Best Places to Live

Gainesville, GA

Population: 37,115
Photo: Lake Lanier CVB

Lake Vacation

It's easy to see why several media outlets, including Southern Living, have named Lake Sidney Lanier one of the best lakes in the south. Located near Gainesville, GA, the 38,000-acre lake is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Lanier attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year who come to fish, water ski, sail and swim.

The things to do in Gainesville and the outdoor activities around the lake make it a great spring break destination, even if it's not warm enough for swimming. There are hiking trails, biking trails and plenty of scenic drives.

A total of 12 campgrounds are spread around the lake ranging from primitive locations to spots for RVs. For fancier accommodations, try Lake Lanier Islands Resort, which offers lake houses, villas and luxury hotel rooms.

Sites to see include: the Northeast Georgia History Center, Alta Vista Cemetery, Historic Green Street, Beulah Rucker Museum, The Piedmont Hotel and the Eternal Flame honoring fallen soldiers on Roosevelt Square. There are great dining establishments in Gainesville as well.

Restaurants: 40-plus*

Shops: 50-plus*

Don't miss: Poultry Park, which features a chicken on top of a 25-foot-tall marble obelisk monument. 

*Source: City of Gainesville