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The southern state of Georgia ticks all the boxes when it comes to finding an ideal vacation destination for all tastes and ages. History buffs will delight in discovering over 400 Civil War sites in Georgia and can explore one of the largest historic districts in the U.S. in Savannah, the state’s oldest city. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the cities you can head for the coast to see wild horses roaming the beaches of Cumberland Island National Seashore, or get outdoors and active in one of Georgia’s 47 state parks, against a backdrop of spectacular natural beauty.
Beautiful Cumberland Island is the southernmost barrier island in Georgia and offers visitors a chance to experience 18 miles of wild and wonderful beaches which, together with 19,000 acres of upland, form the Cumberland Island National Seashore. The island is served by a regular 45min ferry service from St. Mary’s on the mainland and there are five campgrounds where you can spend a night or two getting back to nature. There are several outfitters offering kayaking rentals and guided excursions and you can also hire bicycles on the island. If you would like to explore the history of the island you can see some of the historic holiday homes of the Carnegie family on a Land and Legacies Tour. Children can get the most out of their visit by signing up for an educational Junior Ranger program.
Driftwood Beach (Jekyll Island)
The remarkable Driftwood Beach is located at the northern end of Jekyll Island, one of four barrier islands off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia. Years of erosion have resulted in huge trees being deposited on Driftwood Beach where they remain as a reminder of the forces of nature. Driftwood beach is particularly popular with photographers, and has consistently been voted as one of the most romantic beaches in the U.S. Besides taking some amazing photos at Driftwood beach you can enjoy a picnic or do some fishing from the pier at the adjoining Clam Creek Picnic Area which also offers horse-back riding and a walking/jogging trail. Jekyll Island is an idyllic vacation island offering over 10 miles of white sandy beaches, 20 miles of cycling trails, great wildlife and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Atlanta is the capital and largest city in Georgia, boasting a vibrant Downtown (also known as the Historic Business Center), and a dynamic and thriving arts scene boasting a wide variety of museums, performing arts centers and music venues. There are excellent attractions for the whole family to enjoy and an Atlantic City Pass will give you access to some of the most popular, including the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta and World of Coca Cola, where you can learn all about the history of the world’s leading brand and sample over 60 soft drinks. Interesting museums to add to your itinerary include the Atlanta History Museum and the Centennial Olympic Games Museum. For sport enthusiasts the highlight of any visit is to catch the Atlanta Falcons, Hawks or Braves in action.
Callaway Botanical Gardens
You will find the Callaway Botanical Gardens serenely nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at Pine Mountain, Georgia. The gardens opened to the public in 1952 and besides offering a visual feast for the senses also provide hours of family fun. At the heart of the property you will beautiful displays of flowers which include superb Azalea and Hydrangea gardens, the Day Butterfly Center, the Meadowlark Garden and a Pioneer Log Cabin. Gardens aside, you can enjoy a wonderful golf course, attend the daily Birds of Prey show, have fun at Treetop Adventures and Zip Line or head to Robin Lake Beach for swimming, water skiing, wake-boarding and tubing. There are seven miles of nature trails and four accommodation options including cottages and an inn.
The lively coastal city of Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia and offers visitors year-round attractions for all ages. First-time visitors can find their bearings by joining a guided tour (there is one to suit everyone) by bike, trolley or on foot - choices range from seeing historic antebellum mansions or visiting Revolutionary and Civil War landmarks to investigating the paranormal. The city has a thriving art scene to explore, the largest Historic District in the country, a varied collection of interesting museums and a long string of breweries where you can quench your thirst. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of water sports including fishing, jet-skiing, para-sailing, kayaking and paddle-boarding or hike/cycle miles of paths and trails.
