Lake Lanier Beach Day at Don Carter State Park

It’s hard to believe Memorial Day is almost here! With the warm weather these past few weeks, it already feels like summer is in full swing here in Atlanta- and that means I am craving sandy days spent by the water, ice cream, and late nights around the fire. Ryan and I decided to explore Lake Lanier this weekend to get outside and have a real “summer” day. Honestly, being driving distance from gorgeous lakes is something I can’t believe I didn’t take advantage of until this weekend!

If you know me, you know that my favorite place in the world is the beach. Growing up, my family went to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware every year, which has that classic beach town charm, complete with a boardwalk and my favorite- Grotto Pizza. I never considered not going to the beach in the summer, even after moving to Atlanta- I was excited to go to the beach in Florida with Ryan’s parents when we visited *LINK*, and I have tentative plans to visit Savannah and Georgia beaches in August for my birthday. 

But for now, in quarantine as we try to limit travel (our rule has been to stay in the state within two hours, as leaving the city has proved to be better for social distancing), I have struggled with how to embrace the fact that summer is fast approaching, when we can’t go to the beach or even the pool. Due to the virus, the pool at my building has been closed, and it’s hard to accept that we can’t just drive to the beach in an hour like we used to when I lived in Delaware. 

This past weekend, our weather warmed up to almost ninety degrees and we were getting extra desperate for a swim and sandy toes. We decided to try Lake Lanier- I read about Don Carter State Park and the new beach that was there and was immediately excited. I was so impressed when we got there- I have never been a lake person, but I think Georgia might turn me into one! It was so peaceful to sit in the sand and listen to the birds, and the water was calm and clear.

We stopped in Gainesville on the way to get sandwiches for a picnic lunch- the town had the cutest town square. Most businesses weren’t open, so we ended up at Inman Perk- I am obsessed with this name for a coffee shop! We got two sandwiches to go, and we were on our way. I definitely want to go back to the town to go to the shops when things open up.

The park was easy to get to and $5 to park (it’s a state park). The park had clean bathrooms, grills, benches, swings, and a dock all right around the water. The amenities were super important to me as we were planning to spend the whole day, haha! I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t crowded, either- I never felt like we were closer than ten feet to other people. We brought our lysol wipes and a lot of snacks, and we were set for the afternoon. 

I was so excited to go to the lake that I bought this raft on Amazon- I couldn’t resist buying it! I wish I had captured the look on Ry’s face when he pulled up his car to pick me up in the morning and I was standing outside my building holding it. Ryan was literally speechless and just kept shaking his head, haha.

The raft was honestly the best purchase I’ve made all of quarantine- it was cute and practical, and we played with the beach ball in the water which was a fun bonus. It was great to float in the water- a lot of people actually had rafts (but no one else had an avocado haha!).

Ryan jokes that I am like a little kid at the beach- I’m the first one out of the car, running straight to the ocean whenever we go, and you better bet that I am playing in the sand and splashing in the waves- I don’t care how old I am or how cold the water is. I was no different at the lake- it was so fun to just have fun. It was everything that I feel at the beach- stress free, and not a care in the world. I feel like that level of relaxation and pure joy is so hard to come by these days- it was so special to just escape and have a day in the sunshine.

The lake is obviously not the beach- but our day at Lake Lanier was a close second. Plus, it was under two hours away and an easy low maintenance day with a cute little town just a few minutes away. There is so much more of Lake Lanier I want to see- we will definitely be back!

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