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The North isn’t the only place with great lakes. Down South, we have plenty of family-friendly water bodies to explore as well. From waterfront vacation home rentals to marinas and boat rentals, there are plenty of fun options to keep you and your family cool this summer.

We picked five popular southern lake destinations you need to check out. So, grab your sunscreen and a towel, and get out and have some fun at a lake near you.

Lake Lanier

Location: Hall, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Dawson Counties, 45 minutes north of Atlanta, GA
Amenities: Multiple marinas, fishing, beaches and parks, water sports, water park, resort

Lake Lanier was created by the completion of Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River in 1956. It is also fed by the waters of the Chestatee River. Named after American poet Sidney Lanier, it was built and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and water supplies. The lake’s original purposes were to provide hydroelectricity, navigation and flood control of the Chattahoochee River and water supply for the city of Atlanta.

Today, Lake Lanier is the lifeblood for three states, providing a water supply to Georgia, Alabama and Florida. But for those who live in and around Atlanta, Lake Lanier is just an endless supply of summer fun. This massive lake offers everything from vacation homes to boating and water sports galore. There is ample camping, fishing, hikingdining and even shopping on and around Lake Lanier.

Stay at the beautiful Lanier Islands Resort, which offers golf, hotels, dining and meeting and wedding space, and enjoy the brand new Margaritaville Water Park, which is new for 2018.

Go rustic or resort at Lake Lanier, which is filled with opportunities for southern summer fun. Image:

Lake Martin

Location: Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties
Amenities: Chimney Rock, camping, parks, hiking trails, Lake Martin Amphitheater, marinas

Lake Martin is a man-made lake that spans Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties in Alabama. It was formed when the Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River was built in 1926 as the powerhouse to generate hydroelectric power for the Alabama Power Company. One of the largest man-made lakes in the United States, Lake Martin sits northeast of Montgomery, Alabama, and is a hotbed of events and activities including a wildly popular 60-foot cliff jump at Chimney Rock. The area that houses Chimney Rock was the Tallapoosa River gorge before Martin Dam was built, and the water beneath the cliff is more than 150 feet deep. The spot is visited by numerous boaters every year who park in front of Chimney Rock to watch thrill seekers climb to the top and plunge into the water.

If you like to keep your feet planted on the ground, Lake Martin also offers swimming, boating, fishing, water sports, camping, parks and golf courses nearby. Each year the lake is home to multiple events including fishing tournaments, a fireworks show on the Fourth of July and the Alexander City Jazz Festival held in June. Learn more about Lake Martin here.

The actual Chimney Rock is located several hundred yards away, and the popular jumping rock is actually named Acapulco Rock. However, everyone simply refers to the hangout as Chimney Rock. Some call the lowest jumping point Chicken Rock and the highest jumping point Lost Boys. Image: Lauren Helmer

Catch a show at Lake Martin Amphitheater

Lake Guntersville

Location:  Marshall County, seven miles northwest of the city of Guntersville, AL
Amenities: Lake Guntersville State Park, geocaching, ziplining, golf, boat racing

The Guntersville Dam was constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority on the Tennessee River in 1939, and it eventually flooded 110,145 acres of land. As the reservoir filled with water, it surrounded Guntersville, leaving the city sitting on a peninsula. Guntersville Lake stretches 75 miles from Nickajack Dam in southeast Tennessee to Guntersville Dam.

Lake Guntersville and its surrounding state park offer a multitude of things to do from hiking and boating to ziplining and swimming. Accommodations range from rustic camping to a resort-style hotel. Among the park’s offerings are an 18-hole championship golf course, a beach complex, an outdoor nature center, fishing in Alabama’s largest lake, 36 miles of hiking and biking trails, weekly guided hikes and a day-use area.

Image: Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Spend some time on Lake Guntersville where you can enjoy everything from boating and skiing to camping, hiking and more. Image: Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Image: Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau

A summer sunset on the lake is like nothing else. Image: Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Lake Ouachita

Location: Ouachita National Forest, near Hot Springs, Arkansas
Amenities: Lake Ouachita State Park

Lake Ouachita was formed when the Ouachita River was dammed by the Blakely Mountain Dam in 1953. The original purpose of Lake Ouachita was flood control and hydroelectricity, but today it is enjoyed for its endless acres of pristine waters and wooded shoreline.

Lake Ouachita is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and is known for its clean, clear water. The largest man-made lake in Arkansas is a short drive from the town of Hot Springs and offers water sports like swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating and fishing. Lake Ouachita State Park features fully equipped cabins that overlook the lake as well as park campgrounds with 93 campsites and four camper cabins. The park also has picnic areas, trails, swimming areas, a marina and a park visitor center. There are also a number of programmed events that take place on the lake throughout the summer.

Spend a day kayaking on Lake Ouachita. Image: Arkansas State Park Blog

Lake Lure

Location: Lake Lure, N.C., 25 miles southeast of Asheville, NC
Amenities: The Flowering Bridge, Lake Lure beach, boat tours, Washburn Marina

Dr. Lucius B. Morse came to Hickory Nut Gorge in the early 1900s and envisioned a lake and resort development that would become Lake Lure. He had the idea of building a dam on the Rocky Broad River to create a lake and the possibility of a year-round resort. Carolina Mountain Power Company was formed, and the construction of the dam began in 1925 and was completed in September 1926. The creation of the lake began, and Lake Lure was completed in 1927.

Visitors to this section of Western North Carolina come primarily for the outdoor natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its famous Chimney Rock. But nestled into the bottom of Hickory Nut Gorge is a man-made treasure called Lake Lure. Fed by the Rocky Broad River, Lake Lure is home to a wide variety of water activities, including canoeing, fishing, boating and water skiing. Both motor and non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake, but a lake permit is required to place a private boat on the lake. Rent a house on the lake, or opt to stay in the Rumbling Bald Resort, which features tennis, golf, swimming and more.

Boating is just one of the countless ways to enjoy a visit to Lake Lure. Image: Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority

The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge | Image: Lindsay Ferrier

The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge | Image: Lindsay Ferrier

Enjoy your summer getaway, wherever your travels may take you!


Find more fabulous Southern destinations in our travel section. Click HERE!

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