The Toccoa Falls waterfall is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College in the town of Toccoa in Stephens County, northeast Georgia. Dropping a whopping 186 feet from rim to base, the falls are higher than Niagara Falls and are one of the tallest waterfalls in the country. To see the falls you need to start at the Gate Cottage Gift Shop where you can buy local crafts and souvenirs. From the gift shop there is a short 100mt accessible trail to the base of the waterfall where you can take some photos of the impressive falls. The viewpoint is also a good place to sit for a while and enjoy the delightful sound of the water.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
In Tallulah Gorge State Park the Tallulah River has carved a spectacular two-mile gorge through the surrounding rolling hills to form one of the most impressive canyons in the eastern U.S., featuring sheer rocky walls and five impressive waterfalls. The gorge drops a dizzying 1,000 feet from rim to floor and affords visitors an exceptional playground for all kinds of adventure activities. You can hike rim trails to several overlooks or get a permit to hike the gorge floor in the summer. The park has 50 campsites and three backcountry campsites which you can reserve in advance. Some of the activities on offer include rock climbing, hiking, white-water rafting and wildlife watching, and the park offers a variety of guided seasonal activities.
Tybee Island (aka Savannah Beach) is a barrier island lying off the coast of the historic city of Savannah. The island is easily accessible and offers visitors access to a great three-mile stretch of unspoiled sandy beach and a good selection of water sports. You can choose from a laid-back kayaking tour of the calm coastal waters or opt for an energetic jet-ski excursion on the Savannah River. Paddle-boarding is also available and there are several outfitters ready to supply all the equipment you need. Fishermen will enjoy casting a line from the South-end Pier or can charter an off-shore fishing excursion. Since the island is less than three miles long a bicycle rental from Tim’s Bike & Beach Gear is the perfect way to explore.
The charming small town of Blue Ridge is located in the North Georgia Mountains and has been welcoming visitors since the railroad reached the town back in 1886. The beautiful mountain setting offers year-round activities including hiking, horseback riding and whitewater rafting in summer, scenic drives to see the fall foliage in autumn and some of the best trout fishing in the whole of Georgia. The town is proudly “arty” and there are several galleries and studios to explore and a thriving community theater. You can take a self-guided historic walking tour of the town, taste some local beers and wine and listen to live music. One of the highlights of a visit is a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Wormsloe Historic Site
The Wormsloe Historic Site is located outside the city of Savannah and encompasses a long avenue of Oak Trees which lead visitors to the ruins of the colonial estate of Noble Jones, which dates back to around 1733. The site is of particular interest to architecture enthusiasts as it is the oldest standing structure in Savannah and was constructed using tabby, an early building material made by combining lime, ash, oyster shell and sand. The historic site hosts regular events which showcase everyday life in the 1700’s, presented by costumed interpreters. You can join one of the daily guided tours of the ruins and then set off along the nature trail to see the surrounding marshes. During the summer there are regular guided hikes to nearby historic sites.
Located just east of Atlanta and dominated by two massive granite outcrops, the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is a great place for visitors to combine outdoor activities with learning about history and culture. You can discover rare plants and fascinating geology as you hike through the Davidson-Arabia Nature Reserve and the Panola Mountain State Park (where you can also go paddling and kayaking) and uncover remnants of the granite quarry industry which supplied the raw materials for dozens of U.S. state buildings and monuments. The PATH offers cyclists over 30 miles of trails linking several historic sites. While you are in the area you can visit AWARE – the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort which offers tours every Saturday and Sunday.
Panther Creek Falls
The Panther Creek Falls are located in northern Georgia in the Chattahoochee National Forest close to Tallulah Gorge. You can reach the falls along the very popular seven-mile (round trip) Panther Creek Falls Trail which leads hikers through a beautiful forested area to a series of multi-tiered waterfalls. The falls cascade into a large pool with a sandy beach where you can relax and have a refreshing dip. If you prefer to spend more time in the area you can bring along your tent and spend a night or two at one of the first-come-first-served campsites located along the trail. All the excitement and adventure of Tallulah Gorge is near-by and you could use the Panther Creek Falls area as your springboard.
