When one thinks of Georgia, it’s almost always peaches and Coca-Cola. But you may be surprised that there are plenty of lakes in Georgia and how gorgeous each one of them is in their own unique way.
The majority of the lakes in this state are manmade by damming rivers as reservoirs of drinking water, sources of hydroelectric power, and places of recreation for the locals.
Today, some of the lakes are controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers, some by the Georgia Power Company, and some by the Tennessee Valley Company. Still others are overseen by the Department of Natural Resources as part of the State Park system.
Go through our list of the best lakes in Georgia to visit and find your next vacation destination!
The Best Lakes In Georgia To Visit
1. Lake Lanier
Known as: Georgia’s Great Lake; Atlanta’s favorite summer destination; Party Lake
Lake Lanier was formed in the 1950s by the US Army Corps of Engineers with the main purpose of flood control and power generation.
Today, it attracts 11 million visitors every year, which is equivalent to an economic impact of $5 billion to the area.
You can access the lake at one of the 45 parks, resorts, and day-use areas that are found all along its shoreline.
In the summer, the lake and its surrounding areas host plenty of festivals, fairs, and events.
Its 38,000-acre-wide and up to 160-feet-deep waters are almost comparable to an indoor ocean, allowing bigger boats to sail here.
You can fish here for spotted bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, and walleye.
The other side of this lake’s fame is its notoriety for being one of the deadliest lakes in America; there have been over 200 deaths reported in the lake since 1994. Some say that the graves that were dug up when the lake was formed have cursed the lake.
In any case, tourists and locals alike love going to Lake Lanier.
Fun fact: The Byrde lakeside house in the television series Ozark is located on the southern shore of this lake.
Pro tip: If you stay north of Browns Bridge, the crowd thins and the experience becomes much more laid back and tranquil.
Best for: Boating
Other Activities: Swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, rowboating, paddleboarding, sunbathing, picnicking, hiking, biking
Beach/park access: Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, Don Carter State Park Beach, Lake Lanier Olympic Park
Nearby services and amenities: Bathhouses with showers, boat ramps, fishing pier, bait and tackle shops, picnic tables, paved biking trails, hiking trails, playgrounds, restaurants, bar and grills, golf course
Where to stay: Resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, lake houses, campgrounds
Nearby places of interest: Don Carter State Park, Elachee Nature Science Center
- Discover Lake Lanier
- Lake Lanier | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Lake Lanier | Lake Lanier Visitors Guide
2. Lake Allatoona
Known as: Second most popular lake in Georgia
Yet another project by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Allatoona was built mainly for flood control and hydropower generation, but also for fish and wildlife management and water supply.
In fact, it provides drinking water to the Cherokee, Cobb, and Bartow Counties to this day.
It’s probably second to Lake Lanier in terms of the number of visitors, with nearly 7 million visitors a year.
The lake’s waters are ideal for sailing, as evidenced by the many yacht clubs and boat clubs all along its shoreline, including the Atlanta Yacht Club and the South Winds Sailing Club.
Fishing is another popular activity, with the lake boasting plentiful spotted bass, hybrid bass, striped bass, and crappie.
Another popular activity here is birdwatching. Hike along any of the trails during the spring and fall and you’ll see plenty of migrant birds stopping by before heading off to warmer climates.
You can access the lake from one of the 15 beaches all along its shoreline, each with its own features and amenities.
Fun fact: Allatoona Lake is the official name given by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but everyone else calls it Lake Allatoona. A lake by any other name looks as gorgeous, so it doesn’t really matter.
Best for: Sailing, fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, rowboating, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, hiking, biking, hunting, camping, birdwatching
Beach/park access: Red Top Mountain State Park Beach, Acworth Beach, Bartow County Park, Victoria Park
Nearby services and amenities: Yacht clubs, marinas, public boat ramps, bait and tackle shops, picnic tables, restaurants, general stores
Where to stay: Hotels, bed and breakfasts, lodges, cabins, campgrounds, RV hookups
Nearby places of interest: Red Top Mountain State Park, Bartow History Museum, Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, Allatoona Pass Battlefield, Allatoona Lake Visitor Center and Museum
More information: Lake Allatoona, Allatoona Lake | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
3. Lake Oconee
Known for: Luxury accommodations and experiences
Lake Oconee was formed when Georgia Power built Wallace Dam in 1979 as a reservoir for Georgia Power’s Wallace Hydroelectric Plant. It runs through Greene, Putnam, and Morgan Counties.
