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10 Gems of Georgia Lakeside Recreation That You Need to Check Out

When it comes to spending time outdoors with family and friends, have you ever felt like your usual go-to spots are starting to feel a little stale? You know, the super busy beaches, typical hiking trails, and overcrowded picnic areas where you always find yourself competing for space? Well, if you answered yes and you’re looking to discover some new hidden gems where you can enjoy all the lakeside fun that Georgia has to offer in a more relaxed, less crowded setting, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’m sharing 10 of the best-kept secrets in our area for fun outdoor recreation when you want to stray off the beaten path. Get ready to cross some new experiences off your summer bucket list!

10 Best Lakeside Recreation Locations in Georgia

Lake Lanier Islands

Located just 45 minutes from Atlanta, Lake Lanier Islands is a hidden gem for lakeside recreation in Georgia. This picturesque lake offers a variety of activities such as boating, fishing, and water sports. Visitors can also enjoy camping, hiking, and even zip-lining at this beautiful destination.

  • A Glimpse into the Past

The history of Lake Lanier Islands is as rich as its natural beauty. Created in the 1950s with the construction of Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier was named after poet Sidney Lanier, who was inspired by the region’s scenery. Initially built for flood control and power generation, the lake quickly became a recreational haven. Over the years, the islands developed into a resort destination, layering modern amenities atop a history steeped in the transformation from a simple river landscape to a bustling lakeside attraction. As visitors explore the area, they tread paths that are intertwined with stories of progress and preservation, echoing the past alongside the laughter of present-day adventurers

  • Dining and Amenities

Lake Lanier Islands caters to all palates, offering an assortment of dining options from casual lakeside bites to upscale eateries. Guests can enjoy the convenience of on-the-go meals or indulge in a fine dining experience with a view of the shimmering waters. Amenities abound for a comfortable stay; luxurious lodging options include lakeside villas and cozy cabins. The resort also boasts a full-service marina, a water park for summer fun, and numerous picnic spots ideal for family gatherings or a peaceful afternoon retreat.

  • Seasonal Festivities and Adventures

Throughout the year, Lake Lanier Islands hosts a kaleidoscope of events and activities that are perfect for visitors of all ages. The Summer Concert Series brings live music to the lakeside, echoing across the water to create a magical atmosphere. Autumn ushers in the Pumpkin Festival, a family favorite, featuring hayrides, pumpkin patches, and autumnal crafts. As the chill of winter sets in, the Magical Nights of Lights transforms the landscape into a twinkling wonderland, with miles of Christmas lights and festive displays captivating the hearts of countless revelers. For the thrill-seekers, annual triathlons and marathon races offer an exhilarating challenge amidst the stunning backdrop of the Georgian wilderness.

Lake Oconee

Lake Oconee is a peaceful retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. This 19,000-acre lake is perfect for fishing and boating, with several marinas and boat rental options available. Visitors can also stay at one of the many lakeside resorts or take a scenic hike along the shoreline.

  • From the Past…

The history of Lake Oconee is as rich as its waters are deep. Created in 1979 with the completion of the Wallace Dam, Lake Oconee is named after the Oconee people, a Native American tribe that originally inhabited the area. The creation of the lake was part of a larger project for hydroelectric power generation and also aimed to provide a recreational area and stimulate economic development in the region. Over the years, Lake Oconee has become a cherished spot for leisure and a hub for community gatherings, reflecting a blend of historical significance and contemporary enjoyment.

  • Local Wildlife and Nature

The local wildlife and ecology around Lake Oconee are robust and vibrant, contributing to the region’s natural charm. The lake’s clean waters teem with a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish, making it a prime location for anglers. The surrounding woodlands and wetlands provide habitat for diverse bird species like the Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagles, and various waterfowl, offering bird watchers a tranquil paradise. Meanwhile, the shoreline and nearby protected areas are home to a mix of wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, raccoons, and foxes, living within the dense foliage of Georgia’s classic pine and hardwood forests. This ecological tapestry not only supports outdoor recreational activities but also plays a crucial role in environmental conservation efforts in the area.

