10 Best Georgia Lakes For Any Type Of Getaway

Each of the Peach State's glittering lakes has its own personality and unique charm.

Lake Blue Ridge

Explore Georgia

Though much of the Peach State is land-locked, Georgia's lakes are prime destinations for recreation on the water. The state boasts nearly 60,000 square miles of water within its borders, including a host of glittering lakes, each with its own personality and unique charm. From small, secluded bodies of water in state parks to massive lakes that draw people from around the South, there’s no shortage of places to explore. 

Whether you’re looking for a family getaway with activities for all ages, a romantic escape with a touch of luxury, or an action-packed visit with activities such as fishing, kayaking, water skiing, and more, there’s something to suit within Georgia's borders. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order. They each have their own perks, so you’ll want to spend time picking out your favorite. 

Lake Oconee

Lake Oconee - Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Aerial

Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee

A visit to Lake Oconee, a 19,000-acre beauty that spans Morgan, Hancock, Putnam and Greene counties, calls for more than a day trip. No matter your vessel of choice—from pontoon to speed boats and kayaks to paddle boards—there is nearly 30 square miles of open water to explore. Dare devils will want the adrenaline rush that comes from leaping off of the aptly named Jumping Rock, a 10-foot-tall stone on the lake’s south end (note: it’s only accessible by water). You’ll be in good company since the lake is a favorite spot for wakeboarding, water skiing, jet skiing, and more. For a more relaxing—or romantic—way to explore, book a captain-guided tour in a wooden Hacker-Craft Runabout with Oconee Classic Boats (insider tip: there’s no better way to see the sunset over the lake). For a luxurious overnight stay, you can’t beat The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, with its plush accommodations, a trio of expansive pools, six celebrity-designed golf courses and a 30,000-square-foot spa retreat.

Lake Rabun

Lake Rabun

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Just a short drive from Clayton’s historic downtown lies Lake Rabun, a north Georgia gem. The 835-acre reservoir was formed in 1915 in one of the state’s deepest valleys in the Blue Ridge Mountains when the Georgia Railway and Power Company built the Mathis Dam. Though it’s functional (it’s a power and water supply for local communities), it’s equally fun for recreational pursuits set against a stunning backdrop of towering mountains. Guests can get started at multiple public facilities for fishing, boating and camping (don’t miss Nacoochee Park on the lake’s north end for a picnic). For an overnight stay near the water, book a room or a table at Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant, operating since 1922.

Lake Sidney Lanier

Lake Lanier

Explore Georgia

Known to most as simply “Lake Lanier,” this 38,000-acre North Georgia beauty in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains spot boasts 76 recreational areas (including 40 parks and campgrounds) and 10 marinas, including some that rent boats. Lake Lanier Islands, the 1,200-acre property with a lodge, villas, lake houses, and a Margaritaville RV resort, is a major draw. Guests can indulge in an on-property waterpark (home to the state’s largest wave pool and towering water slides), a spa, and an 18-hole golf course, in addition to everything you’d love about a lake—think kayaking and motorized watercrafts, hiking along the shore, swimming, and more. This lake is more than just beautiful and fun: Constructed in the 1950s by the Army Corps of Engineers, it’s designed to help with flood protection, fish and wildlife management, water supply, and power production. 

Lake Burton

Lake Burton, GA in the fall


Lake Burton, tucked into the mountains surrounding Clayton, is one of the state’s most serene reservoirs and a prime place for spotting a celebrity. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and country music superstar Alan Jackson both have had homes on its shores. If you have a boat, plan to go for a cruise around the pristine waters. No boat? No problem. Make a day of it on the sandy banks of Timpson Cove Beach where you can swim and sunbathe. While you’re in town, plan to explore Blackrock Mountain State Park, the highest in the state.

Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge

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This northwest Georgia lake, created in 1942 with the addition of the Chatuge Dam, shares its shores with North Carolina. Its 132 miles of shoreline, populated with a swimming beach, public boat ramps, picnic areas, and playgrounds, make it a popular spot for lake recreation of all kinds, from swimming and water sports to fishing and paddling. Though its shores are dotted with campsites, those who crave a bit of rustic luxury will enjoy a stay at The Ridges Resort, where fine dining at The Oaks Lakeside Kitchen never disappoints. 

Lake Blue Ridge

Lake Blue Ridge

Explore Georgia

Give yourself a day (or two) to get lost at this picturesque mountain lake, located in the north Georgia city of the same name. The 3,290-acre lake boasts 65 miles of shoreline, 80% of which is in the lush Chattahoochee National Forest. When the Blue Ridge Dam was built in 1930 on the Toccoa River, it was the Southeast’s largest earthen dam. The resulting lake has since been a destination for easy hikes around the perimeter, camping at the Morganton Point Campground, boating, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. No boat of your own? Rent one from the Lake Blue Ridge Marina and finish the day with a bite at the on-site Boat Dock Bar & Grill.

Reed Bingham Lake

Canoer at Reed Bingham Lake

Georgia State Parks

Reed Bingham Lake is the centerpiece of this charming state park of the same name near Adel in south Georgia. At 375 acres, it’s a favorite spot for boating and for reeling in bass, catfish, and bream, but insiders know that it’s a terrific destination for paddling kayaks and canoes and spotting local wildlife and birds. Spend time relaxing on the small sandy beach and enjoy the water lilies and tupelo trees lining the lake fed by the Little River. Want to stay the night? The park has 60 campsites, including a primitive island site you’ll need to paddle to reach.

Lake Nottely

Lake Nottely, Georgia

Miriam Camp Photography

This 4,000-acre Blairsville lake is largely undeveloped, thanks to the fact that it’s protected by the U.S. Forest Service. Enjoy the serenity, whether you bring your own boat, rent a pontoon boat from the Nottely Marina (which also boasts an on-the-water general store for essentials), or find one of the prime swimming spots tucked into coves around the lake. If you prefer to relax on the shore, check out Poteete Creek Park for its sand beach and swimming area, campground, and picnic facilities.

Hartwell Lake

Lake Hartwell

Explore Georgia

One of the South’s largest lakes—clocking in at 56,000 acres with 962 miles of shoreline—is partially in Georgia, partially in South Carolina and fed by the sparkling Savannah River. On the Peach State side, visitors can stop at the Hartwell Dam & Lake Visitor Center for information and take a walk along the paved trail to the top of Hartwell Dam for spectacular views. The manmade lake has long-been a destination for swimming, picnicking, camping, and boating, but anglers are particularly fond of this spot. Whether you take a boat to cast a line or drop one off the side of the new Hartwell Dam Fishing Pier, you just might reel in largemouth bass, bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass, or hybrid bass.

Lake Sinclair

Lake Sinclair, Georgia

Explore Georgia

Lake Sinclair, minutes from downtown Milledgeville, was created by Georgia Power in 1953, and it encompasses 15,300 acres with more than 500 miles of shoreline. The lake’s location, two hours southeast of Atlanta, makes it popular for fishing, swimming, riding jet skis, tubing, boating, and more. In fact, Lake Sinclair is a prime spot for wakeboarding. Multiple marinas and boat ramps make it ideal for anyone with their own watercraft, but those who don’t own can conveniently rent one for a full or half day from several local vendors on the lake.

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