The Getaway
15 Things to do in Lake Lanier

Every year, more than 10 million people are drawn to the captivating allure of Lake Lanier in northern Georgia. Created in the 1950s as a reservoir, this man-made jewel has evolved into a premier leisure destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty with modern amenities. Imagine a place where the sun dances on miles of sparkling water, where sandy beaches beckon for a lazy afternoon, and where lush landscapes offer endless outdoor adventures. From adrenaline-pumping water sports to tranquil nature hikes, Lake Lanier has something for everyone. The area is also a gastronomic delight, featuring various dining options ranging from gourmet meals to casual lakeside grills. And when the sun sets, the entertainment comes alive with vibrant nightlife, live music, and seasonal events. Whether you're a thrill-seeker, a nature lover, or someone simply looking to escape the daily grind, Lake Lanier promises a multitude of experiences that are as diverse as they are unforgettable—thinking of making a trip? Here are a few fun-filled activities that promise not to disappoint.

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01 Play at Lake Lanier Islands Beach and Water Park

Nestled in the heart of the Peach State, Lake Lanier Islands Beach and Water Park is a must-visit spot. The destination boasts stunning waterfront views, sandy beaches, and lush landscapes. The water park features slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and interactive play areas, ensuring hours of non-stop entertainment for visitors of all ages. Adding to the allure, the Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is a sprawling resort complex that significantly contributes to the lake's attractions, offering a variety of both water-based and land-based activities.

Aerial view of Lake Lanier Rajesh Pandit / Getty Images

02 Explore the Treetop Quest Gwinnett

Open to visitors of all ages, this outdoor park is known for its elevated obstacle courses, designed to challenge your physical abilities and adventurous spirit. These courses consist of various elements, such as ziplines, rope bridges, ladders, swings, and tightrope walks. Ingeniously integrated into the natural landscape, they provide an exhilarating, immersive way to explore the forest canopy.

03 Shop at the Mall of Georgia

Considered one of the largest shopping malls in the southeastern United States, the Mall of Georgia is a shopaholic's dream come true. Located just a few miles away from Lake Lanier, it's the biggest shopping mall in Gwinnett County, offering a wide range of retail stores and businesses. Visitors can find clothing, accessories, electronics, home goods, beauty products, and much more. The mall also provides a plethora of dining choices, ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants, and boasts a movie theater with the latest cinematic releases.

04 Try a round at Fox Creek Golf Course

Nestled in the historic city of Smyrna and surrounded by towering Georgia pines, Fox Creek Golf Course offers a fun place for golfers of all ages to play and practice their swing. The club features 50 grass-hitting stations, PGA instruction, quality range balls, and club rentals. Recognized by the Golf Range Association of America as one of the nation's best driving ranges and golf destinations, it's a must-visit for any golf enthusiast.

Golf course egdigital / Getty Images

05 Find a unique vibe at Main Street Gainesville

Known for its charming atmosphere and community-oriented vibe, Main Street Gainesville is home to a variety of locally-owned shops and boutiques. Filled with over 50 different businesses, Main Street is a bustling hub for shopping, restaurants, entertainment, and nightlife. Visitors can explore specialty stores, art galleries, antique shops, and more. Whether you crave Southern comfort food or international fare, award-winning restaurants will keep you fed. The area also boasts concerts and family-friendly events, adding to its vibrant nightlife.

06 Visit Don Carter State Park

With direct access to Lake Lanier, Don Carter State Park offers opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Hiking trails that wind through the wooded areas provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore nature. Don Carter is Georgia's newest state park on Lake Lanier and stands out for its large man-made swimming beach, making it unique among state parks. Campers can also pitch a tent or haul their RV to enjoy the tranquility of the natural surroundings with the convenience of modern amenities.