Etowah Indian Mounds
The Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site offers a fascinating insight into the life and culture of thousands of Native Americans who lived on the site between 1000 AD and 1550 AD. The 54-acre site protects and showcases a traditional village comprising six large earthen mounds, a plaza and even a defensive ditch. At the museum you can watch a short introductory film and see a collection of relics and artifacts that tell the story of a highly developed culture which employed sophisticated methods to trap fish and were knowledgeable about natural medicines. The largest mound on the site is 63 feet high and is thought to have been a platform for the home of the priest chief; other mounds were used as burial chambers.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the Okefenokee Swamp and to provide a sanctuary for migrating and local birds and wildlife. Today the refuge is a popular getaway destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers and provides an ideal spot to get back to nature. The refuge is divided into three separate areas, each of which is offers visitors a chance to enjoy a different aspect of the sanctuary. You can go on a wildlife drive along Swamp Island Drive, go hiking and bird-watching or float gently along almost 120 miles of canoe/kayak trails. There are several launching sites for boats (less than 10HP) and adventurers can choose from a day trip or a multi-day kayak expedition including wilderness camping.
Providence Canyon State Park
The Providence Canyon State Park is located in southwestern Georgia, close to the town of Columbus. The canyon was formed by massive soil erosion caused by bad farming methods back in the 1800’s, which resulted in massive gauges, some as deep as 150ft, being carved out of the soft sand to reveal amazing colored striations. Backpackers have seven miles of trails to explore and can sleep overnight at one of six backcountry campsites, while day visitors can stay at one of three pioneer campsites and have access to three miles of trails. The park offers regular ranger-led hikes including a spooky after-dark Halloween hike.
The first (or last) 79 miles of the incredible 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail meanders through exquisite mountain scenery in Georgia, beginning at Springer Mountain. Hiking the entire trail through 14 states in one go, (called a thru-hike), takes between five and seven months and is a mammoth undertaking, but everyone can seize the opportunity to hike a part of the trail on a day-hike or multi-day hike. There are dozens of access points where you can join the trail and if you are planning on doing a multi-day hike you will find several campsites along the way. You can get all the info you need from the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club.
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is located along a series of sites alongside the Chattahoochee River between Atlanta and Lake Sidney Lanier. The area offers outdoor enthusiasts a huge playground encompassing 48 miles of water suitable for canoeing, kayaking, boating, tubing and paddle-boarding, as well as 15 land units suitable for hiking and wildlife watching. If you need to rent equipment there are three authorized outfitters who can provided everything you need – they also offer guided river expeditions and lessons. Although the main emphasis is on enjoying various forms of boating on the river there is also a good network of cycling trails and the river trout fishing is rumored to be excellent.
Ian Henderson's Antique Market
Ian Henderson’s Antique Market is located in the 1899 historic Walton Cotton Mill in downtown Monroe and covers more than 100,000 square feet. This vast space has 539 dealer booths filled to bursting with everything from the finest antiques to vintage and estate liquidation pieces. This family business has been around for more than 50 years and has developed a reputation as the place where shoppers and dealers can find rare treasures and hard-to-find items at excellent prices. It is also popular with filmmakers looking for authentic props. Some of Henderson’s specialties are Coca Cola memorabilia, Vintage Vigil records, military antiques, model trains, mid-century furniture, and antique furniture.