  • Seasonal Events and Festivals at Lake Oconee

As the seasons turn, Lake Oconee becomes the stage for a variety of events and festivals that reflect the region’s rich cultural tapestry. Spring welcomes the annual Dogwood Festival, celebrating the blossoming beauty of the local flora with art exhibitions and family-friendly activities. Summer months heat up with the Independence Day fireworks display over the lake, and the Big Bass Fishing Tournament where anglers compete for the catch of the day under the warm Georgia sun. The fall season is heralded by the Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival, an epicurean delight that showcases the best of local and regional cuisine paired with fine wines. As the chill of winter sets in, the Festival of Trees lights up the season with beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and the community comes together to share in the holiday spirit. Each event not only adds to Lake Oconee’s allure as a year-round destination but also reinforces the communal bonds that make it a special place to visit or call home

Lake Chatuge

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Chatuge offers stunning views and plenty of recreational opportunities. Visitors can go swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding on the crystal-clear waters of this 7,500-acre lake. The surrounding area also has charming towns to explore and delicious local restaurants to try.

  • Hiking Trails Around Lake Chatuge

The lush trails around Lake Chatuge are a hiker’s paradise, crisscrossing through dense forests and offering panoramic mountain vistas. Paths range from leisurely walks like the Lake Chatuge Trail — a gentle, scenic loop — to more challenging hikes, such as the ascent up Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak. Each trail promises sightings of local wildlife and the serenade of nature, making every hike here a truly immersive outdoor experience.

  • Fishing at Lake Chatuge

The serene waters of Lake Chatuge are a haven for anglers looking to indulge in some fishing. It is well-stocked with a variety of fish species, including large mouth bass, spotted bass, and crappie, making it a prime location for both casual and competitive fishing. Seasoned fishers as well as novices can enjoy the thrill of a fresh catch, and the lake hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year which draw enthusiasts from all corners. With ample space for casting a line and the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, fishing at Lake Chatuge is nothing short of spectacular.

  • Best Times to Visit Lake Chatuge

The ideal time to visit Lake Chatuge largely depends on the activities you have planned. If you’re interested in water sports like swimming or paddleboarding, the summer months from June to August provide warm weather perfect for spending time on the water. Those looking to hike may prefer the spring (April to May) or fall (September to October) when the temperature is cooler and the trails are surrounded by the stunning colors of blooming or changing leaves. Anglers will find spring and fall especially fruitful for fishing, as these seasons see active fish behavior and moderate lake traffic. No matter the season, Lake Chatuge offers a unique charm, but arriving during these peak windows can enhance the natural beauty and enjoyment of your visit.

Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole is a hidden gem for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. This 37,500-acre reservoir is home to over 200 species of birds and has multiple wildlife management areas for visitors to explore. Fishing is also popular here, with abundant largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie.

  • History and Significance

Lake Seminole’s history is as rich as its biodiversity. Created in 1957 by the damming of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, it serves as a testament to human engineering and environmental adaptation. Originally intended for flood control, hydroelectric power, and navigation, the lake has since become an ecological haven, supporting not just wildlife but also local communities through recreation and tourism. Its construction brought together various cultures and histories, intertwining them in the tapestry of the region’s heritage, and today it continues to play a pivotal role in the conservation of the area’s unique flora and fauna.

  • Surrounding Natural Beauty

The area around Lake Seminole is a canvas of breathtaking natural beauty, with its undulating landscape painted with a variety of vegetation that flourishes in the humid subtropical climate. The sprawling waterways reflect the sky’s ever-changing hues, while hardwood forests and pine stands offer a verdant backdrop. Seasonal wildflowers dot the land, creating a mosaic of color that delights the senses. Whether you’re gliding through the water in a kayak or meandering through trails that offer unexpected views, the surrounding natural beauty provides a tranquil escape to all who visit.

