From busy, cosmopolitan cities to a sandy, sun-splashed coastline and majestic mountains, Georgia offers a unique experience that you won't find anywhere else.
You will see modern Atlanta with its urban skyline and the biggest aquarium in the world. Georgia's first city, the historic Savannah, will charm you with historic beauty and magnificent architecture.
There are wild horses on Cumberland Island National Seashore, Blue Ridge Mountains, scenic beaches, romantic getaways, amusement parks, water parks, waterfalls, and over 400 Civil War sites. Here are the best places to visit in Georgia.
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From its quaint cobblestone streets shaded by old oaks covered in Spanish Moss and surrounded by magnificent antebellum Southern mansions to the white sand beaches on Tybee Island to art galleries and Civil War re-enactments, Savannah is thrilling for all ages and a treat for all the senses.
Take an old trolley to explore the beautiful old city in style, check out City Market for fun during the day as well as night, and explore Savannah River Street to see galleries, cafes and restaurants, and breathtaking views of the river. And whatever time of the year you visit, there will be some kind of festival to get everyone out on the streets, locals and visitors alike.
2. Atlanta, Georgia
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The capital of Georgia, Atlanta is vibrant, buzzing, modern, and very Southern at the same time. Both cosmopolitan and elegant, it has played a major role in the history of the country and is great fun to visit. History is a big part of what makes Atlanta what it is, so start your exploration at the Atlanta History Center.
Pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at his former home, today a National Historic Site. Visit the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park and the adjoining Georgia Aquarium. You can also take the kids to the Six Flags White Water waterpark and LEGOLAND Discovery Center, visit the High Museum of Art, and explore the Margaret Mitchell house to see a beautiful example of Southern architecture and lifestyle. Take a stroll through the Atlanta Botanic Gardens on a hot day to cool off and enjoy the lush, verdant world of plants.
3. Tybee Island
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Tybee Island is Savannah's beach playground. Only a short 20-minutedrive away, Tybee is a paradise under the sun boasting five miles of sandy public beach with ancient sand dunes in the back covered with golden sea oats. The views are spectacular everywhere you go, and there is no end to the fun - you can take part in sunbathing, fishing, sailing, boating, hiking, biking, eating, drinking, or doing absolutely nothing under the shade of an umbrella.
There is a lot to see in this 22 square mile area covered with old maritime forests. Don't miss historic Fort Screven area with the scenic Tybee Lighthouse, learn about the island history at Tybee Museum, take the kids to Fort Pulaski to get a sense of the turbulent past of the country and enjoy wonderful restaurants, beach bars and cafes, and sunsets to die for.
4. Cumberland Island
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Cumberland Island is the largest uninhabited barrier island in Georgia. It is rich in history and boasts ancient maritime forests, 17 miles of untouched beaches, wild horses, and curious tourists.
Native American peoples originally inhabited the area, which eventually became a working plantation for a while and then the Carnegie family winter retreat. Cumberland Island is now a national seashore and congressionally designated wilderness.
Only 17.5 miles long, the island is36,415 acres, more than 16,850 of which are mudflats, marshes, and tidal creeks. The adventure starts on the ferry from St. Mary's, the only way to get to the island, which offers a wonderful view of the diverse habitats.
Rent a bike, book a tour with park rangers, or bring a pair of good hiking shoes, as the island is a wonderful place to explore. You can spot wild horses roaming freely, raccoons, wild boars, alligators, whit-tailed deer, and many birds. Stop by the ruins of Carnegie Dungeness mansion, which was built in 1884 by Thomas Carnegie and burned in the 1950s. Best Georgia beaches
101 Wheeler St, St Marys, Georgia 31558, Phone: 912-882-4336
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5. Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island
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Just a short walk from Georgia's Jekyll Island Campground stretched the Villas By The Sea Resort and Clam Creek Picnic Area, Driftwood Beach is a place of mesmerizing beauty; it is a tree graveyard with miles of incredibly shaped dead trees and fallen branches that have been whipped and bleached by the winds and tides. The beach is a great place for an introspective stroll, and it is a photographers' dream, as it is secluded and often empty.
It also serves as a fantastic background for wedding photos, so do not be surprised if you see a few well-dressed people walking through the sand. The sunsets from Driftwood Beach are spectacular. Erosion of the north end of the island due to development over the last hundred years is what caused the extensive death of the trees. Most of the them have been cut for construction, and land was cleared for the building of golf courses, leaving the rest of the vegetation with no protection from nature's power.
