Lake Lanier is a 38,000 acre reservoir with 692 miles of shoreline that was created after Buford Dam was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Chattahoochee River in 1956. Portions of Lake Lanier are in Hall, Forsyth, Dawson, Gwinnett and Lumpkin counties. The primary purpose of Buford Dam and Lake Lanier was to institute a system of flood control for the City of Atlanta and a secondary purpose was to provide hydroelectric power for public use.
Lake Lanier is also used as a source of drinking water for Atlanta and as a recreational resource. Before Buford Dam was built, the region consisted of gently rolling and forested countryside interspersed with valleys. Blocking the Chattahoochee River with Buford Dam filled up the valleys and created a gorgeous lake with a thickly forested shoreline. This picturesque lake region quickly evolved into a resort area that attracts 7.5 million visitors annually with a wide variety of recreational activities such as camping, fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking and sightseeing.
In 1962 the Georgia State Legislature established the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority to manage and develop Lake Lanier as a recreational resort for the citizens of Georgia. Lake Lanier Islands Resort has become Georgia’s most visited lakeside resort and it is well on its way to becoming Georgia’s first all inclusive, comprehensive resort destination. Future development plans include opening more islands in Lake Lanier for public enjoyment, building a family oriented hotel on Georgia Island with a gateway bridge connecting to Legacy Island, and building a beach club with restaurants, swimming pools, hillside cottages, golf side villas and luxury guest villas on Pine Island.
Real estate in areas near Lake Lanier
Available land around Lake Lanier tends to be more expensive on the south end of the lake because it is closer to Atlanta via Highway 400 and Interstate 985. Residential developments such as Marina Bay Resort, The Preserve at Thompson Creek, Harbour Point Yacht Club and Four Seasons on Lanier are gated security communities nestled along Lake Lanier’s shoreline in secluded coves with waterfront marinas, boating clubs, and homes ranging in price from $500,000 to over 3 million dollars.
The nearest cities to Lake Lanier are Cumming and Buford on the south side and Gainesville on the northeast side. Residential real estate in these three cities is characterized by an attractive blend of single family detached home styles that are fairly evenly distributed throughout the price range of $150,000 to a million dollars. The cost of living index in this region is about 90% of the national cost of living index and the average population density is comparatively low at just under 1,000 people per square mile.
Although a limited amount of lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment can be found in Gainesville and Buford, most commercial businesses near Lake Lanier are located in the City of Cumming. One of the most popular golf resorts in northwest Georgia is the PineIsle Resort and Golf Club in Cumming. The PineIsle Resort has 254 elegant guest rooms, two restaurants, outdoor and indoor heated pools, a full service marina, 7 enclosed and lighted tennis courts, and an 18-hole championship golf course that was designed by Gary Player. The PineIsle Resort also contains the Chattahoochee Rapids Beach & WaterPark with Wild Waves, Georgia’s largest wave pool, and offers houseboat rentals, health spa services, horseback riding and many other fun activities for children and adults.
The luxurious Legacy Lodge & Conference Center at Lake Lanier Islands Resort has 287 deluxe guestrooms, 30 New England style lakeside cottages, 6 executive villas, and two spectacular championship golf courses. For a more exciting aquatic lodging experience, the Resort’s Harbor Landing rents 14 newly renovated 53 ft. x 14 ft. houseboats and two 82 ft. x 16 ft. luxury houseboats that can accommodate up to 10 guests. Visitors who enjoy camping among the wonders of nature can find several excellent campgrounds at Lake Lanier including Shady Grove Campground, a public facility run by the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department. Shady Grove Campground contains 110 campsites, a beach and swim area, a boat ramp with a courtesy dock, group campsites with picnic shelters, and a children’s playground.
Restaurants serving Southern barbecue, Cajun and Creole cuisines are very popular in the area around Lake Lanier, as are Chinese, Japanese, Italian and traditional American steak and seafood combination restaurants. Downtown Cumming contains a thriving shopping district. In addition to a Super Target store and a Walmart Supercenter, Cumming also contains Vickery Village Center with over 200,000 sq. ft. of unusual shops and restaurants, and the 108 acre Avenue Forsyth outlet shopping mall.
In addition to all the recreational activities offered at Lake Lanier, the Cumming Fairgrounds are almost always open with something new, fun and interesting going on such as free living history exhibits and Native American dancing in the Heritage and Indian Villages, or demonstrations of an operating blacksmith shop, a saw mill, a cotton gin, a corn mill, a syrup mill and a grist mill at the farming village. There is also an early 1900’s rural township on the Fairgrounds site with a working post office, a 1-room schoolhouse, churches and a general store.
The annual Cumming Country Fair and Festival in October is a special 11 day event that features many different free daily attractions and free concerts. A very special time to visit Lake Lanier is between the end of November and the end of December during the annual Magical Nights of Lights celebration when 6 miles of multi-colored Christmas holiday lights are displayed along the shores of Lake Lanier Islands. Magical Nights of Lights is believed to be the largest annual animated Christmas holiday light extravaganza in the world.