  • Optimal Visitation Seasons

The idyllic times to visit Lake Seminole largely hinge on the intended activities and the preferred seasonal ambiance. For anglers eager to cast their lines, the spring and fall seasons are optimal, offering cooler temperatures and active wildlife. Birdwatchers may find the migratory patterns in the early spring and late fall particularly rewarding. Meanwhile, those looking to immerse themselves in water sports or family picnics might favor the warm, sunny days of summer. Regardless of the season, Lake Seminole’s dynamic ecosystem and open spaces offer year-round allure for nature enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

West Point Lake

West Point Lake is a paradise for outdoor lovers with its 525 miles of shoreline and over 26,000 acres of water surface to explore. Visitors can go boating or jet skiing on the lake or hike through the surrounding forests and wetlands. There are also numerous campsites available for those looking to spend a night under the stars.

  • Fishing at West Point Lake

For anglers, West Point Lake is a haven bustling with a variety of fish species, offering a premier fishing experience. The lake is abundant with largemouth bass, which is a popular catch, alongside spotted bass and crappie. Catfish and sunfish also populate the waters, creating a diverse fishing escapade for both seasoned and novice fishermen. With numerous public fishing piers and convenient boat ramps, anglers have easy access to prime fishing spots where they can cast their lines and await the thrill of a catch.

  • Recreation Beyond Fishing

Apart from the exciting fishing opportunities, West Point Lake offers a wide array of recreational activities suitable for all ages. The pristine waters welcome enthusiasts of water sports, including water skiing, wakeboarding, and paddleboarding. For a more relaxed pace, visitors can indulge in leisurely kayaking or canoeing, taking in the picturesque views. On land, an extensive network of trails invites bikers and hikers to traverse the scenic landscape, providing a peaceful escape into nature.

Within the recreation area, guests will find well-appointed amenities to enhance their visit. Picnic areas with grills are perfect for family gatherings or a lakeside barbecue. Playgrounds and swimming areas are favorite spots for families, ensuring kids have a fun and active day. For those wishing to extend their stay, the lake offers multiple camping options ranging from basic tent sites to RV hookups, complete with sanitary facilities, ensuring comfort and convenience for all outdoor adventurers.

  • A Glimpse into the Past

West Point Lake’s history is as rich as its recreational offerings. Its origin dates back to the 1960s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conceived the project to manage flood control and generate hydroelectric power. The damming of the Chattahoochee River in 1974 gave birth to this expansive body of water, which has since become a recreational haven. Since its creation, West Point Lake has impacted the surrounding communities significantly, bolstering local economies through tourism and providing a much-needed natural retreat in an increasingly urbanized world. The lake’s development has been a consistent process with the adjoined lands evolving over the years to include more facilities and attractions, all while carefully managing the conservation of the natural habitat surrounding this man-made reservoir.

Clarks Hill Lake

Known as “Georgia’s Freshwater Coast,” Clarks Hill Lake boasts over 70,000 acres of water and 1,200 miles of shoreline. This lake is a popular destination for fishing, with an abundance of bass, catfish, and crappie. Visitors can also rent a houseboat or take a scenic boat tour to fully experience this hidden gem.

  • A Glimpse into the Past

The history of Clarks Hill Lake is as rich as its wildlife. Created by the damming of the Savannah River in the early 1950s for flood control, power production, and recreation, the lake was originally named “Clarks Hill” after the nearby town. However, a clerical error later changed its name to “Clark Hill”, omitting the “s”. It was eventually renamed “J. Strom Thurmond Lake” after the long-serving U.S. senator, though locals still prefer its original moniker. The construction of the dam submerged multiple communities and transformed the local landscape, but it also ushered in a new era of prosperity and outdoor recreation for the region.

