Sunset at Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville, Georgia

Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville, Georgia

Guide to Gainesville

Home to Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia, is brimming with things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and unique events.

Called the “Queen City of the Mountains,” Gainesville, Georgia, was settled in the 1800s by European settlers. It hosted 1996 Olympic rowing and kayaking events on the 38,000-acre Lake Sidney Lanier. Nearby Road Atlanta, a world-renowned road racing course, hosts the Petit LeMans every year. Downtown Gainesville has countless shops, restaurants and attractions, including science and nature centers, arts galleries and Civil War landmarks.

Things to Do

Drop a line and stay awhile in Gainesville, Georgia. Lake Lanier offers world-class fishing, kayaking and even dragon boating!

Kayaker photo

Gainesville Upper Water Trail

Kayak 14 miles of water trails on the Gainesville Upper Water Trail, where you will enjoy the beauty of the upper Chattahoochee River.

Lake Lanier Olympic Park

No kayak? No worries, just swing by the Lake Lanier Olympic Park to rent a kayak and visit the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2018 World Dragon Boat Championships.

Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville

The Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville is a destination for connecting with beauty and the natural world. Complete with a visitor center, outdoor gardens, a model train garden, hiking trails and an amphitheater, it is a cultural center for the community, hosting exhibitions, events and educational programs. Be sure to take part in the Wine in the Woodlands, concerts, art classes and horticultural programs that are offered throughout the year.

Linwood Nature Preserve

For the bird watchers, Linwood Nature Preserve is an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary with more than 40 species of birds to spy upon and more than two miles of beautiful woodland trails. There’s also a native plant garden.

Elachee Nature trail

Elachee Nature Science Center

Raptors and snakes, oh my! Elachee Nature Science Center is where you can not only hike and bike, but see raptors and others birds of prey, snakes and the beauty of a natural woodland forest. The museum offers an educational and hands-on experience, where you can see native animals, including a live indoor beehive.

Northeast Georgia History Center

Touch a tornado at the Northeast Georgia History Center and learn about the history of the region from Chief Whitepath to a special folk art exhibit. The Freedom Garden offers a place to reflect and honor those who have served our country.

Solar System Trail

Miles of trails and gardens await you in Gainesville, including the Solar System Trail, where you can touch the sun and walk the 1.9-mile trail scaled model of the solar system. Start your tour on the Downtown Gainesville Square, where you can browse the boutique shops, art galleries, dine in the dozen restaurants and enjoy the Historic Downtown Farmer's Market beginning in May every Friday.

Left Nut Brewing

Left Nut Brewing Company

End your day with an award-winning craft beer from Left Nut Brewing Company located inside a historic building in Chicopee Mills and across from historic Chicopee Mill Village. Erected in 1927 by Johnson & Johnson as a textile mill, it later housed administrative facilities as the mill grew over the next several decades.The mill and and surrounding village are registered in the National Register of Historic Places and offer lots of events and live music.

Find more things to do in Gainesville

Places to Stay

Hilton Garden Inn

Gainesville has more than 800 rooms available, including Hilton Garden Inn, which is located in the restaurant district of Gainesville. With more than 100 rooms and suites, the hotel has Internet, coffee makers, microwaves, a business center and a fitness center.

Ramada Inn

Enjoy the daily breakfast buffet at the Ramada Inn before working out at the fitness center or outdoor pool. The hotel has a full bar and restaurant, and rooms come with a microwave, mini-refrigerator, flat-screen HDTV, and a coffee and tea maker.

Hampton Inn Gainesville exterior

Hampton Inn

The Hampton Inn has spacious guest rooms with free Internet access, a swimming pool, fitness center, business center and the brand’s signature free hot breakfast daily.

Guest Lodge

The economically priced Guest Lodge has complimentary hot breakfast, a courtyard swimming pool, free wireless Internet, microwaves, mini fridges, coffee makers and meeting rooms.

Super 8

Each of the rooms at the Super 8 have amenities like microwaves, refrigerators and free Wi-Fi Internet access as well as free daily breakfast. Some rooms even have Jacuzzis.

Fairfield Gainesville exterior

Fairfield Inn & Suites

Located a few miles from Lake Lanier Island, Fairfield Inn & Suites has free hot breakfast, free WiFi, free coffee in the lobby, and access to the indoor heated pool, exercise room, business center and meeting room.

Holiday Inn Express

Most include breakfast options and meeting areas, including the new Holiday Inn Express, but you can contact directly for more information.

Find more places to stay in Gainesville

Where to Eat

Gainesville's dining offers a wide variety from special occasions to farm to table options. Stroll the Downtown Gainesville Square for shopping and some great dining, too!

Scott's Downtown sign

Scott's Downtown

For special occasions check out Scott's Downtown, where the tuna tartare is out of this world!


Luna’s offers sophisticated dining with a jazz flair, featuring lunch and dinner menus with ribeyes, lobster and shrimp risotto, and pan seared trout.


Another favorite is Avocados, which offers a farm-to-table taste and also offers many gluten-free alternatives. The Sunday brunch is delightful, especially paired with their signature mimosa! The menu of fresh dishes includes chilaquiles, sandwiches, and fish and chips.

Southern Baked, pie

Southern Baked Pie Company

We've got your sweets! Top off your day with homemade pie from the Southern Baked Pie Company.

More great places to eat

The Atlanta Highway Seafood Market, Atlas Pizza and the famous Longstreet Cafe are just some of the other treasures you'll find in Gainesville.

Find more places to eat in Gainesville


Aerial view of the Spring Chicken Festival in Gainesville, Georgia
Spring Chicken Festival in Gainesville, Georgia

Spring Chicken Festival

Gainesville is known as the “Poultry Capital of the World,” and the Spring Chicken Festival is one of the most popular events. It has been voted one of the top 20 Southeastern events, and it is Georgia's official chicken cook-off. More than 7,000 pounds of chicken are cooked and consumed at the festival on the last Saturday in April. Enjoy arts and crafts, a chicken parade, live music and, of course, the best chicken you can sample.

A lighted chicken on a downtown rooftop at Jingle Mingle in Gainesville, Georgia
Jingle Mingle in Gainesville, Georgia

Jingle Mingle

Where else can you go to kick off the holiday season by lighting a 25-foot metal chicken? Gainesville, of course! Visit in November for Jingle Mingle, where more than 5,000 people flock to the Downtown Gainesville Square to kick off the holidays with live music, carriage and train rides, Santa visits and the Lighting of the Chicken!

Find more events in Gainesville

Published: November 2018
Scroll To Top