Today, it’s a watersports destination, aside from the usual fishing and swimming.
Lake Oconee is also dotted with luxury hotels and accommodations that offer a fabulous lakeside getaway.
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds is a AAA Five Diamond Lodging and a Forbes Four-Star resort on Lake Oconee that has just been renovated to offer an experience like no other.
Of course, if luxury resorts aren’t your speed, there are other places around the lake to stay.
Don’t forget to take your boat over to Jumping Rock and take Instagram photos and videos!
Fun fact: Lake Oconee is separated from its sister lake Sinclair by the Wallace Dam.
Best for: Watersports
Other Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, jet skiing, wakeboarding, golf, camping, hunting, picnicking, biking, hiking, tennis
Beach/park access: Lawrence Shoals Recreation Area, Old Salem Campground and Boat Ramp, Parks Ferry Campsite and Boat Ramp
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, public boat ramps, golf course, sporting grounds, biking trails, tennis courts, restaurants
Where to stay: Resorts, hotels, vacation rentals, inns, campgrounds
Nearby places of interest: Lake Country Discovery Museum, Greene County History Museum, Rock Hawk Effigy Mound, Rock Eagle Effigy Mound
More information: Lake Oconee, Lake Oconee/Sinclair | Georgia Power
4. Lake Sinclair
Known as: The cleanest lake in Georgia
As I’ve mentioned, Lake Sinclair is Lake Oconee’s sister lake, stretching through the Baldwin, Hancock, and Putnam County.
Don’t let the slightly blurry mud, sand, and rock bottom of the lake fool you; Lake Sinclair has been declared the cleanest lake in the state. In fact, there are no eating restrictions on the fish caught out of this lake.
Lake Sinclair is mostly used by lake residents, as well as those who live in their boats and those who anchor their boats, watercraft, and RVs on the lake.
It offers some of the best fishing lakes in Georgia for largemouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, bream, crappie, and catfish, partly because of the fish attractors in the lake.
Lake Sinclair is also the site of several local and national fishing tournaments, attracting fishermen of various skill levels.
Best for: Fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, boating, paddle boating, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking
Beach/park access: Lake Sinclair Recreation Area, Rocky Creek Park, Oconee Springs Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, public boat ramps, fishing piers, picnic tables, public restrooms, nature trails, playgrounds, restaurants
Where to stay: Resorts, hotels, campgrounds, cabin
Nearby places of interest: Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge
More information: Lake Oconee/Sinclair | Georgia Power
5. Lake Hartwell
Known as: One of the best fishing lakes in Georgia
Lake Hartwell was built in the late 1950s to early 1960s by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers, it is one of the largest and most popular lakes in the region.
Among many activities, fishing for largemouth bass, spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, striped bass, crappie, white bass, trout, and walleye is the most popular recreational activity on this lake.
Of course, families can still enjoy swimming and sunbathing on one of the many access points along the lake, as well as biking and hiking on specific trails.
Best for: Boating and fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, paddle boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, biking, camping, hiking
Beach/park access: Hartwell Lakeside Park, Long Point Recreation Area, Tugaloo State Park, Elrod Ferry Recreation Area
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, playgrounds, reservable picnic shelters, bathrooms, showers, volleyball court, restaurants, golf course,
Where to stay: Chain hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, campgrounds
Nearby places of interest: Hart County Historical Museum, Hartwell Dam
More information: Hartwell Dam & Lake | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Hartwell Guide
6. Blue Ridge Lake
Known as: One of the most stunning mountain lakes in Georgia
Lake Blue Ridge is a reservoir in Fannin County that was built in the 1920s and was formed by the earthen Blue Ridge Dam over the Toccoa River.
