Fort Yargo State Park has a lake and a beach.

Paddle at Chattahoochee Nature Center.

Where to Kayak, Canoe and Cool Off in Atlanta

Need to get in, on or near a body of water this summer? Atlanta has pools, kayaking, canoeing and more. Atlanta and the surrounding metro area have plenty of places to stay cool this summer.

Serene surroundings abound on Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River. (📷: Scott White)

Learn How to Shoot the Hooch

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area makes up a series of parklands along the Chattahoochee River, roughly 48 miles. This river flows through the northern metro area of Atlanta. Float down the river (or shoot the ‘hooch) with help from these outfitters.

Take Guided Canoe Trips

Take a relaxing paddle on the Chattahoochee with a guided canoe trip. (📷: Chattahoochee Nature Center)

The Chattahoochee Nature Center offers guided canoe trips, suitable for all levels. The nature center provides all equipment for guests. River Canoe Trips are for all skill levels (ages 6 and up) and take 2.5 hours. Family canoe days and date night canoe trips are offered.

Go Chasing Creeks and Waterfalls

Hike or run the Morningside Nature Preserve featuring a sandy beach and tall swinging bridge on South Peachtree Creek. Hike Cascade Springs Nature Preserve to a beautiful waterfall and a historic springhouse. In Roswell, the Roswell Mill Waterfall is a popular place for locals to get wet.

Visit Lake Lanier

About an hour north of the city is Lake Lanier. Margaritaville at Lanier Islands has a water park, marina, sunset cruises, pontoon boat rentals, a beach and several restaurants. Don Carter State Park is located on Lake Lanier and offers aqua cycling, fishing, biking, a beach, and paddleboard and kayak rentals.

Make a Splash at Attractions

Splash and stay all day at Hurricane Harbor (📷: Six Flags Over Georgia)

Splash pads can be found at Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Fountain of Rings at Centennial Olympic Park, Old Fourth Ward playground and Piedmont Park. Water parks around town are located at Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell and Six Flags White Water in Marietta.

Day Trips at State Parks

Tranquil waters beckon at the Fort Yargo State Park lake and beach. (📷 Liesl Merkel)

Find even more ways to cool off at these state parks, listed with the water adventures available at each place. All have camping, yurt, lodge or cottage accommodations.  

James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park: fishing pier, boat ramp, two ponds and rentals (jon boat, kayak, canoe and pedal boat), plus a beautiful marble mine trail. 

Unicoi State Park: beach, swimming area, boathouse (pedal boat and canoe rentals) and fishing. 

Fort Yargo State Park: large swimming beach, fishing and rentals (jon boat, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard and pedal boat), plus a 1792 log fort.  

Fishing is popular at High Falls State Park (📷 Liesl Merkel)

High Falls State Park: a hiking trail around rushing falls, a swimming pool, fishing, rentals on the lake (kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and aqua cycles).  

Sweetwater Creek State Park: two fishing docks, boat rentals (jon boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard and aqua cycle), plus the large rocky creek where visitors frequently wade.

Red Top Mountain State Park: sandy beach with swimming, fishing, two boat docks, two boat ramps. 

Check out our ultimate guide to summer in Atlanta for more cool things to do.

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