The only thing better than summertime itself is being a kid during summer. This time of year, many of us feel nostalgic for those carefree days of splashing around at a local lake, hanging out with friends into the late, muggy evenings and road trips in the family station wagon.
Though it may seem that many of our favorite childhood places and activities only exist in our memories, there are still plenty of ways to experience a summer similar to the “good old days.”
Certain destinations seem to breathe nostalgia, such as Georgia’s Greene County, located about an hour drive east from Atlanta. Travelers can experience familiar tastes, sights and sounds, such as watching fireworks by the lake, eating fresh-picked berries and indulging in classic summer activities.
If you’re longing for a trip that whisks you back in time, or want to show your kids or grandkids what fun is all about, consider these 10 activities in Greene County.
Take to the water
There’s no better place to stretch out the lazy days of summer than in a nostalgic lake town.
Lake Oconee, Georgia’s second largest lake, is an inviting playground for a day trip or extended stay. Visitors can rent jet skis and boats at Young Harris Watersports, which has four Greene County locations, including two available to the general public. If you are looking for a more laid-back option, you can also rent out canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Or even have a captain take you around for a sunset cruise.
For a truly unforgettable experience, explore Lake Oconee under the cover of darkness with new Moonlight Kayak Tours at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, complete with a guide and kayaks that illuminate the water below. As participants glide through the water, they’ll have the best spot in the area for optimal stargazing.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve used your sleeping bag and enjoyed some campfire s’mores, consider a summer camping trip. Camping can often be a great way to reconnect with family and friends, while taking in the region’s natural beauty.
There are several campsite options located around Lake Oconee, with features that include public beaches, docks, pavilions, grills and playgrounds. You can also find an outdoor sports area at Parks Ferry Campground and Old Salem Campground has a pavilion for events and reunions.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, the campground at Lake Oconee KOA features 23 authentic railroad boxcars, club cars and cabooses dotted across 55 acres—and you can spend the night in one. The campground’s private, white-sand beach and two swimming pools are also popular among families.
Fireworks aren’t just for the Fourth of July in Greene County. On select Sunday evenings throughout the summer, The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee hosts the beloved Live at the Lake Concert Series, with musical acts followed by fireworks that light up the night sky. The Ritz-Carlton will also hold a fireworks show on Independence Day.
Swing through the links
Golf lovers of all ages can find a variety of courses designed to challenge and delight throughout the area.
July is Family Golf Month at Reynolds Lake Oconee. They will be offering Family Clinics at The Oconee on Saturday, July 6, Saturday, July 20 and Saturday, July 27. Cost is $25 per player with a maximum 5:1 student-teacher ratio. Guests of The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee and Reynolds Cottages have their choice of five golf courses, designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio, that offer enjoyable play for all ability levels.
Enjoy summer eats
Summer is the season for nostalgic eating—foods like ice cream and hamburgers seem to taste even better this time of year.
On a warm day, head to The Grill at Lake Oconee for ice cream, milkshakes and other sweet treats. Or, make a stop at Oconee Brewing Company, which operates in a renovated cotton mill warehouse, to sample cold brews in its tasting room.
Barbecue is another summer staple and Holcomb’s Bar-B-Que in Greensboro is a local favorite. The restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday and is best known for its Brunswick stew.
Cast a line
With Lake Oconee’s shoreline comprising nearly all of Greene County’s western border, fishing opportunities abound. Few locals know the water better than Mark Smith of Greensboro’s Reel Time Guide Service, who can help visitors hook striped bass, crappie and more.
For those looking to cast a line from shore, public fishing areas are available at Parks Ferry and Old Salem campgrounds, though anyone 16 years or older must have a Department of Natural Resources license, which can be obtained online.
Ride a bike
What’s more timeless than pedaling a bicycle? Bicycle rentals are available for guests at The Ritz-Carlton and those who bring their own will find plenty of trails, including Rock Hawk. Fill a backpack with snacks, and maybe a ball or Frisbee, then hop on your bike and head out to get a load of some natural beauty.
Visitors looking to amp it up a little can find something with a little more horsepower at Durhamtown Off Road Resort in Union Point. The resort features 150 miles of one-way dirtbike, ATV, and SXS trail riding.
No trip to Greene County would be complete without a visit to the Old Gaol in Downtown Greensboro, believed to be the oldest jail in the state. With sloping stone walls and a fortress-like appearance, the building has remained virtually unchanged for more than 200 years.
Near Lake Oconee, the Lake Country Discovery Museum offers memorabilia from the region as well as 10-foot scale topographic map of the lake and its surrounding areas.
Pick some berries
Few places connect us to the past more than farms, and few activities reinforce our connection to the earth better than picking berries fresh from the vine. Hemi Blueberry Farm in Greensboro produces several different varieties of blueberries and muscadines, and visitors can pick their own during the summer when the berries are in season.
If you are looking for the freshest produce that has already been picked for you then make a stop at Ripe Thing Market in Downtown Greensboro. Don’t leave without grabbing a basket of Georgia peaches!
When vacations mimic normal life—overbooked and plugged into technology—true relaxation can be hard to achieve. Sometimes, you just need to rest and recharge.
This season take a breather and enjoy a quiet hike, a lakeside nap in a hammock and other peaceful activities found in Greene County. The rest of the world can wait a little bit longer.
For questions or to plan your getaway to Lake Oconee contact Hannah@visitlakeoconee.com.