No more than two hours east of Atlanta, Georgia, the sprawling waterfront golf-club community at Reynolds Lake Oconee is a year-round haven for the outdoor enthusiast. With 12,000 acres of lakefront property, boating, fishing, and water sports fill the warmest days; while mild, sunny winters lend themselves to teeing off at one of the property’s six golf courses or an afternoon of shooting clay pigeons across the 100-acre shooting grounds.
It may sound too good to be true but rest assured, you don’t need to be a member to take full advantage of this club, in fact, you don’t even need to be a Georgian. Out-of-towners can choose from a variety of rental properties through Reynolds Lake Oconee. Or, they can book a room at the only lakefront Ritz-Carlton property in the world.
A four-day weekend here can be filled with a flurry of activity, or you can enjoy a few days of relaxation in remote, all-encompassing nature. Pick and choose from the following options for how to spend your ultimate weekend at Reynolds Lake Oconee.
How to get to Reynolds Lake Oconee
Reynolds Lake Oconee is 85 miles from Georgia’s capital city of Atlanta, home to the busiest airport in the United States, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Therefore, the community may feel like a world away upon arrival, but it’s easy to access from pretty much anywhere in the country. Though you can hire a local car service, it’s probably better to rent a car. Lake Oconee’s expansive grounds can require up to 20-minute drives in between the different restaurants, social areas and, of course, golf courses.
Where to Stay on Reynolds Lake Oconee
- Reynolds Lake Oconee Cottages and Condos: Large parties will want to consider the National Cottages or The Landing Cottages of Reynolds Lake Oconee, which can both sleep up to eight guests. This option allows for complete privacy for your party, yet with access to the majority of amenities throughout the compound, including 10 restaurants, multiple pools, spa and rental equipment for afternoons on the lake. There are also two-bedroom cottages, which are more suitable for smaller parties or a couple’s trip. All the cottages and condos are tastefully decorated to match the lakeside aesthetic, fitted with cozy gas fireplaces and outdoor space to fully appreciate your surroundings.
- Ritz-Carlton Lake Oconee: Another option is for guests to check in to the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Lake Oconee. The 247-room lakeside resort provides modern appeal with patios or terraces that are intimate for couples but also spacious enough for young families. The main difference with staying at the Ritz is less privacy, but you gain access to a gorgeous infinity pool on the lake and a man-made beach. For larger parties, the Ritz-Carlton Lake House sleeps eight adults, while still providing guest access to all the amenities of the hotel and Reynolds cottages.
What to Do on Lake Oconee
1. Hit the Green
With six golf courses to choose from—Great Waters, The Preserve, The National, The Oconee, The Landing, and The Kingdom of Golf—a four-day weekend all of a sudden doesn’t seem like enough time. And with all the other activities on offer, it really isn’t—which is why you’ll have to be strategic. Make sure you leave enough time for drinks at the clubhouses after your rounds. It’s all part of the experience!
2. Try Your Aim
The Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds at Lake Oconee is helmed by international shooting champion Justin Jones. He developed the 100-acre grounds for elite adventure for any age, including a 20-station sporting clays course. There’s also a five-stand shooting range, archery range, and a simulated experience to really immerse yourself. Don’t worry about the extra packing this event may require, the sporting grounds equip you with all the essentials and ensure your party feels safe before first fire.
3. Get Your Feet Wet
There’s no shortage of water sports here, with kayaks, canoes, water bikes, and paddle boards. There are also opportunities for recreational fishing in certain parts of the lake. For a soft adventure, cottage guests can rent pontoon boats at an hourly rate for a leisurely putt around the lake, or can enquire about an evening sail with a captain, so you can sip wine responsibly as the sun melts into the lake.
4. Live Like a Local
There are select times of year when crowds are drawn to the lake for community happenings open to the public, like the Rhythm & Brews event in October, or Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival in March. For epicureans, these are the times of year to visit, sipping and tasting your way through regional offerings under the Loblolly Pines. Of course, these events fill up quickly, so be sure to book your accommodations and tickets in advance.
5. Host Your Own Event
The Sandy Creek barn is the social hub of the sporting grounds, available to rent out to cottage guests for special events—everything from weddings to corporate events to bachelor parties—as well as for the barn’s wine program, tastings, and pairing dinners. The Rock House is another venue, which is adjacent to the main marina, that has rustic charm (better suited to smaller parties). The on-site events specialist can coordinate all the details, from decor to day-of emergencies at either locale.
Where to Eat and Drink
1. National Tavern
Taupe bar stools surround the central bar of this country tavern. Settle in at the bar to watch sports, or enjoy casual dinner fare in the lounge. Even though this spot gives a pub vibe, its culinary offerings are not entirely traditional. Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout uses seasonal and locally grown ingredients to elevate classic dishes.
2. The Landing Restaurant
Overlooking the original golf course that placed Lake Oconee on the map, The Landing Restaurant is the place to come for comfort food with a side of history. You’ll truly feel part of a members’ club, with a strong sense of community that welcomes you after a round of golf for a craft cocktail. There are themed nights twice weekly with Italian- and BBQ-inspired menus.
3. Linger Longer Steakhouse
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, look no further than this swanky steakhouse at the Ritz-Carlton. The double-sided stone fireplace emulates the feeling of dining in a friend’s lake house, and the personal detail doesn’t stop there. Expect tableside carvings and a daily raw bar experience that will keep you coming back for more.
4. Barrel Room
This is a place where you can visit to both start and end your evening. Regardless of the time of day, the Barrel Room is always overflowing into the cozy lobby of the Ritz-Carlton. Aptly named for the Ritz-Carlton’s collection of curated barrels from national and international Master Distillers, certified bourbon stewards are on-call here to encourage you to try something new.
5. Chiminea Dining
All about experiential dining, this unique opportunity is tailored to a party’s personal needs. Guests must reserve a Fireside Flavor Package for access to a fire globe (chiminea) 72 hours in advance. The chiminea is set up lakeside with a curated collection of indulgent dishes. You can find everything from caviar and passed appetizers to seafood and cakes. Of course, there are libations to wash it all down.
6. Oconee Brewing Company
About 10 miles from Reynolds Lake Oconee is the area’s craft distillery and tasting room, ready to fill up a flight and introduce your palate to Georgia brews. Keep an eye on the rotating events list if you want to attend a bigger festival. Even if you pop by when the brewery is closed, the team welcomes you to give them a call. Their winning motto goes: “if we’re at the brewery (and we’re not too busy), we’ll invite you to swing by for a six-pack to go!”
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