I've lived in and around Raleigh/Durham for 40+ years and only recently started taking advantage of Falls Lake. The more time I spent on and around the lake the more I realized how fortunate I am to have it so close by. It's not the biggest lake in NC, and gets crowded on summer weekends and holidays. But there are literally half a dozen different boat ramps, some of which have as many as 8 lanes and other are open 24/7 free of charge. The fishing must be good because bass boats are out nearly year round. There are several big camping areas, one of which has an exclusive boat ramp and miles and miles of hiking trails. It's not Yosemite National Park, but it's also essentially in my back yard, largely free and very well maintained. Give it a try if you're in the area.