Here it is July, already. Folks who notice these things have observed the daylight fading earlier each evening. Before the summer gets away, there’s still time to dive into  several “must do” activities around Lake Lanier and the headwaters. Here are some ideas for fun on the lake, on the town, or in the mountains to help make the most of the season before it’s gone:

 On the lake

LCKC Moonlight Paddle logoMoonlight Paddles: The Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club guides participants in canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddle boards into quiet coves under each month’s full moon. For a new twist this summer, the club dipped into Native American heritage to label each outing with the full moon name given it by early inhabitants who paddled the waters long before Lake Lanier was formed. LCKC Executive Director Kim Martin, who leads some of the night ventures, described them as peaceful glides into a protected, wake-free waterscape. “Sometimes we might go out to Gilligan’s Island or stay in the coves behind the boathouse or under (Clarks) bridge to the right,” she said. In the twilight, paddlers might see herons and other lake birds swooping down for their evening meal, fish jumping to catch bugs near the surface, or deer running on shore. “There’s always something to see,” Martin said, including a bald eagle that occasionally drops by. A range of participants – from grandparents, teens, singles, and families – sign up for the two-hour tours each month. Each can choose their vessel from LCKC’s fleet or bring their own. The price is the same. Martin invited participants to also tour The Boathouse at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, LCKC headquarters and community gathering place. Sign up for the Buck Moon paddle, 7-9 p.m. July 20, at Look for new paddling rental opportunities this summer by visiting the website.

Fins Up Water Park: If your summer needs more excitement than serenity, slide into this water extravaganza at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands. Cool off and scream on Apocalypso, Georgia’s first “water coaster” and twist down Serpentine Storm, ride through Dreamsicle Dive or whoosh down any of the 18 water slides at the lakeside park. See

On the town

View of a crowd sitting in lawn chairs facing an outside stage in downtown Gainesville.First Friday/Hot Summer Night Concerts: The music scene has heated up in Downtown Gainesville along with the boom in entertainment, restaurant and living options. Summer concert nights around the Gainesville Square bring in hundreds of folks who dine, dance, and socialize to the beat of local bands performing a variety of music genres. Main Street Gainesville has hosted the First Friday Concerts several years and is expanding the music offerings to Wednesdays this month with Hot Summer Nights. The midweek July-only concerts will be much smaller than First Fridays, said Main Street Manager Nicole Parham. “No roads will be closed and the entire event will be inside the park portion of the square,” she said. “The music will be a little different for these, as well. A local musician, David Cramer, has crafted a Micro Music Festival event where local artists can play a 15-20 minute set during the event. So, instead of one musician playing for two hours, multiple musicians will play throughout the evening.”

Other live music options: Near the south end of the lake, groove to Music in the Branch, 6:30-8:30 p.m. first Sundays at the Flowery Branch Amphitheater. Live bands and food trucks greet visitors on summer evenings at the Mitchell Street venue. See

Near the lake’s southwestern shore, The Lou Sobh Amphitheater at Cumming City Center stages live bands most Wednesday and Saturday nights. The unique gathering place offers several dining options, shops, and a walking trail. See

To the north, step into mountain heritage 2-4:30 p.m. Saturdays for impromptu performances by fiddlers, guitar pickers and singers outside the Gold Museum Historic Site. A wider genre of tunes perks up Hancock Park 6:30-8:30 p.m. first Fridays. Visit

In the mountains

A tractor pulling a wagon full of people in front of the Indian Mound at the Harvest Festival.Harvest Festival, Hardman Farm Historic Site: This bucolic setting at a former Georgia governor’s farm and site of the iconic gazebo-topped Indian mound in Sautee Nacoochee offers a step back in time. The pastoral site resonates with a different cultural experience from the lively, popular Bavarian-styled tourist town of Helen, just north of the park. Park assistant manager and event planner Sarah Summers described the harvest as a staff and visitor favorite. In the Aug. 24 gathering, pickers can harvest their own sweet and/or tri-color corn from stalks planted in June on land Gov. Hardman originally tilled more than a century ago. Families enjoy old fashioned sack racing, horseshoe tossing, and corn hole games. Guests can visit with horses, sheep, goats and chickens in the historic barn behind the mansion, which will be open for tours. Strains from a live blue grass band and food truck fare beckon visitors to linger after harvest. See

Birds, bats, and storytelling at Amicalola Falls State Park: There’s more to do at one of Georgia’s most visited state parks than scale the steps to see the famous waterfall. Park staff and naturalists have teamed up with the Blue Ridge Raptors organization and professional storytellers to widen opportunities for family fun, traditional entertainment, and up-close encounters with hawks, owls, and vultures. There’s even a short jaunt with bat-detecting gear to seek the nocturnal creatures as they swoop down to consume insects. Many events take place in or near the relatively new visitor center, a fitting tribute to the park’s location on the approach to the Appalachian Trail and the region’s roots in moonshine and fast cars. See

Find more activities for summer fun each month in Lakeside’s Outdoor Calendar.