These 10 day trips from Atlanta are as much fun in winter as in summer

Dec 13, 2021 • 11 min read

Athens, Georgia - October 10, 2021: Acoustic trio, Greenheart, plays in the front yard of a house in Newtown during Porchfest, a celebration of the city's historic neighborhoods.

There's always live music somewhere in Athens, Georgia © Jennifer E Wolf / Getty Images

Sizzling with subculture, simmering with flavors, alive with green spaces and studded with iconic Civil Rights landmarks, Atlanta rewards visitors in all the right ways. But Georgia's capital is just the gateway to the myriad delights on offer in the largest state east of the Mississippi.

Georgia rolls from coastal swamps through rich, red-soiled farmlands and peach orchards to the sprawling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, putting endless adventures within easy day-tripping reach of Atlanta. And that's not even counting the other fun-filled cities within two hours drive, from Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama to Chattanooga in Tennessee.

With Georgia's year-round mild weather, day trips are a 365-days-a-year activity. While northern states are shivering under a blanket of snow, Georgia still has great weather for exploring, with daytime temperatures that hover around 60°F. Even the hiking is good in winter – not too frosty, and with excellent views as the hilltop forests lose their curtain of leaves.

Whether you're seeking cutting-edge art encouters, backcountry hikes, award-winning wineries, Civil Rights landmarks, legendary live music, or even a miniature mock-up of Bavaria, here is our pick of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Athens, Georgia

A beery, artsy and laid-back college town, Athens has an extremely popular football team (the University of Georgia Bulldogs), a world-famous music scene, a busy restaurant culture and engagingly diverse nightlife. The university fuels Athens' youth-oriented culture, ensuring an ever-replenishing supply of young bar-hoppers and concert-goers in the walkable downtown area. The hometown of the B52s and REM is the small town with big city spirit.

Highlights for visitors include the Georgia Museum of Art – a smart, modern gallery where brainy, arty types hang out to study while art hounds gawk at modern sculpture in the courtyard garden and a tremendous collection from American realists of the 1930s. Or head to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia with its winding outdoor paths and a socio-historical edge.

Last but certainly not least, plan your trip around a show at the legendary 40 Watt Club . Athens' most storied joint has lounges, a tiki bar and $2.50 Pabst Blue Ribbons . The venue has welcomed a generation of indie rockers to its stage since REM, the B-52's and Widespread Panic owned this town, and this is still where the big hitters play when they come to town.

How to get to Athens, Georgia:  It's only an hour and 15 minutes to Athens from Atlanta by car, and not much longer on the regular buses that connect the two cities.

Grapevines and a vineyard house in Dahlonega, Georgia

North Georgia Wine Country

The Appalachian foothills north of Atlanta are an increasingly respected viticultural region, thanks to the ultra-quaffable wines produced around Dahlonega . There are more than a dozen wineries to choose from, many with breathtaking mountain views, live music or patios that are perfect for whiling away an afternoon. Pull up a stool and a spitoon in Dahlonega to sample the best of the region. Downtown Courthouse Square is an attractive mélange of wine-tasting rooms, gourmet emporiums, great food, countrified shops and foothills charm.

Wine-tasting in the surrounding vineyards is on the rise too. Frogtown Cellars  is a beautiful winery with a killer deck where you can sip libations and nibble cheese. It bills itself as the most awarded American winery  not  in California, which we can't confirm, but the wine does go down a treat with a mountain sunset. For a more low key experience, Three Sisters is a wonderfully unpretentious vineyard where Cheetos, overalls and bluegrass tunes – or posher cheeses and great views – pair just fine with the wine.

Meanwhile, Wolf Mountain Vineyards  lures a hip and trendy 30-something crowd to its gorgeous, 30-acre winery that frames epic sunsets over Springer Mountain from its tasting-room terrace. Top wines like its  méthode champenoise  100% chardonnay Blanc de Blanc and crisp and fresh Plentitude (an unoaked chardonnay/Viognier blend) are the way to go.

How to get to Dahlonega: It's a two-hour drive to Dahlonega and surrounding wine country from Atlanta. You can also get here by taking a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) train to North Springs station and catching an Uber from there.


Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia

You might not expect Grand Canyon-style landscapes within an easy drive of Atlanta, but that’s what you’ll find at Providence Canyon . Sometimes described as Georgia’s "Little Grand Canyon," this 1003-acre state park is something to behold. Geological evidence indicates this area was once the bottom of the sea, but the canyons you can see today were formed by natural erosion after farmers dug poorly thought-out ditches through the soft sedimentary beds.

The otherworldly formations include 150ft gullies with beautiful layers of orange, red, purple and pink sediment. Visitors can explore via a variety of hikes, including an easy rim trail with spectacular views over the canyon, plus longer trails on the canyon floor. Keep your eyes peeled for resident armadillos, deer, raccoons and butterflies.

How to get to Providence Canyon State Park: It's two hours and twenty minutes from downtown Atlanta, give or take traffic.


Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga has charisma to spare. With world-class rock climbing, hiking, cycling and water-sports, it's one of the South's best cities for outdoor fun. It's lovely to look at too: just check out those views from the Hunter Museum of Art in the Bluff View Art District! It's also remarkably eco-conscious, with free electric buses, miles of well-used waterfront trails, and pedestrian bridges crossing the Tennessee River. It's all a far cry from the 1960s, when Chattanooga was slated as America's dirtiest city.

The city was a major railway hub throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, hence the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," originally a reference to the Cincinnati Southern Railroad's passenger service from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, and later the title of a 1941 Glen Miller tune. The  Tennessee Aquarium  physically and metaphorically anchored downtown's revitalization in the 1990s, followed by family-friendly developments like  Ross's Landing & the Passage  and  Coolidge Park  across the river.

Chattanooga's eminently walkable downtown is a maze of historic stone and brick buildings featuring tasty gourmet kitchens, craft breweries and distilleries. Sparky neighborhoods like the increasingly lauded Southside District keep things interesting, with the  Sculpture Fields at Montague Park , Flying Squirrel  – a hip bar that has its own boutique hostel right next door – and the annual MainX24 festival.

How to get to Chattanooga: You can reach Chattanooga in two hours driving due north on I-75 from Atlanta, baring any unexpected traffic jams.


Birmingham, Alabama

This hilly, shady city, founded as an iron mining outpost, is still a busy center for manufacturing – many Birmingham residents work at Mercedes Benz USA in Tuscaloosa – but visitors are more interested in the university and college buzz and the excellent dining and drinking scene. The past also resonates strongly in Birmingham, thanks to the city's pivotal role in the rise of the Civil Rights movement.

The downtown Civil Rights Heritage Trail  begins at Kelly Ingram Park – where you can see powerful statues recalling police violence against peaceful protestors. Be sure to stop at the Civil Rights Institute to add context to your walk. The 16th Street Baptist Church is worth a visit, too; it was a gathering place for organizational meetings and a launchpad for protests in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s, before being targeted by a deadly Ku Klux Klan bombing in 1963.

Experience another side of Birmingham at the famous Sloss Furnaces . From 1882 to 1971, this was a pig-iron producing blast furnace and a cornerstone of Birmingham's economy. Today, instead of a wasteland it's a National Historic Landmark, a red mass of steel and girders rusted into a Gothic monument to American industry. Quiet pathways pass cobwebbed workshops and production lines that make for extremely atmospheric photos. Once a year this post-industrial playground becomes the setting for Furnace Fest , a music-packed weekend that pulls bands like Taking Back Sunday and Further Means Forever.

How to get to Birmingham: The drive from Atlanta takes two hours and 20 minutes by car; the journey is possible by train but much slower.

Helen, Georgia, USA Cityscape

Helen, Georgia

This kitschy, Epcot-style Alpine playground was dreamed up in the 1960s by a few local business people seeking to revitalize their backwater town. In 1969, local businesses and carpenters got to work – with help from a local artist with German roots – transforming this former mill town into the self-proclaimed best little German town in America.

Surrounded by the bucolic Appalachian foothills, Helen is an ideal springboard for trips to  Anna Ruby Falls  and  Unicoi State Park , for hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, or floating the Chattahoochee River. Or you can just stick around to enjoy the "Appalachian" charm at spots such as Catch 22 .

How to get to Helen: Helen is 86 miles northeast of Atlanta by car following Hwy 19 S; allow two hours.

King Memorial Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama

Alabama's capital is a knot of forested streets, red-brick architecture and lonely railways, attached to a few government buildings and a cobblestoned downtown. With a few exceptions, most of the main points of interest here are tied to the Civil Rights movement, in which the city played a key role.

In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus, launching a bus boycott led by Martin Luther King Jr, then pastor of Montgomery's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church . This action ultimately desegregated city buses and galvanized the Civil Rights movement nationwide, helping to lay the foundation for the Selma to Montgomery protest marches of 1965.

One of the country’s most important sights is just a short drive along I-85. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the first-ever tribute to the more than 4000 known victims of lynching in the United States. The 800 monuments each mark a county where a lynching took place, and the nearby Legacy Museum puts this awful history into modern content.

How to get to Montgomery: Allow two hours 20 minutes to reach Montgomery from Atlanta by car.


Pasaquan, Buena Vista, Georgia

Fans of unusual photo ops and outsider art shouldn’t miss Pasaquan , a unique art space near Buena Vista. After having visions in which he was chosen by “people of the future” to depict their culture of peace and love, self-taught artist Eddie Owens Martin (1908–1986) turned his mother’s 19th-century farmhouse into a psychedelic wonderland over the course of three decades. The site – which includes six buildings – is an explosive, rainbow-hued fusion of African, pre-Columbian Mexican and Native American motifs.

How to get to Pasaquan: You can drive to Pasaquan from Alanta in two and half hours.

Falls Park in Greenville, South Carolina, USA

GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail, South Carolina

Rails to Trails projects have produced beloved recreational opportunities across the US, and this 19-mile trail that runs from charming Greenville to quaint Traveler’s Rest is one of the best. Joggers, cyclists and families can be found enjoying this relatively flat, shady greenway, which links a chain of parks and green spaces. 

A walk here is a great way to enjoy the mild Georgia weather, and it's well worth the trip out of Atlanta to experience this thoroughly relaxing slice of the South. Stop at Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery to grab a picnic to munch on the way.

How to reach the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail: The drive to Greenville from Atlanta takes around two hours 40 minutes.

Blue Ridge, GA, Georgia, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, passenger train. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Cutesy and wildly popular, Blue Ridge was founded in 1866 as a railroad junction and its historic depot, rebuilt in 1906, still sits across from its postcard-perfect Main St. This little town draws hordes of fans in summer for its charming linear downtown studded with restaurants, bars, antique shops and locally owned businesses.

While it's hard to believe it was once promoted as the "Switzerland of the South," Blue Ridge is  easy on the eye and offers more quality distractions than other North Georgia towns. Amongst other things, this is Georgia's trout capital and fly-fishing in the surrounding countryside is a big draw year-round. The town is often considered Atlanta’s backyard – a hotbed for wealthy Atlantans to lay down roots with a second home in the mountains.

Popular day hikes around Blue Ridge include Falls Branch Falls, a half-mile round-trip waterfall hike that's part of the Benton MacKaye trail system , and Long Creek Falls, a 2.4-mile round-trip hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail. At Lake Blue Ridge, 1.5 miles from downtown Blue Ridge, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards at Morganton Point Recreation Area from April through October. 

Kids will love the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway . Starting from the historic downtown depot, this scenic-railway ride takes you along 1886-laid tracks to the quaint sister towns of McCaysville in Georgia and Copperhill in Tennessee, winding along the bank of the Toccoa River (check the schedule online).

You might also like: Top 15 things to do in Atlanta How to see the best of Atlanta for free Atlanta's best neighborhoods to spend a perfect winter break

This article was first published Aug 28, 2020 and updated Dec 13, 2021.

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16 Best Day Trips From Atlanta, Georgia (2024 Guide)

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: February 4, 2024

Looking for the top day trips from Atlanta? Here are our top 16 best Atlanta day trip ideas!

Georgia is an incredible state in the US South that has so much to offer.

After spending a few days exploring Atlanta , which in itself is a fascinating city packed with attractions, embark on a day trip into regional parts of the state!

You can road trip up to northwest Georgia and even cross the border into Tennessee to see historic sites like Chattanooga.

Head over to northeast Georgia to tour wineries, alpine towns, and the lush landscapes of Chattahoochee National Forest.

Or stick closer to the city and visit a local gem, such as Lake Lanier. Here you can go horseback riding around the lake or get on the water and try kayaking, boating, or fishing.

Whether you want to immerse yourself in the nature of a state park or state forest, or visit charming mountain towns and go wine-tasting or museum-touring, these day trips from Atlanta allow you to do it all!

Check out our list of the best things to do in Atlanta for inspiration while you’re in the city.

Table of Contents

1. Providence Canyon State Park

2. blue ridge scenic railway, 4. springer mountain, 5. lake lanier, 7. amicalola falls state park, 8. toccoa falls, 9. rock city gardens, 10. stone mountain park, 11. pine mountain, 12. chattanooga, tennessee, 13. anna ruby falls, 14. birmingham, alabama, 15. north georgia wine country, 16. greenville, south carolina, 16 best day trips from atlanta.

From seeing Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon to touring amazing museums in Birmingham, Alabama, here are some of the top day trips from Atlanta. You can find mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife parks, wineries, museums, railroads, and so much more in the landscapes around Atlanta!

The best way to explore regional Georgia is to rent a car, though we’ll link to a few top-rated day trips if you’d prefer to book a guided tour.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

  • Distance from Atlanta: 148 miles
  • Driving Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Providence Canyon State Park , often referred to as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” is a breathtaking natural wonder located in southwestern Georgia.

Carved by centuries of erosion, the park features a stunning display of colorful, towering canyon walls that reveal a mesmerizing array of sedimentary layers. The canyon spans over 1,000 acres and reaches depths of up to 150 feet, creating a landscape that is both dramatic and unique.

Visitors to Providence Canyon State Park can explore a network of hiking trails that wind through the canyon, providing opportunities to witness the vibrant hues of pink, orange, red, and purple that characterize the canyon walls. The park is not only a haven for geology enthusiasts but also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a picturesque and tranquil escape.

Beyond its geological marvels, Providence Canyon State Park offers a variety of recreational activities for visitors. Picnic areas and camping facilities are available, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

The park’s diverse flora and fauna, including wildflowers and bird species, contribute to its ecological significance. Educational programs and guided tours further enhance the visitor experience by providing insights into the geological processes that shaped the canyon and the importance of preserving this unique ecosystem.

Providence Canyon State Park is without a doubt, one of the best day trips from Atlanta. The views are simply breathtaking!

Providence Canyon State Park

  • Distance from Atlanta: 92 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway also offers an enchanting day trip from Atlanta. Departing from the charming town of Blue Ridge, just a few hours’ drive from Atlanta, this vintage train journey takes passengers on a scenic voyage through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As the train winds its way along the Toccoa River, passengers are treated to breathtaking views of lush forests, rolling hills, and quaint small towns. The train’s historic rail cars add a touch of nostalgia to the experience, transporting visitors back in time as they traverse the stunning scenery.

During the approximately four-hour round trip, travelers can relish the comfort of the train’s vintage coaches or opt for the open-air car for a more immersive experience.

The railway also offers themed rides and special events throughout the year, such as the popular “Santa Express” during the holiday season. Upon arrival in Blue Ridge, passengers can explore the town’s unique shops, dine in local restaurants, or take a leisurely stroll along the charming streets.

Whether seeking a family adventure or a romantic day out, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway promises a memorable journey that showcases the beauty of Georgia’s natural landscapes.

If you have time for a weekend trip, consider heading down to the beautiful Savannah, Georgia !

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen, Georgia, is an Alpine-inspired town that captivates visitors with its quaint ambiance and charm.

Approximately a two-hour drive from Atlanta, Helen transports visitors to a picturesque village reminiscent of the Bavarian Alps. The town is often called “Alpine Helen” due to its architecture which so closely resembles a European mountain village.

The cobblestone streets of Alpine Helen are lined with specialty shops, restaurants, and charming boutiques, creating a delightful atmosphere that makes it feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. The buildings are adorned with vibrant flower boxes, and the town is surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

One of Helen’s notable attractions is the Chattahoochee River, which flows through the heart of the town. Visitors can enjoy tubing, kayaking, or simply strolling along the scenic riverwalk.

The town hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating its German heritage with Oktoberfest being a major highlight.

Unicoi State Park and Lodge is also a highlight of the area. Boasting over 1,050 acres, Unicoi State Park features hiking trails and outdoor activities, whereas the lodge offers comfortable accommodations surrounded by mountains and nature.

Helen is one of the most charming day trips from Atlanta, and a walking tour is a great way to ensure you make the most of your time there!

  • Distance from Atlanta: 71 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Hikers should definitely add Springer Mountain to their bucket list! Situated at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, this peak stands as a symbolic gateway to the iconic long-distance hiking trail that stretches over 2,000 miles to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, the mountain is a popular starting point for thru-hikers embarking on the arduous journey through the Appalachian Mountains.

The trailhead is marked by a bronze plaque that signifies the beginning of the trail, and a short side trail leads to the Springer Mountain Shelter, providing a rustic place for hikers to rest and take in the scenic surroundings.

The summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, providing a fitting introduction to the diverse landscapes that thru-hikers will encounter on their trek northward. The lush forests, rolling hills, and occasional vistas create a picturesque setting that captures the essence of the Appalachian Trail experience.

Hiking Springer Mountain is a fun and rewarding way to spend a day trip from Atlanta.

  • Distance from Atlanta: 49 miles
  • Driving Time: 50 minutes

Another excellent day trip from Atlanta is Lake Lanier, located in the foothills of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, This sprawling reservoir spans over 38,000 acres and boasts more than 690 miles of shoreline.

Originally created by the Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River in the 1950s, Lake Lanier has become a multifaceted recreational paradise for residents and visitors alike.

The lake’s water is crystal-clear which is the perfect setting for a number of water activities, including fishing, boating, and of course swimming. With several marinas, the lake is a haven for boaters, offering opportunities for sailing and cruising amidst the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills.

Surrounding Lake Lanier, there are numerous parks, campgrounds, and recreational areas that cater to outdoor enthusiasts. The Lake Lanier Islands Resort, located on the lake’s shores, features a water park, golf courses, and luxurious accommodations, making it a popular destination for both day trips and extended vacations.

The lake is also known for hosting events and festivals throughout the year, drawing crowds for activities like the Magical Nights of Lights during the holiday season. Lake Lanier is a beloved location in Georgia and is one of the top day trips for getting out in the fresh air and trying water sports.

Lake Lanier Sunset

Athens, Georgia is a city known for its vibrant cultural scene, rich history, and dynamic college town atmosphere. Home to the University of Georgia and steeped in Southern charm, Athens seamlessly blends historic architecture with a youthful energy.

The city’s downtown area is a bustling hub of activity, featuring eclectic shops, diverse restaurants, and a lively music scene that contributed to its reputation as the birthplace of famous bands like R.E.M. and the B-52s.

Athens boasts a plethora of cultural attractions, including the Georgia Museum of Art and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The city’s historic district, anchored by landmarks like the Tree That Owns Itself, exudes a nostalgic ambiance.

As the “Classic City of the South,” Athens also showcases antebellum architecture, with stately homes and landmarks such as the double-barreled cannon.

Beyond its historic charm, Athens is renowned for its passionate sports culture, with the University of Georgia Bulldogs commanding a fervent following.

Whether exploring the vibrant arts scene, enjoying the lively atmosphere of downtown, attending community events, or cheering on the Bulldogs, Athens is a cool place to learn about the local culture and spirit of Georgia.

Looking to explore South Carolina as well? Check out our list of the best things to do in Charleston !

  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 12 minutes

Located in the North Georgia mountains, Amicalola Falls State Park is a natural haven that beckons travelers with its stunning landscapes and the majestic Amicalola Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the southeastern United States. Many even proclaim this to be the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River!

The centerpiece of the park, Amicalola Falls, cascades down a staggering 729 feet, creating a breathtaking spectacle. The park provides a variety of nature trails, including a challenging stairway leading to the top of the falls, offering hikers both a rewarding workout and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Beyond the falls, the park encompasses over 2,000 acres of wilderness, providing ample opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife observation on day trips from Atlanta.

