Swimming. Kayaking. Boating. Waterskiing. Fishing. Basically, if you’re a fan of any kind of water activity – and are visiting Atlanta – there’s only one place to get all of your aquatic kicks.
Lake Lanier, just a 45-minute drive from downtown Atlanta, is a manmade reservoir whose creation dates to 1956 (when the Chattahoochee River was dammed by the US Army Corps of Engineers) and is narrow and squiggly of shape, meaning it promises an incredible 700-odd miles of beachy shoreline. Back in 1996, it even hosted Summer Olympic events like sprint canoeing, kayaking and rowing. But you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to enjoy the water. Instead, take a cue from the locals – given that there are so many things to do on Lake Lanier, it makes the ultimate chilled-out city break.
Love nothing more than spending a day out on the water, fishing pole in hand? Lake Lanier, known as a destination fishing spot for its abundant population of striped and spotted bass, attracts amateur and expert anglers looking for a big catch. A number of guides and charters – including Lanier Sports and Georgia Lake Fishing – help visitors reel in the bass as well as trout, walleyes, and other lake-dwellers.
Given its Deep South location, it’s hardly surprising that Georgia gets hot in the summer. For those looking to cool off, few things are as refreshing as a dip in the lake. Ringed by a number of parks, many of which host swim-designated beaches, there are more than 20 official swimming spots around Lake Lanier. Lanier’s many dozens of islands also offer sandy places to do some paddling.
Whether you’re looking for relaxing canoeing and languorous kayaking, or are hoping to kick things up with a more high-octane speed boat ride, boating is definitely one of the top recreational activities on Lake Lanier. Generally, boaters flock to the southern portion of the lake, which is crowded with marinas and is closest to Atlanta. If you’re looking to do some solo boating, however, the undisturbed waters of the lake’s northern portion may tempt.
Providers like Port Royale offer rentals of everything from party barges to ski boats – even 16-passenger houseboats, for those planning a special occasion. The Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, meanwhile, not only has Olympic pedigree, but it also lets visitors rent pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards.
And then there’s waterskiing. For those looking to “walk on water” for the first time, Lake Lanier Water Ski Camp has provided tutoring in the sport since 1985. While weeklong sessions are available, the camp also offers private lessons that’ll have you up and skiing quickly.
After a more all-inclusive experience? Lanier Islands is the premier resort in the area. Poised on an island in the southern portion of Lake Lanier, it offers everything from an equestrian centre and wine cruises to hiking trails, a saltwater lounging pool, and the seasonal LanierWorld waterpark. Its Big Beach is also one of the finest sandy stretches in Lake Lanier, full stop.
And this is only the beginning of things to do on Lake Lanier. From roughing it in the area campgrounds to hiking local trails, Lake Lanier is nothing short of a perfect getaway destination – whether you’re after a daytrip or are persuaded to extend your stay a little longer.
Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Atlanta from London Heathrow – get ready for a fun-loving Georgia summer.
What are your favourite things to do on Lake Lanier? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen