Gainesville’s Rustic Charm

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Lake Lanier at Sunset (picture taken by my son)

I just returned from an extended holiday weekend in Gainesville, Georgia where my family and I camped on Lake Lanier. Gainesville is an attractive city in Hall County, about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta. As we passed antique shops, unique little country stores, and restaurants, I felt the familiar shopping twinge … and wished for a moment we could stroll through downtown and shop. But I was outnumbered, so we headed for the campground.

I’ve been to several Georgia lakes – Lake Allatoona, Richard B. Russell, Lake Hartwell, and Carters Lake are all favorites. This was our first trip to Lake Lanier, and it quickly rose to the top of my faves list. It’s a huge lake and boasts nearly 700 miles of shoreline. We were on the northern end of the lake, but the southern end is a virtual amusement park with resorts, water parks, restaurants, and even live music. The northern end is a more natural setting with unobstructed lake views.

Gainesville is wrapped on three sides by Lake Lanier, making it a popular destination for vacationers. The downtown area’s restaurants and shops are a big draw, especially the Main Street Market. This shopping area features buildings dating back to 1886. Restored in 2002, this open-air market features boutiques, cafes, and art galleries. Gainesville is also home to the Chattahoochee Golf Course, the Elachee Nature Science Center, mountain bike trails, equestrian trails, and the Rock Creek Greenway.

With the Blue Ridge Mountains in my backyard, I’ve been to a wide variety of cities, towns, and mountain villages in this area. They lean heavily toward the quaint and picturesque. Gainesville is all of that, but I was surprised by how busy this small city is. It is thriving with businesses, tourism, and industry. And at nearly 190 years old, Gainesville wraps all of its treasures with a layer of history, adding another dimension to explore in this dynamic lakeside city.