In addition to its natural wonders, Amicalola Falls State Park serves as the southern gateway to the Appalachian Trail, making it a starting point for intrepid hikers embarking on the iconic long-distance trek.

The park also features the Amicalola Falls Lodge, a rustic yet comfortable mountain retreat that allows guests to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the surrounding nature.

Amicalola Falls State Park is not only a haven for hikers and nature lovers but also a place to find solace and connection with the awe-inspiring landscapes of the South.

  • Distance from Atlanta: 94 miles

Toccoa Falls is a breathtaking natural wonder located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College in the mountains of northern Georgia. It’s an easy and wonderful day trip from Atlanta!

The falls plunge an impressive 186 feet, making them one of the tallest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. There is a viewing area that allows visitors to appreciate the sheer beauty and power of the falls, with mist rising from the cascading water creating a tranquil atmosphere.

Surrounded by the lush foliage of the Toccoa Falls College campus, the waterfall provides a picturesque backdrop, making it a popular destination for nature lovers, photographers, and those seeking a peaceful escape.

Visitors can access the falls through a short and easily accessible trail that leads to the viewing platform. Whether appreciating the falls from the viewing platform or taking a leisurely stroll through the campus, Toccoa Falls offers one of the most peaceful and beautiful day trips from Atlanta.

Heading further north? Try this 3 Days in Asheville, North Carolina Itinerary !

  • Distance from Atlanta: 121 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Situated atop Lookout Mountain at the border of Tennessee and Georgia, Rock City Gardens is a geological wonder and botanical paradise that offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty and whimsical attractions.

Known for its stunning rock formations, the highlight of Rock City is the Enchanted Trail, a meandering pathway that winds through towering rock formations, narrow passages, and lush gardens.

Perhaps the most iconic feature is the “See Rock City” barn advertisements that have become a cultural landmark, enticing travelers to explore this extraordinary natural attraction.

At Lover’s Leap you can enjoy panoramic views of seven states! The enchanting landscapes at Rock City Gardens create a memorable experience for all who wander through its pathways.

Beyond its geological wonders, Rock City Gardens is a testament to the vision of Frieda Carter, who, along with her husband, transformed the site into a garden wonderland. The gardens feature a diverse array of plant life, including vibrant flowers, native plants, and unique sculptures that add to the enchantment of the surroundings.

The Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village showcase whimsical dioramas and fairy tale characters, adding a touch of magic to the natural beauty of the site.

Rock City Gardens remains a cherished day trip destination, inviting families, nature enthusiasts, and those seeking a unique adventure to discover the wonders that await atop Lookout Mountain.

Rock City Gardens

  • Distance from Atlanta: 25 miles
  • Driving Time: 30 minutes

Another one of the top day trips from Atlanta for those looking to explore nature is Stone Mountain Park. Located just east of downtown Atlanta, this sprawling recreational oasis has both natural beauty and historical significance.

The centerpiece of the park is the iconic Stone Mountain, a massive granite monolith that rises prominently from the surrounding landscape. The mountain’s summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlanta skyline and the Appalachian Mountains.

Visitors can reach the top by hiking or taking the Summit Skyride, a cable car that provides a scenic ascent.

Carved into the northern face of Stone Mountain is the Confederate Memorial Carving, an impressive sculpture depicting Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, adding a historical layer to the park.

In addition to its geological marvels, Stone Mountain Park offers a myriad of recreational activities and family-friendly attractions.

The park features a scenic railroad, a historic plantation, and a picturesque lake with opportunities for fishing and pedal boating.

The Lasershow Spectacular, a multimedia show set against the backdrop of the mountain, is a popular evening attraction featuring fireworks, lasers, and music.

Stone Mountain Park is one of the most popular day trips from Atlanta for families and people of all ages. You can even join a group tour from Atlanta if you don’t want to drive yourself.

  • Distance from Atlanta: 85 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

A great way to escape the city life of Atlanta is take a day trip to Pine Mountain. Nestled amidst the rolling hills and woodlands of western Georgia, Pine Mountain is a quaint town that offers a charming escape to nature and leisure.

Pine Mountain provides visitors with access to an array of activities, with Callaway Gardens being a highlight of the area.

Callaway Gardens, a renowned resort and nature preserve, spans over 2,500 acres and features lush gardens, walking trails, and recreational facilities. The Butterfly Center and the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl are just a few highlights, showcasing the region’s botanical richness.

Pine Mountain is also home to the Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari Park, where visitors can embark on a thrilling safari adventure to observe exotic animals roaming in a natural habitat.

Beyond its natural attractions, Pine Mountain boasts a delightful downtown area with charming shops, restaurants, and Southern hospitality. The town exudes a relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil retreat.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park , Georgia’s largest state park, is also in close proximity, offering additional opportunities for hiking, camping, and enjoying the serene beauty of Pine Mountain’s surroundings. Whether exploring the natural wonders like Callaway Gardens or simply savoring the small-town ambiance, Pine Mountain is one of the top day trips from Atlanta.

Explore Tennessee with our list of the best things to do in Nashville .

  • Distance from Atlanta: 118 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Located on the banks of the Tennessee River amidst the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga, Tennessee, is another popular day trip from Georgia.

Renowned for its scenic beauty, Chattanooga is surrounded by natural wonders such as Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, and the Tennessee River Gorge, offering residents and visitors ample opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and water sports.

Lookout Mountain, in particular, provides stunning vistas of the city and the surrounding landscape, while Rock City and Ruby Falls, two iconic attractions, showcase the region’s unique geological formations.

Chattanooga’s revitalized downtown is a hub of activity, featuring a pedestrian-friendly waterfront, the Tennessee Aquarium, and the historic Walnut Street Bridge. The city has embraced sustainability initiatives and developed a thriving arts and music scene.

A Historic segway tour is a great way to cover some ground and get your bearings in this exciting city. Visitors can also explore the Riverwalk, a scenic path along the Tennessee River, or take a riverboat cruise to appreciate the city’s beauty from a different perspective.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo, a former train station turned hotel and entertainment complex, pays homage to the city’s rich railroad history.

Those interested in history can also visit Chattanooga National Military Park. This historical site provides visitors with a poignant and educational experience as they explore the landscapes where crucial battles unfolded during the Civil War, including the Chickamauga Civil War Battlefield.

If you’re interested in nature, history, or just casual exploration, this lovely historic town has something for everyone!

  • Distance from Atlanta: 98 miles

Another one of the top day trips from Atlanta for nature lovers is Anna Ruby Falls in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. This captivating natural gem is formed by the convergence of two pristine mountain streams. The stunning double waterfall descends a total of 153 feet, surrounded by lush greenery and hemlock trees.

Anna Ruby Falls is accessible via a well-maintained half-mile trail that meanders through the scenic forest, providing visitors with an enjoyable hike that culminates in a viewing platform overlooking the cascading waters. It’s a great day trip destination for photographers!

Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the falls are part of the Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area, which also features picnic areas and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation. The area is known for its diverse plant and animal life, adding an extra layer of natural beauty to the experience.

Anna Ruby Falls serves as a testament to the captivating landscapes found in the North Georgia mountains, and its accessibility makes it an ideal spot for a refreshing day trip from Atlanta.

Anna Ruby Falls

  • Distance from Atlanta: 147 miles

Why not explore another state on one of your day trips from Atlanta? Alabama is just a short drive away, and the fascinating city of Birmingham is just over a two hour drive.

This vibrant city in the heart of the Deep South is renowned for its rich history, cultural diversity, and industrial heritage. Once a powerhouse of the steel industry, Birmingham has transformed into a modern metropolis that balances its historical roots with a thriving arts and culinary scene.

The city played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute stands as a powerful testament to this history, offering a comprehensive and moving exploration of the struggle for civil rights in America.

Birmingham boasts a rich cultural landscape with notable museums like the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the McWane Science Center , offering diverse experiences ranging from art and history to science and human rights.

The downtown area is also a hub of activity, featuring a mix of historic architecture, contemporary developments, and green spaces. The Railroad Park , a sprawling urban oasis, provides a picturesque setting for outdoor activities and community events.

The city is also known for its delicious cuisine, with a burgeoning food scene that reflects Birmingham’s diverse cultural influences. From soul food to upscale dining, Birmingham offers a culinary journey that showcases the flavors of the South.

With its blend of history, culture, and modern amenities, Birmingham is a dynamic city that invites exploration and appreciation of its Southern charm.

Planning to head south into Florida? Here is our list of the best places to visit in the Sunshine State !

  • Distance from Atlanta: 90 miles
  • Driving Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Georgia’s Wine Country is a charming and burgeoning wine region known for its picturesque landscapes and thriving vineyards. Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this region is home to numerous wineries that produce a diverse array of wines, from crisp whites to robust reds.

The unique terrain, characterized by rolling hills, elevation changes, and a moderate climate, creates an ideal environment for grape cultivation.

Visitors to North Georgia Wine Country can explore the various wineries along scenic routes, often enjoying not only exquisite wines but also stunning views of vineyards against the backdrop of the mountains.

The towns of Dahlonega and Helen are central to North Georgia’s wine scene, offering a charming atmosphere with tasting rooms, boutique shops, and delightful restaurants. Many wineries host events, festivals, and live music, providing a lively and enjoyable experience for wine enthusiasts.

Not many people think of wine when they think of day trips from Atlanta. But North Georgia Wine Country has become a popular day trip destination for both locals and tourists seeking a relaxing and flavorful escape from the city.

  • Distance from Atlanta: 145 miles
  • Driving Time: 2 hours and 25 minutes

Greenville, South Carolina, is a beautiful city situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Renowned for its picturesque downtown, Greenville offers a perfect blend of Southern charm, modern amenities, and natural beauty.

Falls Park on the Reedy River, located in the heart of the city, is a stunning oasis with walking trails, gardens, and the iconic Liberty Bridge, offering panoramic views of the cascading falls.

The vibrant downtown area is characterized by a mix of historic architecture, trendy boutiques, diverse dining options, and a lively arts scene. Main Street, lined with tree-shaded sidewalks and outdoor plazas, serves as a hub for community events, festivals, and the city’s popular weekly farmers’ market.

In addition to its cultural and recreational offerings, Greenville is known for its incredible hiking trails and outdoor activities. The Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile multi-use greenway, winds through the city, providing residents and visitors with opportunities for biking, running, and walking.

Greenville has also attracted attention for its economic revitalization, with adaptive reuse projects transforming historic mills into mixed-use developments and enhancing the city’s urban fabric.

With a strong sense of community, a thriving arts scene, and a welcoming atmosphere, Greenville is a gem of South Carolina that makes one of the top day trips from Atlanta!

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Cherry Blossoms cover a pathway in Macon, GA.

16 Interesting Day Trips From Atlanta For Your Bucket List

April 5, 2021 //  by  Southern Trippers

While the city has so much to offer, it’s time to take some day trips from Atlanta to get out and explore. Haven’t you ever wondered what else the Peach State has in store for your Georgia state of mind?

The state of Georgia borders many states, making your possibilities endless! Surrounding the state are Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida! Depending on how far you want to drive, you can really get a change of scenery.

It doesn’t matter what you want to do. Georgia and its surrounding states have so much to offer. Whether you want to explore national parks, waterfalls, or just quaint rural towns, there’s a lot to keep you busy on your road trip !

The Metro area can get tiresome really quickly. So when you’re tired of the hustle and bustle, in desparate need of an escape, and you don’t know where to go? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are the best day trips from Atlanta to feed your wanderlust.

A road winds through trees in Georgia.

Day Trips From Atlanta Within 1 Hour

At a mere 26 minutes northwest of the city, Marietta makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta! With a historic town square surrounded by a dramatic mountain backdrop, it’s just far away enough from the city to feel cozy.

To get a good feel for the town, you can take the Marietta Trolley for a one-hour, fully narrated tour from Antebellum Square on Thursdays through Sundays. You’ll tour grand antebellum homes and the battlefields at Kennesaw Mountain.

Nature lovers will love the hiking trails at the Chattahoochie River National Recreation Area. Take a raft and drift leisurely through the shoals or go fishing on the misty waters as the sun comes up. You can even have a picnic with some friends!

Drop the kids off at Six Flags White Water for a day of water park fun while the adults can go play at Treehorn Cider. Get a true taste of Treehorn by sampling their hot mulled cider or the drop biscuits with cider sage butter. Don’t forget to take home some hard cider for later!

An intersection in Marietta, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Serenbe Farms

Just 35 minutes to the south, you’ll realize that Serenbe Farms makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta! A truly magical community near Chattahoochee Hills, you couldn’t feel further away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Serenbe describes itself as a wellness community connected to nature. A neighborhood full of fresh food and fresh air, the citizens and community are focused on wellbeing. The community is small, just hitting 350 homes over the past 15 years of development.

Check out the Artisan and Farmers Market every Saturday from April through November. You’ll find organic food and artisan goods. While you shop, you’ll be listening to live music and be able to participate in other fun activities too! Not to mention the views of the Georgia landscape can’t be beat!

A view of the mountains from Serenbe Farms.

Callaway Gardens

Just an hour and fifteen minutes west and a little bit to the south, you’ll find a lush paradise that makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta! Callaway Gardens is a beautiful haven for nature and flower lovers alike!

Over 2,500 acres, beautiful plants and flowers decorate the grounds. If you want to extend your day trip, there’s even a resort and spa! You can unwind with luxurious spa treatments Thursday through Monday 11 AM to 6 PM, but keep in mind, they’re closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays.

Callaway Gardens also boasts biking and hiking trails, a swimming beach, and two incredible golf courses. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll love traversing the grounds at your leisure. Drop your kids off for some swimming while you hit the links!

The gardens also host events throughout the year, too! Check out Fantasy in Lights during the holidays which has been profiled by National Geographic! You can see colorful balloons float through the air in September during the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Head over to the swimming beach for the July 4th Star Spangled Beach Party for some fireworks!

A bridge traverses over a waterway in Callaway Gardens, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Just an hour away from the big city, LaGrange makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta! Back in the early 1800s, General Marquis de Lafayette was reminded of his estate in France when he saw the area’s rolling hills, so he named this area LaGrange!

LaGrange is home to the Great Wolf Lodge. A gigantic indoor water park hotel, this is a perfect place to drop off the kids for the day! Day passes start at $40. In addition to the water park, you can also enjoy mini-golf, a rock climbing wall, bowling, an arcade, a ropes course, and more!

While the kids are playing, head to the Nutwood Winery and sample homemade breads, Amish cheeses, and a variety of desserts to pair with their signature wines. Then you can hit the links at the Fields Golf Club, which also hosts festivals and live music!

LaGrange also has amazing restaurants, the Biblical History Center, and is home of the Azalea Storytelling Festival! Just outside of town you’ll find the Hills Dales Estate and the Wild Animal Safari Park where you can drive through and feed the hungry animals!

Just an hour away from the big city, Senoia makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta . There are two major reasons to head to Senoia: if you’re looking for a relaxing break from city life, or if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead!

Senoia illustrates just how wonderful a slower pace of life can be. Get away from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta at Merimac Lakes Park. Walking trails are open every day of the year and if you have a valid fishing license, you can take advantage of the fishing venues!

The town’s downtown area is filled with shops and antique stores, so you’ll always find something unique. Don’t forget to hit up the amazing restaurants like the Southern Country Steakhouse & Saloon. You can even tour the beautiful historic homes and leave feeling refreshed!

If you’re a Walking Dead fan, there’s even more for you to do here! Take one of the many tours available in Senoia like Dad’s Zombie Roadtrip and you’ll be able to see many of the show’s filming locations starting from Season 1. Afterward, grab a frightfully good cup of coffee at the Walking Dead Cafe!

The Walking Dead Cafe, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Senoia, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Atlanta Day Trips Between 1-2 Hours Away

Named for Christopher Columbus, Columbus makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta, only one and half hours away. Originally inhabited by the Creek Indians, it was an important shipping port and today is still popular because of its location along the Chattahoochee River.

Outdoor adventurers absolutely rave about Whitewater Adventures. USA Today named it the number one Man-Made Adventure in the World! You’ll glide down the river with your family along either a mild Lazy River or down wild and crazy Class V rapids.

You can also explore Uptown Columbus, the area’s entertainment district. Right along the Chattahoochee River, you can walk or bike the RiverWalk, a 22-mile paved trail that follows the river. The area also hosts Market Days on Broadway with a farmers market! And don’t forget about the free concert series!

Columbus is also a haven for art lovers! Along Broadway, you can take in the Sculpture Walk where you’ll see original art and sculptures. Each year, they add more pieces, so it’s never the same! You can also tour the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus for a taste of history.

The skyline of Columbus, Georgia.

If you’ve never been to Macon, then you’re missing out. One of the most quaint and charming towns in Georgia , this is one of the best day trips to take from Atlanta, especially for all things pink!

Among other things, Macon is home of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Held for two weeks every spring, the trees are lined with the pink petals and make the downtown area truly a beautiful wonder to behold. Even if you don’t visit during the festival, the trees themselves make the perfect Instagram photo op!

Macon’s downtown area is filled with activities and even hosts a two-day music crawl event every July. Bragg Jam allows you to see your favorite musicians while experiencing specials at the local restaurants and shops in the downtown area. During the holidays, the area is decorated with lights and just beautiful.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, then visit Amerson River Park. You can walk the paths by the Ocmulgee River. Watch the kayakers paddle by or hop in one for yourself and take in the sights! Then visit the Ocmulgee National Monument, hike the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, or pack a picnic to enjoy on Lake Tobesofkee!

A pathway in Macon, one of the best day trips from Atlanta, is covered by blossoming Cherry Blossoms.

Great Wolf Lodge

Let’s face it, they don’t call it Hotlanta for nothing. This is why the Great Wolf Lodge makes one of the best day trips from Atlanta. The perfect way to beat the unbearable summer heat? Hit up Georgia’s indoor water park, the Great Wolf Lodge.

At the Great Wolf Lodge, the water is always 84 degrees. Not too hot and not too cold! The water park has plenty of slides, pools, and activities for all ages. At the end of the day, you can even retire to a hotel room, or a charmingly themed Wolf Den for kids.

Enjoy simulated rapids on River Canyon Run. Leave the kids at Fort MacKenzie, a four-story water treehouse while you relax with the adults at Northwood Oasis. Or simply relax in Otter Run, the park’s lazy river.

When you need to dry off but you’re still not done having fun? Don’t worry, the Great Wolf Lodge still has plenty of fun and adventure for the whole family. Hit up the kid-friendly bowling alley! There’s also mini-golf, a ropes course, an arcade, a rock climbing wall, and even a Build-A-Bear workshop!

One of the best day trips from Atlanta is to visit Helen, just one and a half hours to the north of the city. Who says you have to get on a plane to feel like you’re in a different country? When you visit Helen, you’ll feel like you’re taking a vacation in Germany!

The Bavarian village of Helen in the Blue Ridge Mountains is not your ordinary town. Its charm comes from the architecture. Since 1969, city leaders have decided to model the town’s buildings on south-German architecture, creating a quaint Bavarian feeling when you walk through the neighborhoods.

Helen also boasts incredible hiking trails nearby. Of all of the trails, you’re going to want to see Anna Ruby Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in Georgia . You’ll find access via a paved trail to viewing platforms. You’ll be so close to the falls you’ll be cooled by the mist from the cascading water!

To get the most German experience, take a carriage ride downtown and visit the quaint shops and restaurants. You don’t want to miss out on the Biergartens either. You can’t go wrong visiting during one of Helen’s extraordinary community events like Oktoberfest or Christmas in Helen!

The town of Helen, GA takes a cue from German architecture to look like a Bavarian town.

Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga is one of the great romantic getaways in TN . As a small city, it boasts the perfect combination of city life and nature escapes.

The Tennessee Riverpark in Chattanooga is a fantastic example of when city life meets nature. While the Riverpark is nestled in downtown Chattanooga, you’ll also get an up-close view of the Tennessee River, including the flying seabirds and bustling fishing piers.

