How far do you have to get from a big city before vacation mode sets in? If the city is Atlanta, and the destination is Lake Oconee, the answer would be 75 miles. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee sits on 30 of the 374 miles of shoreline along this eastern Georgia lake, known for its golf courses and lakeside houses; the Ritz-Carlton is one of the few places to stay as a non-resident. Atlanta may be the closest big city, but it’s a popular place for people all over the Southeast to visit — by car or quick flight into the Atlanta airport.

Where does the pool end and the lake begin? The endless view from the Ritz-Carlton’s swimming pool seems to merge into Lake Oconee below.

Where does the pool end and the lake begin? The endless view from the Ritz-Carlton’s swimming pool seems to merge into Lake Oconee below.

Not large but definitely swanky, the Ritz-Carlton property includes a beach area along with the pool and other amenities.

Not large but definitely swanky, the Ritz-Carlton property includes a beach area along with the pool and other amenities.

Private porches off guest rooms offer a view of the lake and grounds.

Private porches off guest rooms offer a view of the lake and grounds.

The Ritz attracts a lot of families — with its man-made sandy beach and myriad activities for all ages — but we think it’s an ideal place to grab a girlfriend or two and relax … there’s enough to do, but not too much to do, so you’ll have plenty of time for visiting.

Suggested itinerary: Make a stop on the way there in charming Madison, a small town about a half-hour away from Lake Oconee. Stroll the historic town square and make sure to browse Madison Markets, a renovated cotton warehouse full of antiques, art, plant creations and other finds. There are quaint places to eat lunch, such as Town 220 or Madison Produce Company.

Specialty cocktails at Georgia’s include fruits from local farms and herbs from the on-site garden.

Specialty cocktails at Georgia’s include fruits from local farms and herbs from the on-site garden.

The fried-green tomato appetizer includes poached lobster and fresh herbs as a garnish.

The fried-green tomato appetizer includes poached lobster and fresh herbs as a garnish.

Dining al fresco at Georgia’s is a year-round event, thanks to the area’s mild winters.

Dining al fresco at Georgia’s is a year-round event, thanks to the area’s mild winters.

The centrally located fire pit is a place to relax at night with s’mores or an adult beverage.

The centrally located fire pit is a place to relax at night with s’mores or an adult beverage.

Check in or stash your bags at the Ritz and start enjoying the peaceful setting at the pool (heated year-round), a scenic infinity pool that seems to blend in with the lake beyond. Waiters regularly make the rounds to serve you, and sometimes they may stop by with a smoothie or other complimentary treat. The nearby beach area is good for dipping your toes in the lake, but more adventurous souls can take a YOLO board, kayak or canoe out as part of the resort fee, or rent something faster like jet skis.

A Starbucks on the property is a convenient place for an easy breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up, but don’t get too full, since the restaurants have a lot of temptations on the menu. Georgia’s specializes in regional cuisine, with specials that incorporate items from local farms. The view is swanky, too … overlooking the grounds and lake. Save room for a s’more, since the Ritz is well-known for its nightly campfire and a well-stocked s’more bar.

The lodge-like décor of the Ritz-Carlton’s lobby includes a vaulted ceiling and ample seating.

The lodge-like décor of the Ritz-Carlton’s lobby includes a vaulted ceiling and ample seating.

Walking trails along Lake Oconee often meander along golf courses.

Walking trails along Lake Oconee often meander along golf courses.

Carefully maintained gardens and pots are a hallmark of this resort.

Carefully maintained gardens and pots are a hallmark of this resort.

Gaby’s by the Lake is a casual destination for lunch or dinner.

Gaby’s by the Lake is a casual destination for lunch or dinner.

After a good night’s sleep, get a tee time for golf or go hiking along one of the lakeside trails as a morning activity. Afternoon might be good for a spa treatment at the on-site spa — a bit of a splurge (facials start at $155), but they — and you — are worth it. Arrive at the spa early to enjoy the quiet lounge or to take a soak in the whirlpool.

Make sure to have lunch or brunch at Gaby’s by the Lake, the resort’s casual restaurant overlooking the pool and lake. Feeling like you want to imbibe? The restaurant’s Georgia John mixes Firefly tea vodka, peach liquor and lemonade.

Large groups can rent a cottage at Lake Oconee or through the Ritz-Carlton.

Large groups can rent a cottage at Lake Oconee or through the Ritz-Carlton.

Nearby town Madison, Georgia is known for its antebellum mansions and shopping, such as the sprawling antiques mall, Madison Markets.

Nearby town Madison, Georgia is known for its antebellum mansions and shopping, such as the sprawling antiques mall, Madison Markets.

Lunch spots in Madison often have brick walls and decorative ceilings as an architectural clue to their historic past.

Lunch spots in Madison often have brick walls and decorative ceilings as an architectural clue to their historic past.

Rooms include signature robes, Frette linens and porches to enjoy a good book, so nobody will judge if you want to just relax in the room. Check the website for current promotions; the resort’s “Reconnect” package starts at $429 per night and includes breakfast and $75 resort credit.

All photography by Lisa Mowry.

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For more ideas for you next adventure, check out the SB Travel suggestions!