07 Spend a day at Buford Dam Park

Buford Dam Park offers gorgeous views of Lake Lanier and easy access to swimming, picnicking, and boating. Located at the south end of Lake Lanier, the park has a designated swimming beach and a 3.8-mile Laurel Ridge Trail for hiking. For sports enthusiasts, the park also features a basketball court and soccer field, adding to its recreational offerings. Other amenities include picnic areas, restrooms, a playground, and a scenic boardwalk.

08 Relax at Pelican Pete's Tiki Bar & Grill

After relaxing on the lake, escape to Pelican Pete's Tiki Bar & Grill, a tropical paradise at Port Royale Marina. Open year-round, patrons can relax under Lake Lanier's largest thatched roof tiki hut while enjoying some tasty coastal cuisine. Known for its unbeatable lake views, live music, and what many consider the best food and drinks on the lake, it's a perfect spot to unwind.

09 See the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville

Home to the largest conservation nursery in the Southeast, the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville features many beautiful plant varieties in a well-kept garden. Multiple waterfalls and bridges beautifully intertwine with the garden's walking trails, offering picturesque views. Public and private garden tours are also available, and a 2.5-acre garden for children features a tree house, a rock climbing wall, plant sculptures, and a trolley. The garden's gift shop carries a variety of unique souvenirs, making it a full-day experience.

Garden Archway Sean Davis / Getty Images

10 Experience the Water Park at Margaritaville

This tropical-themed water park is part of the larger Margaritaville at Lanier Islands resort complex, including accommodations, dining options, and entertainment facilities. Home to a range of water slides with different thrill levels, it caters to adrenaline seekers and those looking for a more leisurely experience alike. From heart-pounding drops to breathtaking vertical plummets, visitors won't be bored.

Child playing under tip bucket in water park. FamVeld / Getty Images

11 Take an excursion with Lake Lanier Water Sports

Get to know Lake Lanier with a fun, guided jet ski excursion with Lake Lanier Sports. Tours can last up to eight hours. The duration is completely up to the guests, and prices reflect that. Enjoy the freedom of riding at your own speed at the conclusion of the tour. Feeling a little more adventurous? The company's flyboards offer guests a thrilling way to hover above the water's surface like a superhero of sorts.

jet ski MAYBAYBUTTER / Getty Images

12 Try paddleboarding with Energy Watersports

Located on Lake Pointe Center in Cumming, this family-owned business lets guests experience the sensation of gliding across the peaceful water while soaking in some sun. From kayaks to stand-up paddleboards, there are plenty of rental options to choose from. Rentals are available seven days a week, and you can make reservations online. The company also offers lessons for new and experienced paddlers.

Full Length Of Man On Paddle Board In Sea During Sunset unit-d / Getty Images

13 Go camping or glamping

Camping at Lake Lanier Islands with Margaritaville's lodging options allows guests to immerse themselves in nature while enjoying the comforts of modern amenities in a tropical-themed atmosphere. Elevate your outdoor stay by booking an RV site on the lake. Waterfront cabins that offer unparalleled comfort are also available. For a more luxurious camping experience, take advantage of "glamping" tent cottages that have all the comforts of home with a beautiful view.

Couple enjoys camping at a campground in the woods. Yagi Studio / Getty Images

14 Enjoy the amenities at Holiday Marina

The Holiday Marina is a hub for visitors looking to enjoy the lake's many offerings. Open year-round, the marina has a restaurant and a chapel that holds services during the summer season. A store at the marina offers a variety of drinks, ice, snacks, marine supplies, and more. Bathrooms, showers, and a coin-operated laundry are also available. Boat problems? No worries. On-site maintenance workers can help.

15 Cruise Lake Lanier on an excursion yacht

Fun times and breathtaking views await guests aboard one of Margaritaville's excursion yachts. After choosing the margarita or wine cruise, raise a glass, kick your feet up, and indulge in delicious appetizers while relaxing in paradise. Every excursion yacht comes with a luxurious, enclosed cabin featuring indoor and upper deck seating, heating and cooling, and restroom facilities.

Driving into the sunset. jovan_epn / Getty Images
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