Other than the Riverpark, Chattanooga also has the breathtaking Tennessee River Gorge, the underground waterfall known as Ruby Falls, and the Tennessee Aquarium. For those looking to experience more of the city side of Chattanooga, there is also the Creative Discovery Museum as well as the many restaurants and shops of downtown Chattanooga.

The bridges that connect the town of Chattanooga, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Southern Living Magazine voted  Blue Ridge, Georgia  one of the best mountain towns! Located just 90 minutes from Atlanta, it is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family mountain vacation. Don’t forget it when planning one of your day trips from Atlanta!

Known for its Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, wineries, and brewers as well as a more upscale dining and shopping destination. Take a ride on the railway or go trout fishing on the Toccoa River!

Blue Ridge is a great year-round town to visit for the outdoors where you can hike on the Appalachian trail, go tubing, visit a brewery or winery, enjoy a scenic drive or play golf! You can even try whitewater rafting or pick apples at a local orchard in the fall!

The Blue Ridge Mountains as seen from the town of Blue Ridge, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Amicalola Falls

Located near Ellijay, Georgia, this waterfall towers to a height of 730 feet and is definitely a sight to see while you’re in Georgia. The water spills over a cliff onto multiple layers of rock that create the beautiful whitewater visuals, making it one of the best day trips from Atlanta, only an hour and fifteen minutes away.

You can reach this Georgia waterfall from the Amicalola Falls Trail which is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Georgia, and visitors frequent this park during any season.

From snow in the winter to leaves in autumn, or the bright sun of the summer, this waterfall is a top pick for many hikers. The hike is just over 2 miles round trip, but because of the elevation it is rated as a more difficult hike. Get ready to climb stairs, there are over 620 total!

Water cascades down Amicalola Falls, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

Atlanta Day Trips Over 2 Hours

Providence ridge canyon state park.

Known as Georgia’s ‘little Grand Canyon’, Providence Canyon State Park is located in Stuart County and was formed by poor farming practises in the 1800s with some of the gullies going as deep as 150 feet. It’s unique scenery makes it one of the best day trips in Atlanta!

Just to the south of Columbus and only two hours away from Atlanta, the views are truly breathtaking here. The orange, pink, purple, and red of the soil provide a truly unique scene. And if you visit during July and August, you will see the rare Plumleaf Azalea in bloom.

There’s a number of different hiking options at this southern national park, whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for something more strenuous , or something easier with handicap access there will be something for you. You can even enjoy a picnic area above the canyon as well as a playground!

Oh, and dogs are also allowed on a 6 feet leash!

Providence Ridge Canyon State Park shimmers with its hues of oranges and reds.

If you follow golf, then this next entry on our list of best day trips from Atlanta should seem like a no-brainer. That’s because Augusta is home to a little golf tournament every year called The Masters! Okay, it’s not so little, but there’s more to do than golf here.

The Partridge Inn should certainly be on your list for romantic weekend getaways in Georgia . The mix of luxury and cozy is the perfect spot for a couple to get away from it all. You can enjoy the spacious balcony rooms to enjoy your morning coffee with a view, relax by the gorgeous pool, grab a drink at the rooftop bar, or enjoy a meal on the veranda.

Visit the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area and cruise down the canal in a boat tour! Then take a walk around the museum in the Discovery Center. If that’s not enough history for you, you can visit the Augusta Museum of History and then take a trolley tour.

For the more adventurous, rent a kayak and paddle the Augusta Canal yourself or explore Phinizy Swamp Nature Park! If golf isn’t your cup of tea, then head on over to SRP Park during baseball season and catch an Augusta Greenjackets game!

A bridge in Augusta covers an old, out of commission railroad track.

SAM Shortline

The Blue Ridge Railway has NOTHING on the SAM Shortline Train. One of the best day trips from Atlanta, you can visit Georgia’s only rolling state park! Taking a ride on this train is the best way to see the full beauty of the entire state.

You can board the train at Georgia Veterans State Park in Cordele to enjoy a ride in an air-conditioned, vintage train car! The best part of the SAM Shortline Train is you have multiple options as far as destinations go! Choose between Plains, Americus, or Archery! Each one is rich in history!

The town of Plains is home of 39th President Jimmy Carter. Here you’ll see an inside look at his campaign and his life and get a deeper education in American politics. Archery is the site of President Carter’s boyhood home where you’ll see what rural life was like in the early 1900s!

The ride from Americus to Plains is the shortest option and perhaps the most scenic. However there’s so much to do that your time will fly and you might need to take a second trip! As you sink back in your comfy chair, you’ll enjoy a mix of romantic yesteryear with the excitement of today’s South!

No, we’re not talking about the Albany in New York! In Southwest Georgia, just under 3 hours away from the city, you’ll find the town of Albany, one of the best day trips from Atlanta with a multitude of family-friendly activities.

Everybody simply adores the Flint RiverQuarium. This is one of the few open-air aquariums in the world, focusing on the fish and plant life found in the Flint River. You can also get close to exotic animals at the zoo at Chehaw Park. Make sure to ask about Chloe!

Make sure to visit the Ray Charles Plaza in the center of the Flint River. A life-size sculpture of the soul musician is seated at a Baby Grand piano, resting on a rotating pedestal. You can enjoy a concert as his beloved melodies play at timed intervals while water flows over the pedestal and into a reflecting pool.

For even more fun, visit the All American Fun Park to enjoy two miniature golf courses, a 1/4 mile go-kart track, sixteen bowling lanes, and much more! There are also bumper boats, laser tag, and a roller coaster simulator!

Old stone structures add to the character of the Flint River in Albany, GA, one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

While Atlanta has so much to offer, sometimes you need to get out of the big city and explore. Georgia has a wealth of opportunities for the solo traveler with insatiable wanderlust or the family looking for a new adventure. Just remember that your next day trip from Atlanta is only a short car ride away!

burgers from huntsville alabama on a plate with ketchup

Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

The 30 Best Day Trips From Atlanta GA

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial & privacy policies .

[Updated May 16, 2023]

As a lifelong metro Atlanta resident, I’ve always felt that the natural beauty of the state of Georgia is vastly underrated.

In my experience, even locals tend to forget the amazing amount of green space we’re blessed with, which offers endless excellent opportunities for recreation and ecotourism adventures.

But taking day trips from Atlanta is a great way to explore all the beauty the Peach State has to offer, from cool caves, majestic mountains , and dazzling lakes to rushing rivers and wondrous waterfalls .

With hundreds of city parks, more than 40 state parks , and five national parks located in North Georgia alone, the South’s most bustling metropolis also boasts plenty of outdoor activities.

And most of them can be reached in less than two-hour road trips from Atlanta .

Whether you prefer relaxing activities like fishing, biking, and tubing, or extreme adventures like rock climbing, caving, and ziplining , read on for a diverse array of options for amazing day trips from Atlanta.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Atlanta GA

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Best day trips from atlanta guide.

  • Amicalola Falls State Park
  • Apple Picking in Ellijay
  • Biking the Silver Comet Trail
  • Boating on Lake Lanier
  • Black Rock Mountain State Park
  • Callaway Gardens
  • Chasing Waterfalls in Rabun County
  • Check Out the Athens GA Music Scene
  • Climb Blood Mountain
  • Cloudland Canyon State Park
  • Day Hiking the Appalachian Trail
  • Driving the Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy
  • Explore Downtown Blue Ridge
  • Hiking in the Chattahoochee National Forest
  • Fly Fishing for Trout
  • Fort Mountain State Park
  • Learn Native American History
  • Providence Canyon State Park
  • See 4 States at Brasstown Bald
  • See Rock City Gardens
  • Shoot the Hooch
  • Seeing Northwest Georgia Caves
  • Spend a Day in Dahlonega
  • Sunsets on Lake Allatoona 
  • Tallulah Gorge State Park
  • Wine Tastings at North Georgia Wineries
  • Visit Alpine Helen
  • Unicoi State Park 
  • Vogel State Park
  • Whitewater Rafting on the Chattooga River

READ MORE: The 15 Best Fall Fairs in Georgia

Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville GA - atlanta day trips

1. Amicalola Falls State Park

Our of our family’s favorite North Georgia day trips ever since my daughter was born, Amicalola Falls  easily ranks among the most popular places to visit near Atlanta.

This is largely thanks to its easy access, easy hiking trails (some of which are paved with recycled rubber), and 729-foot cascading waterfalls (the tallest east of the Mississippi River).

Amicalola (Cherokee for “tumbling waters”) has seen marked improvements in recent years, including the addition of a new observation deck that provides incredible scenic vistas.

Hardcore backpackers often come this way, making the 8.5-mile hike to Springer Mountain, which marks the southern end of the 2,135-mile Appalachian Trail.

But most visitors go for more casual hikes, fish for freshwater trout in the well-stocked pond, and enjoy a quiet picnic near the base of the falls. It’s a beautiful way to spend a warm spring or autumn day!

READ MORE:  The 15 Best Scary Escape Rooms in Georgia

Apple Picking at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, GA - road trips from atlanta

2. Apple Picking in Ellijay

Gilmer County is widely known as “the Apple Capital of Georgia,” so it’s no surprise that  apple picking ranks among the most popular things to do in Ellijay GA .

Apple picking in Ellijay is best from early September through the end of October, right as the fall colors in North Georgia begin to reach their peak.

There are many great apple orchards in Ellijay GA  to choose from for Atlanta day trips, including Hillcrest Orchards, Panorama Orchards, and the Red Apple Barn. But  B.J. Reece Orchards is tops among the perennial favorites.

The family-owned  farm encompasses 120 acres and offer around 30 different kinds of apples, including Cameo, Candy Crisp, Fuji, Gala, Mutsu, Red Delicious, and Winecrisp. 

They usually start offering you-pick apples around Labor Day. But the orchard’s market offers bagged apples, apple cider donuts, “World Famous” fried pies, and other tantalizing treats all year round. 

Visiting Reece Orchards is also a family favorite for other reasons, including activities such as a petting zoo, cow milking demonstrations, and old-fashioned wagon rides.

silver-comet-trail near Atlanta GA

3. Biking the Silver Comet Trail

Formerly the route of the Silver Comet passenger train , this paved recreational trail extends 61.5 miles from the northwest Atlanta suburb of Smyrna all the way west to the Alabama state line.

The city’s first ever rails-to-trails project, the Silver Comet Trail is renowned for its many spectacular scenic vistas as it traverses numerous trestles and bridges.

The trail also offers direct access to Heritage Park, which features more than 14 acres of wetlands and the ruins of Concord Woolen Mill .

Don’t have a bike? No problem! Just rent one from Comet Trail Cycles , which offers full and half-day rentals on carbon road bikes, comfort hybrids, youth bicycles and child trailers.

Of course the path can also be used for hiking, jogging, and rollerblading as well. 

READ MORE: The Top 10 Treehouse Rentals in the Georgia Mountains

Lake Lanier GA - road trips from atlanta

4. Boating/Kayaking on Lake Lanier

Encompassing 38,542 acres in Gainesville, this popular Georgia lake was named after 19th century poet Sidney Lanier.

Lake Lanier was formed when the Buford Dam was created in 1956, with water flowing in from both the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers. It’s the biggest lake in Georgia , with around 700 miles of shoreline.

Recreational activities here include boating, water skiing , swimming, kayaking and standup paddle boarding.  There’s also great fishing, with commonly caught species such as bluegill, catfish, redbreast, spotted bass, striped bass, white bass, and walleye.

There are plenty of great picnic spots and camping opportunities on the lake, with 40 parks and 10 campgrounds along the shoreline.

Lake Lanier is home to Georgia’s newest state park,  Don Carter State Park , which features 4 miles of hiking trails , a recreational beach, and cabin rentals .

There’s also the upscale Lanier Islands Resort, which offers a variety of lodging options, plenty of lakeside amenities, and one of our favorite North Georgia Christmas events .

READ MORE: The 15 Best Lakes in the North Georgia Mountains

Sunrise-in-Black-Rock-Mtn-State-Park - day trips atlanta

5. Black Rock Mountain State Park

Located at an altitude of 3,640 feet along the Eastern Continental Divide, Black Rock Mountain State Park offers extraordinary views of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia.

Located near the town of Clayton, it’s one of the impressive North Georgia attractions, offering 5 hiking trails that range in length from the .10-mile Norma Campbell Cove Trail to the 7.2-mile James E. Edmond Trail.

The most popular is the 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail, which takes you through some of the park’s highest forest . The exceptional views span some 80 miles into North Carolina , South Carolina, and Tennessee.

There are numerous scenic overlooks in the park offering amazing sunrise and sunset vistas, as well as fishing, kayaking/canoeing in Black Rock Lake, and visiting the Foxfire Museum of Appalachian culture and history .

The park is also home to one of the most picturesque campgrounds in the region, as well as our favorite Georgia State Park cabin rentals . 

READ MORE: The Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Georgia

Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain GA

6. Callaway Gardens

Although the Atlanta Botanical Garden  will always hold a special place in my heart as a hometown hotspot, Callaway Gardens is a world-class attraction located just 80 miles south of Downtown Atlanta. 

One of our favorite romantic getaways in Georgia, Callaway features over 2,500 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains . 

The ever-popular resort offers four different types of accommodations, 12 restaurants, a 10-mile biking trail, and lots of different nature trails for visitors to explore. 

Family-friendly attractions at Callaway include the Azalea Garden, Butterfly Center, Discovery Center, swimming at Robin Lake Beach, and Treetop Adventure Ziplines . 

We’re also huge fans of their annual “Fantasy in Lights” holiday celebration, which is one of our favorite Christmas light displays in Georgia .

READ MORE: 25 Beautiful Birds of Georgia

Minnehaha Falls Near Lake Rabun, GA

7.  Chasing Waterfalls in Rabun  County

There are an estimated 700 waterfalls in the state of Georgia, the vast majority of which are located in the North Georgia mountains .

Every hiker has their personal favorite North Georgia waterfalls . But, for our money, the best place to visit multiple mind-blowing waterfalls in one day is Rabun County, in the northeast corner of the state. 

Want easy trails to wondrous waterfalls with very little hiking involved?

Check out Toccoa Falls, Minnehaha Falls , Becky Branch Falls at Warwoman Dell, and Hurricane Falls at Tallulah Gorge (which you can view from the top after a short walk to the Rim Trail). 

If you visit Minnehaha, it’s a short drive to the Lake Rabun Beach Campground, where you can hike to Panther Falls and Angel Falls on a moderate 1.75-mile round-trip trail. 

Other great waterfalls in the area include Martin Creek Falls (on the same trail as Becky Branch), Dick’s Creek Falls, Ammons Creek Falls, and the Hemlock Falls trail at Moccasin Creek State Park .

READ MORE: The 20 Best Easy Hiking Trails to Waterfalls in Georgia

Beck at Georgia Theatre in Athens GA

8. Check Out the Athens GA Music Scene

The town of Athens GA is best-known for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, whose football team has won 16 conference championships and 4 national championships (including back-to-back wins in 2021 and 2022). 

But as a lifelong Georgia resident, I’d say the town is equally noteworthy for having the state’s best live music scene. 

In the ’80s, Athens-based bands such as the B-52’s, R.E.M., Pylon, Love Tractor, and Oh-OK (which featured Michael Stipe’s sister, Lynda, and Matthew Sweet) blazed trails for the burgeoning college rock field.

By the ’90s, the town had birthed beloved acts ranging from singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt and Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers to the arty Elephant 6 Collective (Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, Of Montreal, etc.).

From the Boar’s Head Lounge and The Warehouse to larger venues like the 40 Watt, Classic Center Arena, and Georgia Theatre, there are still lots of good places to see great live music in Athens today. 

READ MORE: The History of the Banjo, from Africa to Appalachia

blood mountain overlook

9. Climb Blood Mountain

One of the most popular North Georgia mountains for hiking , Blood Mountain is the first trail I ever remember hiking with my parents as a young boy. 

With an elevation of 4,461 feet (making the highest spot on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia ) and a distance of 4.3 miles round-trip, this is one of the more difficult hiking trails in North Georgia . 

From the Byron Reece Trailhead near Neels Gap, the adventure takes you through a creek valley lined with rhododendron and other wildflowers . You’ll meet the Appalachian Trail at .7 mile and head westbound.

The Blood Mountain trail reaches the summit at 2.15 miles, where you can take in jaw-dropping sights of the rolling  Blue Ridge Mountains landscape from a huge rocky outcrop. 

Once you’ve had time to catch your breath and get your fill of the sensational scenery, the hike retraces the outbound route to return to the trailhead.

READ MORE:  The 15 Best Things to Do in Blairsville GA & Union County

Cloudland Canyon Overlook- Waterfall View

10. Cloudland Canyon State Park

This 3,485-acre state park, located 35 miles north of sleepy Summerville GA, is rarely crowded except on peak summer weekends. But it offers a diverse range of activities for outdoor enthusiasts of all fitness levels.

Casual nature lovers can simply stay in the picnic area parking lot, where you can get stunning overviews of the canyon without ever breaking a sweat.

But hardy hikers will love the 4.8-mile West Rim and Waterfalls Trail, which offers more in-depth exploration of the area (which ranges in elevation from 800 to around 2,000 feet).

The gorge was cut into the mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek, producing striking rock outcroppings that are offset by colorful wildflowers . These stunning views grow increasingly spectacular in the autumn months, when the colorful Fall foliage begins to change.

The park really earns its name in the morning, when the rolling fog over the hills makes it seem as if you’re walking in the clouds. In addition to 100+ campsites, they also have recently renovated Cloudland Canyon State Park Cabins and 10 awesome yurts.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Summerville GA

Preachers Rock on Appalachian Trail in Georgia - day trips in georgia

11. Day Hiking the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most iconic hiking trails in the world, stretching 2,190+ miles across 14 different states. Due to its length, most thru-hikers 5 to 7 months to tackle the entire trail.

Trekking from Georgia to Maine isn’t possible (or advisable) for the average hiker. But the AT in Georgia offers an array of easy, moderate, and strenuous trails that explore some of the state’s most scenic summits.

It’s possible to take day trips from Atlanta to hike parts of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia , which begins at Springer Mountain in Blue Ridge. 

The most popular sections include the aforementioned Blood Mountain trail, the Springer Mountain Loop, Preacher’s Rock, and the Long Creek Falls trail . 

If you’re up for a more strenuous trekking challenge, there’s the 5.2-mile hike from Dicks Creek Gap to the summit of Powell Mountain, the 8.6-mile Three Forks to Springer Mountain section, and the 14.5-mile stretch from Hogpen Gap to Unicoi Gap.

READ MORE: The Best Christmas Lights in Atlanta & North Georgia

Sunset at Hogpen Gap in Helen GA

12. Drive the Richard B Russell Scenic Highway

Though North Georgia doesn’t offer any epic winding roads to rival the Blue Ridge Parkway , the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway offers a stunningly picturesque mountain route on a much smaller scale. 

Also known as Hwy 348, it stretches 23 miles from Helen to Blairsville GA. But it’s easy to extend the drive by heading further north to Young Harris and Hiawassee, or following the larger Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway  loop (40.6 miles total). 

There are plenty of cool things to do along the Richard B. Russell stretch to make a full day of it.

Start the morning fishing or hiking at Smithgall Woods State Park , then head north on Hwy 348 for fairly easy waterfall hikes at Dukes Creek Falls (2 miles round-trip) and Helton Creek Falls (0.3 miles). 

If taking a gander at jaw-dropping scenic vistas is more your speed, don’t miss the three roadside scenic overlooks that are located along Hwy 348.

All of them are worth a stop, but our favorite by far is Hogpen Gap, which is located along the Appalachian Trail. It’s a great place for an evening picnic while you soak in the dazzling colors of an amazing sunset!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Live in the Georgia Mountains

Panorama photo of Downtown Blue Ridge, GA

13. Explore Downtown Blue Ridge GA

One of our favorite Blue Ridge Mountain towns in GA , the charming town of Blue Ridge has long been considered one of the best places to visit near Atlanta. 

Founded in 1886, Downtown Blue Ridge offers upscale restaurants , shopping, and culture, including vibrant art   galleries , a theatre, and live music on weekends.

There’s an extensive array of outdoor activities nearby, including horseback riding, white water rafting on the Ocoee River, ziplining, and boating and kayaking at Lake Blue Ridge .

There’s also lots of great hiking trails, including the Benton MacKaye Trail, the AT, and several impressive  waterfalls near Blue Ridge  (including Long Creek Falls, Fall Branch Falls, and Sea Creek Falls ). 

To learn more about the Fannin County area, hop aboard the historic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and take a train ride through North Georgia along the Toccoa River, just as travelers did in the late 19th century.

If you want to extend your visit, there are loads of accommodation options, ranging from local campgrounds to luxurious tree houses and Blue Ridge cabins . 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA

The summit of Yonah Mountain in Helen GA

14. Hiking in the Chattahoochee National Forest

The Chattahoochee National Forest encompasses around 867,000 acres of largely pristine land, offering some of the most rewarding opportunities for outdoor adventure in North Georgia .

The forest spans 26 counties and boasts hundreds of miles of hiking trails that lead to wildflower-lined streams, glistening waterfalls , peaceful lakes , and jaw-dropping mountain vistas.

Our favorite easy hiking trails in the National Forest include the 0.8-mile Toccoa Swinging Bridge trail near Blue Ridge, the 0.4-mile Sosebee Cove trail near Blairsville, and the 1-mile Lake Chatuge trail in Hiawassee. 

Those seeking moderate hikes in the forest will enjoy the 3-mile Rabun Bald trek near Clayton, the 4.9-mile the Raven Cliff Falls trail near Helen, and the 3-mile Grassy Mountain Tower trail in the Cohutta Wilderness. 

Hardy hikers will love the challenging elevation gain offered by the 4.4-mile Yonah Mountain trail in Helen, the 8.4-mile Smith Creek Trail to Anna Ruby Falls , and the 12.9-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail in Vogel State Park.

READ MORE: The Best 15 Hiking Trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest

Trout Fishing at Enota Mountain Retreat

15. Fly Fishing for Trout

Atlanta anglers seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of the 9 to 5 life often head north of the city, where an array of different rivers and streams await.

There, colder waters provide an ideal habitat for trout, not to mention wildlife such as beaver, waterfowl, raccoons, and white-tail deer.

Experienced fly fishing guides such as River Through Atlanta ’s Chris Scalley can help you find the best hush-hush hotspots, where you can immerse yourself in Mother Nature’s pastoral beauty while also reeling in some tasty supper .

Scalley, who was recognized by Field & Stream magazine as a finalist for their 2007 Heroes of Conservation Awards for his efforts to protect the area’s sport fishery, offers a few tips on the best areas to land a big one.

“I’m a big fan of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area , specifically the areas near Bowmans Island, Settles Bridge, and Jones Bridge. I also like the Conasauga River and Jacks River section of the Cohutta Wilderness; and the Chattahoochee National Forest’s Jones Creek, and High Shoals Creek.”

READ MORE: How to Get to Horse Trough Falls in Helen GA (Upper Chattahoochee River Campground)

CCC Stone Tower at Fort Mountain State Park in Ellijay GA

16. Fort Mountain State Park

Located in Chatsworth GA, Fort Mountain State Park makes an excellent North Georgia day trip, offering some of the best hiking near Ellijay GA.

In fact, the #1 thing to do at the state park is to explore its 25+ miles of hiking, horseback riding , and mountain biking trails (which includes 8+ miles on the Gahuti Trail).

If you can only do one, the CCC Fire Tower Combination Loop is our favorite. Its total distance is listed as a mile, but you can easily extend it to around 2 miles.

From the parking lot, take the trail on the right, going past the “Stone Tower Trail” sign and continuing east on the Stone Wall Trail. This takes you on a rarely-traveled path around the Fort Mountain summit, with incredible views and massive boulders. 

It eventually connects to the West Overlook Trail, which takes you to an awesome overview of the surrounding landscape.

Retrace your steps and you’ll see signs leading to the 4-story CCC Stone Tower, which was built back in the 1930s. Head back down the mountain from there to see the mysterious stone wall and CCC-built steps.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Ellijay GA

Mound A at Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site - things to do outside in atlanta

17. Learn Native American History

Before the 1828 Georgia gold rush and Georgia land lotteries , which forced the removal of indigenous people on the tragic Trail of Tears, Cherokee people  had lived in the North GA mountains for hundreds of years.

And while you may not learn much about this sad chapter in U.S. history in school, there are plenty of North Georgia day trips that will immerse you in the 100-year history of Native American history.

For the ancient history, check out the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site in Cartersville.

The prehistoric archaeological site contains one of the largest Indian mounds in North America, which were built by indigenous peoples of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture  starting around 900 AD.

For more recent history, visit the New Echota Historic Site in Calhoun.

Established as the capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1825, the town was home to the first Indian language newspaper, the signing of the New Echota Treaty (which relinquished all tribal lands in the Southeast), and the beginning of the Trail of Tears. 

Other excellent sites where you can learn more about Native Americans in Georgia include the Track Rock Gap Archeological Site  in Blairsville, the Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt University in Waleska, and the Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home in Rome. 

READ MORE: 6 incredible Indian Mounds in Georgia to Visit

Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin GA, one of the best day trips from Atlanta

18. Providence Canyon State Park 

Located in Lumpkin GA, about two hours south of the Atlanta airport, Providence Canyon State Park is known as “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon” due to the multi-colored hues of the dynamic landscape. 

The vibrant striations in Providence Canyon were formed by gradual erosion of the soil, which was caused by unsustainable  farming practices back in the 1800s.

Today, the canyon can be viewed from several great hiking trails , including one that meanders along the rim at the top and others that lead hikers down into the canyon. 

Stop by the park’s museum to learn more about the area’s history, or bring a packed lunch to be enjoy at one of the picnic tables or shelters (which are available for rent).

Backpackers are invited to camp overnight along the backcountry trails, but guests can also reserve a camping spot in the state park.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Hiking Trails In Atlanta GA (& Hikes Near Atlanta)

Fall colors in Georgia at Brasstown Bald

19. See 4 States From Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s highest mountain, towering at 4,784 feet above sea level. It’s also arguably the best place in the state to get a view of fall colors in the North Georgia Mountains at their most radiant.

Known to the Cherokee people as Enotah, the site’s current name comes from a misunderstanding of the Cherokee word “Itse’yĭ” (New Green Place), which settlers mistook for “Ûňtsaiyĭ” (Brass).

The “Bald” refers to the unparalleled, unobstructed 360-degree view visitors get from the top, where you can see four states (Georgia, North Carolina , South Carolina, and Tennessee) simply by turning your head.

As a result, the moderate hiking trail up to the Observation Tower can get a bit crowded during peak season, as can the shuttle that takes visitors most of the way to the top.

But with rocking chairs, a small picnic area, and remarkably scenic surroundings waiting at the summit, it’s a fantastic place to spend an autumn afternoon!

READ MORE:  The 15 Best Things to Do in Hiawassee GA & Young Harris GA

Christmas at Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights in Lookout Mountain GA

20. See Rock City Gardens

Growing up in North Georgia in the 1970s, it was rare that we took a road trip without seeing one of the iconic “ See Rock City ” barns, over 900 of which were painted in 19 states between 1935 and 1969. 

Located two hours north of Atlanta on the Tennessee border, Rock City Gardens & Fairyland Caverns is a world-renowned tourist attraction that draws thousands of visitors to Lookout Mountain GA each month.

The attraction dates back to the 1920s, when Garnet Carter and his wife developed Lookout Mountain as a residential neighborhood. They built Fairyland Caverns, which included a  rock garden  and America’s first mini-golf course.

Freida Carter planned many of the Lookout Mountain hiking trails, planting wildflowers  and importing Bavarian gnomes for her unique garden .

Today, visitors can hike to Lover’s Leap, view 7 states from atop Lookout Mountain, and much more. And don’t miss Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights , one of our favorite places to celebrate Christmas in Georgia!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lookout Mountain GA/TN

SUPing the Chattahoochee River

21. Shoot the ‘Hooch on a SUP

Made famous by country singer Alan Jackson, the Chattahoochee River stretches from northeast Georgia down through metro Atlanta suburbs such as Roswell and Sandy Springs.

“Shooting the ‘hooch” on a raft, tube , canoe, or kayak has been a local tradition for decades.

In recent years, High Country Outfitters has been offering a new way to experience one of Atlanta’s favorite outdoor recreation pastimes, with 3- and 6-mile jaunts down the river’s in-town heart (from Powers Ferry Rd to Paces Mill Rd) via stand-up paddle board.

The company has several certified paddleboard instructors on staff, as well as equipment rentals for self-guided trips.

“We’ve all sat down in a kayak or canoe and floated down the river,” says veteran guide John Sloane, the son of the owners.

“But when you’re on a paddleboard, it’s like walking on water, and also a tremendous workout. It’s very easy to do, but it’s an amazing workout from your feet all the way up to your shoulders, and especially your core.”

READ MORE: The 10 Best Places for River Tubing in Georgia

Spelunking in North Georgia - georgia day trips

22. Seeing Northwest Georgia Caves

TAG is the popular nickname for the beautiful area in the Cumberland Plateau where northwest Georgia meets Alabama and Tennessee .

Thanks in large part to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy , the area has lured cavers from all around the world eager to explore its labyrinthine underground passages. Pigeon Mountain is particularly popular, thanks to its vast network of limestone caves .

Pettyjohn’s Cave has six miles of previously mapped passageways that often attract a healthy weekend crowd. The 13 miles of Ellison’s Cave that have been explored include the 440-foot-deep Incredible Dome Pit and the 586-foot-deep Fantastic Pit.

Note that underground caves and caverns can be extremely dangerous for people without proper equipment or caving experience.

So please learn more about the sport before embarking on your first caving expedition, and we highly recommend hiring local guides if possible.

READ MORE: 7 Cool Caves & Caverns in North Carolina

Old Fashioned Christmas in Downtown Dahlonega GA

23. Spend a Day in Dahlonega GA

Dahlonega GA  has been one of my favorite North Georgia mountain towns for 30+ years now, and makes for a fantastic day trip from Atlanta.

Located just an hour north of Downtown Atlanta, Dahlonega is best known as the site of the first major gold rush in the US. The Dahlonega Gold Museum is a great place to learn about the state’s early gold mining history. 

Historic Downtown Dahlonega features numerous 19th century buildings that are home to an array of charming local shops and great restaurants . 

The town is known as one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in GA. Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas   celebration is a personal favorite, including a parade, the Lighting of the Square, and free photos with Santa. 

Dahlonega also hosts an array of fun annual festivals , including the Bear On The Square Mountain Festival (a celebration of Appalachian music and culture) in April and Gold Rush Days in October.

READ MORE: Top 20 Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia

Lake Allatoona at Red Top Mountain State Park

24. Sunsets on Lake Allatoona

We’re biased towards 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona. It’s the closest of Georgia’s lakes to our house , we’ve kept our pontoon boat docked there for 13 years, and it’s our home away from home when we’re not traveling.

It’s also home to 1,562-acre Red Top Mountain State Park (named for the iron-rich soil’s deep red color). It’s 45 minutes from downtown Atlanta, making it one of the most popular Georgia day trips for nature lovers.

The lake attracts avid boaters and fishermen all year-round, and the park’s 15.5 miles of hiking trails provide frequent wildlife sightings, including herons, egrets, kingfishers, osprey, geese, and ducks.

Lake Allatoona is an incredible place for a picnic, swimming, kayaking , and standup paddle boarding, with numerous parks (including Dallas Landing Park and Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area), campgrounds , and marinas along its shores. 

It’s also a magical place to just sit back and watch the sunset over the water . 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Romantic Getaways in the North Georgia Mountains

Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls, GA

25. Tallulah Gorge State Park

Georgia may not be able to match the Grand Canyon for sheer size and scope. But this 2,689-acre park is arguably among the most impressive canyons east of the Mississippi.

Considered one of Georgia’s “Seven Natural Wonders,” Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep, with over 20 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. It’s also home to some of the most majestic waterfalls in North Georgia. 

Permits for hiking in the gorge (which take you close to the waterfalls) are available at the park’s Interpretive Center. But note that spots tend to fill up quickly on the weekends , so it’s best to arrive early in the morning.

If you choose to tackle this unique trekking adventure, be sure to carry plenty of water, as the bottom of gorge can get extremely hot on sunny days.

Hikers can also follow rim trails to scenic overlooks and cross a suspension bridge that is 80 feet high, offering some of the best views in the park. 

During specific times of the year, they open the Tallulah River dam to offer excellent white-water rafting and kayaking opportunities!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Clayton, GA (the Gem of Northeast Georgia)

Montaluce Winery & Restaurant in Dahlonega GA

26. Wine Tastings at North Georgia Wineries

The unique climate and soil conditions of the  North Georgia mountains make it the perfect place for growing grapes and producing wine. 

Despite the fact that there have been vineyards in the state for centuries, Georgia wineries didn’t gain much attention until the 1990s. But in recent years they’ve garnered national notoriety for their award-winning wines.

There are now nearly 60 licensed wineries in Georgia, which is nearly double the number of a decade ago.  Many of them offer wine tastings with breathtaking mountain views and southern hospitality. 

The town of Dahlonega GA is home to many of the most popular North Georgia wineries , including the 57-acre Frogtown Cellars, the 184-acre Three Sisters Vineyards, and the award-winning Wolf Mountain Vineyards.

But our favorite is the Montaluce Winery, which is also home to one of Dahlonega’s best restaurants .

Other wonderful wineries in North Georgia include Bear Claw Vineyards in Blue Ridge, Habersham Winery in Helen, and the Fainting Goats Vineyard & Winery in Jasper. 

READ MORE: 10 Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Dahlonega GA

Alpine-style buildings in Downtown Helen GA - places to visit near atlanta

27. Visit Alpine Helen

Helen GA is a unique mountain town that combines the Alpine beauty  of Bavaria with the stunning landscapes and endless outdoor recreation opportunities of the Blue Ridge region.

The charming town boasts cobblestone walkways, German-inspired architecture, and lots of great German restaurants , where you can enjoy everything from schnitzel and wurst to massive steins of beer.

When you’re not exploring the tourist-oriented town, you can explore some of the myriad hiking trails, including Yonah Mountain and a diverse array of impressive waterfalls near Helen (such as Anna Ruby, Dukes Creek, Horse Trough, Raven Cliff, and Water’s Creek Falls). 

Other popular things to do in Helen GA include tubing down the Chattahoochee River, panning for gold and gems in the Dukes Creek Mines, riding the Alpine Mountain Coaster, and visiting Unicoi State Park. 

Perhaps the most famous attraction in Helen is their annual Oktoberfest festival in autumn, which is the largest in the world outside of Germany.

But we also love spending  Christmas in Helen GA , which includes the lighting of the village, a Christmas parade, Christkindlmarkt, and more.

READ MORE:  The 15 Best Rental Cabins in Helen GA

Beautiful scenery at Unicoi Lake-Smith Lake in Unicoi State Park, GA - things to do outside atlanta

28. Unicoi State Park 

Though it’s located just a few miles from downtown Helen, Unicoi State Park & Lodge feels like a secluded haven for outdoor adventure lovers. 

Popular Unicoi hiking trails include the Bottoms Loop Trail (which passes by an old homestead), the Lake Trail, and the Smith Creek Trail (which stretches from the campground to the Anna Ruby Falls Recreation Area).

Other fun activities in the park include archery, an air gun range, a GPS scavenger hunt, guided nature hikes, fly fishing classes, guided kayaking , and paddle boarding classes.

The park offers an array of overnight accommodation options. They’re best known for the retro-hip Unicoi State Park Barrel Cabins , but they have cabins along Smith Creek and Deluxe Cabins as well.

There are also plenty of campsites for RV and tent camping to choose from, each of which includes water, power, a fire ring, grill, sewer, and dump station nearby.

READ MORE: Unicoi State Park & Lodge: Camping & Hiking Near Helen, GA

Lake Trahylta in Vogel State Park, North Georgia

29. Vogel State Park

Not far from popular Blairsville GA Restaurants , Vogel is one of the oldest North Georgia State Parks . It was established in 1931, with buildings constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps .

With its dynamic landscapes and spectacular views of Blood Mountain, Vogel State Park remains one of the most visited parks in north Georgia, offering 17 miles of hiking trails . 

The popular Trahlyta Lake Trail crosses an earthen dam created by the CCC in 1935, while the Bear Hair Gap Trail takes you past picturesque Trahlyta Falls and through the lower ridges of Blood Mountain.

Other fun activities in the state park include visiting the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and renting kayaks, stand up paddle boards, pedal boats, and bikes.

If you want to make it an overnight or weekend visit, the park also offers 1- to 2-bedroom cabins , walk-in campsites, a 50-person pioneer campsite, and RV-accessible campsites.

READ MORE: Vogel State Park: Camping, Hiking & History in North Georgia

Whitewater Rafting on the Chattooga River - best weekend trips from atlanta

30. Whitewater Rafting on the Chattooga River

The Chattooga River (whose headwaters begin in Cashiers NC ) is most famous as the place where much of the classic action flick Deliverance  was filmed. Today it is an extremely popular place for whitewater rafting .

Designated by Congress as one of America’s “Wild and Scenic” rivers back in 1974, the Chattooga offers challenges for rafters of all skill levels in the picturesque setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains .

For more extreme adventure lovers, there’s Section IV, where Class IV and V rushing whitewater speeds you down the river at a breakneck pace, climaxing with an invigorating plunge down the legendary Five Falls and Soc-em-Dog.

For families seeking a kinder, gentler ride, there’s also Section III, a beginner-friendly float trip with a Class IV ending at Bull’s Sluice.

Going with an experienced tour outfitter such as Southeastern Expeditions will ensure safety and maximum enjoyment of your whitewater rafting adventure.   –By Bret Love; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

The 25 Best Day Trips From Atlanta, including Georgia state parks, hiking trails, wineries, waterfalls, mountain towns and more. | atlanta day trips | road trips from atlanta | day trips in georgia | road trips from atlanta | day trips atlanta | georgia day trips | things to do outside in atlanta | places to visit near atlanta | things to do outside atlanta | best weekend trips from atlanta

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the  Leave No Trace   principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Bret and Mary

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.

THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Atlanta

Day trips from atlanta.

  • Atlanta to Ellijay
  • Atlanta to Decatur
  • Atlanta to Roswell
  • Atlanta to Dawsonville
  • Atlanta to Senoia
  • Atlanta to East Point
  • Atlanta to Cleveland
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  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

day trips from atlanta georgia

1. Half Day Atlanta City Tour

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2. North Georgia Wine Country Tour from Atlanta

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3. Civil War & Battlegrounds Tour of Atlanta by Private Car Service

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4. 7-Hr The Walking Dead Private VIP Tour in Atlanta and Senoia with Transportation

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5. Half-Day Wine Tastings in the North Georgia Mountains

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6. Atlanta Plantations, Civil War and Civil Rights tour of Atlanta

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7. Full-Day Wine Country Wine Tastings From Atlanta

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8. Half-Day North Georgia Wine Country Tour From Atlanta

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9. Blue Ridge Hike w/ Waterfall, Wine and Dine Private Tour from ATL

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10. Atlanta Vineyards and Wines Full-Day Tour

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11. All-Day Private Stranger Things Location Tour in Atlanta

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12. Welcome to Hotlanta! City of Dreams Chasers and Saucy Nightlife!

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13. Private Shopping Tour from Atlanta hotels to North Georgia Outlet

Keep the fun going with other experiences in the area.

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North Atlanta Slingshot Guided Group Tour

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Full Day Self Guided Tour in Bell Mountain via Slingshot

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Full-Day Private Guided Athens Brewery Tour

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day trips from atlanta georgia

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While Atlanta has plenty of big city amenities—award-winning restaurants, professional sports teams, museums, and ample green space—the rest of Georgia and surrounding states are worth exploring as well. From outdoor hikes to museums, wineries, historic sites, and small towns with a bit of everything, here are 12 can’t miss day trips from Atlanta. 

