The Best Lakes to Visit in Georgia

Lake Lanier has many amenities, with something for everyone
Lake Lanier has many amenities, with something for everyone | © Cothron Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Christy Taylor
10 July 2020

With approximately 1,900sqmi (4,921sqkm) of water, the state of Georgia has a bounty of lakes for swimming, relaxing, boating and whatever else the heart desires.

Lake Blackshear

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Sunset at park on Lake Blackshear
© Randell Meeks / Alamy Stock Photo

Lake Blackshear is an 8,700-acre (3,521ha) man-made lake created in 1930. When the lake was first flooded, people thought the cypress trees would die, but they survived and can still be found in the middle of the lake. Today, swimming is a top activity, but at the marina, there is the option to rent jet skis or ski boats. Take a kayak out to get up close to the birdlife and turtles. Go on a train, too; Cordele is the main depot of the Historic Sam Shortline Railroad, a 1949 air-conditioned vintage train. All the excursions go over a portion of the lake, which makes for great photo-op views.

Lake Lanier

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Fed by the Chestatee River, there are many things to do at Lake Lanier. It boasts 76 recreational areas, including more than 40 parks and campgrounds and several marinas. Those looking for the laid-back option can cruise the water by renting anything from a kayak to a houseboat. Margaritaville at Lanier Islands has a bit of everything: restaurants, tiki bars, live music, beaches, firepits and a water park. For the ultimate taste of Americana, rent an RV and take advantage of its RV Park.

Lake Blue Ridge

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Blue Ridge Lake, Blue Ridge School, Saint George, Virginia, USA
Head to Virginia for a wellness break of wine, hiking and yoga | © Pat & Chuck Blackley / Alamy Stock Photo

This scenic, sky-blue lake is surrounded by mountains and is extremely picturesque. Only 25 percent of the shore around the 3,290-acre (1,331ha) lake is developed, making it a great escape to nature. At the marina, there are paddleboats, pontoons, canoes and stand-up boards to rent. Morganton Point Recreation Area provides a beach, swimming, hiking, picnicking and boating. Those wanting to spend more time at the lake can use the campground at Morganton Point, or rent a cabin – many of which are directly on the lake. Nearby is the charming town of Blue Ridge or the Bavarian village of Helen.

Carters Lake, Ellijay

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In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Carters Lake is the deepest of Georgia’s reservoirs at 450ft (137m). It is one of the more unspoiled lakes, with a rugged shore with no houses or docks, often described as “Georgia’s Best-Kept Secret.” From Ridgeway Recreation Area, there is the option for an easy hike or kayak to the Tumbling Waters waterfall, which has two observation decks. Carters Lake Marina & Resort has tube and boat rentals, along with cabins with lake views.

Lake Nottely, Blairsville

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Another hidden treasure, Lake Nottely is protected by the US Forest Service, and more than half of its shoreline is undeveloped. It’s a quiet lake with local charm. Buying a map from the marina will help you find the best secret spots – kids can make like Tarzan on a rope swing or jump from cliffs into the perfect swimming spot below. The marina also has boat, canoe, kayak and pontoon rentals. Every year, there is a 4th of July party on the water, complete with a boat parade. Poteete Creek Campground has a public beach to enjoy.

Lake Allatoona, Cartersville

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Aerial view of the Lake Allatoona taken by drone on a hot summer day in Georgia, USA
© WorldTraveler / Alamy Stock Photo

The 12,000-acre (4,856ha) Lake Allatoona is one of the most popular, with several marinas, campgrounds, beaches and hundreds of picnic tables. Sunset Grille Lakeside Restaurant at Victoria Harbor Marina is, as its name suggests, the best spot to watch the sun go down. Visitors can rent houseboats, tubes, waverunners, pontoons and party boats from Paradise Rental Boats at Park Marina. For the active, bike riders will appreciate Blankets Creek Trail, which accommodates all skill levels, and hikers can choose from trails that are all rated from easy to moderate.

These recommendations were updated on July 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.