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Within a few minutes' drive of Albemarle lie several beautiful lakes, a state park, and a national forest. Badin Lake, Lake Tillery, and Tuckertown Lake offer fishing, boating, swimming, and water skiing. Morrow Mountain State Park is nestled in the ancient Uwharrie mountain range, and provides opportunities for camping, hiking, horseback riding, and swimming. The Uwharrie National Forest comprises over 40,000 acres, and is the largest outdoor recreation venue in the North Carolina Piedmont. The rural landscape surrounding the City provides charming vistas of farms, vineyards, and homesteads. Stanly County is home to three golf courses, with many more within a half hour drive, including Uwharrie Point, a Tom Fazio designed course rated among the top five private courses in America by Golf Digest magazine.

The City has an outstanding Parks and Recreation Department that offers a wide variety of recreation programs including soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball leagues; swimming and tennis lessons; and other recreational offerings. The City owns and operates five principal parks, a community center, two outdoor swimming pools, and a soccer field complex, several tennis courts, several ball fields, and soccer fields.  The Roger F. Snyder Greenway System named for a former Mayor of Albemarle has proven very popular and there are plans for further development of the greenway system.

The City of Albemarle has developed a regional park on the western edge of the City at City Lake, which served as the impoundment for the City's drinking water source in the first half of the 20th Century. This site includes approximately 90 acres and is situated on a 112-acre lake. The property is heavily wooded and provides beautiful vistas looking down on the lake.  City Lake Park includes an amphitheater, picnic shelters, restrooms, playground area, hiking and mountain bike trails, and access to the lake for fishing, canoeing, and non-motorized boats.