Conyers, GA: Find Inner Peace at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Nancy Heise/Public Domain

Experience the tranquility and beauty of this Trappist monk community 30 miles removed from the city. Take a self-guided tour of the Monastic Museum, join the residing monks for mass or mid-day prayers, learn about the art of Bonsai at the Monastery Garden Center, or explore the stunning grounds and Gothic architecture via biking or walking along the property’s Rockdale River trail.

Getting There : The Monastery is a half hour drive from Atlanta via I-20 Eto GA to 212-E.

Travel Tip : Visit the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area just a few short miles up the road for hiking, biking , historic sites, and sweeping views of downtown Atlanta.

Tiger, GA: Drink Georgia-Grown Wine at Tiger Mountain Vineyards

Tiger Mountain Vineyards

Nestled in the north Georgia mountains, the award-winning Tiger Mountain Vineyards produces ten varietals grown on a fifth generation family farm. Sip on the signature Rabun Red, a bold five grape blend named for the winery’s home county or the dry, fruit-tinged viognier in the vineyard’s tasting room or eat onsite at the Red Barn Cafe, the dairy barn turned restaurant which serves up weekend dinner and brunch and breathtaking mountain views May through November.

Getting There : In non-rush hour traffic, the winery is an hour and 45 minutes drive via I-85 North and US-23 North.

Travel Tip: Consider purchasing a Peach Pass for access to express lanes on the highways and expedite your trip. 

Chattanooga, TN: Explore Parks and Museums on the Waterfront

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This former industrial center is now a nature lover’s paradise, thanks to downtown revitalization and the Tennessee Riverwalk trail. Explore the latter on foot or bike or book the two-hour historic downtown Segway tour, which includes points of interest like the Tivoli Theatre , Warehouse Row , and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo . Don’t miss the Tennessee Aquarium , home to the most diverse gathering of freshwater animals in the country, and the nearby Hunter Museum of Art , which focuses on American art and includes the work of Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and Andy Warhol.

Getting There : Chattanooga is a one hour, 45 minute drive via I-75 N or a three hour, 30 minute ride via the 5:45 a.m. Megabus.

Travel Tip : Aquarium passes are good all day, so take a break to eat at one of the city’s noteworthy restaurants like Easy Bistro & Bar or Maple Street Biscuit Company .

Sautee Nacoohee, GA: Visit the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia

Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia & SNCA

Located near Helen, Georgia, the Folk Pottery Museum houses an extensive collection of folk pottery dating from the 1840s, including the work of Cheever and Lanier Meaders, the latter known for his ash and limestone face jugs. The museum also explore the role of folk pottery in Southern life and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Getting There : Located 90 miles northeast of Atlanta, the museum is a one hour, 40 minute drive via I-85 and I-985 N.

Travel Tip : Teachers, active military members, and veterans get free admission.

Tallulah Falls, GA: Hike the Canyon at Tallulah Gorge State Park

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One of only three canyons in the state, Tallulah Gorge is nearly 2 miles long, 1,000 feet deep and boasts six stunning waterfalls as well as nearly 20 miles of hiking trails. Feeling adventurous? Brave the 200 foot long suspension bridge that towers 80 feet about the rocky floor for access to an observation deck deep inside the gorge. The park also includes a quieter, paved, and flat 3 mile Shortline Trail.

Getting There: The park is approximately 100 miles from Atlanta and a 1 hour, 40 minute drive via I-85 and US-23 N.

Travel Tip : The park issues 100 permits per day to hike the canyon floor, so check the schedule in advance for availability. 

Cartersville, GA: Visit the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site

Marilyn Angel Wynn/Getty Images

This 54 acre archeological site in Bartow County is the largest remains of the Mississippian culture in the Southeastern United States. Once home to several thousand Native Americans between 1000 and 1550 A.D., this National Historic Landmark contains six earthen mounds, including the largest temple mound, which stands 63 feet tall and is nearly 3 acres wide at its base. Tour the museum for artifacts and exhibits dedicated to this ancient civilization.

Getting There : Cartersville is 50 minutes via car and I-75 N.

Travel Tip : Drive into town and visit the Booth Museum , the world’s largest permanent exhibition space dedicated to Western art. 

Athens, GA: Experience Award-winning Food, Beer, and Music

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The birthplace of music giants like R.E.M. and Widespread Panic and home of the University of Georgia’s flagship campus , Athens is the perfect small town getaway. Tour and sample top-rated local beers at Creature Comforts and Terrapin breweries, stop by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s celebrated Five and Ten restaurant, then catch live music from headlining and emerging bands alike at venues like 40 Watt and the Georgia Theatre .

Getting There : Athens is 70 miles east and approximately a 90 minute drive via I-85 and US-29 N.

Travel Tip : Unless tailgating and sitting in bumper to bumper traffic is part of your agenda, avoid the town on home football game weekends.

Brasstown Bald: Soak up the Views from Georgia’s Highest Point

Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association

Towering nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s tallest mountain. Take a shuttle or hike the steep half mile trail to the mountain’s observation deck for panoramic views and sightlines to four states — including neighboring North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina, weather permitting. The visitor’s center features interactive displays dedicated to Georgia’s geological and natural history, and the surrounding Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests offer fishing, hiking, horseback riding, boating, and camping for outdoor enthusiasts.

Getting There : Brasstown is 100 miles and a two hour, ten minute drive from the city via I-19 N.

Travel Tip : Call ahead at (706) 896-2556 to ensure the facilities are open and note that some GPS systems provide inaccurate directions, so the park recommends using the coordinates N34.847894, W83.798567 or the intersection of Highway 180 and Spur 180 so you don’t get lost.

Plains, GA: Visit the Birthplace of a President

 Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

This tiny town rural farming community birthed the country’s 39th president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter. At the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site , visit the president and First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s alma mater, Plains High School, which has been turned into a museum and visitors’ center dedicated to the couple, their political and business careers, family, and life post-presidency. The site also includes the Carter Boyhood Farm, the Plains Train Depot which served as Carter’s campaign headquarters, and the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, home of eight public butterfly gardens.

Getting There : Plains is a two hour, 20 minute drive from Atlanta. Head south via I-85, I-185 and then east via US-280.

Travel Tip : When his schedule permits, the former president still teaches his weekly 10 a.m. Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church . Arrive by 5:30 a.m. for a chance to attend the class. Access is granted on a first come, first served basis.

Greenville, SC: Explore Parks, Museums, and More

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This scenic downtown in upstate South Carolina has something for everyone. Start your trip at Falls Park on the Reedy River and walk across the Liberty Bridge for views of downtown and the waterfalls below. Bike, walk, or run the 14 mile multi-use Swamp Rabbit Trail, which runs along the river. For indoor activities, try the Children’s Museum of the Upstate , with 19 exhibit galleries dedicated to the arts, sciences, humanities, and the environment for children ages one to 15 or catch a show at the renowned Peace Center , which hosts live performances, author readings, and traveling Broadway productions like Hamilton.

Getting There: Greenville is a two hour and 20 minute drive via I-85 N. Leave Atlanta before or after morning rush hour to avoid delays.

Travel Tip: Park in one of the downtown garages and leave your car for the day. Shops, pubs, restaurants, trails, and museums are all easily accessible on foot.

Birmingham, AL: Brush up on History at the Civil Rights District

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This six-block area in the city’s downtown is dedicated to its pivotal role in the civil rights movement and includes several historic sites, including the the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Fourth Avenue Business District , Carver Theatre, and Kelly Ingram Park, site of many of the era’s protests and demonstrations. After a walking tour of these landmarks, visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute , which offers guided tours and permanent and rotating exhibits dedicated to significant events in the city’s history.

Getting There : Birmingham is 150 miles west of the city and a 2 hour and 15 minute drive via I-20 W or a three hour trip via Megabus, which offers two trips per day.

Travel Tip: In addition to a sizeable collection of African, Asian, European, Native American art, the Birmingham Museum of Art houses the largest collection of Wedgewood outside of England. 

Pine Mountain, GA: Experience the Great Outdoors at Callaway Resort Gardens

 Callaway Resort & Gardens

This year-round, 2,500 acre outdoor resort offers a variety of activities, from miles of hiking and biking trails to world-glass golf and tree zip-lining to water sports on the property’s Robin Lake, the world’s largest, man-made white sand beach. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the Day Butterfly Center, a conservatory that houses over 1,000 butterflies as well as the extensive gardens and mesmerizing bird of prey shows.

Getting There : Pine Mountain is approximately 85 miles southwest of Atlanta and a one hour, 20 minute drive via I-85 S.

Travel Tip: If traveling during the holiday season, don’t miss the Fantasy in Lights, which is considered one of the world's top light displays.

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  • Last Updated On
  • October 2, 2023

39 Best Day Trips From Atlanta — Places Nearby!

Anna Taylor

Atlanta is cocooned by plenty of beautiful things to see and do, from quaint alpine towns tucked away in magnificent mountains to bustling cities with all the urban comforts one could want to tranquil forests where it’s only you and Mother Nature.

From Athens (the American variety!) in the north to Augusta in the south, you have several (39, to be exact) choices to choose from.

Kick back, relax, and plan a scenic outing with the best day trips from Atlanta below.

1. Chattanooga


At the top of the list is the family-friendly Chattanooga, a melting pot of culture, nature, and history.

For all the history buffs, the city’s vibrant downtown area is a must explore, with several monumental reminders of the Civil War along the Riverwalk, as are the tours of the Chickamauga Civil War Battlefield, the Cravens House, and the 6th Cavalry Museum.

If you’re looking for fun outdoors, you’ll find that too at Chattanooga, in the form of several beautiful green lungs and adventure activities such as hiking, hang-gliding, and rafting along the banks of the gushing Tennessee.

One of the unique experiences the city offers is its Incline Railway, which takes you to Ruby Falls (a magnificent 30-million-year-old waterfall), and Rock City (for views of seven states!).

Begin your day trip with something closer, like Chattanooga, which is only under 2 hours away.

2. Rock City Garden

Rock City Garden

1400 Patten Rd Lookout Mountain, GA 30750 (706) 820-2531

Speaking of Rock City, here’s a more detailed breakdown of why making the trip to this family-friendly spot may be worth your while!

Rock City Garden sits atop Georgia’s Lookout Mountain and is a beautiful natural museum of caverns, cliff formations, cascades, and stunning views.

These natural wonders line the Enchanted Trail—4,100 feet of scenic beauty—interspersed with family-friendly man-made entertainment such as High Falls, Fairyland Caverns, and Lover’s Leap.

An especially thrilling feature is the Swing-a-Long suspension bridge, a swinging rope bridge that sits 200 feet above the ground.

Another unique offering is the nursing and release of peregrine falcons, some of the few in the country.

With only a 2-hour car ride, you’ll have enough time to explore its attractions.

3. Dahlonega


Sitting an hour and a half’s worth of driving away from Atlanta, quaint, historic Dahlonega is one of the easiest Atlanta day trips to make.

The small city’s rich heritage will interest history lovers—the first settlers of Dahlonega came here during the initial days of the Gold Rush.

If you’re more interested in gold of the liquid variety, you’ll be happy to know Dahlonega sits at the heart of Georgian wine country, with 12 sites for wine tasting spread across 5 vineyards.

The buzzing downtown area, featured on the Historic Register, is where the old and new come together in Dahlonega, with modern shops, art galleries, and restaurants sharing walls with historic museums and buildings.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Dahlonega Square Hotel & Villas

4. Consolidated Gold Mine

Consolidated Gold Mine

185 Consolidated Gold Mine Rd Dahlonega, GA 30533 (706) 864-8473

Though this mine sits in Dahlonega, it deserves a spot of its own on the list for being a thrilling step back in time and for the chance to be a miner, even if only for a short while!

Sitting 200 feet below the surface, visitors to Consolidated Gold Mine can expect interactive and immersive experiences, tours of the mines, and programs that give you a quick but extensive 101 on mining gems and gold.

Once the lessons end, it’s time to practically apply what you’ve just learned—in a throwback to the Gold Rush era, you can pan for emeralds, rubies, amethysts, and gold in the rocks and the water (this isn’t just a marketing hoax; the mines still have gold in them)!

It’s only a little more than an hour away, so you’ll still have plenty of energy to tour the area.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Comfort Inn & Suites Dahlonega University Area

5. Toccoa Falls

Toccoa Falls

107 Kincaid Dr Toccoa Falls, GA 30598 (706) 886-6831

This majestic 186-foot cascade sits tucked away on the Toccoa Falls College campus, in a secluded area encompassed by dramatic cliffs, away from the campus’s academic life and happenings.

Toccoa Falls is among the highest waterfalls to the Mississippi’s east, 26 feet taller than New York’s Niagara Falls.

You can access the falls via a private pathway that will take you right to the base, where spectacular views and plenty of Insta-worthy photo ops await you.

Aptly named (toccoa means beautiful in the Cherokee language), this spectacle is worth the 1-hour-40-minute drive to the campus if you enjoy being in Mother Nature’s lap.

If you’ve got time left over after visiting the falls, you could enjoy a leisurely walk through the lovely thousand-acre boscage on the campus.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Club Vacations Apple Mountain Resort at Clarkesville

Related: Activities in Atlanta

6. Gatlinburg


Though you’d be pushing against the upper limits of a day trip by driving to Tennessee’s Gatlinburg (it’s four hours away), it’s worth the effort if you love the outdoors—the city is a gateway to the gorgeous Smoky Mountain National Park.

With over 150 trails snaking across 800 miles of wilderness at its rawest and most unblemished, hiking enthusiasts will find no shortage of trails to explore.

The park is also one of the few International Biosphere Reserves in the world, home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as the Roaring Fork (a gorgeous confluence of two waterfalls).

If you’d just like to wander around Gatlinburg itself, you’ll find plenty of historic buildings and cabins to explore—time has stood still at these, affording a taste of the OG Smoky Mountain way of life!

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Carr’s Northside Hotel and Cottages

7. Birmingham


Just a little over two hours away by road, Birmingham is a great urban getaway and a popular one day trip from Atlanta.

One of the South’s most significant metropolises and Alabama’s most populated city, Birmingham is the state’s cultural capital today, brimming with popular annual festivals and theaters for performing arts.

Several renowned art museums also call the city home, such as the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Southeast’s biggest museum of art.

Birmingham also has many prestigious colleges and universities, so if you’ve got a potential college-goer in the family, you can spend the day checking these out.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hilton Birmingham Downtown at UAB

Also See: Best Day Trips From Augusta


Yep, Georgia has its very own Athens, home to the reputed University of Georgia, but don’t be quick to dismiss Athens as just another college town.

You see, Athens is also home to a roaring music scene, several popular historical and natural attractions, and tons of cultural experiences.

If you’re looking for nature-based attractions, check out the “Tree That Owns Itself” (it’s literally that—the tree has legally owned itself and some of the surrounding lands since the 19th century).

The State Botanical Garden is also a gorgeous sight with a super-fun kids’ play area.

Sports fans can catch a game at the Sanford Stadium, while art lovers can check out the many art galleries and the city’s performing arts venues.

For a slice of 18th-century Southern life, tour the many vintage homes-turned-museums and historic buildings that dot downtown Athens.

An hour-and-a half drive is all it takes to enjoy these attractions, and more!

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Graduate Athens

9. Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier

Come summer, Lake Lanier turns into a veritable water paradise, with plenty of water sports, adventure activities, and outdoor excursions on offer.

The lake and the beach around it present plenty of opportunities for water sports, beach games, swimming, fishing, and boating, with more water fun at LanierWorld, a waterpark on the beach with a plethora of water slides and its own mini-golf course.

There are many activities for the non-summer months too, such as golfing, hiking the Sawnee, zip-lining, or spending a day pampering yourself at Tranquility, a luxurious Lanier Islands spa offering.

Several superb seasonal events are also hosted at the lake throughout the year; the holiday season’s Lake Lanier Lights event is by far the most popular, attracting hordes of visitors.

Whenever you feel the need to cool off, just drive an hour to this aquatic paradise.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Lanier Islands Legacy Lodge

Related: Beaches Near Atlanta

10. Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald

A little over two hours away from Atlanta sits Georgia’s tallest peak, the go-to spot for extensive, spectacular views of Georgia’s natural best and the states of Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina.

At an elevation of 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald is a popular year-round destination—each season adds its own beauty to the views from the peak.

Avid hikers will enjoy the hike (on a paved pathway) to the tip, where an observation tower affords the best panoramic views from the peak.

This spot is a hit with the tykes, who enjoy the easy, rewarding hike and the super-fun scavenger hunt organized by the folks who run the place.

It’s also a fun way to get your kids to learn about the region’s ecology and history; the visitors center also runs many presentations on these.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge

11. Mableton


Suburban Mableton sits right outside Atlanta, merely 20 minutes away and a great addition to any list of one-day Atlanta trips.

This charming town’s major draw is the historic Mable House, a period home that also houses a center for performing arts.

After touring the house, you can settle down in any of the five parks and enjoy a picnic, a lovely stroll, or some fun sports under the fine Georgian sun.

Another reason that folks head to Mableton is the Silver Comet Trail, a hiking path that follows the historic Silver Comet railroad, stretching up to the Georgia-Alabama state line.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express Atlanta West – Theme Park Area, an IHG Hotel

12. Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park

1000 Robert E Lee Blvd Stone Mountain, GA 30083 (770) 498-5690

No list of Atlanta day trips is complete without the world’s biggest granite formation and one of Georgia’s star attractions—Stone Mountain Park.

What makes this park even more unique is that you’ll find the faces of Southern legends Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson carved into the granite face.

Stone Mountain Park also has its own amusement park, with an array of thrilling and fun rides that may excite the young ones in the clan, from a four-story barn to a rope course.

If you find your day trip turning into an overnighter (though the park is only 30 minutes away from Atlanta, you may not be able to prise the kids away from the rides!), sleep under the stars by camping on the grounds or stay at any of several hotels around if you’re a creature of modern comforts.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort

13. Nashville


Like Gatlinburg, you’d be pushing it with a four-hour drive to Nashville, but if you’re a fan of folk and country music, you won’t mind the effort at all!

The home of some of the country’s most reputed music venues, Nashville is rightly known as the Music City and fully deserves its spot as the capital of country music in the United States.

Check out the Country Music Hall of Fame, where country music greats are honored and the musical movement evolution is tracked across the ages and the world-famous stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

The many intimate venues peppering the city’s many vibrant, individualistic neighborhoods are also worth checking out, providing a stage for many up-and-coming artists in the genre.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Grand Hyatt Nashville

Related: Weekend Trips in Georgia

14. Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

718 Round Oak Juliette Rd Hillsboro, GA 31038 (478) 986-5441

Sitting in the heart of Georgia and a little over an hour away from Atlanta, the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is a prime example of how a little TLC can nurse a barren landscape back to life.

A wasteland in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to all the overuse, the refuge is a well-maintained, lush space today, with thriving forest and wetland environments that are home to a variety of native flora and fauna.

Hike through the various trails winding through the property to encounter the resident white-tailed deer, beavers, turkeys, wood ducks, and the red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered bird species.

Fishing is also permitted in certain parts of the park.

Given the diversity of its residents, Piedmont is a favorite among animal and birding enthusiasts.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Homewood Suites by Hilton Macon-North

15. Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls Rd Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571 (706) 878-1448

Nestled in the depths of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, the Anna Ruby Falls is a spectacular waterfall with an adjoining recreational area.

The York Creek and Curtis Creek together form this cascade, which requires trekking up half a mile on an asphalt trail or any of the longer unpaved trails winding through the forest to reach it.

There’s also a visitors center on site, with a gift shop showcasing and selling local artwork, quick bites, and several special tours, including a popular guided stargazing activity.

Fishing fans in the group can bide their time waiting for fish to take the bait in any of the onsite creeks, while the rest of the gang can picnic and chill in any of the assigned spots.

And, the best part is, it only takes a two-hour drive to see this natural wonder.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Helen, an IHG Hotel

16. Andersonville National Historic Site

Andersonville National Historic Site

760 POW Rd Andersonville, GA 31711 (229) 924-0343

This landmark site is steeped in Civil War history, with three distinct parts showcasing different historically significant military events.

Start at the Camp Sumter military prison, run by the Confederates and the site of torturous imprisonment for over 45,000 soldiers of the Union—upwards of 13,000 inmates lost their lives to the poor living conditions.

