Safari tent at Timberline Glamping Co. at Lake Lanier, Georgia

Timberline Glamping Co. at Lake Lanier, Georgia

Best Things to Do on Lake Lanier

With more than 700 miles of shoreline sprawling across 38,000 acres of water, spectacular Lake Lanier is the largest lake in Georgia and a popular destination for boating, swimming and unforgettable lake vacations. Lake Lanier is just 60 miles north of Atlanta and 150 miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tenn., making it a convenient spot for a weekend getaway in the northeast Georgia mountains.

Several boats in the water at Lake Lanier in Georgia. Photo by @ExploreGeorgia

Lake Lanier, Georgia. Photo by @ExploreGeorgia

Boat and Jet Ski Rentals on Lake Lanier

You don’t have to bring your own watercraft to get out on the water (though you’ll find plenty of boat ramps on Lake Lanier if you do BYO-Boat). Harbor Landing Marina offers pontoon and tritoon boats for rent, as well as tubes and water sports equipment. Or enjoy luxury houseboat rentals and yacht charters, which include Coast Guard-certified captains.

Dreaming of high-speed thrills? Rent a WaveRunner at Paradise Rental Boats at Port Royale Marina to zoom across the water.

Two kids on a water slide at The Water Park at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands in Georgia

The Water Park at Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia

Outdoor Adventures at Lake Lanier

From amusement parks to fishing excursions, you’ll find plenty of fun for thrill-seekers. Whoosh down water slides, splash in the wave pool or attend a foam party at The Water Park at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands. (During the winter, you’ll find snowtubing, an ice rink, carnival rides and fire pits at Snow Island at Margaritaville.) Or play a round of golf on the 18-hole golf course with lake views at Lanier Islands Legacy Golf Course.

Lake Lanier is also one of the best places to fish in Georgia. See what you can reel in from the fishing pier at West Bank Park or the fishing dock at Little River Park. Or let a professional fishing guide service, such as Captain Clay Cunningham of Catching Not Fishing, lead you to hidden fishing holes.

Bridge to LandShark Bar & Grill on a sunny day at Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia

LandShark Bar & Grill at Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia

Dining with a View

Park your boat in the boat slip and overlook Lake Lanier at the dock-and-dine eatery LandShark Bar & Grill, serving up fish tacos, burgers and refreshing LandShark Lager beer. For island-inspired pub grub (think peel-and-eat shrimp, Cajun-style pork skins and grouper fingers with tartar sauce) and draft beer, pull up a chair at The Twisted Oar. Or sip tropical cocktails like mai tais and mojitos while enjoying fresh seafood — from mussels to Maine lobster rolls — and gorgeous sunset views over the water at Pelican Pete’s Tiki Bar & Grill.

Beach at Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia

Beach at Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia

Beaches at Lake Lanier

Sunbathers will find all sorts of beaches at Lake Lanier. At Lake Lanier Olympic Park, enjoy sandy beaches, Food Truck Fridays, live music and two docks. At Buford Dam Park, make the most of the swim beach, picnic areas, campground and the Laurel Ridge Hiking Trail, or stop by the nearby West Bank Park Beach for barbecue grills and a playground. Mary Alice Beach Park offers 24-hour boat ramps, picnic tables and, of course, a long stretch of sandy beach. Don Carter State Park, situated on the north end of Lake Lanier, offers a large, sand swimming beach with bath house. Swim at the beach of the day-use Van Pugh North Beach and then pitch your tent at the nearby campground to stay overnight with waterfront views.

Fireworks at night over Lake Lanier, Georgia

Lake Lanier, Georgia

Seasonal Events on Lake Lanier

Throughout the year, celebrate annual events at Lake Lanier. Start your new year in an invigorating way — with the Polar Bear Plunge and Paddle, featuring a 2-mile guided kayak paddle and a quick plunge in the chilly lake water at Lake Lanier Olympic Park. On July 4th, gather around the lakeshore to watch a dazzling fireworks display and live music. Every September, the Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival features colorful dragon boat races, cultural demonstrations, traditional dancing and a variety of international cuisine. Come the holiday season, watch a succession of illuminated boats during the Lanier Holiday Boat Parade, and then stroll through a winter wonderland of holiday lights and live music at Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular.

Legacy Lodge Pool at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia

Legacy Lodge at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia

Lake Lanier Camping & Lodging

Find the perfect home base for your lake vacation. With more than 45 parks and 10 campgrounds along the shoreline of Lake Lanier, it’s easy to find a perfect place to stay under the stars, whether camping, glamping or parking your RV.

Enjoy waterfront campgrounds for tent camping at Van Pugh South Campground or bring your RV to the campground at Don Carter State Park. The rustic, wooded campsites at Shoal Creek Campground are ideal for tents, smaller RVs and pop-up campers.

Not quite ready to rough it? Bring your big rigs and fully decked-out RVs to Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Lanier Islands and enjoy amenities like full hook-ups, free cable and Wi-Fi, boat rentals, margarita cruises and beach passes. Or go glamping! At Timberline Glamping Co. in Shady Grove Campground, stay in a safari tent, geodesic dome or retro-style RV, all outfitted with beds, linens and climate control.

Or simply take your pick from luxury hotel rooms and vacation rentals available at the Lanier Islands resort complex. Book a hotel room or suite in the Legacy Lodge, plan a romantic getaway in one of the private Legacy Villas, or bring the whole family to one of the LakeHouses at Legacy. There’s a spot to suit every style of vacation.


Learn more about Lake Lanier >>

Published: March 2023
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