- Rose Kennedy For the AJC
There's a lot of Allatoona Lake to love.
When it's full, the lake, located in northwestern metro Atlanta, covers more than 12,000 acres and has 270 miles of shoreline. With all that coverage, spanning parts of Cobb County and Bartow County, there won't be a shortage of things you'll love to do there — from water sports to luxury outings.
Sink your toes in the sand. Red Top Mountain State Park
50 Lodge Road SE, Acworth
Park Office: 770-975-0055
Visitor Center: 770-975-4226
Just 45 minutes or so from Atlanta, Red Top Mountain State Park is a popular park right at the shores of Allatoona Lake. And, it has a sand beach! It's nestled in a cove and surrounded by trees. Soak in the sun on shore or bring your own boat. Some say the beach reminds them of the set for childhood favorite Gilligan's Island. The park provides other fun things to do near Allatoona Lake, including hiking, star gazing, camping and kayaking.
Stay in a lakeside mansion.
Guestroom rates $120-$150 per night; cabin rents for $150 per night; minimums may apply
632 Old Allatoona Road, Cartersville. 770-943-0171
While the shores of Allatoona Lake are packed with affordable, diverse camping options, sometimes it's fun to go upscale. The Victorian Lake Allatoona Inn was built in 1893 and has been lovingly restored. It features wraparound porches, private decks and 16 acres with horses. Its Allatoona Lake Cabin is also for rent, with lake access just 500 feet away.
Open seven days a week starting April 1st and running through September, Sunset Grille (1001 Victoria Landing Drive, Woodstock. 770-874-0379) is right on Allatoona Lake. It serves drinks, lunch and dinner on the deck and occasionally has live music on the weekends. The seafood, burgers and po' boys are all popular there, along with "Boat and Bike" nights.
If it's offseason or you're craving an ethnic menu as part of a day on Allatoona Lake, consider dining in the Woodstock community of Towne Lake, 8 or 9 miles from the heart of Allatoona Lake. One standout is Tuscany (250 Cinema View, Woodstock. 678-453-0888. mytuscanyrestaurant.com). The traditional Italian American specialties include luscious veal gorgonzola. If you are sticking with a lake theme, try the calamari piccata or linguine and clams.
Or indulge a sushi whim at Towne Lake's Izumi Asian Bistro (2035 Towne Lake Pkwy., Ste 150, Woodstock. 678-238-1899
http://iloveizumi.com/). It features lots of intriguing sushi rolls, specials like steamed Chilean sea bass and the standard wok items including Kung Pao with choice of meat and heat.
You needn't wait for a complete day off to dine near Allatoona Lake: follow a romantic lunch or dinner at Tuscany or Izumi Asian Bistro with an afternoon or sunset walk along Allatoona Lake, some 20 minutes away by car.
Join a boat club. Suntex Boat Club, Glade Marina, 5400 Kings Camp Road, Acworth. 770-331-2040
Little River Marina, 6986 Bells Ferry Road, Canton. 770-331-2040
Another luxury offering among the many fun things to do near Lake Allatoona: a members-only boat club that caters to beginners and old hands alike. Here's how it works: you pay a flat membership fee, dues and fuel and get unlimited access to the pontoons, tri-toons, ski boats and wakeboard boats Suntex operates on Allatoona Lake. Members also have their insurance covered and unlimited use of the club's water toys, from wakeboards to tubes and skis. Membership levels range from weekday access with three active reservations at any time on up to corporate memberships for six members and holiday and weekend access. If you're the type to go all in with your leisure activities, this could be for you!
Ponder history and marvel at how close this gruesome battle was to today's suburbia at the Allatoona Pass Battlefield. Of the 5,301 men engaged in the battle, 1,603 were reported killed, wounded or missing at its end. Much of the battlefield is unchanged, and a railroad tunnel cut through solid rock, two preserved earth forts and a classic antebellum plantation house are all visible within a short, family-friendly hike. The walk also offers fine views of Allatoona Lake. It's quite close to Red Top Mountain State Park, too, so the family can play in the woods after the hike.
Terminus Wake Park, 171 LakePoint Pkwy., Cartersville. 470-315-0155
Full-size cable rates: 2 hours, $35; 4 hours $45; all day $55; week $195; month $350; annual $1,100; spectators free
Wakeboarding is a great way to actively enjoy Allatoona Lake, and Terminus Wake Park gives you options for two hours or the whole year. Typically, they open for the spring towards the end of March and run until mid-November. You don't need prior watersports or wakeboarding experience to partake, but you will need to be "water-safe," aka comfortable getting in deep water wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Terminus has three cable lakes, one suitable for flat-out beginners. They are also known for an elaborate series of park features and sliders. Best of all, no water craft are allowed in their area, so you can concentrate on enjoying the day!
To learn more about Allatoona Lake and its status as a recreation spot managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers click here or visit: 1138 GA HWY Spur 20, Cartersville. 678-721-6700