Next, head to the Andersonville National Cemetery, now a spot where soldiers who died while serving the country are honored but formerly a graveyard where dead prisoners of Camp Sumter were laid to rest.

Round off the trip at the National Prisoner of War Museum, where all American war prisoners, across all wars fought by the country, are honored.

With a little more than a two-hour trip, you can learn vital history lessons up close.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn Americus

17. Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens

17617 US-27 Pine Mountain, GA 31822 (855) 894-0420

There’s a little something for everyone at Callaway Gardens, family, solo adventurer, or love birds!

This gorgeous 2,500-acre recreational retreat is a prime spot for fishing, hiking, biking, swimming, watersports, boating, and plain beach bumming, with several dining and shopping options also liberally sprinkled across.

It’s also a haven of natural beauty, with lovely, romantic gardens of holly, azalea, and hydrangea (a treat in full bloom), a historic log cabin, and a butterfly center housing over 1,000 butterflies across 50 species.

Some popular annual events to catch here are the Hot Air Balloon Festival, the Fantasy in Lights event, and the July 4th Beach Party.

Awe in nature’s splendor after only an hour and 17 minutes of driving.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Callaway Resort & Gardens

18. National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

175 Bourne Ave Pooler, GA 31322 (912) 748-8888

If the impressive name doesn’t draw you in, this museum’s extensive aircraft collection from the Second World War and excellently curated artifacts might do the trick.

The museum is both a tribute to and a hub of information about the country’s Eighth Air Force, a numbered unit that served in Europe and supplied over 200,000 soldiers, 1,000 single-mission fighters, and 2,000 four-engine bombers to fight against enemies in World War II.

At the museum, you’ll see informational displays, aircraft, and artifacts from the War and read the personal accounts of the force’s soldiers.

The lovely outdoor garden is a memorial to all the soldiers of the Second World War.

It’s nearly a four-hour car ride, but for aircraft fanatics, the time will fly by.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Savannah Airport

19. Museum of Aviation

Museum of Aviation

1942 Heritage Blvd Robins AFB, GA 31098 (478) 926-6870

An hour and a half away from Atlanta, the Museum of Aviation sits in Georgia’s Robins, and as the name suggests, is dedicated to showcasing different military aircraft and their stories.

The museum is run by the military (it sits close to the Robins Air Force Base) and is divided into five internal venues exhibiting aviation projects and aircraft.

You’ll find the 93 exhibited aircraft in the museum’s two hangars and all other exhibits spread across the various buildings on the premises.

What sets this museum apart is the array of aircraft representing several categories, such as helicopters, bombers, drones, and cargo planes.

A guided tour is the easiest and most time-efficient way to learn about the museum’s many exhibits.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western Warner Robins AFB

20. Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Suches, GA 30572 (770) 297-3000

A long name and an even longer list of things to see and do await visitors to this nearly 867,000 acre expanse of oaks, hiking trails, and native wildlife.

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is sprawled across eight Georgian counties and is a highly beloved tourist spot that sits just under two hours away from Atlanta.

The forest boasts over 86 hiking trails, so whatever your interest and fitness level, the forest has you covered—not to mention the several beautiful spots that line these trails, perfect for the gram.

You can also find several opportunities for other outdoor activities, such as fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, rock collecting, wildlife watching, and rafting down the Chattooga.

Other points of interest include the Scull Shoals Historic Site and the Track Rock Gap Petroglyph Site.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn Blue Ridge, GA

21. Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards

8660 Blue Ridge Dr Blue Ridge, GA 30513 (706) 632-3411

Looking for a romantic day trip outside Atlanta?

Then the 70-year-old family-owned Mercier Orchards should feature on your list of places to visit near Atlanta.

Enjoy picking fruits in the orchard with your significant other against the backdrop of the gorgeous Georgian sun, tour the apple cider brewery, and stuff yourself with the delicious baked treats made with the orchard’s own fruits.

You can also enjoy a delicious breakfast and lunch at the deli, so you’re sorted for the whole day!

You can reach Mercier Orchards within two hours by road from Atlanta.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Comfort Inn & Suites Blue Ridge

22. Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 265-8888

One of the most scenic places near Atlanta, the Amicalola is East Mississippi’s tallest cascade and a must-visit for outdoor aficionados.

This natural wonder is just 90 minutes away from Atlanta, and depending on your interest, fitness level, and available time, you can head by car straight to the top of the falls, the middle, or the bottom (be warned that you have to climb up 620 steps to get to the top!).

You could also follow the trail near the well-equipped visitor center to reach the top, with a fork somewhere in the path leading you to Springer Mountain, the southern tip of the Appalachian Trail.

Enjoy views of the mountains from the back deck, curled up in a rocking chair, or even better, get up close and personal with the surrounding greenery by zip-lining through the trees!

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Forrest Hills Mountain Resort

23. Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park

8930 Canyon Rd Lumpkin, GA 31815 (229) 838-6202

Known fondly as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon”, visiting the Providence Canyon State Park should be on your list of things to do outside Atlanta if picturesque views and hiking are your thing.

The funny thing about Providence Canyon is that it is actually the (lovely) result of a mistake, created by the irregular farming methods of the 19th century.

This mistake birthed the soil-and-rock formations of the canyon, with their lovely natural orange, pink, and red hues.

There are several hiking trails in the 1,000-acre park, which let you climb along the face of the canyon, as well as a camping ground.

The park is a year-round destination, but fall affords the best colors and summer brings with it the gorgeous plumleaf azalea—this is the only spot in the world where you can see these flowers blooming in the wild.

Travel just two hours from Atlanta to see some of the most beautiful flowers in existence.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: THE FARMHOUSE

24. Charlotte


Some of us don’t have a “green” bent of mind and that’s completely okay—you can forgo the national parks and forests and head instead to the glitz and glamor of urban Charlotte.

North Carolina’s most populated city sits four hours away from Atlanta, but the city’s buzz and energy will help brush off the weariness of a long drive.

Auto and sports enthusiasts will enjoy the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte, where informative, interactive exhibits tell you about the sport’s biggest legends and most epic victories.

Adrenaline junkies can spend the day at the Carowinds amusement park, riding its many waterslides and rollercoasters.

A great family-friendly spot is Discovery Place, with an indoor IMAX theater and a lovely indoor rainforest to boot!

Recommended Hotel Nearby: JW Marriott Charlotte

25. The Cherokee Forest

The Cherokee Forest

Elizabethton, TN 37312 (423) 476-9700

Another 4-hour drive from Atlanta that’s worth it if you love the great outdoors, Cherokee Forest is chock-full of breathtaking views, fun water activities, and hiking trails.

Sprawled across nearly 656,000 acres of Tennessee’s wilderness, this woodland was established only a century ago.

Some activities to do here include kayaking, camping, and fishing in Watauga Lake, and hiking up to Roan Mountain.

The deliciously, eternally cold Bald River Falls is an impressive cascade, plummeting 90 feet over sharp rocks—summer or winter, the water’s always cold, so swimming here isn’t recommended.

Of course, as is the perennial case with natural beauty, there are several stunning photo ops at Cherokee Forest.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn Newport

26. Augusta


Every April, Augusta comes alive with teeming crowds and professional golfers aiming for gold at the prestigious Masters Tournament!

Sitting prettily on the Savannah’s banks, this golf lovers’ holy grail is pretty calm the rest of the year, but that doesn’t mean there’s a dearth of things to do.

The Augusta National Golf Club is open to golfers but is quite expensive.

For a more pocket-friendly day out, take a boat cruise down the Savannah, tour the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, visit the Phinizy Nature Park, take a trolley tour, visit the Augusta Museum of History, or do a bit of hiking and biking at the Savannah Rapids Park.

Baseball season is just as revered as golf season—catch a game at SRP Park and experience for yourself the crazy adulation that the Augusta Greenjackets enjoy from a dedicated fan base!

Whether you want a restful or action-packed day trip, the two-hour drive is well worth it.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Home2Suites by Hilton Augusta

27. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

3370 Lafayette Rd Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742 (706) 866-9241

Covering parts of southern Tennessee and northern Georgia, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was formerly a Civil War-era strategic population point.

Since Chattanooga was a primary center for railroad travel, the site where the military park sits today was deemed a gateway to all the other Confederate lands.

In 1863, the Confederate and Union soldiers battled it out for control of the site, with the latter emerging as the victors and impelling the former further south.

Today, you can learn about the spot’s rich history through informative guided tours led by rangers.

Visit with family and enjoy a terrific, informative trip about two hours from Atlanta.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Stay Express Inn Chattanooga


Whether you’re a fan of music, history, or good architecture, Macon, sitting right in the center of Georgia, ticks all the boxes.

The Allman Brothers Band Museum must be on your list if you’re a music lover, as well as the annual Bragg Jam, a music crawl spread over two days and held every July.

If you love beautiful buildings, the Grand Opera House and Hay House are must-see spots.

For art and history lovers, a stop at the Museum of Arts and Science and the Tubman African American Museum may be warranted.

Some other things to do include kayaking down the Ocmulgee, exploring downtown Macon (especially during the holidays, when it’s beautifully lit up), spending the day at Lake Tobesofkee, or biking/hiking on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.

As you can see, there’s a little something for everyone in beautiful Macon, and it’s just 1.5 hours away from Atlanta!

Recommended Hotel Nearby: 1842 Inn


You’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re in the United States when you enter this beautiful little alpine village—with its Bavarian-style buildings and culture, Helen brings a slice of Germany to Americans, right down to its own Oktoberfest!

Merely an hour and a half away from Atlanta, Helen has plenty of exciting outdoor activities, such as tubing down the Chattahoochee, riding the new Georgia Mountain Coaster, and hiking through the multitude of trails surrounding Helen.

The Anna Ruby Falls is within easy hiking distance of Helen, with several viewing platforms for great vistas of the falls, as well as designated picnic spots on the banks of the river.

For a truly unique experience, try riding through town in a carriage or taking part in the annual Oktoberfest and Christmas events.

Have a blast exploring Helen’s beauty after just an almost two-hour road trip.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Helen, GA

30. Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge

Another gem of a mountain town sitting 2 hours away from Atlanta, Blue Ridge is an outdoor lover’s dream.

Try fishing for trout in the Toccoa, hike through the beautiful surrounding trails or level up the adventure by rafting down the Toccoa.

A fun experience that visitors can enjoy every fall is picking apples at the local orchards.

But what truly drives folks to this charming haven is the picturesque Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, a two-mile long train ride that takes you through the splendid countryside, with the gently flowing Toccoa keeping you company.

If you don’t want to ride the entire four hours, you can disembark at Copperhill and explore the quaint town’s many antique stalls, gift shops, and cute cafes—try the locally made ice cream and thank us later.

Related: Best Restaurants in Blue Ridge

31. Summerville


There’s something very hard to resist about mountain towns and Summerville is no exception—this mountain town should be on the top of your list if you’re seeking a slow-paced day out amidst crisp mountain air and oodles of mountain-town charm.

If you’re a history buff, start by exploring the Colonial Dorchester State Historical Park, where you can view the beautiful remnants of an era gone by.

If you’ve got little ones in the gang, the Wassamassaw Community Park, with its well-equipped playground, is worth a pit stop.

For a lazy afternoon of lounging around in the fine weather, try Azalea Park or Paradise Gardens.

Summerville also plays host to many amazing community events and festivals throughout the year, so plan a visit that coincides with any of these to experience Summerville in full form!

No need to worry about the travel time—it’s just an hour and 40 minutes away.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Coach Inn – Summerville

32. LaGrange


If making the tykes happy is the sole focus of your day trip, it rarely gets better than LaGrange.

Not only does LaGrange host one of the Great Wolf Lodge hotels with a full-fledged indoor waterpark, but it also has a range of kid-friendly annual events, such as the Azalea Storytelling Festival.

If your tykes love animals, they may adore the Wild Animal Safari Park, a drive-through animal park that sits right outside LaGrange.

The Biblical History Center and the Hills Dales Estate are landmarks in the city and are worth ticking off the LaGrange bucket list.

If you’re planning a day with family, this one-hour-away location can’t be missed.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Courtyard by Marriott LaGrange

33. Bryson City

Bryson City

Cocooned by nature and the many adventures that this brings, Bryson City is a gateway to all kinds of outdoor fun.

For one, ride the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, with themed rides for both the young (the “Polar Express” themed ride is a must!) and not-so-young (did someone say Moonshine Car?).

The open-air cars that run during autumn are especially beautiful, affording gorgeous views of fall’s changing colors.

Bryson City is extremely close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which brings with it its own beauty, such as stunning views, miles of hiking, wildflower carpets, and lush foliage.

If you don’t want to spend so much time doing outdoor activities, you can always cut it short and head to the bustling downtown area to get your fill of great shopping and lip-smacking food.

Bring food or stop at restaurants along the route because the drive will take you three hours.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Sleep Inn Bryson City Cherokee


Athens, a Bavarian town, and now Rome—channeling Europe much?

This postcard southern town is a short drive away from Atlanta and home to all sorts of outdoor activities.

Bike, hike, or walk the Downtown Heritage Trail System which takes you by three of the city’s rivers, or spend the day in the water in Rolater Park’s swimming lake.

The city is also home to the lovely Berry College and the gorgeous campus is worth visiting.

Cave Spring is also close by, though it’s only open seasonally so always check before you visit.

But it’s not all about just the outdoors in Rome—you can have more than your fill of amazing shopping, superb restaurants, baseball games (during the season), and unique activities like navigating a labyrinth!

You don’t have to travel miles away just to get to Rome; only an hour and 25 minutes will do.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn and Suites Rome, GA

35. Milledgeville


Just a little under two hours away from Atlanta, Milledgeville is your quintessential college town—great colleges, rich history, and of course, tons of summer parties.

If you’re visiting during the summer, don’t miss the annual family-friendly Beach Bash, where residents bring the beach to Milledgeville by spreading tons of sand (we’re talking about 80-90 tons here) in the local post office’s parking lot for a day of partying!

Recover from the party (and the hangover) by lazing around on Lake Sinclair’s beach or jogging and fishing at the Oconee River Greenway.

History lovers should check out the historic district, which houses the Natural History Museum and the Lockerly Arboretum and is the starting point of the African-American Heritage Tour.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: La Quinta by Wyndham Milledgeville

36. Serenbe Farms

Serenbe Farms

8715 Atlanta Newnan Rd Chattahoochee Hills, GA 30268

If you’d like to spend the day on a lovely farm buying top-quality organic produce, Serenbe Farms, located in the Serenbe neighborhood, is a no-brainer.

Each Saturday in the months from April to November, the farm plays host to a thriving Farmers Market where the artisanal goods and natural produce will leave you spoilt for choice.

The live music and fun activities add to the energetic vibe, as does the warmth of the Serenbe community.

Serenbe, though only 45 minutes away from Atlanta, is a world of its own, so take the chance and explore the community while you’re here.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn Atlanta-Newnan


“The Walking Dead” fans alert—this one’s for you!

Visit the town that served as the backdrop for the hit television series; there are convenient Walking Dead tours that’ll take you around all the spots in the town that make an appearance on the show.

This doesn’t mean that Senoia shouldn’t be on your list if you’re not a Walking Dead fan—plenty of folks make their way here for the slow-paced life and the relaxed vibe of the city.

Small-town charm oozes out of every cobblestone in the downtown area, with its array of antique stores, amazing restaurants, and gorgeous vintage homes—you could easily spend your whole day here.

If this got you excited, then drive quickly, but not too quickly, and you’ll be there in under an hour.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hilton Peachtree City Atlanta Hotel & Conference Center

38. Pasaquan


238 Eddie Martin Rd Buena Vista, GA 31803 (706) 507-8306

One of the more unique offerings on this list, Pasaquan may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will definitely excite art lovers.

This impressive installation sits south of Columbus and is a folk art piece conceptualized and constructed by famed artist and visionary Eddie Owens Martin (also called St. EOM).

The installation, along with other works of art, sits on a seven-acre compound and is under the care of Columbus State University, which does a great job of preserving the work and organizing tours for visitors.

You’ll never experience anything more artsy than this attraction just two hours away.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Columbus/Near Fort Benning

39. Cloudland Canyon

Cloudland Canyon

122 Cloudland Canyon Park Rd Rising Fawn, GA 30738 (706) 657-4050

If hiking is the name of the game and the focus of your day out, you can hardly go wrong with Cloudland Canyon—hiking trails abound at this spot.

For an easy hike, hike the canyon’s rim and be rewarded with splendid views.

If you want to challenge yourself a little, take a hike right into the canyon, where you can see two beautiful cascades—Hemlock Falls and Cherokee Falls—and make the steep climb back.

This gorgeous state park is among Georgia’s most unique and beautiful offerings, and sitting just 2 hours away from Atlanta, is a popular day destination for many active, outdoor-loving families.

No matter which spot you pick for your day trip, you’re bound to make many lovely memories, considering that these are the best day trips from Atlanta.

If you haven’t already got the car and the kids ready to head to one of these spots, what are you even waiting for?

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Days Inn by Wyndham Trenton

Map of Day Trips Near Atlanta, GA

39 Best Day Trips from Atlanta, GA for 2024

  • Chattanooga
  • Rock City Garden
  • Consolidated Gold Mine
  • Toccoa Falls
  • Lake Lanier
  • Brasstown Bald
  • Stone Mountain Park
  • Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge
  • Anna Ruby Falls
  • Andersonville National Historic Site
  • Callaway Gardens
  • National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force
  • Museum of Aviation
  • Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
  • Mercier Orchards
  • Amicalola Falls
  • Providence Canyon State Park
  • The Cherokee Forest
  • Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
  • Summerville
  • Bryson City
  • Milledgeville
  • Serenbe Farms
  • Cloudland Canyon

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Atlanta Magazine

54 Perfect Day Trips from Atlanta

BY Atlanta Magazine - August 22, 2018

Photograph by Growl

From surreal folk art environments to glitzy hotels, from secret gardens to town squares, here are our favorite quick escapes—all within 200 miles of Atlanta.

Edited by Betsy Riley with contributions from  Mary Logan Bikoff , Steve Fennessy , Mara Shalhoup , Matt Walljasper , Myrydd Wells , Thomas Wheatley

  • Take a zombie tour in Senoia
  • Splash at the 100k square-foot indoor water park at LaGrange's Great Wolf Lodge
  • 2 holy places to explore
  • See 7 states from Lover’s Leap at Rock City
  • 24 hours in Birmingham
  • Bring a friend (or 8) to LaPrade’s Marina on Lake Burton
  • 2 venues to discover the best in indie music
  • Meet 2 peafowl at Andalusia, the Milledgeville home of Flannery O’Connor
  • 3 secret gardens in Georgia
  • Discover 200 years of pottery at the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia
  • 2 great places to see a show
  • See the 46,991 artworks at Howard Finster's Paradise Garden
  • 24 hours in Chattanooga
  • 3 things to do with kids in Dahlonega
  • Visit 2 national-quality museums in Cartersville
  • Visit 6 fun Minor League ballparks
  • 3 places to see white columns
  • 12 festivals worth the drive
  • Explore 7 colorful acres of folk art at Pasaquan
  • Taste medal-winning wines at Tiger Mountain Vineyards
  • 24 hours at Barnsley Resort
  • 5 stops for auto buffs
  • Burn calories hiking to the top of Kennesaw Mountain

Tags Andalusia Cartersville Dahlonega day trips Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Madison Paradise Garden Pasaquan Rock City Senoia Serenbe Playhouse travel


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Day Trips & Excursions from Atlanta

Discover new adventures with day trips and excursions from Atlanta. Explore nearby attractions, scenic landscapes, and cultural sites with expert guides. A day of exploration and discovery, perfect for travellers wanting to uncover the best of the region.

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The 16 best weekend getaways from atlanta.

Atlantans have an array of options for quick trips, from alpine adventures to serene seaside escapes.

Top Weekend Getaways From Atlanta

Georgia's Driftwood Beach has a plethora of driftwood, and offers many beautiful compositions like this.

Getty Images

Walk along beaches of the southeast coast, hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and explore cities like Chattanooga and Asheville on your next trip out of Atlanta.

