill in the lounge area and enjoy your drinks and upscale appetizers with a view.

Walk up the path to The Cabin (if you are into beer) or the Lake Norman Cottage (if you love wine). As my friend Maureen describes it, “The atmosphere is cozy, the lake is beautiful and you can see just enough of a peek at 77 to know traffic sucks and you should stay for another glass of the homemade sangria (or two!).”

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Best lakeside place to take the kids: The Blue Parrot Grill

169 Pinnacle Lane, Mooresville.

The food is typical bar food. The menu is cheap and kid-friendly. It has an expansive deck with window curtains so you can enjoy the views even in the rain or cold. The music is just loud enough that you don’t have to threaten your kids to talk quietly. You can bring the dog, too It’s a great place to kill a Saturday afternoon if you don’t have anything to do.

If the lake had an official restaurant row, this would be it. The Blue Parrot is next to The Beach House, and Lakeside Apps and Taps.

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Best lakeside breakfast: Midway Boathouse Grill

8693 NC-150, Terrell.

This is the only place I’ve found on the lake that serves breakfast every day. There is no fancy brunch at this dive. It is straight up old-school cookin’ and you won’t spend more than $10. There’s no deck so sit by the window to enjoy this view.

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Photo: Allison Andrews

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