  • Recreational Activities and Amenities

A plethora of recreational opportunities await at Clarks Hill Lake. For water enthusiasts, the lake is an idyllic spot for not only fishing but also waterskiing, wakeboarding, and sailing. With numerous boat ramps, marinas, and rental facilities, access to the open water is convenient and inviting. On land, the expansive park area offers picnicking spots, hiking trails with picturesque lake views, and camping sites for those who wish to immerse themselves in the lake’s natural beauty overnight. Children can revel in playground areas while adults might enjoy the disc golf courses or the volleyball courts dotting the shoreline. With its extensive amenities, Clarks Hill Lake promises a rich and varied outdoor experience for all age groups.

  • Seasonal Splendors at Clarks Hill Lake

Clarks Hill Lake transforms with the seasons, offering a diverse range of activities year-round. In the warmer months, the lake becomes a hub for swimming and jet skiing, as visitors take to the water to escape the heat. As fall approaches, the landscape is painted with brilliant hues of orange and red, ideal for tranquil kayak excursions and nature photography. The cooler temperatures of autumn also make it a perfect time for exploring the numerous hiking trails without the summer humidity. Winter at the lake is quieter, but no less beautiful, offering a peaceful retreat for fishing enthusiasts and bird watchers who can spot migrating species. With spring, the wildflowers bloom around the lake’s periphery, and the renewed greenery is accompanied by the return of outdoor picnics and the start of the camping season

Lake Rabun

Lake Rabun is a serene escape from the city, located in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. This 835-acre lake offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming. The surrounding area also has charming cabins and bed & breakfasts for those looking to extend their stay.

  • History of Lake Rabun

Lake Rabun’s history dates back to the early 20th century when it was created by the Georgia Railway and Power Company for hydroelectricity generation. Completed in 1915, the lake soon became a popular retreat for those seeking leisure and tranquility away from urban centers. Its shorelines and waters were witness to family bonding, community gatherings, and the gentle shift from a utility reservoir to a cherished recreational hub. Over the years, Lake Rabun has also played host to a unique tradition called the Lake Rabun Wooden Boat Parade, where vintage boats add a touch of nostalgia to the picturesque scenery.

  • Recreational Activities at Lake Rabun

Lake Rabun’s clear waters and scenic beauty make it a haven for recreational activities suited for all ages. On any given day, you might find enthusiasts skimming the surface on water skis or peacefully casting lines in the hopes of catching bass or trout. Kayaks and canoes often dot the lake, offering a quiet way to explore the nooks and crannies of the shoreline. For those seeking relaxation, the numerous picnic spots by the water’s edge provide the perfect setting for a family gathering. In addition to water activities, nature trails around the lake allow hikers and bikers to immerse themselves in the lush forest, rich with the sounds and sights of local wildlife. Whether it’s through sports, leisure, or the simple act of unwinding amidst nature, Lake Rabun offers a bounty of choices to its visitors.

  • Seasonal Events and Festivals at Lake Rabun

Beyond the everyday allure, Lake Rabun’s calendar is dotted with seasonal events and festivals that draw crowds from near and far. The Lake Rabun Association sponsors the annual Fourth of July Fireworks, a spectacular display that illuminates the night sky and reflects over the lake’s surface, creating a memorable spectacle for the assembled spectators. Come autumn, the Rabun Ramble Road Race garners a mix of competitive runners and casual participants, enjoying the cooler temperatures and the stunning fall foliage. The holiday season ushers in the Festival of the Trees, where locals and visitors alike can wander through a whimsical forest of decorated trees, each telling its own story of the season’s joy. These events not only provide entertainment but also strengthen the sense of community and tradition amongst residents and guests.

Lake Allatoona

Lake Allatoona is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts with its 12 marinas and multiple boat ramps. Visitors can also go camping, hiking, or even horseback riding in the nearby Red Top Mountain State Park. With over 270 miles of shoreline to explore, there’s always something new to discover at this hidden gem.