Atlanta is a thriving Southern metropolis with world-class cultural attractions, sporting events and historic landmarks – an amazing standalone destination in its own right. The state's capital also makes a great home base, in part because of its prime location in north-central Georgia. City dwellers have access to major freeways and airports that make it a breeze to hop on the road and explore the surrounding Appalachian and Southern regions just a few hours away.

From charming coastal enclaves to sprawling golf resorts to rustic rural hideaways, Atlanta is perfectly positioned for access to a plethora of fun family trips and romantic getaways . Make your great escape from the city to one the top weekend getaways from Atlanta.

The Best Weekend Getaways From Atlanta

About two hours or less:, lake oconee, georgia, amicalola falls state park, georgia.

  • Barnsley Resort, Georgia
  • Callaway Resort & Gardens, Georgia

About three hours or less:

Brasstown valley resort & spa, georgia, chattanooga, tennessee, great smoky mountains national park, about four hours or less:, asheville, north carolina, columbia, south carolina, about five hours or less:, tybee island, georgia, hilton head island, south carolina, golden isles, georgia, jekyll island, georgia, about six hours or less:, myrtle beach, south carolina, a quick flight:, nashville, tennessee, key west, florida.

Spending 15 days camping on the shore of Lake Oconee.  The sunsets were always wonderful to see.

Located about 85 miles east of Atlanta, this recreational haven is perfect for those seeking a weekend trip with plenty of outdoor activities. While in Lake Oconee, enjoy fishing, camping, golf, hiking and water sports. Visitors admire the scenic beauty and serene atmosphere of this rural gem, which provides year-round family fun. The reservoir itself boasts nearly 375 miles of lush shoreline, lined with lakefront homes, marinas, restaurants and geologic features – like the popular Jumping Rock, accessible only by boat. Landlubbers can hit the trails at the Rock Hawk Effigy & Trails center to hike, mountain bike and watch wildlife.

The nearby town of Greensboro beckons visitors with art galleries, restaurants and boutiques to browse. You can download a free historic walking tour brochure to study while you stroll so you don't miss any notable landmarks, including several Revolutionary War- and Civil War-era structures. Balance the rustic and the regal with a stay at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee , boasting five golf courses and a unique lakefront swimming pool – perfect for a romantic getaway in Georgia .

Amicalola Falls, Georgia, USA

Conveniently located 70 miles north of the city, this expansive recreation area in Georgia makes for an easy weekend getaway in the great outdoors. The park's 800-plus acres harbor the tallest waterfall in the region and a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels, including a connector to the official Southern starting point for the renowned Appalachian Trail. The approach to the falls is challenging but worthwhile, according to visitors who appreciate the trek for its stunning scenery. Supervised activities like a zip line, archery sessions and live wildlife presentations offer additional family-friendly entertainment and adventure.

Refuel at the park's mountaintop restaurant, popular for its Sunday brunch and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the forest. On-site accommodations range from glamping and camping sites in the forest to resort-style lodge rooms and cabins – which feature beautiful views in every direction, according to travelers. The park is accessible year-round, and past visitors mention that they enjoyed the experience with fewer crowds during the winter months.

Barnsley Resort: Adairsville, Georgia

A couple riding horses at Barnsley Resort.

Courtesy of Barnsley Resort

This sprawling 3,000-acre property nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains was once the countryside estate of one of the South's first cotton barons, complete with elegant architecture and pristine landscaping. Visitors say the natural beauty and regal ambiance of Barnsley Resort create a quiet serenity that quickly erases any tension built up from the hustle and bustle of city life. Located about 65 miles from Atlanta, the grounds feature riding stables, a golf course, a 10-acre lake for recreation and a sport shooting facility. Other amenities – ranging from an on-site spa and seasonal outdoor pool to curated experiences like bourbon tastings and fireside s'mores – provide everything you need for a well-rounded romantic respite or girls getaway .

Despite the array of adventurous activities, a leisurely stroll through the resort's 10 acres of heirloom gardens is a must. The estate gardens, designed in the 1840s, are featured on the Georgia Garden Trail, a collection of 26 public landscapes with native blooms and historic significance. The nearby town of Adairsville is on the National Register of Historic Places, providing a charming spot to spend an afternoon of antiquing. It also offers additional dining options, which some guests felt were lacking on-site.

Address: 597 Barnsley Gardens Road NW, Adairsville, GA 30103

Callaway Resort & Gardens: Pine Mountain, Georgia

Pretty purple Azalea flower blooming in the Callaway Gardens in Springtime, GA USA.

With its two golf courses, a full-service spa, expansive botanical gardens, mini-golf and private lakes featuring a 1-mile white sand beach , a weekend getaway to this 2,500-acre resort is a one-stop shop for fun and relaxation. Located about an 80-mile drive from Atlanta, Callaway Resort & Gardens boasts many activities and amenities that are accessible to non-lodging guests for a daily admission fee, providing entertainment for visitors to the nearby town of Pine Mountain, too.

Seasonal surprises and special events – including vibrant azalea blooms in the spring, foliage in the fall , beach access in the summer and an award-winning holiday light display in the winter – keep travelers returning time and time again. Nature lovers will find delight in a network of trails; the Discovery Center, with wildlife exhibits and live shows; and a conservatory with some 1,000 free-flying butterflies, which many visitors claim as their favorite feature. In addition to Aqua Island, the resort's floating water park, kids of all ages love the challenge of conquering three aerial adventure courses made from a collection of zip lines, ladders, bridges and other fun obstacles (additional fees apply).

Address: 17617 U.S. Route 27, Pine Mountain, GA 31822

Just over 100 miles from Atlanta, this secluded, family-friendly mountain lodge sits in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, spotted with the manicured greens of an on-site golf course. Travelers are enchanted with the beautiful scenery, complete with hardwood forests and flowing streams, which can be explored on a hike or horseback trail ride around the 503-acre property. Equestrian enthusiasts will feel right at home at this full-service north Georgia resort, with its stables, guided trail rides, riding lessons, and customized experiences like catered picnic outings and hayrides. Afterward, soak away any soreness with a refreshing dip in the indoor-outdoor swimming pool or a visit to the spa before heading to dinner at one of the two on-site restaurants. Located on sacred Cherokee ground, Brasstown Valley Resort offers spa services that incorporate ancient Indigenous healing practices.

The surrounding area boasts additional restaurants and attractions such as Crane Creek Vineyards for wine tasting or Lake Chatuge for fishing and boating, which the resort concierge can assist in making arrangements to visit. While people adore the rustic fireplaces throughout the lodge for setting a nice scene to relax with a book or glass of wine, some travelers say the guest rooms feel outdated.

Address: 6321 U.S. Route 76, Young Harris, GA 30582

Aerial of Chattanooga Tennessee TN Skyline

This midsize mountain town about 120 miles from Atlanta is known as the "Scenic City" for its location on the banks of the Tennessee River at the base of Lookout Mountain – a beautiful natural area that can be explored with a thrilling ride on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway , a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Then, plunge underneath the peak to discover Ruby Falls, the country's tallest and deepest underground waterfall. Visitors advise that although tickets and reservations are required for each of these top-rated activities, both experiences are worth the cost of admission. For a more laid-back trek, you can take a stroll across the Walnut Street Bridge – one of the longest footbridges in the world – at sunset.

Chattanooga is a great place for multigenerational families to vacation together thanks to an array of historic and cultural attractions that pique the interest of all ages. Stop by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and Tennessee Aquarium , which residents and tourists alike admire for its impressive collection of more than 9,000 living creatures arranged in thoughtful displays. All of these attractions are easily accessible from The Westin Chattanooga , an upscale hotel located downtown whose rooftop restaurant serves up an impressive view.

[See more of Chattanooga:  Things to Do  |  Hotels  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

Oconaluftee overlook, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Fall 2014

Visitors gush about the scenic trails, waterfalls and wildlife that abound in this natural treasure, and Atlanta residents can experience it all for themselves during a long weekend. The entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in Cherokee, North Carolina, is about 165 miles from Atlanta. The more than 522,000-acre park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and hosts more than 11 million visitors each year – the most of any U.S. national park. A drive north along Newfound Gap Road, the park's main thoroughfare, covers about 30 miles, but you'll want to allow at least two hours to stop at the numerous scenic overlooks and landmarks, such as Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the park, and Mingus Mill, a historic gristmill that gives live demonstrations.

If time allows, hit the trails for a more in-depth view of the park, including its many notable waterfalls. Located near Sugarlands Visitor Center, the popular Laurel Falls Trail is about 2.5 miles round trip with a moderate incline, leading to a picturesque 80-foot cascade. There aren't any hotels or restaurants located within the park (save for a few snack items found at the visitor centers), but a plethora of shops, dining and accommodations options can be found in the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee , located near the northern park entrance. The Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg is top-rated by travelers for its good value, ambiance and amenities.

[See more of Great Smoky Mountains National Park:  Things to Do  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

Asheville city downtown during sunset North Carolina Aerial view

Hop in the car and cruise north about 200 miles to this vibrant town in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains for a romantic North Carolina getaway or family trip. You'll enjoy access to outdoor recreation, farm-to-table cuisine and the iconic Biltmore Estate : an 8,000-acre property with a chateau museum, restaurant and winery. The historic landmark is top-rated by travelers for its architecture and gardens, especially during the holidays, but some guests warn that admission is a pricey affair. Immerse yourself with an overnight stay at one of the on-site hotels , where you can get the royal treatment with special activities like wine tastings and a falconry experience.

In downtown Asheville , follow the Asheville Urban Trail to work your way through some of the city's other notable spots, from public artwork and indie bookstores to historic buildings and markers, with a plethora of restaurants, shops and parks to explore along the nearly 2-mile route. Travelers can also get out into nature on one of the area's top hikes . Make sure to stop at a brewery to sample the local suds, too, as the city is known as the beer capital of the Southeast and has more than 100 craft beers to offer.

[See more of Asheville:  Things to Do  |  Hotels  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

The framing of this shot was really fun - the bridge disappears across the river and into downtown Columbia SC and is seen from a boardwalk along the bank of the Congaree River.

This midsize college town is chock-full of trails, events, attractions, restaurants and history to discover – including plenty of free things to do – for a fun weekend trip in South Carolina's state capital. You'll find this city a 215-mile drive from Atlanta. Start with a stroll around the recently revitalized downtown district: Attractions range from the Columbia Museum of Art, known for its thematically organized galleries, to the Soda City Market, a weekly roundup of regional eateries and artisans adored by both travelers and residents alike for its charming atmosphere and variety of vendors. Keep your eyes peeled for public artwork tucked into otherwise nondescript nooks and crannies, including the zany "Tunnelvision" mural by Columbia-born artist Blue Sky.

Next, head to the Congaree riverfront; you can float or paddle the muddy waters, or simply watch for birds and enjoy the lush scenery from the shore. Along the Saluda River sits the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, which houses a nature trail lined with Civil War-era landmarks in addition to more than 2,000 animals. End your day at Terra restaurant, a farm-to-table eatery where diners can enjoy modern dishes and traditional Southern flavors crafted by a James Beard Award-winning chef – such as a pimento cheeseburger pizza.

[Read: The Top Things to Do in Columbia, South Carolina .]

Tybee Island Lighthouse on the Atlantic Ocean in Georgia at sunset - horizontal

Located just off the coast of Savannah, Georgia , near the South Carolina state border, Tybee Island is heralded for its beautiful beaches and water sports like kayaking and fishing. It sits about 265 miles from Atlanta. The laid-back island is also known for its collection of seaside eateries: Stop by the North Beach Bar & Grill at the base of the Tybee Island Lighthouse or feast at the Crab Shack. You can refuel at the latter with the Snow Country Boil platter, the outpost's unique twist on the traditional Southern seafood dish piled high with shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob and snow crab legs. Although this popular dining spot and former fishing camp overlooking Chimney Creek can feel a bit touristy, travelers say it's at least worth a stop to check out the on-site alligator lagoon.

The top-rated Tybee Island Inn is described as charming and serene by guests who come back again and again for the bed-and-breakfast 's convenient location near the beach.

Sunrise- Hilton Head Island-South Carolina

Located around 280 miles from Atlanta, this world-class coastal destination is worth the drive for its golf courses , pristine beaches and waterfront dining , most of which can be enjoyed year-round thanks to its warm climate. While on Hilton Head , indulging in Lowcountry cuisine is a must; enjoy seafood boils, fried okra and grits with views over the water at restaurants like the Skull Creek Boathouse. To learn even more about the Lowcountry region's heritage, head to the Coastal Discovery Museum , which is free to enter and lauded by patrons as a hidden gem.

The island is home to two dozen gorgeous championship golf courses and regularly hosts PGA tour events that attract spectators from around the world. The swanky Sea Pines Resort showcases Southern hospitality at its finest, and its Harbour Town location provides plenty of entertainment of its own.

[See more of Hilton Head:  Things to Do  |  Hotels  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

St. Simons Island, GA Gould's Inlet ocean waves

This cluster of barrier islands on Georgia's Atlantic coast – known as the Golden Isles for its cream-colored sand – provides paradise for those seeking to escape the heat and hustle of the city for a few days. The area is popular for its iconic marshland scenery, laid-back lifestyle and acclaimed golf courses, but each of the islands has distinct offerings. Start with a stop by the historic mainland city of Brunswick – about 305 miles from Atlanta – to poke around its Colonial squares and landmarks before heading to the coast.

The largest of the Golden Isles, St. Simons Island, is home to Pier Village, a quaint district with shops, restaurants and an iconic lighthouse, where visitors say the panoramic views from the top are well worth the climb. Heading north, the exclusive resort community of Sea Island boasts a private beach club, championship golf courses, horseback riding, and a variety of dining and lodging options, including the internationally acclaimed Cloister at Sea Island hotel.

For ultimate privacy and serenity, hop on a ferry at the Hampton River Marina on St. Simons Island for access to the northernmost outpost: Little St. Simons Island. Here you can partake in a naturalist-guided tour of its 11,000 acres of undeveloped beaches, maritime forests and wetlands teeming with wildlife, including 300-plus species of birds. Or, book a cottage at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. This all-inclusive resort full of Southern charm accommodates just 32 people per night – ideal for a romantic weekend getaway or a small family reunion.

Tree and waves in the Atlantic Ocean at sunrise at Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

Guests must pay a parking fee to gain access to Jekyll Island, the southernmost island of the Golden Isle chain. Once covered with sprawling Civil War-era plantations, the island is now a haven for nature lovers with trails for hiking, biking and bird-watching. Its pristine beaches are known for their extraordinary shelling. Travelers say the remote Driftwood Beach, located on the north end of the island, is a must-visit attraction for iconic photos of the sandy strip's twisted log formations and stunning sunsets.

Jekyll Island is also home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation and research facility. Sea turtles are the unofficial mascot of the area, and visitors will find turtle-themed events and activities planned throughout the year, including the Turtle Crawl races and Turtleween festivities. Half a mile from the turtle center sits the Jekyll Island Club Resort , a historic enclave on the banks of the East River with a variety of lodging options, applauded by guests for its beautiful grounds and Southern charm.

Summer scene in Myrtle Beach SC USA

Drive directly east of Atlanta and you'll reach Myrtle Beach in about 360 miles. This beach resort is great for families with kids, as an array of entertaining attractions will keep them busy. Check out the oceanfront Family Kingdom Amusement Park , Myrtle Waves Water Park, mini-golf courses and Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach , where visitors of all ages find delight in unique exhibits like a shark tunnel, penguin pool and stingray touch tank.

The beach itself is 60 miles long and lined with hotels and high-rise apartment buildings for easy access to sand and surf for sunbathing, water sports and sunrise (or sunset) strolls. Its crown jewel is the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, a scenic promenade complete with a 200-foot Ferris wheel: The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, featuring a cutting-edge design and enclosed gondolas for up to six people, was the first of its kind in the country. If sand traps rather than sandcastles are more your style, Myrtle Beach also boasts more than 80 golf courses , many of which are PGA-rated and celebrity-designed.

[See more of Myrtle Beach:  Things to Do  |  Hotels  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

A short flight:

Nashville, Tennessee downtown skyline at twilight

Nashville is conveniently only about an hourlong flight away. Traditionally known as the "Country Music Capital of the World," this glitzy Southern city has become a popular destination. There's so much more to see than the Grand Ole Opry (although this renowned landmark is still not to be missed). Guests of the Fairlane Hotel enjoy a central location from which to explore the expansive city.

The best way to see as much as possible during a quick weekend trip to Nashville is to purchase tickets for the Old Town Trolley: a hop-on, hop-off tour that shuttles travelers to more than a dozen popular attractions around the city. Stops include the Ryman Auditorium , a famous concert venue and original home of the Opry, and the Parthenon in Centennial Park, a full-size replica of the Greek original that houses a collection of artwork. After the trolley tour, you can quench your thirst at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery , a historic watering hole whose interesting tour and tasty whisky samples visitors rave about.

[See more of Nashville:  Things to Do  | Tours |  Hotels  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

Cruise ship view of the Mallery Square pier at Key West, Florida

Atlantans can board a less than two-hour flight for a tropical weekend getaway to Key West , known as the southernmost city in the continental U.S. for its location about 90 miles north of Cuba. The town boasts crystal-clear sea and picturesque beaches as well as various annual festivals and events. The wild Fantasy Fest around Halloween is one draw to Key West; there's also the Hemingway Days Festival, a celebration of the famous author whose historic home is now a local museum. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is one of the city's top attractions for its witty and informative tour guides.

Watching the sunset is another popular pastime in Key West: The city's Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park , a former Civil War fortress, is one of the best viewing spots around. Travelers also recommend heading to Mallory Square for its nightly sunset celebration featuring street performers, food trucks and ocean views. Once the sun goes down, Duval Street comes alive with a mile of lively open-air bars and restaurants where visitors can sip rum cocktails and dance until the sun comes up again. Recover in the shade of a palm tree on Smathers Beach , a serene swath of sand just steps away from the hip Margaritaville Beach House Key West.

[See more of Key West:  Things to Do  |  Tours  |  Hotels  |  When to Visit  |  Photos  ]

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top Things to Do in Blue Ridge, Georgia
  • The Top Things to Do in Augusta, Georgia
  • The Top Things to Do in Helen, Georgia
  • The Top Places to Visit in the North Carolina Mountains
  • The Top Weekender Bags for Women
  • The Top Travel Neck Pillows
  • The Top Carry-on Luggage
  • The Top Duffel Bags

Tags: Travel , Vacation Ideas , Georgia Vacations , Southeast Vacations

World's Best Places To Visit

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  • Destinations

25 Best Day Trips from Atlanta

Last Updated By VI on June 2, 2024

Athens (1 hour 20 min Day Trip from Atlanta)

Chattanooga (2 hours), stone mountain park (30 min day trip from atlanta), blue ridge (1 hour 30 minutes from atlanta).

  • Complete List & Map

Athens (1 hour 20 min Day Trip from Atlanta)

For art lovers, the city offers an array of eclectic art galleries, both large and small alike. With two performing arts centers within the city limits, Athens is never wanting for cultural experiences, while sports fans can get their fill by attending the Bulldogs’ games at the university’s stadiums.

Chattanooga (2 hours)

However, more formal history tours can be found at the 6th Cavalry Museum, the Cravens House, or the Chickamauga Civil War Battlefield. Named “Best Town Ever” by Outdoor magazine, Chattanooga also has plenty of outdoor fun. In addition to parks and the Riverwalk, there are also a host of adventurous activities to enjoy along the rushing Tennessee River, such as white water rafting, hang-gliding, and hiking.

