With fast boats, waterside concerts, and mile-long floatillas, these happy-go-lucky reservoirs make every day a reason to celebrate.
Why we love it
There’s a reason Lake Lanier attracts a whopping 11 million visitors a year (putting it in the eight-figure stratosphere along with the Magic Kingdom, which draws 20 million): Its wide, deep waters act like an inland ocean, allowing even 40-foot cabin cruisers to traverse most of its 38,000 acres. If you’re looking for a tranquil experience, stay north of Browns Bridge. The farther south you go, the faster and louder it gets.
Tucked into a sheltered cove off the main lake, Fish Tales Lakeside Grille lures in-the-know types who happily wait hours for fresh fish tacos and peach mojitos served on the expansive patio. (There’s a sandy play area for the kids.)
Perfect day on the lake
Rise early to snag a prime anchoring spot near the white sand beach at Margaritaville, the new resort at Lanier Islands. On peak days, more than 400 boats tie up here for a floating, all-day party. Hungry? Grab a jet ski, and zip over to the floating tiki bar at Pelican Pete’s for some nachos. After the sun sets, the music turns up at Landshark Landing, the raucous nightlife spot.
Other Fun lakes
Two-and-a-half hours southwest of Atlanta in Alabama, Lake Martin doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its 39 islands, most of them undeveloped, have names like Cheeseburger and Boogie; its most popular pastime is watching daredevils jump from a 60-foot cliff known as the Rock. In the mood for live music? The Amp on Lake Martin hosts laid-back concerts and festivals on its grassy lawn.
Grab a rum runner at the open-air Beach Bar and flop onto a chair at Robin Lake, Callaway Gardens’ signature reservoir an hour southwest of Atlanta. Friday nights in the summer mean movies on the beach, and Saturdays bring Southern rock concerts. If you really want to make a splash, spring for a private cabana by the water.