Your guide to Georgia’s lakes: 16 spots to play or unwind

Resort Lakes

Escape to the Lake: Lake Oconee

It’s all about the amenities at these luxurious lakes, where golf bags and tennis rackets are as ubiquitous as water skis and fishing poles

Lake Oconee

Why we love it
With more than 100 holes of golf, four upscale, gated communities, and a five-diamond Ritz-Carlton property encircling its shoreline, Lake Oconee offers the most luxurious lakefront accommodations close to Atlanta. This peaceful, 19,000-acre reservoir an hour east of Atlanta feels breathable even on busy days. Greensboro, the nearest town, has quaint restaurants (try the buttermilk pie at the Yesterday Cafe) and low-key attractions (don’t miss the Old Gaol, the oldest standing masonry jail in Georgia).

Local hangout
Order a Hey Man blonde ale and grab a seat (if you can find one) on the patio at Oconee Brewing Co., a popular watering hole a block off Main Street in downtown Greensboro.

Perfect day on the lake
Wake up in your club-level suite at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, and head to the hotel dock to rent a double-decker pontoon boat with a slide. Once the kids are loaded up, make your way north to the Sandbar, where you can drop anchor and splash in waist-deep water in the middle of the lake. After a day of swimming and sliding (plus a stop for lunch at Gaby’s by the Lake), get cleaned up for dinner at National Tavern, a gastropub overlooking the National golf course at Reynolds Lake Oconee.

Other resort lakes

Escape to the Lake: Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee

Situated on the shores of this South Carolina lake, some 130 miles northeast of Atlanta, the Reserve at Lake Keowee offers members more than $100 million in amenities. These include a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course, a 200-slip marina, and a clubhouse overlooking the water.

Escape to the Lake: Lake Hartwell

Lake Hartwell

On Lake Hartwell’s Georgia side (it crosses into South Carolina), Currahee Club has a Fazio-designed golf course with views of four states. Wander the community garden, take a dip in the zero-entry saltwater pool, or hop on the club pontoon for a sunset cruise.