Fall on Lake Oconee takes on an idyllic quality —fall brings lower temperatures, breezy evenings and water dappled by the rays of the autumn sun. It’s still warm enough to take to the water, but cool enough to enjoy so much more.
Georgia’s second-largest lake offers an ideal place to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the type of timeless autumn activities that can make everyone feel like a kid once again. Fall is a perfect time for outdoor endeavors like golf and camping, not to mention seasonal favorites like campfires and craft beer releases.
Greene County features all the makings of a classic fall getaway, full of activities that your parents or even grandparents might have enjoyed. It’s a trip back to a less crowded and less complicated time, all just an hour and a half east of Atlanta. So, toss the kids into the station wagon and enjoy these eight timeless activities in and around Lake Oconee.
What’s more enduring than setting up a campsite, cooking over an open fire and sharing laughs and conversation under the stars? Fall is the perfect time for camping in Georgia, and the Lake Oconee region makes it easy, with campsites right on the shoreline that accommodate both tents and recreational vehicles. Old Salem Campground, open through Oct. 27, is located on a peninsula jutting into the lake and includes amenities such as a boat ramp and a swimming beach. And the Durhamtown Off-Road Resort in Union Point features full-hookup camper and RV sites for those who like a little horsepower to go with their starry nights.
From the long, orange rays of sunrise glinting over the water to views of changing foliage, the serenity of boating on Lake Oconee isn’t limited by the season. The preeminent local boat outfitter is Young Harris Watersports, which offers rentals of power boats, kayaks and paddle boards at five locations on Lake Oconee, including one at The Ritz-Carlton. Even when the water gets a little cool for most swimmers, the region’s temperate climate allows visitors to enjoy boating nearly year-round.
Shooting is a sport passed down from father to son (and daughter!). The Lake Oconee region offers a premier destination for those looking to hone their skills: Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds. The sporting grounds offers activities such as five-stand, sporting clays and air rifles, perfect for groups of family or friends. Guests at Sandy Creek, can try their hand at an archery range or an off-road driving course.
Pedaling a bicycle is a way of enjoying the natural surroundings that the entire family can enjoy. Those looking for off-road trails should head to Rock Hawk, which offers a maze of trails near the Wallace Dam. Its 30 miles of trails wind around quarries, cemeteries, an ancient effigy and more. Guests of The Ritz-Carlton also have access to an array of bicycles, from adult mountain bikes to bikes with training wheels for kids, that can be used to explore the eight miles of trails weaving throughout the resort.
There’s no better time for golf than autumn, when cooler temperatures make midday rounds more appealing, and the changing lakeside foliage creates a visual wonder that meshes perfectly with the topography of the region’s championship courses. Golf is a timeless game enjoyed by players of all ages, evidenced by the junior program at The Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee that begins with instruction for players as young as 4, as well as their two-day golf school with a low student-teacher ratio. Guests of the The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee resort 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.
The allure of fishing exists year-round on the crystal waters of Lake Oconee. Fishing is available at many of the campgrounds ringing the lake, but those looking for a more immersive adventure often turn to Captain Mark Smith at Reel Time Guide Service for expert help in catching the striped bass and crappie that populate the lake. Guests at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee can also be connected with local outfitters who’ll have them angling on the lake in no time—just remember to obtain a license if you’re 16 or older.
Craft beer tasting
One of the South’s favorite things about fall is college football! Oconee Brewing Company makes sure to give guests the football experience while still being socially responsible. They will air all the University of Georgia games on a projection screen inside their 3,600 square foot event center. To complement the games, they will be serving a delicious fall lineup of their craft beers. Featured beers will be, Leon’s Lederhosen, a German-style Marzen. GranDunkel, a Dunkelweizen style of a dark, wheat beer. And a Stout and a Brown Ale.
S’mores by the lake
There’s nothing like a fire to take the chill off a fall evening, and guests at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee can enjoy a nightly lakeside bonfire that brings warmth and coziness to the end of their day. The resort’s signature tradition of toasting s’mores over the fire makes the experience all the more delicious. From 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each night (weather permitting), guests gather just outside of Georgia’s restaurant for this classic treat, alongside the serene lakeside escape.