  • Historical Backdrop of Lake Allatoona

The area surrounding Lake Allatoona has a rich tapestry of history, tracing back to the early 19th century when it was inhabited by the Cherokee Nation. Following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the land witnessed a tumultuous period, eventually leading to the construction of the lake in the 1940s. Created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and hydroelectric power generation, the lake is named after the town of Allatoona, which now lies beneath its waters. Over the years, it has transformed into a recreational hub, with remnants of history still echoing in the trails and ruins that sprawl across Red Top Mountain State Park.

  • Environmental Significance of Lake Allatoona

Lake Allatoona plays a critical role in supporting the local ecosystem’s biodiversity. It serves as a habitat for various species of fish, birds, and terrestrial wildlife, thereby contributing to the region’s ecological balance. Its waters are instrumental in sustaining the wetlands along its periphery, which act as natural filters that purify the water, reducing pollution and fostering a clean environment. Moreover, the lake’s ecosystem is essential for research and education, providing invaluable insights into freshwater habitats and the effects of human activities on natural reserves. As a vital source of water for nearby communities and agriculture, the conservation and sustainable management of Lake Allatoona are imperative for maintaining the environmental health and well-being of the region.

  • Impact on Local Communities Surrounding Lake Allatoona

The presence of Lake Allatoona has a significant impact on the local communities, both economically and socially. It has become a cornerstone for tourism and recreation, attracting visitors for boating, fishing, and camping, which in turn stimulates local businesses and supports job creation. The lake’s scenic beauty also enhances the quality of life for area residents, offering a serene retreat from the urban hustle. Furthermore, as a critical water resource, it sustains the agricultural needs of the community and supports the municipal water supply. However, this reliance also raises concerns about water usage and conservation, as fluctuations in the lake’s water levels can directly affect the livelihood and daily operations of those who live nearby. Thus, maintaining a delicate balance between recreational use and resource management is crucial for the enduring prosperity of the surrounding communities.

Lake Hartwell

Spanning across Georgia and South Carolina, Lake Hartwell offers endless possibilities for lakeside recreation. Visitors can go boating or fishing on the lake or explore one of the many parks and trails along its shores. The nearby town of Hartwell also has charming shops and restaurants to visit.

  • Historical Background of Lake Hartwell

Lake Hartwell carries a rich history that began long before it became a hub for recreation. The region was originally inhabited by the Cherokee Native American tribe, who lived off the land and the waters. With the arrival of European settlers in the 18th century, the area saw a significant transformation. The lake itself is a man-made reservoir, created in the late 1950s and early 1960s by damming the Savannah River with the construction of the Hartwell Dam, aimed to provide hydroelectric power, flood control, and a new source of recreation for the region. Over the years, it has become an important cultural and historical touchstone for the communities bordering its perimeter.

  • Wildlife at Lake Hartwell

The diverse ecosystem surrounding Lake Hartwell is home to a variety of wildlife, making it a prime spot for nature enthusiasts. The lake’s waters teem with fish such as bass, catfish, and trout, attracting anglers at all skill levels. Along the shoreline, one might catch sight of herons wading in the shallows or eagles soaring overhead, on the hunt for their next meal. The surrounding forests provide shelter for deer, foxes, and numerous small mammals, as well as a habitat for an array of bird species. Seasonal migrations also bring unique wildlife to the area, offering observation opportunities that change throughout the year.

  • Recreational Activities and Amenities at Lake Hartwell




Lake Hartwell is a bastion of outdoor fun, providing an extensive range of activities suitable for all ages and interests. Water enthusiasts can delight in boating, water skiing, and paddle boarding, or simply spend a leisurely day fishing from the lake’s plentiful coves. Numerous accessible boat ramps and marinas support these activities. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, the area boasts scenic hiking trails that wind through the landscape, offering serene vistas and picnic spots. Campgrounds are well-maintained, offering both primitive sites for a rustic experience and RV hookups for a home-away-from-home feeling. Additionally, many areas are equipped with volleyball and basketball courts, playgrounds for children, and designated swimming areas with lifeguards on duty to ensure safety. With these amenities, Lake Hartwell stands out as a recreational paradise catering to a diverse crowd in search of both adventure and relaxation.

