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If you’re dreaming of a lake vacation in the south, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Lake Oconee in your research. Located less than two hours from Atlanta, Lake Oconee is the place to be when the weather gets warm, though the expansive lake and its surrounding towns make for a nice getaway in any season. From Reynolds Lake Oconee, a sprawling resort with well-regarded golf courses and a five-star hotel, to Greensboro, Georgia, the main Lake Oconee town where most visitors stay, the energy surrounding Lake Oconee vacations is posh but laid-back. To experience this triumph of Southern charm and lake life, use our guide to Lake Oconee to plan a memorable family vacation in Georgia.
How to Get to Lake Oconee, Georgia and When to Go
Lake Oconee is about 85 miles outside Atlanta, and most city dwellers drive, as it’s only a 90-minute ride without traffic. There are a number of towns lining the lake, but Greensboro is by far the most popular and best situated. Greensboro is where you’ll find Reynolds Lake Oconee (a resort in which The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee is located), great restaurants, and lively lakeside happenings.
As for when to go, Lake Oconee weather does get fairly crisp in the winter, coming down to the 30s in December, January, and February. Still, during the day in the winter, you can still get 60-degree days and enjoy the outdoors and a round of golf. Lake Oconee weather is best in April, May, September, and October, with highs in the mid-70s and low-80s. The summer months are, of course, quite warm (temperatures in the 90s) and can be fairly congested with tourists. But the June and July Lake Oconee weather does make for ideal lake life temperatures, for the family that wants to spend their days boating and swimming.
Staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is a favorite among luxury travelers in Georgia. The property recently underwent a significant refresh, wherein all the rooms were renovated, bringing in fresh, chic décor. The property certainly exudes an air of class and polished luxury, but still feels relaxed. Visitors come from all over the Southeast (specifically, Atlanta, South Carolina, and Florida) and across the country. And they aren’t disappointed by the beautiful infinity pool overlooking the lake, phenomenal on-property dining, and five-star service. If you’re planning a trip for the whole family, the cottages are perfect for your whole brood; the Ritz Lake Oconee is even building a new family pool area, and once that’s completed, the infinity pool will be adults-only.
Renting a Lake House on Lake Oconee
Renting a lake house on Lake Oconee is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the area in any season. Of course, you can always rent a lake house on Vrbo or Airbnb—they have some excellent top-rated Lake Oconee vacation rentals, like this waterfront two-bedroom with a dock, or this golf course-adjacent colonial house. However, because renting a lake house on Lake Oconee is so popular, there are also a number of local companies you can work with for vacation rentals, including Reynolds Lake Oconee Vacation Rentals. You can even rent two-bedroom cottages longer term from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee.
Lake Oconee Boat Rentals
Boating on Lake Oconee is reserved for the warmer-weather months, but if you’re there between April and October, finding Lake Oconee boat rentals is essential. Reserve your boat rental well in advance of your trip to the lake, as demand is high in the spring and summer. The most highly recommended company for boat rentals on Lake Oconee is Young Harris Water Sports. YH has “the largest selection of boat and jet ski rentals,” and they offer stand-up paddleboards, jet skis, and kayaks, along with a fleet of boats for rent. Their boating fleet includes ski boats (a Sea Ray 21 SPX with a 250 horsepower motor), pontoon boats, tritoon boats, and double-decker tritoon boats. You can call YH directly to rent a boat, or if you’re staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee or visiting Harbor Club Marina, you can enquire through the hotel or harbor club and they’ll help facilitate the reservation.
Reynolds Lake Oconee Golf Courses
Lake Oconee is one of the most essential golfing destinations in Georgia. The Ritz-Carlton itself has five courses, offering a total of 99 holes designed by four renowned architects: The Landing and The Preserve, both designed by Bob Cupp, The National, designed by Tom Fazio, The Oconee, designed by Rees Jones, and Great Waters, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Beyond these courses, the must-visit course of the Lake Oconee golf scene is The Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee.The Kingdom is known for exemplary golf instruction and their pros can offer insight on your clubs as well as extending your drives, tightening up your short game, or working on your swing.
Fine Dining Lake Oconee Restaurants
Dining at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee is some of the most highly regarded in the area. The property has four fully fledged restaurants: Gaby’s By the Lake, Linger Longer Steakhouse, Barrel Room, and Georgia’s. Georgia’s has a rustic-chic atmosphere with craft Southern fare, Gaby’s is set outside with gorgeous views of the water, Linger Longer Steakhouse is the pinnacle of fine dining, and the Barrel Room is a classic bar with craft beer, live music, and games.
Iron Fork Cafe is owned by high school sweethearts Chris and Katie Bragg, who love welcoming newcomers to Lake Oconee with a home-cooked Southern meal. Iron Fork is a great place to bring the whole family, and offers a true taste of Lake Oconee life in Eatonton. Don’t skip the chicken fried steak and buttermilk pie here.
Also in Eatonton, Silver Moon is a neighborhood joint with great fish and chips and a weekend raw bar. The seafood-forward restaurant encourages unwinding like a Lake Oconee local, so kick back and have a leisurely beer on tap here. Silver Moon is a short drive from the Reynolds Lake Oconee area and has excellent desserts (think: bread pudding and peanut butter pie).