Swimming Lakes and Beaches near Atlanta for Georgia Families this Summer
Pools are great, but sometimes we all need a change of scenery. Why not head for one of Georgia's lakes and swimming holes? There are several lakes near Atlanta with swimming beaches that make an easy day trip. Or for Atlanta families who really yearn for salt water, we have plenty of coastal locations close enough for an overnight trip.
Georgia Lakes for Swimming near Atlanta
Located on the north shore of Lake Acworth inside of Cauble Park, the Cauble/Acworth beach is a favorite area for swimming near Atlanta. Acworth Beach is open daily from dawn to dusk, starting in early June through Labor Day. In addition to the swimming beaches, the park has picnic tables, two playgrounds, pavilions for rental, a boat launch area, and fishing dock. Parking is free during the week and $10 for non-Acworth residents on holidays and weekends.
Red Top Mountain Park is located on one of the premier swimming lakes in Georgia, Lake Allatoona. The park is also home to Red Top Mountain Beach, a tree-shaded, sandy beach area. Campsites, cottages, picnic pavilions, and a yurt are all available for reservations if you choose to make it an overnight visit. The park has a roped-off area for swimming in the lake, as well as a playground, beach house for changing, picnic tables, and grills. Near enough to Atlanta for a quick day visit, the beach has no admission fee, but parking is $5 per car. The park is open for daily visitors from 7am to dusk.
Robin Lake Beach is a private, mile-long sandy beach inside the Callaway Gardens resort. The swimming beach is open to guests who purchase gardens admission, annual members of Callaway Gardens and resort guests. The beach is open daily from 10am to dusk. Guests can bring their own beach chairs, umbrellas, and water toys. If you forget them, Robin Lake Beach also has beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards for rental from 10am to 6pm. Beach areas are first-come, first served. Beach admission is included with the price of daily garden admission.
Thrill to the water attractions and beach at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands. Photo courtesy of Explore Georgia
The sandy beach and swimming area at Margaritaville is of the best swimming lakes near Atlanta. Guests can visit just the beach ($9.99 daily admission per person) or choose to visit all the attractions of the water park ($34.99 and up.) For the 2021 summer season, Margaritaville is open daily until August 8 and weekends until September 19. Ticket prices are $49.99 for adults, $34.99 for ages 3-7, free for children 2 and younger.
Fort Yargo State Park offers a beach area along the Marbury Creek Watershed. The sandy beach area has a section roped off for swimming in the lake. Near the beach area, there is a pavilion for rental. Fort Yargo also has several campsites, RV connections, cottages, and cabins for overnight visits. There is no admission fee for the park; only a parking fee of $5 per car. The park is open from 7am to 10pm with the beach area open until dusk.
Ocean Swimming Beaches Close to Atlanta
Located on the Atlantic Ocean (and about a 4 1/2-hour drive from Atlanta), Hilton Head Island is included on several lists of top U.S. beaches for families. Hilton Head has no limit of resorts to visit, and most have their own private beach access. Hilton Head also has nine public beaches with five designated as official swimming beaches. The five official beaches, Alder, Coligny, Driessen, Folly Field, and Islanders, have lifeguards and roped-off areas clearly marked in the water. These beaches are open from 6am to 9pm daily. The only fees are for parking, which start at $1 per hour.
Destin is referred as the heart of the Emerald Coast for good reason. While it takes about six hours to get there, if you love soft white sand and clear water, it's worth it. The breeze from the Gulf Coast keeps the air temperature in the 80s and water temperature in the 70s, so Destin is a great place for swimming beaches. The beach is public and rental companies are available along the beach for chair/umbrella rentals, or you can just bring your own. Beach access is available at several points along the shore.
Also about 5-plus hours from Atlanta, Orange Beach is home to the best beaches in Alabama and can be less crowded than Destin. Orange Beach has the same sugar-sand beaches as the Florida Gulf Coast with more rental houses and a less commercial feel than other Gulf Coast cities. The beach is public. Beach chair/umbrella rentals are not common, so it’s best to bring your own.
The fastest way to hit the ocean is by doing the four-hour jaunt to Tybee Island, just south of Savannah. The beaches of Tybee Island are open from 7am to 9pm daily. Tybee Island beaches are public and monitored by lifeguards at most points on the Island. There are some areas where swimming isn’t permitted because of fishing and/or concern about sharks. Beach chair/umbrella rentals are not common, so it’s best to bring your own. The accommodations on Tybee Island are limited to mainly locally owned motels and vacation homes, so families looking for a more traditional resort or hotel experience might want to stay in Savannah.