600 S Broad St, Monroe, GA 30655, Phone: 770-266-6696
St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island is one of four barrier islands called the Golden Isles, found off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia. The island has a rich historic and cultural legacy to explore as well as miles of relatively undeveloped beaches offering a diversity of outdoor activities. You can easily explore the island by bicycle – there are good trails and rental equipment is available. Other outdoor activities include canoeing and kayaking both offshore and through the marshes and wetlands which are teeming with wildlife. When the weather is less than perfect you can spend some time exploring the many historic sites which include the A.W. Jones Heritage Center, the Bloody Marsh Battle Site and the Fort Frederica National Monument.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Fort Pulaski National Monument is located on Cockspur Island between Tybee Island and historic Savannah, where it played an important defensive role during the American Civil War. The Visitor’s Center provides a good orientation for your visit; you can watch a short film entitled “The Battle for Fort Pulaski” and enquire about scheduled ranger-led programs. You can learn all the fascinating facts about the fort on a guided tour and then spend some time enjoying the varied outdoor activities available, which include hiking, biking, bird watching and fishing. Younger visitors can enhance their experience by enrolling in a Junior Ranger’s Program to earn a badge.
Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site
The Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta is one of the most-visited historic sites in Georgia. Here you can walk in the footsteps of one of America’s most visionary social leaders, see his childhood home and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where he once preached. You can stop by the Visitor’s Center for a brief orientation and to sign up for a Birth Home Tour, and younger visitors can explore the “Children of Courage” exhibit. As you make your way through the historic site you can visit the “I Have a Dream World Peace Rose Garden”, admire the Behold Monument and finally visit the King Center and Freedom Hall.
Ocmulgee National Monument
Protecting, showcasing and celebrating over 17,000 years of continuous human habitation, the Ocmulgee National Monument is a prehistoric American Indian site where ancient Indian tribes once hunted Ice-Age mammals. To get some background information about the site (which is crucial to your enjoyment of the monument) you can start by watching a short video presentation at the Visitor’s Center. You can explore all eleven points of interest in the park on foot and join a guided tour of the Earthlodge (the ceremonial mound) twice daily in summer or weekends only in winter. You can also visit the small but interesting museum which is a treasure-trove of ancient relics and artifacts.
Vogel State Park
Located at the foot of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Vogel State Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in Georgia. Outdoor enthusiasts can get back to nature surrounded by the superb scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains which put on a spectacular show of fall color. Hikers have over 17 miles of trails to explore including the challenging 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail. During the summer months you can enjoy a variety of water sports on the lake – equipment hire is available on site. If you would like to linger for a few days you can choose from various campsites or rent a cottage, while day visitors can enjoy a picnic at one of five picnic sites.
Red Top Mountain State Park
Red Top Mountain State Park is located on Lake Allatoona just 45 minutes north of Atlanta. The name of the park derives from the rich red soil of the area which was once an important mining area for iron-ore. Today the park offers outdoor enthusiasts a great place to escape the city and get back to nature. In summer you can enjoy boating, skiing and fishing on the lake or simply relax on the sand swimming beach. In addition to offering great water sports the park also has excellent hiking trails and the four -mile Iron Hill biking trail. If you would like to stay overnight you can rent a cottage, go “glamping” in a Yurt or bring your tent or RV to one of the campsites.
The bustling and vibrant town of Alpharetta is located just 26 miles north of Atlanta and offers a good cross-section of indoor and outdoor activities for visitors. You can learn all about the early days in Alpharetta on a self-guided Alpharetta History Walk – pick up a brochure at the Alpharetta Welcome Center. If you would like to explore the town by bicycle you can grab a bike from the Zagster Bike Share Program – free for the first three hours. Alpharetta is known for great shopping and has five shopping districts including North Point Mall and some unique boutique shops in Historic Downtown Alpharetta. Foodies can learn all about great southern cuisine by signing up for a cookery lesson at one of three cookery schools.
Duluth is located just 35min north of Atlanta and offers visitors many big city amenities Road Park. Round off a busy day with a show at Gwinnett Center or the New Dawn Theater.combined with small-town charm. The town offers a network of sidewalks and bike paths which make it easy to explore on two wheels, and you can enjoy hiking and biking in a rustic old-farm setting at McDaniel Farm Park. The Duluth History Museum and the Southeastern Railway Museum are family favorites – children will love the miniature train ride and you can take younger children to have hours of fun at the playgrounds at Shorty Howell Park and Bunten