Discover Lake Lanier

For good reason, Lake Lanier is a popular tourist destination in Georgia. With its stunning scenery, abundance of activities, and convenient location, it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

When planning your Lake Lanier vacation, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to stay. With so many different vacation rentals available, there’s something to suit every budget and taste.

From cozy cabins to lavish lakeside homes, a perfect vacation rental awaits you at Lake Lanier. Many rentals offer convenient access to popular attractions like waterparks, beaches, hiking trails, and more.


Best time to visit

Top 3 Facts About Lake Lanier in Georgia


Man-Made Lake

Lake Lanier was created in 1957 when a reservoir was made along the Chattahoochee River to supply Atlanta with fresh water. The full pool is at an elevation of 1071 feet.


Haunted Lake

The lower valley villages in the area were deserted and flooded to create the lake, which included churches and cemeteries. Some people believe the desecration of the graves makes the area haunted.


Recreational Areas

Lake Lanier has 76 recreational areas, including 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, nearly 9,000 private boat docks, and there are 11 public marinas and the Lake Lanier Islands.


Must-See Attractions

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LanierWorld Water Park (Margaritaville)

Family Entertainment

A visit to LanierWorld Water Park (Margaritaville) promises an adrenaline-pumping experience perfect for all ages. The park features attractions like the Black Out, a slide shrouded in total darkness, and the Raging River, which replicates a wild rapid ride. Or, for a more relaxing excursion, opt to float along the Lazy River and the Wild Waves Pool. With a mix of excitement and relaxation, Margaritaville caters to everyone from toddlers to adults, making it an ideal destination for family fun or a day out with friends​.

Cumming Aquatic Center

Family Entertainment

If the weather isn’t playing ball or you’re looking for the perfect indoor activity, head on over to Cumming Aquatic Center. Here, you can book in for swim lessons, aquatic therapy, and various exercise classes. In the summer, the outdoor leisure pool becomes a highlight, complete with a giant slide, lazy river, play structure, and poolside cabanas. 

Sim Lake Park

Outdoor Recreation

Sim Lake Park offers a serene escape with its 62-acre landscape, including a seven-acre lake and a 1.2-mile loop trail. It’s an ideal spot for those looking to connect with nature while still having easy access to amenities, such as its playground, pavilion, picnic tables, and an outdoor classroom. The park also boasts public art sculptures and several Eagle Scout projects, such as a sundial and a ping-pong table. It’s a great destination for hiking enthusiasts, families, and anyone interested in enjoying a peaceful afternoon outdoors.

Annual Events and Festivals

May, 2024

Lake Lanier Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Delve into the vibrant culture of Hong Kong during the Lake Lanier Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. This celebrated event, known for being one of the largest of its kind in the USA, features thrilling dragon boat races where teams synchronize their strokes to the rhythm of beating drums. In addition to the races, the festival is a feast for the senses with traditional music, dance, martial arts performances, and a variety of global cuisine.

January 1, 2025

Polar Bear Swim

Kick off the new year with a daring plunge into Lake Lanier’s chilly waters at the annual Polar Bear Swim. This exhilarating event not only challenges participants to brave the cold but also serves a noble cause by fundraising for the Lake Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club. It’s a unique and refreshing way to start the year, bringing together the community for a moment of fun and charity. 

September – November 2024

Lake Lanier Islands Fall Fun Weekends

The Lake Lanier Islands Fall Fun Weekends are a treasure trove of autumnal delights, perfect for families and visitors of all ages. These weekends are packed with festive activities like hayrides, pumpkin carving, and corn mazes, offering a quintessential fall experience. It’s an ideal setting for making lasting memories with loved ones amidst the beauty of Lake Lanier’s natural landscape during the cozy fall season. 

Top Hiking Trails

Laurel Ridge Trail

Lower Overlook Rd, Buford, GA

This scenic 3.9-mile loop trail is a delightful family outing featuring Lake Lanier, Buford Dam, and the Chattahoochee River. The trail, marked by white blazes, crosses Buford Dam Road and winds through beautiful overlooks before dropping over 200 feet to the Chattahoochee River’s base. Along the route, enjoy views of Lake Lanier and the surrounding nature and treat young hikers to stops at the many playgrounds and parks you’ll be passing by.

Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats Loop

4075 Spot Rd, Cumming, GA

The highlight of this hike is the Indian Seats, three depressions in the rock at the trail’s highest point, which are thought to have been used by the Cherokee for ceremonial purposes. The trail provides sweeping views to the north and includes a steep ascent to the Indian Seats and an observation deck. The descent towards the visitor center marks the trail’s second half, which is well-marked for easy navigation. While in the park, you can also test your tree-climbing skills, go rock climbing, and try out birding if you’re not already an enthusiast. 