Lake Burton

Last but certainly not least is Lake Burton – a quiet oasis surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. This 2,775-acre lake is perfect for swimming, boating, or simply relaxing on its tranquil shores. Visitors can also explore the nearby towns of Clayton and Dillard for unique shopping and dining experiences.

  • The History of Lake Burton

Lake Burton boasts a history as rich as its natural surroundings. Created in 1919 by the damming of the Tallulah River, it was originally developed to provide hydroelectric power to the burgeoning Atlanta area. Named after the town of Burton that now lies beneath its waters, the lake has since transformed into a serene retreat and a hub for recreation and leisure.

  • Wildlife and Fauna of Lake Burton

The lush forests and pristine waters of Lake Burton are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The area teems with a variety of fish like bass, trout, and yellow perch, making it a premier destination for anglers. In the surrounding woods, hikers might glimpse white-tailed deer, raccoons, and even the occasional black bear. Birdwatchers are treated to an avian paradise, with ospreys, eagles, and migratory songbirds making regular appearances. The vegetation around the lake is a vivid tapestry of oak, hickory, and pine trees interspersed with blooming mountain laurels and rhododendrons, providing a rich habitat for the area’s diverse fauna.

  • Recreation and Amenities at Lake Burton

Lake Burton’s allure is not limited to its natural beauty; the lake is also a hotspot for an array of recreational activities. Boating enthusiasts can take to the water with ease thanks to multiple boat ramps and marinas that offer boat rentals and storage facilities. For those seeking a leisurely day on the lake, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding provide peaceful ways to explore the tranquil waters. Fishing is another popular pastime, with several fishing tournaments held throughout the year attracting anglers of all levels. On land, picnic areas and well-maintained campgrounds invite families to enjoy the lake’s scenic views, while numerous hiking trails offer a chance to wander through the Appalachian wilderness. For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the lakeside pavilions and gazebos are perfect spots for gathering with friends and family, celebrating special occasions, or simply watching the sunset over the water.

Georgia Lakeside Recreation Opportunities Abound!

In conclusion, the lakeside recreation options in Georgia are endless. From tranquil fishing spots to thrilling water sports, there is something for everyone to enjoy. In this post, we have uncovered 10 hidden gems of lakeside recreation that you need to check out in Georgia. Whether you are a local looking for a new adventure or a visitor wanting to experience the beauty of these hidden gems, make sure to add these destinations to your bucket list.

But don’t just take our word for it – get out there and explore these lakes for yourself! So grab your swimsuit, pack a picnic, and head out on an exciting lakeside adventure. And above all, don’t forget to share your experiences with us in the comments below. We would love to hear about your favorite lake in Georgia and any other hidden gems you have discovered.

Moreover, the best part about lakeside recreation is that it’s not just limited to summer months. These stunning locations can be enjoyed year-round, offering a wide range of activities such as hiking, camping, and even ice skating during winter months.

Not only do these hidden gems offer breathtaking scenery and endless outdoor activities, but they also provide opportunities for relaxation and connection with nature. So escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the serenity of these lakeside havens.

In conclusion, Georgia’s picturesque landscapes never cease to amaze us with their beauty and diversity. Whether it’s soaking up the sun on Lake Oconee or kayaking on Lake Lanier, there is no shortage of fun and exciting adventures waiting for you at these hidden gems. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next lakeside getaway now! And don’t forget to let us know which one was your favorite – we can’t wait to hear from you!

I enjoy all things outdoors: days at the lake, hiking, fishing, camping. I appreciate you stopping by to read. This is a passion project that generates some income. #Blessed #Paddleboarding #Kayaking #Swimming #Fishing #LakeGearReviews


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