Family Fun at Georgia's Watery Attractions

Pull on your swimwear, grab a bottle of sunscreen, and dive on in!

Click the tabs below to plan your trip to Georgia's lakes, rivers and beaches.

  • Georgia Lakes
  • Georgia Rivers
  • Georgia Beaches
  • Go jump in a lake

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  • Take me to the river

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  • Don’t forget the beach!

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Go jump in a lake

Georgia’s lakes are renowned for their pristine waters and wealth of sporting opportunities. At George L. Smith State Park near Twin City, hop in a kayak to explore Watson Mill Pond — a 412-acre, cypress-lined lake. Mill Pond Kayak gives paddlers of all ages equipment and basic instruction before taking them on a two-and-a-half-hour guided tour of this breathtaking wonder.

For a more social experience, head to popular Lake Lanier. Be sure to visit the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue on the north end — it’s where the sprint canoe/kayak and rowing competitions were held during the 1996 Olympic Games. On the south end, take advantage of paddleboarding, kayaking and wakeboarding at family-friendly Lanier Islands resort.

For an experience that mixes boating, kayaking, and water-skiing with golf, horseback riding, and shopping, steer yourself to Georgia’s Lake Country and enjoy the many perks of time spent on Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. On Lake Oconee, Georgia’s second-largest lake, enlist Lake Oconee Outfitters to take you on a pontoon-boat trip that includes a lesson on the history of the lake. Or, test your athleticism with Central Georgia Flyboarding.

You’ll find more lake clusters in Rabun County, home to five Georgia Power lakes — Tallulah Falls, Seed, Yonah, Burton, and Rabun. And, not far from the state's northern border, Lake Chatuge and Lake Nottely feature stunning mountain lake scenery. For boating, fishing and swimming, as well as picnics, camping and hiking, each is an ideal destination, as is Lake Hartwell on the South Carolina border.

Farther south at Georgia Veterans State Park is 8,700-acre Lake Blackshear, which features a swimming beach, Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club, and a stop on the SAM Shortline Excursion Train route from Cordele to Archery. For avid fishermen, it also offers some of the best bass in the state.

If wakeboarding is more your style, head to the Valdosta Wake Compound, a cable wakeboard course where adrenaline junkies are pulled by a series of suspended cables. After a few rounds of practice, take your wakeboarding skills to one of the “ABC lakes” of northwest Georgia. From eleven-mile Lake Allatoona, to the aquamarine waters of Lake Blue Ridge, to the mountainous scenery of Carters Lake (the deepest reservoir in Georgia), these destinations are as easy to enjoy as A-B-C.

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Take me to the river

Georgia’s abundant rivers offer adventure, nature and even a bit of history. Begin your river explorations at the Augusta Canal, a National Heritage Area built in 1845 that’s the oldest continuously operating hydropower canal in the United States. Learn the history of the Industrial Revolution in the South at the Canal Discovery Center, or hop aboard a Petersburg Boat for a guided tour past 19th-century textile mills and two of Georgia’s remaining 18th-century houses.

If you’re a beginning paddler, head to the Toccoa River Canoe Trail in Blue Ridge. The trail, which spans nearly 14 miles, combines a few mild rapids with stunning scenery for a picture-perfect day on the water. Along the way, you might encounter float fisherman looking for cold-water trout.

If the whole family likes to paddle and fish, treat them to a trip down the Satilla River. Once used for transportation by the Creek Indian Nation, the Satilla is one of the most scenic blackwater rivers in South Georgia. White sandbars offer resting spots, and ancient oaks and cypress trees frame the water. Watch for abundant wildlife, both on the shores and in the skies.

When you’re ready to pick up the pace, take a whitewater rafting trip down the Chattooga River with a local outfitter. Federally protected in 1974 by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, the river offers Class III and IV rapids and numerous swimming holes, ensuring everyone can participate in the fun.

Another not-to-miss whitewater adventure can be had in the heart of Columbus’s Uptown district. Whitewater Express offers trips on a nearly three-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River that rushes through this busy part of town. Named one of the top 12 man-made adventures in the world by USA Today, the experience ranges from mild Class I rapids and a “Lazy River” to wild Class V drops that occur when the dam-controlled water is released each day.

For another urban river adventure, spend a hot day on Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River. Tube, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or raft your way down the waterway with Shoot the Hooch, High Country Outfitters Paddle Shack, or Nantahala Outdoor Center's Chattahoochee Outpost enjoying the city-meets-nature surroundings as you go. Trips range from nearly two-mile outings to longer eight-mile ones, depending on where you put in.

A more laid-back water journey can be had on the Flint River in Albany, which recently added three new kayak and canoe launches, one located near the Georgia Power Dam and the other two near downtown at Riverfront Park. After a trip down the river, don’t forget to stop into the Flint RiverQuarium to learn about southwest Georgia’s underwater world.

For a workout, try the Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail, with 35 access points along 100 miles of coastline. From St. Marys to the Golden Isles and up to Savannah, the trail weaves through salt marshes and barrier islands along parts of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

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Don’t forget the beach!

If you want to add some sand and shells to your water adventures, point your sails toward Georgia's beaches. Little St. Simons Island, a 10,000-acre barrier island resort accessible only by boat, is a great option for those who want the utmost in privacy. Settle into one of the six cottages at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island before enjoying guided nature walks, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, birding or simply unwinding on the island’s seven-mile, unspoiled beach.

Another secluded beach destination reachable only by ferry is Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. Home to tabby ruins, maritime forests, and undeveloped beaches — as well as the famous Greyfield Inn — it carries a storied history filled with Spanish missionaries, enslaved African Americans, and Gilded Age industrialists.

For a more bustling beach vacation, soak up the sun on Savannah’s Tybee Island. Awash with festivals, forts, museums, restaurants and hotels, Tybee is the ideal spot for a family vacation.

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