Category: Travel

Reasons to Visit Lake Lanier in Georgia

I was in my senior year at Clemson when my parents decided to leave the suburbs of Philadelphia for life on a lake in northern Georgia. Because of this, our visits to my parents’ place over the years have never felt like I was ‘going home’ – that feeling is reserved for when we visit my sister and her family in Pennsylvania. That being said, we always enjoy the time we spend on Lake Lanier. It may not be home but it’s a great place to visit.

Lake Lanier Georgia

Lake Lanier is a man-made lake (reservoir) that was created in 1956 with the completion of Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River. With 59 square miles of water and 692 miles of shoreline, Lake Lanier is perfect for water sports, sailing, fishing, swimming, and everything in between. In fact, the rowing and sprint canoeing events during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta were held at Lake Lanier.

kayaking on Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia

Lake Lanier is a great place to vacation because it is only a little over an hour from Atlanta, so a trip to the lake can easily coincide with a visit to Dogwood City. It’s not terribly known outside of northern Georgia and when I write about our trips to visit my parents, I get questions about Lake Lanier so I thought I’d write this post to highlight why a trip to Lake Lanier may be a good fit for your family.


Where to Stay?

As accommodating as my parents may be to family and friends, they’re not in the bed and breakfast business. There are plenty of options via AirBnB and VBRO and those with military affiliation can check out the Armed Forces Vacation Club – I’ve seen some Lake Lanier properties pop up from time to time. If you are wanting more of a hotel feel, there is The Legacy Lodge at Lanier Islands, which offers guest rooms, lake side villas, and cottages on the water. You can also stay further north in the mountains and drive down for a day trip to Lake Lanier – if that is more your jam, I recommend Dahlonega or Helen.


What to Do?

For as much fun as we have taking the boat and jet skis out on the water, our favorite thing to do on Lake Lanier is kayak. If you’re wanting to be on the water, Port Royale Marina offers boat rentals from runabouts to party yachts to wave runners. And The Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club has a big selection of non-motorized watercraft available for rent. There are plenty of opportunities to fish as well, all you need a Georgia fishing license and a pole.  The Striper Experience has chartered expeditions, as does Capital Clay’s Catching Not Fishing.


As far as land activities, there is horseback riding at Lanier Islands and zip lining at North Georgia Canopy Tours and Lake Lanier Canopy Tours. There are plenty of hiking opportunities near the lake and if you’re willing to go further in the mountains, you can check out the Appalachian Trail. There is a water park at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands during the summer and Snow Island during the winter.


Where to Eat?

Due to the shear size of Lake Lanier, there is no shortage of restaurants in the surrounding area. Atlanta Highway Seafood Market in Gainesville is great for a low-key meal or to purchase fresh seafood to prepare at your rental. Pelican Pete’s Tiki Bar & Grill has typical bar food but the fun atmosphere and waterfront location more than makes up for the just-adequate food. If able, be sure to arrive by boat or jet ski! Tam’s Tupelo Cajun Restaurant & Bar in Cumming is popular as well as Pig Tales Lake Lanier in Flowery Branch.

kayaking on Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia

Henry David Thoreau famously wrote that, “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”  According to the EPA, there are approximately 53,119 manmade lakes in the United States so Lake Lanier is just one of many. But it’s worth checking out – especially if you find yourself in the Atlanta area.


That Time We Went to Paris

Oh Paris. Our time in la Ville Lumière was far too brief (approximately 40 hours) but nonetheless enchanting. To be honest, I never pictured my first time experiencing Paris to be with children in tow. It may not have been the most romantic of circumstances but I was happy to finally have the opportunity to visit. I admit – it was slightly overwhelming to set foot in a place that I’ve dreamed about since adolescence. I studied French throughout school and admired the city with cartoonish heart-eyes while imagining myself wandering the streets of Paris, fluent, and impeccably dressed. I’ve wanted to visit for so long that I couldn’t remember ever not wanting to go. But for whatever reason, I always allowed myself to be talked out of traveling to France.


But not this time. I can now say that I have been to Paris. And it lived up to the hype. We barely scratched the surface and we left wanting to see so much more – Montmartrethe Sacré Coeur, the Sorbonne, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou, Moulin Rouge, Les Invalides, actually walk around the Louvre, and the list goes on.


We stayed near Trocadéro Square at the Hôtel Longchamp Elysées, which is a short walk from the Eiffel Tower and centrally located to most of Paris’ infamous sights. After arriving at our hotel via taxi from Gare du Nord, we checked in and then promptly made our way toward the iconic metal structure.


Despite my many years of study, I never dreamed in French nor fully understood the essence of the conjugation of verbs. But not being fluent didn’t prevent us from learning that the Mission: Impossible – Fallout movie premiere was taking place across our hotel. According to bystanders, we missed seeing Tom Cruise by about 15 minutes. Say what you want about Scientology (it’s totally a cult), but the man makes great movies.


The kids were wanting to run around after being on the train so when we came across a playground near the Musée de l’Homme, we stopped at let the kids play for awhile. Clay and I sat on a bench and marveled at the fact that we were actually in Paris. Eeek.


After walking around Trocadéro Gardens and up Avenue du Président Wilson, we decided to eat dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.


Our first meal in Paris absolutely lived up the hype and it won’t be something we ever forget. The kids ordered kid-friendly meals while Clay and I ordered off the prix fixe menu. We had Bordeaux (of course), soupe à l’oignon gratinée, bavette de flanchet aux échalotes, and creme brûlée.By the time we finished around 10:30pm, we decided to call it a night because we knew we only had the following day to squeeze in as much of Paris as we could before heading back to the states.


The following morning, we did what any self-respecting family does when traveling to Paris and had a fellow tourist take our picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower.


We had purchased tickets to the top months prior so we walked around Gros-Caillou and had a late breakfast at a cafe as we waited for our late-morning time-slot.




Despite our Eiffel Tower excursion eating up a large chunk of the day, we’re glad that we did it. Being able to see Paris from 1,063 feet was quite the sight and the birds-eye view really highlighted the beauty of the city.


We spent our afternoon walking the streets and bridges of Paris.


We walked down the Champs-Élysées and took the underground tunnel to the Arc De Triumphe. And then we hopped on the Metro toward Île de la Cité.


We were able to see the beauty of Notre-Dame de Paris. We spent about 30 minutes inside but I could have spent hours.



We took the Metro to the Louvre and walked around but time didn’t allow for us to see any of the infamous exhibits. Next time!


We ate ice cream and crepes.


We spent time 4th arrondissement, which has been the headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 1357. The Hôtel de Ville was rebuilt within the stone shell that had survived the fire during the French Revolution.


We walked along the Seine and eventually made our way back to Place du Trocadéro and our hotel.


We ate a late dinner at another restaurant near our hotel, drink wine (cokes for the kids!), and enjoyed good food while just appreciating the atmosphere.


After dinner, we walked to Paris des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme and watched the infamous Eiffel Tower light show. It was the perfect end to (incredibly short) our stay in one of the most gorgeous cities in the world.