As much as 80% of the lake’s shoreline is actually within the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The relatively peaceful waters here are favored by anglers for bass, bream, catfish, sunfish, trout, perch, and crappie.
In 2010, the lake was drained so that repairs can be made to the physical dam. Despite this draining, there is still plenty of lake to be enjoyed.
Best for: Boating and fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, biking, hiking, camping
Beach/park access: Lake Blue Ridge Dam Recreation Area, Morganton Point Recreation Area, Lakewood Landing Ramp
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, public boat ramps, bar and grills, restaurants, playground, hiking trail, biking trail
Where to stay: Lodges, motels/hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds
Nearby places of interest: Chattahoochee National Forest, Blue Ridge Aerial Adventure Park, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, Long Creek Falls
More information: Blue Ridge Reservoir | Tennessee Valley Authority, Blue Ridge Lake | Fannin County Chamber of Commerce
7. Lake Spivey
Known as: The largest privately owned lake in Georgia
This lake is the only private one on this list, but it’s stunning enough to include here.
It was created when Dr. Walter Spivey built a dam on Rum Creek and flooded his own property. In 1984, the property was deeded over to the Lake Spivey Civic Association, which has handled the surrounding property ever since.
Close enough to Atlanta, for a decent commute but far enough to be isolated, Spivey is an ideal place for a home, especially for celebrities and famous people who need access to the city but also need some degree of privacy.
Prominent residents of this neighborhood include rapper T.I., comedian Chris Tucker, and basketball great Shaquille O’Neal.
In fact, there is no public access to the lake; you’ll need to be a guest of a resident in the neighborhood.
But if you do score access to this lake, it’s so worth it.
Fishing is a popular activity by residents, with shad and bream annually restocked by the lake’s civic association. You can also catch largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish. You may even want to join one of their Monday night fishing tournaments.
The conditions in this lake are so ideal for wakeboarding and water skiing that the Georgia Wake Series hosts a tournament here each May and a slalom water skiing course is permanently installed near the dam.
Best for: Wakeboarding and water skiing
Other Activities: Fishing, boating, swimming, sunbathing, paddle boating, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing
Nearby services and amenities: Country club, golf course, tennis courts, pool and water park
Where to stay: Vacation rentals (occasionally open)
Nearby places of interest: Reid Stevens Heritage Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, Clayton County’s International Park
More information: Lake Spivey Civic Association
8. High Falls Lake
Known as: Home to the largest waterfall in middle Georgia
Hidden in the pine woods of Monroe County between Macon and Atlanta, High Falls Lake is perfect for hiking and fishing.
Access is exclusively through the High Falls State Park, and hiking along the trails can lead you to the remains of a hydroelectric power plant and of a ghost town that once had several stores, a mill, a cotton gin, and even a hotel.
On the other hand, as one of the best fishing lakes in Georgia, will yield largemouth bass, white and black crappie, bream, bluegill, hybrid striped bass, and channel catfish.
And of course, don’t forget to explore the waterfalls that crash into the Towaliga River.
Address: 76 High Falls Park Drive, Jackson, GA, 30233
Best for: Boating
Other Activities: Fishing, canoeing, hiking, paddle boarding, picnicking, camping
Beach/park access: High Falls State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Boat ramp, picnic amenities, swimming pool, mini-golf course
Where to stay: Campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: High Falls Water Park, Indian Springs State Park, Dauset Trails Nature Center, The Creeks Recreational Trail System
More information: High Falls State Park
9. Lake Blackshear
Known as: Site of the permanent memorial for Georgia veterans
Lake Blackshear was created in 1930 when the Flint River was dammed to provide hydroelectric power to Crisp County.
It was thought that the cypress trees in the middle of the property to be flooded would die and decompose. But the trees survived and provides excellent views while boating on the lake.
Today, the lake offers plenty of recreational activities, especially fishing. Anglers can catch such fish as bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. In fact, the lake hosts a national bass fishing tournament annually.
Nearby Cordele is known as the Watermelon Capital of the World, and if you visit at the right time you might be able to participate in their Watermelon Festival.
