Staycation or vacation, "adulting" or family time, Georgia's Lake Lanier offers lots of fun just an hour's drive from Atlanta.
Whether you're interested in a rowdy day of LanierWorld water rides, boating or camping, you've come to the right place.
And to make your trip even more fun and get the most out of your budget, consider these travel tips from Lake Lanier insiders:
Be on time for boats. If you'd like to do a boat excursion with any of the pleasure craft available for rental from Paradise Rental Boats, plan to travel from Atlanta the night before or very early that morning, because the boats on Lake Lanier wait for no man (woman or child). A confirmed reservation only holds your vessel for up to 30 minutes after your scheduled departure time, after which time you forfeit your entire reservation fee.
Take boat safety seriously, and ahead of time. It's the law: Renters and any additional drivers of rental boats must be at least 25 years old and have a valid driver's license. But here's where you can really save time; for the equally necessary Georgia DNR-approved Boater Safety Training Course that rental boat drivers must pass, learn at home. Visit Paradise Rental Boats' safety website and complete the course online.
Bring your own H20. LanierWorld Water Park is like a movie theater with soda purchase prices, but they do allow one unopened bottle of water per guest in the park per day. Don't worry too much about getting one that is large or it might end up being too heavy to carry around; the park has water fountains for refills. Do consider one with a squirt-bottle opening for sips on the go.
Free up Wednesdays for the grandkids. Wednesdays are when grandparents enter Lanier Islands all day long for free with a paying guest. Read that carefully. You can't get the freebie if you're already entering with a coupon or complimentary pass, but it will work if you're purchasing a regular admission ticket or already have an Adventure Pass. And if you've got an educator in the family, Tuesdays are your day; that's when teachers can buy up to four half-off admissions to LanierWorld. But remember to bring that ID or other credentials and a corresponding photo ID.
Planning to fish? There's an app for that! Only recently available from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division, the app for fishing on Lake Lanier will help you navigate the lake (and every lake in Georgia) using geo-locating tools to find fishing areas and boat ramps -- and it's free! It also gives you access to all Georgia fishing regulations and rules and a simple way to carry an electronic copy of your license. Now if it could just bait hooks . . . To download the app, click here.
Get your seafood fix after the park. If you really want to chow down as part of your vacation, consider waiting for a big meal after the park or the beach; it saves time and helps avoid that too-full feeling on the water rides. One great option on Friday nights in the summer is an abundant seafood buffet at Sidney's restaurant. It's a bargain, too, compared to seafood at Atlanta restaurants: $42.95 for adults, $19.95 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger.
Try a drop-by primitive camp no one else knows about. Toto Creek Park on Lake Lanier is one of the many Army Corps of Engineers parks on the lake, but almost no one knows it's also a campsite. There is no mention of it at Recreation.gov, the site where campers go to preview and reserve campsites at USACE parks nationwide. It has nine primitive campsites that are open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. No electric, no water: you just stop by and see if you can claim one of its nine campsites for about $20 per night, bearing your own drinking water, tarp and perhaps a sleeping bag or two to sleep outdoors.
For all the fun under the summer sun in metro Atlanta, check out this 2017 summer bucket list.