A couple of months ago we took a look at the beach communities surrounding Charleston, South Carolina. Now that summer is well underway in Atlanta, it seems appropriate to examine the lakes that provide city dwellers with the chance for a relaxing respite. Whether you’re visiting for a day, maintaining a second home, or living on one full time, North Georgia’s system of lakes are where memories are made. They’re all manmade, but you’ll find each one has its own distinct character and flavor. Which one’s your favorite?
Since its creation 60 years ago, Lake Lanier has become Atlanta’s go-to lake for fun and sun. The waters of the Chattahoochee River are held in by Buford Dam, which was completed in 1956. The original purpose of the lake was providing hydroelectricity, flood control, and water supply for Atlanta downstream. In recent years, that last function has been the point of contention between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. During the 1996 Olympics, Lake Lanier played host to the rowing and sprint canoeing events.
Size and Location
Lake Lanier covers 59 square miles and has 692 miles of shoreline. It abuts Hall, Forsyth, Dawson, Gwinnett, and Lumpkin Counties northeast of Atlanta. GA-400 and I-986 are the most popular ways to access Lake Lanier.
At the height of the summer season, Lake Lanier is buzzing with activity. Boating and watersports are extremely popular here, and the Holiday and Aqualand Marinas (two of the largest such freshwater facilities in the world) provide ample accommodations. The Magical Nights of Lights is a holiday tradition for many Atlanta families, during which the lake becomes a wonderland of illumination and festive activities. Six golf courses and twelve campgrounds surround this ever popular body of water.
As the lake closest to Atlanta, Lanier is the site of some frequently spectacular estates. The shore near Gainesville and Flowery Branch seems to be the most popular area for over-the-top properties that often reach eight figures. At the other end of the spectrum but still on the water, modest cottages dating from the early days of the lake fetch prices in the mid-$300s. Popular planned communities include Chestatee, Marina Bay, Harbour Point, and WaterMark.
Next up: Lake Allatoona and Lake Oconee!