Best for: Fishing
Other Activities: Boating, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, jet-skiing, hiking, biking, picnicking, hunting
Beach/park access: Georgia Veterans State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, boat launches, golf course, biking trails, picnic amenities, restaurants, bar and grills, archery range, air rifle range, gift shop
Where to stay: Resorts, motels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Georgia Veterans Military Museum, SAM Shortline Excursion Train
More information: Lake Blackshear Resort
10. Lake Chatuge
Known as: Georgia’s best-kept secret
Lake Chatuge isn’t as well-known as Lake Lanier and the other lakes in Georgia on this list, but it doesn’t make this lake less stunning.
Tucked away in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, right on the border with North Carolina, Lake Chatuge offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as boating, fishing, swimming, and camping.
Fishing is popular here, with plenty of bass, catfish, bream, and crappie. You can rent a boat in one of the marinas and even hire a fishing guide.
Plus, if you do get tired of the lake, try exploring nearby coves as well as the eight waterfalls around the Hiawassee area.
Access to the lake is via the towns of Hiawassee and Young Harris, as well as portions of Highway 76.
Address: Hwy. 76, Hiawassee, GA 30546 | 706-896-4966
Best for: Fishing
Other Activities: Boating, skiing, swimming, camping, exploring coves, hiking, horseback riding
Beach/park access: Lake Chatuge Recreation Area
Nearby services and amenities: Free parking, public restrooms, public boat ramp, swimming beach, playgrounds, hiking trails, marinas, picnic tables, golf courses, tennis courts, restaurants, bar and grills, wineries, breweries
Where to stay: Campgrounds, RV parks, bed and breakfasts, cabins, hotels, resorts
Nearby places of interest: Bell Mountain, Hamilton Rhododendron Gardens, Splash Island Water Park, High Shoals Falls
More information: Lake Chatuge | Georgia Tourism and Travel, Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce
11. Lake Rabun
Known as: A hidden gem in the northeast Georgia mountains
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the town of Lakemont, Lake Rabun offers 25 miles of secluded shoreline and 835 acres of lake to enjoy.
It is the third lake in a six-lake chain developed by what is now Georgia Power, and is a popular alternative destination to Lake Lanier for families in the Atlanta area.
Fishing is popular here, with bass, bream, perch, trout, and catfish in high numbers all year round.
Time your visit on the Fourth of July to catch the antique wooden boat parade, barbecue and bluegrass festival, and fireworks.
Or go on a stargazing cruise on a pontoon boat; this area is known as one of the best stargazing spots in Georgia.
Best for: Fishing
Other Activities: Swimming, boating, waterskiing, whitewater rafting, picnicking, hiking, biking
Beach/park access points: Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area, Nacoochee Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, grocery store, restaurants
Where to stay: Hotels, campgrounds, cabins, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Minnehaha Falls, Angel Falls, Stonewall Falls
More information: Lake Rabun | Georgia Tourism and Travel, Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area
12. Nottely Lake
Known as: One of the least developed lakes in Georgia
Lake Nottely is one of several reservoirs in Georgia developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, located within Union County and near the town of Blairsville.
Around 70% of the 106-mile shoreline is under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service and is largely undeveloped. So if you want to be as close to nature as you can, Nottely Lake may be the perfect lake destination for your family.
Best for: Paddle boating/quiet boating
Other Activities: Canoeing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, camping, hiking
Beach/park access: Poteete Creek Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marinas, boat ramps, fire rings, picnic areas, playground, bait & tackle shops, public restrooms, restaurants
Where to stay: Hotels/motels, campgrounds, cabins, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Nottely Dam, Davenport Mountain
More information: Lake Nottely | Georgia Tourism and Travel
Which lake in Georgia are you going to visit first?
There are many more lakes in Georgia, but hopefully, you’re inspired enough to start planning your next lake getaway.
Other places to visit in Georgia
If you’re more of a saltwater kind of traveler, check out these Georgia beaches that you shouldn’t miss.
Or, if you’re looking for a city holiday, check out our guides to the best things to do in Atlanta and Savannah.