Stone Mountain Walk Up Trail

Confederate Hall Parking Lot, Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA

While conquering the climb up to 800 feet might be challenging, the summit of this hike rewards you with superb views of downtown Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain, and parts of the Appalachian Mountains. The trailhead, conveniently located near the Confederate Hall parking lot, offers amenities such as restrooms and water fountains. Don’t let the hike’s gentle start deceive you; it quickly becomes steeper. Fortunately, metal railings are available to aid you during these steep sections. Once you reach the top, the panoramic views are further enhanced by the presence of an observation building.

Best Golf Courses

Lanier Islands Legacy Golf Course

7000 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford, GA

This picturesque 18-hole course, designed by Billy Fuller, is a tribute to the Golden Era of golf. The course boasts twelve scenic holes on the water, complemented by MiniVerde Bermuda Greens and zoysia-lined “Billy” Bunkers, a unique design developed by Fuller during his tenure at Augusta National Golf Club. With its stunning lake views and a peaceful setting teeming with wildlife, this course offers a tranquil retreat. Plus, the Legacy Golf Shop on-site provides all the essentials, and the friendly staff are always happy to help.

Chestatee Golf Club

777 Dogwood Way, Dawsonville, GA

Located in Dawsonville, Chestatee Golf Club is set against the backdrop of the North Georgia Mountains and the shores of Lake Sidney Lanier. The 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Denis Griffiths, offers a blend of picturesque landscapes and challenging terrain, complete with water hazards and mountain-like topography. Recognized for its quality, the course received a 4 ½ star rating in Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” and has been featured in numerous golf magazines. The club also offers a full-service practice facility and a welcoming clubhouse with dining options at the Heron Grille.

Laurel Springs Golf & Country Club

6400 Golf Club Drive, Suwanee, GA

For golfers wanting a country club atmosphere, Laurel Springs Golf & Country Club is the place to be. This par-71 course, set amidst rolling hills and tree-lined fairways, is both visually stunning and challenging. It features undulating greens guarded by lakes and creeks and is suitable for players of various skill levels. While the price tag is higher than what you’d find elsewhere, it’s well worth it, especially as the club’s community is noted for being friendly and inviting.

Water Sports

Boating on Lake Lanier

Boating is a favorite activity on Lake Lanier for many guests, and with numerous boat rental options available, such as Captain Watersports, Buford Dam Marina, Gainesville Marina, and Port Royale Marina, you can easily find the perfect boat to suit your preferences and budget. Popular spots for boating include Mary Alice Beach Park, known for its calm waters and groomed beaches, and the Little River Boat Ramp, ideal for anglers due to its coves and deep waters. The Balus Creek Public Boat Access and Lanier Park Access are other notable locations, offering clean, well-maintained facilities and beautiful scenery.

Kayaking on Lake Lanier

For those who prefer a more intimate exploration of the lake, kayaking is an excellent choice. The coves and inlets of Lake Lanier are perfect for a kayaking adventure, offering a closer view of the lake’s natural beauty. Rental companies like Aqua Sports Adventures and Lake Lanier Islands provide kayaks and necessary equipment, and some even offer guided tours for a more structured experience. Kayaking allows you to quietly glide through the water, exploring areas that larger boats can’t reach, making it an ideal activity for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful escape on the water.

Fishing on Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier is a renowned fishing destination, home to a variety of fish species, including bass, crappie, and catfish, and you can choose from several fishing charter companies or opt to fish from a boat or the shoreline. The lake’s varying depths, from shallow northern ends with overhanging trees and brush to the deeper waters near Buford Dam, provide excellent opportunities for both casual and serious anglers. Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or trying it for the first time, Lake Lanier’s rich waters offer a rewarding fishing experience for everyone.

Winter Activities

Winter Fishing & Boating on Lake Lanier

During winter, Lake Lanier transforms into a serene fishing and boating haven. Popular spots for winter boating and fishing include the tranquil Little River Boat Ramp and the Balus Creek Public Boat Access, both known for their impressive fish populations and scenic beauty. Additionally, Lanier Park Access, located near Buford Dam, offers great fishing opportunities along with amenities like restrooms, a beach area, and picnic spots. For a safe winter boating experience, it’s important to wear a life jacket, dress appropriately for the cold weather, and follow all boating safety rules​​​​​​.

Winter Hiking

Exploring the trails around Lake Lanier in winter provides a unique experience. The cooler temperatures and less crowded paths make it an ideal time for hiking. You can enjoy the tranquil beauty of the lake and its surroundings, with the chance to spot local wildlife. The trails around the lake offer varying difficulty levels, making them suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Remember to dress warmly and be prepared for the colder weather conditions.