6. Callaway Botanical Gardens
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Callaway Gardens is an enormous, 14,000-acre landscape on Pine Mountain in the foothills of Appalachia that by Cason J. Callaway and his wife Virginia Hand Callaway designed. Opened in 1952, the Gardens started as a place to grow rare azaleas, and today they consist of a unique combination of natural spaces and attractions, including a resort that offers a number of options for shorter or longer stays.
The garden has numerous walking and biking trails that wind through the diverse landscapes, and it also boasts Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl, Overlook Azalea Garden, Robin Lake Beach(the largest world man-made white, fine sand beach), the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center with more than 1,000 butterflies belonging to 50 species, two golf courses, TreeTop Adventure Zip Line and Obstacle Course, and the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel. Stay at The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens.
17800 US Hwy 27, Pine Mountain, Georgia 31822, Phone: 800-852-3810
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A suburb of Atlanta, Alpharetta is a historic town that includes an eclectic mix of eateries, shops, and galleries. Of particular note is its thriving music scene, including the outdoor amphitheater.
The town is a hub for music, art and street festivals, farmer's markets, parades, and special events throughout the year. A historic downtown area boasts renovated century homes, boutique shopping, and high end dining. Accommodations to fit all budgets can be found among the 23 hotels available.
8. Tallulah Gorge State Park
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Tallulah Gorge State Park is a scenic 2,689-acre state park near Tallulah Falls, Georgia. The park spreads around a Tallulah Gorge, which is 1,000 feet deep and two miles long and was created by thousands of years of relentless work on behalf of the Tallulah River, which can be seen flowing at the bottom of the gorge. Six Tallulah Falls that drop the river level by 500 feet over a mile are the main attraction of the area.
There are hiking trails on the rim of the gorge with spectacular views, but for hiking on the canyon floor visitors need a permit. You can get another great view from the suspension bridge, which swings 80 feet above the bottom of the gorge. The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center provides information about the history, the terrain and area's fragile ecosystem.
338 Jane Hurt Yarn Rd, Tallulah Falls, Georgia 30573, Phone: 706-754-7981
9. Blue Ridge
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Called the "Switzerland of the South," Blue Ridge is a charming small town with a distinct artsy vibe. The area boasts galleries complete with craft breweries that serve excellent brews and feature live music. A tourist destination in earlier days, Blue Ridge had five hotels soon after it was founded in 1886 thanks to the easy access afforded by the arrival of the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad.
Taking the historic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a great way to see the surrounding nature. Check out what is happening at the popular downtown Blue Ridge City Park, visit the historic 1937Fannin County Courthouse that now houses art studios and galleries, let the Ocoee Whitewater Center take you down Ocoee river in one of their kayaks or canoes for an adrenaline rush, and take the kids hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains or picking fruits at Mercier Orchards.
10. Wormsloe Historic Site
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A cool, shady avenue lined with ancient live oaks covered in Spanish moss will take you to the ruins of Wormsloe, the colonial home and estate of Noble Jones. Jones was one of the first settlers who came to the area from England in 1733. A trained carpenter, Jones worked as constable, doctor, Royal Councilor, Indian agent, and surveyor while establishing the towns of New Ebenezer and Augusta. He did well for himself and built a large estate near Savannah.
Wormsloe's tabby ruin is the oldest standing structure in Savannah and is a popular tourist attraction. Interpreters dressed in period costumes entertain visitors with stories of the past and the adventures of Noble Jones, and there is a museum with various artifacts located at Wormsloe. There is a scenic hiking trail leading to the Colonial Life Area, which was built for special events about Georgia's colonial past.
7601 Skidaway Road, Savannah, Georgia 31406, Phone: 912-353-3023
11. Arabia Mountain
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Arabia Mountain is an ancient granite monadnock- an isolated, bare, exposed rock 954 feet above sea level. Spectacular landscapes are the core of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. What looks like a dead, barren landscape is home to specially adapted plants that thrive in the harsh environment of the mountain, and you'll see vegetation such as rare black-spored quillwort and amphianthus. Hiking on the Arabia Mountain Top Trail is spectacular, and you will go through enormous exposed granite boulders and fields interspersed with shallow basins filled with rare plants before finally climbing to the crater-spotted summit for stunning views.
People have been living in this heritage area, which has a rich history, for thousands of years, and the best place to learn about it is at the Flat Rock Archives. Another must-see is the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, which was built by a group of Trappist monks who came to Georgia during a war. Architecture, a fantastic bonsai exhibit, and tasty treats prepared by the monks make the visit worthwhile visiting.
3350 Klondike Road, Lithonia, Georgia 30038, Phone: 404-998-8384
12. Panther Creek Falls
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In Georgia's Cohutta Mountains at the southern end of the Smoky Mountains, there is a hidden gem that takes hikers by surprise. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the popular 5.8-mile long Panther Creek Trail comes across a series of magnificent waterfalls on North Georgia's Panther Creek. A series of wide waterfalls flow in several tiers into a deep clear pool of water.
