Lake Lanier is a 38,000-acre reservoir north of Atlanta that attracts those looking to enjoy water sports and many recreational facilities in the area. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is one of the most scenic neighborhoods in the Atlantic Metro area.

The center of the lake has several islands, which are popular attractions in their own right. Lake Lanier Islands have some sandy coves for lazing in the sun, a family-friendly waterpark, and several popular restaurants. There are also 2 towns located on Lake Lanier, Buford and Gainesville, both of which offer interesting shopping and dining options, along with a few historic sites.

Lake Lanier in Atlanta - one of the highlights of 10 Best Things to Do for Couples in Atlanta and 10 Best Road Trips Near Atlanta (Read all about Atlanta here)

A brief history of Lake Lanier in Atlanta

Lake Lanier was created in 1957 when a reservoir was made along the Chattahoochee River to supply Atlanta with fresh water. The lower valley villages in the area were deserted and flooded, which included churches and cemeteries. Some say that the desecration of the graves makes the area haunted even today.

It’s worth noting that Lake Lanier is considered dangerous for young children and novice swimmers due to the dark color of the water and the sharp drop-off from the lakebed. Although the water is clean and safe to swim in, it’s a good idea to exercise caution. Always wear a buoyancy vest if you’re going into the water.

What are the highlights of Lake Lanier in Atlanta?

Kayaking, bathing, fishing, and pleasure boating are among the most popular pastimes in Lake Lanier. The lake is extremely popular for all kinds of water sports throughout the summer months (June–September), especially on weekends. Designated bathing neighborhoods are set up to ensure everyone’s safety. During the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Lake Lanier hosted rowing and canoeing events – activities that continue to grow in popularity.

Out of the water, you can enjoy beach volleyball in summer and snow tubing in winter. Thanks to Georgia’s temperate climate, there’s an activity to suit every season at Lake Lanier.

Around Christmas time, the whole lake is surrounded by bright lights. In total, over 6 miles of lights are used to decorate the edge of the lake, making it one of the world’s largest light shows.

What else can I do near Lake Lanier?

You will find many interesting things to see and do near Lake Lanier. In spring and early summer, you can trek to several waterfalls that drop near the Chattahoochee River, which feeds into the lake. The Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainsville is a pleasant family-friendly attraction. The 30-acre garden is a short drive from the Clarks Bridge that links the town to the islands.

Golfers can find 3 golf courses close to Lake Lanier. The most visually stunning is Lanier Islands Legacy Golf Course. This 18-hole course is also the most challenging due to its many water hazards. For a leisurely round, head to Chattahoochee Golf Club just to the north of the lake or Oaks Miniature Golf on the eastern shore.

How to get to Lake Lanier in Atlanta

Lake Lanier is about an hour's drive north of Atlanta, along Interstate 85-North. If you are taking public transportation, take the subway to Doraville Station then book a ride from there to the lake.

Lake Lanier in Atlanta

Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveler