10 Great Reasons to Visit Don Carter State Park

Lake Lanier Swimming Areas

Beaches and Designated Swim Areas

The Corps operates 20 designated swim areas around the 38,000 acres of Lake Lanier.  You’ll find imported white sanded beaches at some of these, and each has its own features.  Click on the links to find out more information about each park and swim area.

In addition to the Corps swim areas, there’s also a beautiful white-sand beach and designated swim area (with a stunning view) at Don Carter State Park.

All swim areas are “swim at your own risk”, and there are no lifeguards on duty.  Swimmers are encouraged to swim at designated swim areas only.

Best Lake Lanier Beaches

If you are specifically looking for the best beaches with swimming areas, I’ve highlighted a few “can’t miss” options below.

Best Lake Lanier Beaches

If sandy beach vibes are what you are looking for, there are some swimming areas featuring excellent beaches on Lake Lanier. Note, not all swimming areas have large beach areas! 

  • Don Carter State Park: Don Carter is without a doubt the best family friendly beach on Lake Lanier. Opened in 2013, the whole park has a sensible layout with a large shell shaped beach area, ringed by a perimeter wall. This makes it easier to keep the kids contained.
  • Old Federal Park: Old Federal is a bit less accessible with a long access road through the wooded areas, but once you get there it’s well worth it! Consider this a good full day beach area. There are actually two separate beach areas, plenty of shady areas (some nice hammocks), life jacket stations for kids, and even a sand volleyball court. Generally a bit more space to spread out and rarely feels packed.
  • Burton Mill Park: Burton Mill Park is a great option for a solid beach area and access to shady, grassy areas with views of the water. Burton Mill also has some picnic tables for easy eating. You may notice some boat traffic as there is a yacht club nearby. During peak season, generally open late until 10 PM.

Lake Lanier Campgrounds with Swimming Areas

If you are looking for campgrounds with beach access, the following are some excellent options maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers.

Lake Lanier Day Parks with Swimming Access

If you are just looking for day access, the following swimming holes are available (although check seasonal times if off-peak).

Georgia State Parks with Swimming Areas Near Lake Lanier

Is it Safe to Swim on Lake Lanier?

The short answer is yes, but only in the designated swim areas!

As one of the most popular (and biggest) lakes in the country, it’s also one of the more dangerous. Most of the fatalities involve boating accidents (boating under the influence), but swimming in undesignated areas is another culprit.

Because of how Lake Lanier was made, water levels can vary. There are areas with old trees, shipwrecks and other debris that may not be apparent at surface level.

So, Lake Lanier is a wonderful place to swim and very safe if swimming in designated, clearly marked, areas.

Where to Swim at Lanier Islands

Lanier Islands

Lanier World Beach and Water Park

Another option and family favorite is LanierWorld at Lanier Islands in Buford. At the Family Fun Park, enjoy Wild Waves, the South’s largest wave pool, as well as Raging River, carnival rides and TAD’S Lakeside Grille. A short walk through the tunnel takes you from the Family Fun Park to Big Beach, home of the largest collection of rides, slides and dining options at LanierWorld. Across the sand and over the Boardwalk, lies Sunset Cove, THE spot on Lake Lanier for music, entertainment, dining & nightlife.

Shoal Creek Campground

Lanier Islands also now operates Shoal Creek Campground, which has another designated swim area.

Swimming Options off the Lake

Francis Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville has an outdoor water park kids love.

The amenities include: a splash pad, a zero-depth entry pool with water troughs, a kid pool with aquatic slide and water squirters, a swirl pool and current pool, as well as 3-story high water slides.

There’s also an indoor 10-lane competition pool and an indoor 4-lane instructional pool.  There is a snack bar onsite (no outside food allowed).  For a full-listing of prices, hours and amenities, you can visit their website or give them a call at the number below.

Francis Meadows Aquatic Center

Phone:    (770) 533-5850

Address:    1545 Community Way, Gainesville, GA 30501

Website:    http://www.gainesville.org/frances-meadows

Comments (2)

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    Hi, I’m staying near Lake Lanier in August and need to find somewhere to swim 2-3 miles for an upcoming triathlon. Which location would best suit me please?


    • Avatar

      Robert Sutherland


      Perhaps laps on the Chattahoochee River between Lake Lanier Olympic Park and Don Carter State Park would work for you.
      Unless you are afraid of swimming with gar fish.



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