At the bottom of the falls there is a sandy, level area perfect for camping, with rushing water providing a pleasant sound in the background. There are many campsites before or after the falls, and they are frequently busy since this is one of Georgia's most popular hikes. There's another way to approach waterfalls from the trailhead near Yonah Dam, and it is shorter but much more challenging.
US 441, Chattahoochee National Forest, Tallulah Falls, Georgia 30572, Phone: 706-754-6221
13. Etowah Indian Mounds
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From 1000 to 1550 A.D., about one thousand Native Americans lived in the area along the Etowah River in Bartow County, Georgia and left plenty of artifacts as reminders of their lives. Etowah Indian Mounds is a 54-acre archeological site that protects a village site where they once lived, six earthen mounds, a plaza, a defensive ditch, and borrow pits. The mounds were created and occupied by prehistoric people of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture, the ancestors of the Muscogee or Creek people.
Visitors can stroll along a nature trail on the banks of the Etowah River to see fish traps the natives used for fishing. Only a small part of the site has been excavated, but we know already that people who lived there had created a complex society with rich rituals. In the museum located on the site, visitors can learn about the natives' way of body decorating with paint, shell beads, intricate hairdos, copper, and feathers earrings. There are also stone effigies weighing 125 pounds and artifacts made of wood, seashells, and stone.
813 Indian Mounds Road SW, Cartersville, Georgia 30120, Phone: 770-387-3747
14. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
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Established in 1937 on 401,880 acres of land, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a wild, beautiful place, a breeding ground, and a refuge for migratory birds as well as other wildlife. At its core is the unique Okefenokee swamp, the headwaters of the St Mary's and Suwannee Rivers, and a habitat for endangered and threatened species such as wood storks, the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snakes, and many wild animals.
The refuge is known the world over for its population of amphibians, which are bio-indicators of the habitat's health. There are over 600 plant species in refuge. Within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, 353,981 acres are designated as National Wilderness Area. As it is one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems in the world, the RAMSAR Convention has declared the refuge a Wetland of International Importance. There are a number of observation towers and boardwalks throughout the refuge. The peaceful, lush environment is popular for fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, and canoeing.
2700 Suwannee Canal Rd, Folkston, Georgia 31537, Phone: 912-496-7836
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15. Providence Canyon State Park
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Providence Canyon State Park is located on 1,003 acres near Lumpkin in southwest Georgia. At the core of this fascinating park is Providence Canyon, which is known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon" and is considered one of the Natural Wonders of Georgia. What is curious is that the Canyon is actually not natural — soil erosion because of bad 19th century farming practices caused the deep gullies that plunge down 150 feet.
Nevertheless, Canyon's fantastic orange, pink, red, and purple colors make for fantastic photos and paintings. The canyon is especially beautiful in July and August when the rare endemic plum leaf azalea is in full bloom. Hiking along the canyon's rim offers magnificent views, and some of the gullies are popular among rock climbers.
8930 Canyon Road, Lumpkin, Georgia 31815, Phone: 229-838-6870
16. Appalachian Trail
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Depending on one's perspective, the Appalachian Trail begins or ends in Georgia. 79 miles of the 2,190-mile trail are in the Northern part of Georgia and are amongst some of the most scenic in the entire state. Unlike the rest of Georgia, this area is mountainous, and it is a great place for either a day hike or a longer excursion.
Guests can enjoy a variety of hikes under 6 miles. The trail starts its northbound trek to Maine at Springer Mountain, where the trail's start is commemorated with a bronze plaque. In addition, you can also find the trail log in a vault, inscribed by hikers at the beginning or end of their journey.
17. Chattahoochee River
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Forming the border between Alabama and Georgia, the Chattahoochee River is a central waterway in Georgia, and its shores and waters provide much entertainment for visitors. The Chattahoochee National Recreation Area is open year round, from dawn to dusk. The Island Ford Visitor Center is located in the historic Hewlett Lodge.
Maps, the latest information on the park, souvenirs from the Eastern National store, and more are all available at the Visitors' Center. Activities in the recreation area include fishing, boating, kayaking, and hiking. Another of the park's most popular activities is cycling. All park roads are open to cyclists, but trails are limited to specific areas.
18. St. Simons Island
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St. Simons Island, just off the Georgia's coast, is one of the Golden Isles. It is famous for its natural beaches and marshlands, abundant wildlife, historic sites and monuments, parks, fishing, and watersports. The island is surrounded by historic Southern Oaks that are hundreds of years old and draped in Spanish Moss.
