Pull over to the side of the road and look. Yes, that's a white-tailed deer calmly grazing there. Surrounding it, golden shafts of morning sunlight glide through the green forest. Roll down your window and listen. Amid the birdsong you may catch the gentle hum of a golf cart or the rustle of a nearby sailboat.
Breathe deeply, and let yourself unwind. Lake Lanier Islands, a lovely resort just 30 minutes north of Atlanta, has everything you'll need for a fun end-of-summer getaway.
The ideal way to begin your vacation is by renting a boat at Harbor Landing to tootle around the 690 miles of shoreline. Most of the crafts in the 90-vessel fleet are new. For some excitement, opt for the personal watercraft. Or take the entire family in a zippy ski boat or a docile pontoon boat. Don't worry about bringing skiing or fishing gear; you can rent it too. If you prefer to leave the piloting to someone else, enjoy a dinner cruise aboard the Island Queen or Island Princess to watch the sunset.
The Beach & Water Park offers a full day of activity. White sand beaches beckon sunbathers, while the excitement of 11 water slides, a huge wave pool, and a challenging surfing ride vie for your attention. The interactive FunDunker surprises with more than 100 different ways to get drenched. Little squirts like to pad around the gentle Wiggle Waves in their own area. With plenty of fast-food stops, miniature golf, and rental canoes for paddling to secluded lagoons, you'll be happily entertained.
Don't forget to reserve a tee time on the 18-hole Joe Lee-designed Emerald Pointe Golf Club. Thirteen holes wind around the lake, providing cool breezes and challenging drives. No. 2's par 3 island green--the signature hole--makes a wonderful photograph if you bring your camera along.
Another way to view the lake is from horseback on a 2.5-mile wooded trail ride from the Equestrian Center. "This is not a nose-to-tail ride," says Barb, the main guide. "Our horses enjoy the trail, and they pick their own pace. You have to know something about riding," she says. Younger children prefer to sit atop a pony for their own horsey experience.
After days full of activity, rest in the delightful surroundings. Choose from the hotel, lake houses, houseboats, or campgrounds. The hotel recently renovated all 216 guestrooms and added a new lobby. Fitness devotees enjoy the workout room adjacent to the pool.
If you've got more than two people in your party, opt for the 4-year-old LakeHouses. These 30 handsome cottages perch above the lake. Inside, two bedrooms, two baths, kitchens, fieldstone fireplaces, and wonderful decks, complete with hot tubs and gas grills, take care of all your needs. The cabin area has its own boat dock, an additional pool, a game room, and a sand volleyball court.
Air-conditioned houseboats are available to rent for those adventuresome travelers who can't get enough time on the lake. They come furnished with four bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, shower, TV/VCR, hot tub, gas grill, and slide.
As another day ends on the glassy waters, boats putter toward the shore while white-tailed deer amble out from the shaded coastline. In the twilight on the lake, you'll discover lasting summer memories.
Lake Lanier Islands: 7000 Holiday Road, Lake Lanier Islands, GA 30518; (770) 932-7200, 1-800-840-5253, or www.lakelanierislands.com. Emerald Pointe Resort: Summer rates start at $149 including breakfast. LakeHouses on Lake Lanier: Summer rates start at $289 for fully furnished two-bedroom cottages. Emerald Pointe Golf Club: $59 Monday-Thursday greens fees, $69 Friday-Sunday, $39 after 2 p.m.; (770) 945-8789. Equestrian Center: $25 for 45-minute trail rides, $10 30-minute pony rides, $30 riding lessons; (770) 932-7233. Harbor Landing boat rentals: Rates start at $129 for two hours on a ski boat and $599-$649 for an overnight houseboat; (770) 932-7255. Beach & Water Park: $25.99 adults, $16.99 seniors and children less than 42 inches tall.
This article is from the August 2002 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.