Nearby Oconee offers a staycation combining adventure with luxurious accommodations
Lake Oconee offers an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city with a convenient 1 ½ hour, door-to-door drive from Buckhead that delivers serenity. This tranquil lake east of Atlanta is less populated than its closer cousin Lanier and offers much to explore both on and off the water.
There are, of course, several Airbnb house rental options along the lake, but if you’d prefer the hands-off benefits and amenities that come with lavish resort accommodations, you’re in luck. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee is at your service, providing a host of possibilities for your stay, including rooms and suites within the hotel as well as spacious cottages and four-bedroom lake houses. The property is home to a heated outdoor infinity pool with a children’s area, several dining options and a palatial 30,000-squarefoot spa with an indoor pool.
On your drive in from Atlanta, make sure to add a stop at Farmview Market to your GPS for gourmet snacks to stock your fridge or a breakfast or lunch bite any day but Sunday. The indoor market has gourmet items and local farm-fresh produce as well as a restaurant and smoothie bar. Seasonally on Saturdays, there’s a true local farmers market outside.
More farm fun with the family can be had in the summertime at Hemi Blueberry Farm, where you can pick blackberries, blueberries and muscadine grapes during the season (June 1-Aug. 15). Call ahead, as picking is by appointment only.
For more adventurous pursuits on land, head to Rock Hawk for 30 miles of hiking and biking trails and an archery range (bring your own equipment), plus an ancient effigy in the shape of a bird. The lake area is also home to Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, a full-service, 100-acre facility featuring a 20-station sporting clays course, five-stand shooting range, sporting clays instructional and games area, air rifle range and archery range. Those not into shooting can also fish, kayak, canoe, hike and explore the offroading course.
Speaking of courses, Lake Oconee is known for its golf and has no shortage of greens. Five championship courses designed by the game’s best-known architects such as Jack Nicklaus and Rees Jones offer 99 holes of play. Serious golfers may want to check out The Reynolds Kingdom of Golf experience at The Ritz, which includes custom club fittings and private instruction.
A stay on Oconee wouldn’t be complete without time on the water. Young Harris Water Sports is a go-to for all your lake exploits, providing boat, kayak and jet ski rentals and towable water toys. The company even delivers the rental equipment, so you don’t have to lift a finger.
After all that activity, there’s no shortage of restaurants and watering holes to fill your motor back up. Don’t miss the fish tacos, pulledpork sandwiches and free live music on Saturdays in the summer at the family-friendly Harbor Club Boathouse Restaurant, which is “drive up or boat up.” Gaby’s by the Lake at The Ritz-Carlton is another casual, lakeside choice, serving delicious lobster grilled cheese, stone-baked pizzas and house-made ice cream sandwiches. If beer is your thing, check out Oconee Brewing Company for a pint and a craft brewery tour, or fill up your growler with brews such as the Flightless Saison, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale.
Full of “lake life” adventures and with so much to explore, Lake Oconee is sure to draw you back in for more.
Harbor Club Boathouse Restaurant
Hemi Blueberry Farm
Oconee Brewing Company
Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
Young Harris Water Sports
Managing Editor and Wellness Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Blogger at Badass + Healthy.