Guests can enjoy exploring expansive marshlands and waterways, sandbars, and views of the Atlantic Ocean. For those in search of retail or gastronomic pursuits, they will be happy to learn that the island is also full of boutique shopping and high-end dining options. In addition to enjoying the great outdoors and indoors, there are over 10 historic sites on the island.
19. Johns Creek
Once a Cherokee territory dotted with trading post on the banks of Chattahochee River, Johns Creek is today a suburb of Atlanta only about 25 miles from the city downtown. Not far from the forested Blue Ridge Mountains, Johns Creek has ample spaces and parks for outdoor recreation, but also a part-time professional symphony orchestra and Art Center that offers classes to young aspiring artists and a range of events. Lively annual festivals such as Founders Week, The Taste of Johns Creek Food Festival, and Fall Family Festival attract folks from Atlanta to enjoy Johns’ Creek charm and hospitality. The city has six golf facilities for the avid golfers and The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center for history buffs.
20. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
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The number one most visited historical site in Georgia is the Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site in Atlanta. The site includes the boyhood home of Reverend King and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was a pastor as well as a number of additional historic buildings.
The visitor center at the National Historic Site contains a museum chronicling the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King's leadership. It also contains a gift shop and an exhibit on desegregation in the Atlanta Fire Department. The Visitor Center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Freedom Hall are open daily.
21. Ocmulgee National Monument
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In Macon, Georgia visitors will be thrilled to visit Ocmulgee National Monument. This is the only known example of a spiral mound in North America. Native people built the 20-foot high mound for their use during the 14ththrough the 16th centuries.
There is no park entrance fee to visit Ocmulgee National Monument. In addition to the mound, there are over 6 miles of hiking trails and a museum. The museum contains over 2000 artifacts and screens a short movie on the history of the mound.
22. Vogel State Park
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Vogel State Park, located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest, is one of Georgia's most popular state parks. With miles of easy hiking paths, a 22-acre lake, a mountain-view beach, cottages, campsites, and primitive backpacking sites this much loved park has something for everyone. Of particular interest during the fall is the drive from the south through Neel Gap.
This mountain pass provides guests with a beautiful view of the changing leaves of the Appalachian Mountains. The park also includes a museum where the rich history of the park and area are chronicled.
23. Red Top Mountain State Park for Couples
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Named for the soil's rich red color caused by high iron-ore content, Red Top Mountain was once an important mining area. Today this area is home to the popular Red Top Mountain State Park. With the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona, the park is a playground for those who enjoy watersports of all kinds.
With a number of marinas, visitors can bring their own boats or rent one to enjoy the lake. Hikers can enjoy more than 15 miles of trails, including the 4-mile Iron Hill Trail that is open to hikers and cyclists. Rental cottages are available, as is a campground.
24. Toccoa Falls Waterfall
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The Toccoa Fallswater fall is situated on the campus of Toccoa Falls College, not far from Toccoa in the magnificent North Georgia Mountains. The college campus and the famous waterfall comprise Toccoa Falls. To get to the waterfall, visitors have to pass through the campus and enter through Gate Cottage, which hosts Toccoa Falls Books & Gifts.
From the cottage, there is a scenic path that leads to the natural gorge where the falls can be observed. The falls are 186 feet high - about nineteen feet higher than Niagara Falls, and the Toccoa Falls waterfall is one of the highest single-drop waterfalls in this part of the country. The water of the fall forms a stream that runs through the lovely forested college campus. Gate Cottage Restaurant offers a fantastic view of Toccoa Creek and is open to the general public on Sunday for lunch.
92 North Alexander Street, Toccoa, Georgia 30577, Phone: 706-886-8451
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“Pride in Old and New” is the motto of Duluth, Georgia. A small town just North of Atlanta, Duluth is known for its small town feel with big-city amenities. The historic downtown area offers views that display the old charm of the area.
In addition to a rich and storied history, Duluth is home to the more modern Arena at Gwinnett Center, the Hudgens Center for the Arts, and the Southeastern Railway Museum. Duluth holds annual festivals and events such as Barefoot in the Park and the Duluth Fall Festival. Held the last weekend in September, this festival includes more than 250 arts and crafts and food booths and draws crowds greater than 80,000.
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More ideas: Fort Pulaski National Monument
Located on Cockspur Island between Savannah and Tybee Island in Georgia, Fort Pulaski National Monument is a preserved War of 1812 era fort. While the fort was built in the early 1800's, its fame comes from the part it played in the Civil War in 1862.
The National Monument includes the fort, most of Cockspur Island, and all of McQueens Island.