License to Chill Snow Island

This winter wonderland at Lake Lanier offers a range of exciting activities, including snow tubing on the 575-foot Parrot Mountain, the longest and fastest snow tubing slide in Georgia. You can also enjoy ice skating to your favorite holiday tunes and a variety of carnival rides suitable for all ages. The snow play area is perfect for a fun-filled snowball fight or making snow angels, with fresh snow blown daily.

Where to Eat

Pelican Pete’s Tiki Bar & Grille

 $$ – $$$ • Burgers & Cocktails

Fish Tales at Hideaway Bay Marina

$$ – $$$ • Steak & Seafood

The Twisted Oar

$ – $$ • Casual American

Where to Shop

Marketplace at Lake Lanier

Gift Shop

The Purple Corn Boutique

Boutique Store

Sunkissed Coconut

Clothing store

Where to Sleep

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Casa Lago 5 Bed Waterfront House

3746 Ferretti Ct, Innisfil, ON L9S 0N6, Canada
Number of Guests 10
Bathrooms 5
Bedrooms 5
Sq Footage 3,000
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Smoke detectors
$1,000.00 / day
sparkles New

Mason Street Getaway

555 Mason St, Saugatuck, MI 49453, USA
Number of Guests 5
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 2
Sq Footage 1,165
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$475.00 / day
sparkles New

JP Rest House

V262+C5P, Manikganj, Bangladesh
Number of Guests 4
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 4
Sq Footage 2,400
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$300.00 / day

Tips on Renting a Vacation Home on Lake Lanier

Location Preferences

Lake Lanier offers diverse experiences depending on where you stay. The southern part of the lake is closer to Atlanta and tends to be more crowded, offering a vibrant atmosphere with more restaurants and shops. The northern side offers a more serene environment, ideal for those looking for peace and quiet.

Seasonal Activities

Lake Lanier is a year-round destination, but your experience can vary greatly depending on the season. Summer is perfect for water sports, boating, and swimming, while the off-season might be better for fishing, hiking, or attending local festivals and events.

Budget Considerations

Rental prices can fluctuate based on the season. Peak summer months tend to be more expensive due to higher demand. For better deals on accommodations, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons – late spring or early fall – when the weather is still pleasant and the area is less crowded.

Understand Local Rules and Regulations

Familiarize yourself with any local regulations that might affect your stay, especially if you plan on engaging in boating, fishing, or other water activities. Ensure you have the necessary permits or licenses and understand boating safety rulees if you’re planning to rent a boat.

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Going Deeper on Lake Lanier

Before its creation, the area hosted a smaller lake known as Lake Warner, formed by Dunlap Dam on the Chattahoochee River. This lake and its surrounding infrastructure, including a power plant built by General A.J. Warner and Dunlap Mill, were integral to the development of Gainesville, bringing electricity and fostering a culture of leisure around the lake.

The creation of Lake Lanier was a major federal project initiated by the River and Harbors Act of 1946, with significant funding allocated to the construction of Buford Dam and land acquisition through eminent domain. This process, while vital for the lake’s establishment, led to the displacement of over 1,000 people, including the residents of Oscarville, a historically Black town.

The construction of Buford Dam started in 1950, and by 1958, Lake Lanier reached its full capacity. Today, the lake serves multiple purposes, including hydroelectric power, water supply for Atlanta, and flood control, while also being a hub for various recreational activities. However, the history of displacement and landscape transformation remains integral to understanding Lake Lanier’s complex legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier, a large reservoir in Georgia, has varied depths across different areas. Its maximum depth is around 160 feet, but this can fluctuate based on water levels and seasonal changes. The lake’s depth contributes to its popularity for boating and fishing activities.

Reaching Lake Lanier is convenient, with the most common access being by car. It’s situated close to Atlanta, making it an easy drive for a day trip or a longer vacation. Public transportation options are limited, so driving is typically the best choice.

Swimming in Lake Lanier is a popular activity, with many designated swimming areas and beaches. However, swimmers should always be cautious of water conditions and follow safety guidelines, as the lake’s depths and boat traffic can pose risks.

Lake Lanier is renowned for its scenic beauty and a wide range of recreational activities. It offers boating, fishing, swimming, and numerous parks and recreational areas, making it a great destination for both relaxation and adventure.

Yes, there are several marinas and rental services on Lake Lanier where you can rent various types of boats, from pontoon boats to speedboats and kayaks. Rentals are a great way to explore the lake and enjoy water sports.

Lake Lanier’s top attractions include Lanier Islands, with its beaches and water park, numerous hiking trails, picnic spots, and the Lake Lanier Olympic Park. The lake also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year.

While Lake Lanier itself is a relatively recent creation, the surrounding area is rich in history. Nearby, you can visit historical towns like Gainesville, explore old mills and bridges, and learn about the region’s past at local museums and historical societies.

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