The lush green forests, the glassy water, the fresh and peaceful air – you’ve been wanting to join that collective of happy folks who praise #lakelife day in and day out, but you’re not sure where to start! There’s so much to do and so many different vibes around the lake, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and where to find it before you make the move. Here’s a look at Lake Lanier’s two distinct and diverse environments – the South Side and the North Side.
In 1956, the Buford Dam was completed on the Chattahoochee River, forming Lake Sydney Lanier. Offering clean water and hydroelectric power to Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, the dam, lake, and subsequent flood control are all managed and maintained by the US Army Corp of Engineers. Hosting 11.8 million people annually, in 76 recreational areas, including 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, 10 marinas, and Lake Lanier Islands, the Corp’s claim that, “whether you and your family are looking for fishing, camping, boating, picnicking, swimming or some other recreation activity, you won’t have to look far to find it at Lake Lanier,” is a common sentiment, and anyone who knows the lake and its surrounding area would agree. But let’s look at how to position yourself to get the most of what you love!
If you love lakeside parties, parasailing, water slides, free public events, and a shorter drive to the big city, then Lake Lanier’s southern shore may be for you! The biggest, most well known attraction at Lake Lanier, is of course Lanier Islands. Located on 1,500 beautiful lakeside acres, Lanier Islands is home to luxurious resort accomodations, horseback riding, zip lines, delicious restaurants, and one of the top family attractions in Georgia, the Margaritaville Water Park.
“Set along more than a half-mile of white sandy beach on beautiful Lake Lanier, you’ll find a spectacular range of entertainment, thrilling water slides, boating and water sports, restaurants and tiki bars, a water play area for the little ones, and weekend special events and live performances.”
In addition to Lanier Island’s own award winning golf course, the Pineisle Resort and Golf Club in Cumming, GA is one of the top 5 golf courses in Georgia. The resort, according to NorthGerogia.com, hosts an impressive “254 elegant guest rooms, two restaurants, outdoor and indoor heated pools, a full service marina, 7 enclosed and lighted tennis courts, and an 18-hole championship golf course that was designed by Gary Player.”
And if the winter holidays are your favorite time of year, you’re just a short drive from the Magical Nights of Lights! AJC describes Lake Lanier’s 7-mile display of lights as “some of the best Christmas lights in metro-Atlanta.” A twenty-five year tradition, new lights are added to this famous event each year, drawing thousands of visitors from all over. And in 2019, Lake Lanier will also debut the new attraction “Snow Island”, featuring snow slides, ice skating, snowball fights and snow angels, fire pits and s’mores, and carnival rides.
If you prefer an experience more tied to the quiet, peaceful nature of the lakeside environment, then you may want to escape to Lake Lanier’s north shores.
Situated closer to small towns like Cumming and Chestatee, the north side of the lake offers a more quiet, residential experience. While the calm serenity of the lake isn’t far away no matter where you are, Lake Lanier’s northern lifestyle is far from the traffic of commuters to and from Atlanta, and out of sight of the lights and energy of the waterpark and resort. Boat owners who want to speed, sail, or paddle through quiet waters, away from the rentals and tourists, might enjoy themselves more in the more private northern waters as well.
Family activities are still widely available. Warbington Farms offers more rustic, hands-on entertainment, such as a petting zoo and strawberry picking in the spring, or a pumpkin patch and corn maze in autumn. While the Cumming Aquatic Center is a great spot for swimming and offers lessons for all ages.
A short drive north of the lake is the world famous town of Dahlonega, known for its golden history and small town festivals. Nearby vineyards offer tours and delicious wine tastings, while the town’s many spas and salons offer relaxation and rejuvenation.
And while there is no shortage of stunning views and beautiful hikes along the lake itself, north side residents are the closest to Georgia’s own Amicalola Falls State Park. Whether you’re looking for a challenging fitness trail run, a relaxing and educational guided hike, or a breathtaking closeup look at North Georgia’s Birds of Prey, this 829 acre park offers something new every time you visit. Not to mention their featured centerpiece, Amicalola Falls, a 729-foot waterfall named for the Cherokee word for “tumbling waters,” and one of the most beautiful natural sights in the state.
So you can see that no matter which side of the lake you end up on, there is no shortage of activities and excitement, or peace and quiet. At almost 700 miles of shoreline, Lake Lanier offers a wide variety of environments and experiences all the way around. But if you’re looking for the property most specifically suited to you and your family, hopefully this list helps you narrow down your search to either the north side or the south.
And of course, there’s no better resource than a realtor who is familiar with the area. With over five years of experience in selling homes on and around Lake Lanier, vast knowledge of the US Army Corp of Engineers regulations, and my personal tours of lake homes right on the water by boat, you won’t find anyone better suited to find you the home of your dreams on the side of the lake that’s right for you!