Family packages at Legacy Lodge include access to LanierWorld beach and water park at Lanier Islands. (Lanier Islands)

Lanier provides close-by getaway

The best kind of staycation arguably is one that gives the illusion of skipping town.

Located in Buford, about 30 minutes north of downtown Atlanta, the Legacy Lodge & Conference Center at Lanier Islands does just that, with an undercurrent of indulgent distractions to help you disconnect.

Tucked away amid lush greenery and just a rock skip from the shore of Lake Lanier, the 216-guest room Legacy Lodge remains the centerpiece of the 1,500-acre Lanier Islands resort. The recently upgraded facility can accommodate guests who want to keep busily entertained, as well as those looking to unplug and relax.

The lodge has a heated saltwater pool available throughout the year. While some guests sprawl on lounge chairs, others use the bench seating located around the edge of the entire pool’s interior. You also can enjoy cocktails and burgers, sandwiches and salads via the poolside food and beverage service.

Sidney’s, a farm-to-table restaurant located just off the lobby features a careful selection of meats, seafood and close-to-home vegetables as well as a lakeside view through its walls of windows.

Package deal

Taking advantage of an array of vacation packages may be the best way to get the most out of Legacy Lodge. Each includes accommodations paired with themed activities. You can peruse the options online. They range from golfing getaways to romantic retreats to action-laden experiences that include horseback riding or zip-lining. Lodge staff say the Family Fun and Bed & Breakfast are the most popular.

The Family Fun package starts at $269 per night. In addition to an overnight stay, guests get admission for four to LanierWorld beach and water park and a breakfast buffet for four at Sidney’s. The Family Fun Deluxe version, starting at $299, adds another set of four passes to Lanier World on the day of departure, and four-hour use of a resort golf cart.

The Bed & Breakfast package, starting at $199, gives guests a room and breakfast for two at Sidney’s.

The Nautical by Nature package starts at $329 per night. Besides a room, included is a private four-hour cruise aboard a pontoon boat and a buffet breakfast for two at Sidney’s.

For the kids

The Legacy Kids Program is a complimentary service that welcomes tots with a goody pack at check-in, complete with a VIP bracelet that allows young ones on-the-house ice pops at the front desk and access to supervised happenings running the gamut from arts and crafts to an organized game of sharks and minnows in the pool to a kiddie golf tourney. Parents can join in for events, including island cart scavenger hunts and movies on the lawn next to a bonfire.

While parents indulge in date night, their offspring can have their own Kids Night Out, from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The $50 cost per child includes a special event and dinner.

Legacy Lodge & Conference Center. 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787,


This beach and water park, a quick drive from Legacy Lodge, offers everything from sun worshipping to pulse-pounding water slides. Its designated sections — Family Fun Park, Boardwalk, Big Beach and Sunset Cove — each offer attractions and amenities. Opening day 2016 is May 21.

Thrill-seekers should enjoy Intimidator and Triple Threat, a pair of body slides. Banking turns and speedy descents can be found on Typhoon and Twister. Fun Dunker Drop simulates what it might feel like swirling down into a giant drain. And, on select dates, the staff adds massive amounts of foam to Fun Dunker and the nearby volleyball courts.

You can tube in WildWaves, the park’s man-made wave pool, and watch cartoons, music videos and movies on the high definition screen. CAT4, a four-lane tube slide, finds riders donning helmets and life jackets before they race down into Lake Lanier. The lake also plays host to Wibit, an inflatable obstacle course on top of the water. Those yearning for excitement who want to stay dry can experience Thunderbolt: Triple Zips, a three-lane zip line that allows riders to cruise above the beach and lake.

If you need to refuel after all that activity, LanierWorld offers burgers and wings at Fire & Ice, hot dogs and beer at Dog & Draft, and naan walking tacos at Boardwalk Cantina. Fast-service pizza can be had at the new Gianni’s Pizza to Go. Or you can take your time on the open-air patio at Gianni’s Italian Bistro, with its pasta, pies and more.

Sunset Cove Restaurant — LanierWorld’s signature full-service eatery — offers everything from seafood to sweets. The open-air restaurant has a retractable enclosure. You can eat beachy bar food or get yourself a real meal.

Full Moon Parties at Sunset Cove continue to take place on select Saturday nights through the summer and into the fall. Free to LanierWorld guest with a daily admission for a party day, and free to anyone with a LanierWorld Season Pass. A $20 cover charge gives other guests access to live bands, fireworks and street performers, including stilt walkers, fire breathers and magicians. The last event will take place 7 to 11 p.m. on Oct. 15.

LanierWorld. Open daily through summer at 10 a.m.-closes between 7 and 10 depending on the day: $41.99 for 42 inches and taller; $30.99 ages 55 and older and those shorter than 42 inches; active Military/Police/Fire Personnel (with valid photo ID) free; free ages 2 and younger. Substantial discount if you arrive after 4 p.m. Beach access only: $10 Mondays-Fridays; $15 Saturdays-Sundays, $20 holidays and special events. 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787,

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.