Stone Mountain Park (30 min Day Trip from Atlanta)

1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain , GA 30083, Phone: 800-401-2407

Blue Ridge (1 hour 30 minutes from Atlanta)

There are around 300 miles of hiking trails and an estimated 100 miles of trout springs waiting to challenge you. Other attractions include wineries, breweries, great restaurants and excellent shopping opportunities. website

Birmingham (2 hours 10 min)

Birmingham (2 hours 10 min)

Today, Birmingham is Alabama’s cultural capital, with many large performing arts theaters, several well-attended annual festivals, and lots of museums, including the biggest art museum in the Southeast, the Birmingham Museum of Art. It is also the site of several universities and colleges, which add to the life and energy of the city. More Day Trips from Athens, GA

Dahlonega (1 hour 30 min)

Dahlonega (1 hour 30 min)

Dahlonega’s quaint downtown is listed in the Historic Register, and the community celebrates its history with a number of museums and tours. It is also known for its many festivals, which are dedicated to its rich past and fortunate place among the surrounding nature. Next read: Romantic Weekend Getaways from Atlanta

Romantic Lake Lanier (1 hour)

Romantic Lake Lanier (1 hour)

Several parks are located just off the lake, and there are also a number of forest hiking trails nearby. Thrill seekers can try jet skiing out on the water or zip lining through the trees above, while those looking for a more laidback afternoon can try fishing or soaking up some rays on the sandy banks. More beaches near Atlanta, GA

Mableton (20 min)

Mableton (20 min)

Another attraction is the Silver Comet Trail, a hiking trail that runs along the route of the old Silver Comet railroad line all the way out to the Georgia-Alabama state line. Mableton also has a wide selection of restaurants with both home-style and contemporary menus for visiting foodies to enjoy.

Callaway Gardens (1 hour 20 min)

Callaway Gardens (1 hour 20 min)

17800 US Hwy 27 Pine Mountain, GA 31822, Phone: 800-852-3810

Romantic Day at Toccoa Falls (1 hour 40 min)

Romantic Day at Toccoa Falls (1 hour 40 min)

Toccoa , GA 30577, Phone: 706-886-8451

Brasstown Bald (2 hours 20 min)

Brasstown Bald (2 hours 20 min)

Georgia Spur 180, Blairsville, GA 30512, Phone: 706-745-6928

Providence Canyon State Park (2 hours 10 min)

Providence Canyon State Park (2 hours 10 min)

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Headquarters, 2600 Highway 155 SW, Stockbridge, GA 30281, Phone: 770-389-7286

Nashville (4 hours)

Nashville (4 hours)

Nashville also has many smaller, intimate venues where future stars of the genre perform for local audiences. This Tennessee gem is divided into several distinct neighborhoods, each of which has its own personal vibe. It has a growing culinary and arts scene and is quickly developing into a beloved tourist destination for Americans and foreigners alike. Things to Do in Nashville

Chattahoochee National Forest (2 hours)

Chattahoochee National Forest (2 hours)

Suches, GA 30572, Phone: 770-297-3000

Gatlinburg (4 hours)

Gatlinburg (4 hours)

The area contains an impressive diversity of wildlife and is one of only a few International Biosphere Reserves across the world. Some well-known natural Gatlinburg attractions within the park include Cades Cove, a popular biking area, and Roaring Fork, the site where two stunning waterfalls meet. The town abounds with historical cabins and mills that give a glimpse of what Smoky Mountain life was like many years ago. Things to Do in Gatlinburg

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (1 hour 10 min)

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (1 hour 10 min)

718 Juliette Road, Round Oak, GA 31032, Phone: 478-986-5441

Consolidated Gold Mine (1 hour 20 min)

Consolidated Gold Mine (1 hour 20 min)

185 Consolidated Gold Mine Road, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-8473

Andersonville National Historic Site (2 hours)

Andersonville National Historic Site (2 hours)

760 POW Rd, Andersonville, GA 31711, Phone: 229-924-0343

Anna Ruby Falls (2 hours)

Anna Ruby Falls (2 hours)

3455 Anna Ruby Falls Road, Helen, GA 30545, Phone: 706-878-1448

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force (3 hours 30 min)

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force (3 hours 30 min)

175 Bourne Avenue, Pooler, GA 31322, Phone: 912-748-8888

Museum of Aviation (1 hour 35 min Day Trip from Atlanta GA)

Museum of Aviation (1 hour 35 min Day Trip from Atlanta GA)

1942 Heritage Blvd, Robins AFB, GA 31098, 478-926-6870

Rock City Gardens (2 hours)

Rock City Gardens (2 hours)

1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750, Phone: 706-820-2531

Mercier Orchards (1 hour 40 min Day Trip from Atlanta)

Mercier Orchards (1 hour 40 min Day Trip from Atlanta)

8660 Blue Ridge Drive, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513, Phone: 706-632-3411

Amicalola Falls State Park (1 hour 30 min)

Amicalola Falls State Park (1 hour 30 min)

280 Amicalola Falls S.P. Rd, Dawsonville, GA 30534

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (1 hour 50 min)

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (1 hour 50 min)

3370 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742, Phone: 706-866-9241

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (1 hour 50 min)

  • 1. Athens (1 hour 20 min Day Trip from Atlanta)
  • 2. Chattanooga (2 hours)
  • 3. Stone Mountain Park (30 min Day Trip from Atlanta)
  • 4. Blue Ridge (1 hour 30 minutes from Atlanta)
  • 5. Birmingham (2 hours 10 min)
  • 6. Dahlonega (1 hour 30 min)
  • 7. Romantic Lake Lanier (1 hour)
  • 8. Mableton (20 min)
  • 9. Callaway Gardens (1 hour 20 min)
  • 10. Romantic Day at Toccoa Falls (1 hour 40 min)
  • 11. Brasstown Bald (2 hours 20 min)
  • 12. Providence Canyon State Park (2 hours 10 min)
  • 13. Nashville (4 hours)
  • 14. Chattahoochee National Forest (2 hours)
  • 15. Gatlinburg (4 hours)
  • 16. Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (1 hour 10 min)
  • 17. Consolidated Gold Mine (1 hour 20 min)
  • 18. Andersonville National Historic Site (2 hours)
  • 19. Anna Ruby Falls (2 hours)
  • 20. National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force (3 hours 30 min)
  • 21. Museum of Aviation (1 hour 35 min Day Trip from Atlanta GA)
  • 22. Rock City Gardens (2 hours)
  • 23. Mercier Orchards (1 hour 40 min Day Trip from Atlanta)
  • 24. Amicalola Falls State Park (1 hour 30 min)
  • 25. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (1 hour 50 min)

Getaways from Atlanta:

Resources: Georgia Travel , State Parks , Explore Georgia

More Features

Awesome Beach Picnics

Beach Destinations: 15 Most Awesome Beach Picnics

Athens Institute for Contemporary Art

Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Georgia

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain is Just an Hour From Atlanta

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day trips from atlanta georgia

19 Best Day trips from Atlanta, Georgia from a Local

day trips from atlanta georgia

Are you visiting Atlanta and want to see more of the Peach State?  Good news- you’ve come to the absolute best place. As a lifelong resident of this beautiful state, I can share the best day trips from Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta is a fantastic city with a great food scene, rich history, music traditions, and a sports center. Sometimes, it is nice to get out of the city and see more of the great state of Georgia. Atlanta is a terrific base to explore, and within hours, you could be in the mountains, relaxing on a lake, checking out an incredible college town, or hiking the Little Grand Canyon.

Having spent most of my life in the suburbs of Atlanta, I’ve explored all regions of the state. Follow along as I share my expert advice on the best trips out of the city. I’m excited to share my favorite spots in the state and why I love calling Georgia home. 

⏰ Short on time? Book my favorite recommendations below to save time! ⏰ 🏨Book your Hotel HERE ✈️Book your Flights HERE 🚗Book your Rental Car HERE 🍷North Georgia Winery Tour HERE  ✅Book the Atlanta City Pass HERE  

Truist Park

Atlanta’s Weather

Atlanta’s weather is generally amazing in the fall, spring, and early summer. Our shoulder seasons tend to be warmer than other parts of the country, but don’t be surprised by an 80-degree day in October or April. The spring can be rainy, so plan for that, too, and pack rain jackets and umbrellas. 

Summer is amazing, but it is also hot and humid. If you aren’t from the South, you may be shocked by the humidity. Plan to wear light-colored clothing that is also lightweight. You may even want to pack a different outfit for the evening if you are going out to dinner or a show at the Fox. The heat really picks up in mid-July and lasts through September. Expect many days in the 90s, and wear sunscreen!

As for winter, you are in for a real treat! Our winters are incredibly mild compared to other parts of the US. Generally, we hover in the 40’s and 50’s, so a light coat will suffice. We do experience a few cold snaps where the temps do drop and on a rare occasion we luck out with some snowflakes. 

Pro tip- check the weather before you leave!

Ponce City Market is a must do while in Atlanta

Best Day Trips out of Atlanta

Distance: 72 miles

As the home to the University of Georgia, Athens is more than just a college town. I was fortunate to call it home for four wonderful years and adore Athens.

A little over an hour’s drive out of the city, Athens is known for its beautiful college campus, music scene, and fun downtown area. UGA’s campus sprawls throughout town, and it’s worth walking through North Campus, the historic part. Make sure to ring the bell, but avoid walking through the arch. Legend says to wait to walk through the arch until you graduate. 

Athens, Georgia on a college football game night

Also, you can browse small shops and breweries downtown, check out the college bar scene, or participate in Athens’ culinary greatness. Last Resort is my favorite brunch and dinner spot, so grab reservations. Creature Comforts brewery is downtown, while Terrapin is a short drive away.

Outside the downtown area, I suggest the Georgia Museum of Art or walking through Five Points and eating dinner at the Five & Ten. If the weather is nice, explore the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. I loved the walking trails while in college. 

  • If you are NOT a college football fan, I would avoid Athens on game days. To say it is packed is an understatement. 
  • Football tickets are pricey but don’t forget some other fun UGA athletics, such as gymnastics, basketball, or baseball. 
  • Check out the music calendar of the Georgia Theatre, a fun tradition in Athens and a rite of passage for many. 
  • Twilight is a bike race every spring through town. Visitors flock to Athens for the festivities. 

2. Lake Oconee

Rent a boat for the day on Lake Oconee

Distance: 84 miles

Lake Oconee is a little over an hour’s drive to the east along I-20. In recent decades, the lake’s popularity boomed with new developments, golf communities, and a high-end resort at the Ritz Carlton. You can book spa treatments at the hotel or a pool cabana for the day. 

The Ritz property is stunning but also pricey. You may prefer renting a boat for the day. You stop into Publix and pick up some subs, snacks, and sunscreen for a beautiful and relaxing lake day.

Distance: 59 miles

On your way out to the Lake, take a quick detour to the historic town of Madison, Georgia. Here, you will find one of the largest collections of antebellum homes in the state. In the Civil War, General Sherman destroyed a significant amount of private property on his famous March to the Sea. Although different variations exist for the rationale, Sherman spared Madison, and today, guests can marvel at the beautiful architecture of these homes. 

Augusta, Georgia is a fun day trip from the city

Augusta, Georgia

Distance: 145 miles

Sitting on the Augusta River dividing Georgia & South Carolina lies the beautiful town of Augusta. Known famously for the Masters Tournament held every April, there’s much more of the city. By the way, if you ever get the opportunity to visit the golf course- you must! Even if you aren’t a golf fan, the grounds are stunning, and for many, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

While in town, spend some time exploring the Augusta Riverwalk or kayaking down the Augusta canal. History fans can learn about President Wilson’s early life at his childhood home or visit the Augusta Museum of History.


5. Stone Mountain Park

Distance: 25 miles

Those who enjoy the outdoors should consider visiting Stone Mountain on the city’s east side. Guests can hike, play in the playground, ride the scenic train, picnic, or enjoy the Lake. At the end of the night, stay for a fireworks display. 

6. Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier

Distance: 49 miles

Lake Lanier is a favorite summer activity for many Atlantans. The Lake spans several counties north of the city, so there are numerous points of access. You can easily rent a boat for the day, but make sure to pack sunscreen and a map of the Lake—it is massive, and you could get lost easily. 

If traveling with kids, consider buying a day pass to Lanier Islands Water Park. The kids will have a blast, and it may be easier than renting a boat for the day. You can also rent a boat through the park.

At Lake Lanier Islands, guests can spend hours riding water slides, playing on the beach, paddle boarding, kayaking, or having fun at Margaritaville. If visiting in December, check out their vivid holiday light show. 

  • If you decide to rent a boat, make sure to pack sunscreen, water and plenty of snacks. 
  • Lake Lanier is also very deep, and unfortunately, drownings occur every summer. Make sure your group has life jackets for everyone on board, as required by Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources. You will receive a ticket, and you will want to keep your loved ones safe.
  •  Kids under 13 must wear a life jacket when boating. 

7. Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens Chapel

Distance: 81 miles

Callaway Gardens is a little treasure to the southwest of the city. As a kid, I fondly remember going there to see their Christmas light display twinkle and charm guests. If you visit after Thanksgiving, make this day trip!

I’ve returned with my kids and stayed in one of the cute rental homes on site. We enjoyed a day of biking, walking the trails, and visiting the butterfly center. In the summertime, guests can also enjoy water sports at their lake.

If you desire a peaceful retreat from the city, then carve out time for Callaway Gardens.

8. Warm Springs

Little White House

Little White House in Warm Springs

Distance: 85 miles 

While at Callaway, stop at FDR’s Little White House in Warm Springs. President Roosevelt struggled with discomfort after his polio diagnosis and sought relief in the natural springs in the small town of Warm Springs in Central Georgia.

Over time, he built his little White House, which was here when he passed away in 1945. Today, guests can learn about the region’s healing springs, Roosevelt’s presidency, and contributions to the local area. It is an excellent place for history buffs, and my oldest & I enjoyed a day trip here. 

If you are traveling with kids, book an appointment at the Wild Animal Safari in nearby Pine Mountain. You can drive your car, but I highly recommend renting one of their cars with open windows. Each guest receives a cup of food, and you’ll have the best time feeding animals like zebras, giraffes, and camels. Trust me- your kids will love it! 

Wild Animal Safari is a fun day trip out of the city

Wild Animal Safari

North Georgia

North Georgia is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains and is perfect for weekend getaways. Regardless of your destination, you will enjoy a scenic drive. Below I listed some of the most beloved mountain towns for Georgians. 

9. Blue Ridge

Distance: 93 miles 

Blue Ridge is one of the most popular mountain destinations for Atlantans. Just a short drive north up 75 & 575, you are in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in no time. 

Downtown Blue Ridge consists of quaint stores and great restaurants. Blue Ridge is also home to my favorite Apple Orchard, Mercier. If you are visiting in the early fall, check it out. Tip from a seasoned visitor- If you want to go apple picking- avoid weekends or go when they go in the morning to avoid massive crowds. Mercier is still a great stop for its shop and delicious bakery in other seasons!

apple picking in Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is another favorite activity in the area. Fall Foliage trips and seasonal themes, such as Santa in December, are popular. Book early, as tickets disappear quickly. 

For the outdoorsy types, you can swim and boat on Lake Blue Ridge, mountain bike, go horseback riding, go fishing, or hike to Long Creek Falls, a beautiful waterfall.

10. Dahlonega

Distance: 65 miles 

Dahlonega is another favorite mountain destination. The first gold rush in the state occurred in Dahlonega. Today, guests can “mine” for gold, visit local attractions dedicated to mining, or take tours. 

I highly recommend stopping at Amicalola Falls State Park to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state. You can hike to see the waterfall, park at the top, and walk down a little. There are numerous trail options based on your desired level of difficulty. 

Dahlonega emerged as a leader in Georgia’s newer wine industry in recent years. Dotted through North Georgia, guests can explore the Georgia Wine Highway. I’ve visited many of these wineries, and it is the best day trip out of Atlanta as a girl’s day or romantic date!

Montaluce Winery

 Some of my favorites include the Italian-inspired Trattoria di Montaluce, Wolf Mountain, or Frogtown. Many offer lunch and tastings. My recommendation is to start at a winery with brunch or lunch before the tastings start. If planning a wine tour overwhelms you, don’t worry! There are great tour options to take the stress out of planning. 

🍷 Book your North Georgia Winery Tour by clicking HERE! 🍷

11. Clayton

Clayton is one of the best day trips from Atlanta, Georgia

downtown Clayton, GA

Distance: 108 miles

Although less popular than Blue Ridge, Clayton is an excellent day trip option, so don’t sleep on it. Clayton has so much to offer in the North Georgia mountains. 

First, our family loves downtown Clayton. We love the community feel and some of the local shops, such as Wander. In recent years, new and fresh restaurants have opened, too. Check out Rabun Social, Fortify, Universal, and Fortify Pi. 

For the outdoorsy type, you’ve come to the right place. You can hike the Tallulah Gorge or opt for a smaller hike to Minnehaha Falls, an ideal walk with little kids. You can rent a boat on Lake Burton for a full day of water activities. You will fall in love with this beautiful place just as our family has. 

Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

Pro tip: On the drive out of Atlanta, take the 985 route. The drive will take you by Jaemor Farm, a favorite of our family’s. You must pick up some fresh produce, kettle corn, and, most importantly, homemade strawberry ice cream!

Distance: 87 miles

If you want something a little different, try Helen, Georgia. As you enter the town, you’ll feel like you’re nestled in the Bavarian Alps of Germany instead of North Georgia. Shops, restaurants, and hotels resemble a Bavarian town.

Helen fully embraces this image by hosting Oktoberfest every fall and promoting German restaurants and beer halls. Atlantans flock to Helen for these festivities, and adventure lovers can ride the Georgia Mountain Coaster! I also highly recommend stopping at Anna Ruby Falls. There’s a paved path all the way to the falls, and it’s very kid—and stroller-friendly. 

Helen, Georgia

Besides its unique charm, Helen sits directly on the Chattahoochee River, and visitors can raft or tube down the river. Don’t worry—it’s not whitewater rafting but a calm and relaxing ride. In the summertime, the river is packed on the weekends, so aim for a weekday if possible!

Helen is truly one of a kind!

Distance: 67 miles

Rome is northwest of the city and is another excellent option. Schedule a day trip to see the minor league team, the Rome Braves, during baseball season.

Rome, Georgia

We spent a day in downtown Rome several years ago after strawberry picking. I loved the wide streets winding through downtown, and we enjoyed a fantastic meal at a local restaurant before shopping in the local stores. If you visit in the spring, pick fresh strawberries at LCCL Strawberry Farm.

The Heritage Trail System is an extensive set of walking and biking trails through town. The 13.5 miles parallel Rome’s three rivers. 

History buffs will want to drive around Berry College, hands down one of the most beautiful college campuses in the state. The Martha Berry Museum will highlight Martha Berry’s impactful role in educating young people in the area. 

14. Lookout Mountain

Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain

Distance: 121 miles

Lookout Mountain sits right on the Georgia-Tennessee state line and offers many fun activities for visitors. Ruby Falls is one of the most visited attractions due to its spectacular views, which allow guests to see several states at once. The Incline Railway is another fun option for visiting the top of the mountain. 

In neighboring Chattanooga, you can visit the Tennessee Aquarium. Some guests actually prefer it over the Georgia Aquarium, as the setup flows better for large crowds. While in town, you’ll want to walk across the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River to see scenic views of the city. If you’re traveling with kids, check out the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

15. Cloudland Canyon

Cloudland Canyon State Park is one of the best day trips from Atlanta, Georgia

Distance: 120 miles

Cloudland Canyon State Park is a stunning masterpiece in Northwest Georgia. We visited several years ago, and it was always on my bucket list. Guests can explore walking trails, including the popular route to the beyond of the canyon, where they can see the majestic waterfall.

Guests can enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding trails, disc golf, and picnicking.

Central & South Georgia

Cherry Blossoms in Macon

Distance: 85 miles

Macon captures the spirit of Central Georgia as a bigger city with southern charm. Known for its rich music tradition, it is the home of the Allman Brothers Band, Otis Redding, James Brown, and Jason Aldean. You can tour the Big House, where members of the Allman Brothers called home for several years in the 1970’s.

History buffs will want to visit Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, a prehistoric American Indian site. Macon also offers the Museum of Arts & Sciences, the Tubman African American Museum, and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

17. Savannah

Savannah, GA

Distance: 249 miles

Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia, founded in the 1730s by the first settlers. Its historic homes and cobbled streets charm visitors, and fresh seafood and delicious Southern food are easily accessible. 

We spent a spring break here with the kids a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We walked Savannah’s downtown, the Riverwalk, and explored the newer development of Plant Riverside.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a day trip unless you were dying to go and only had a day. The drive is long, and sometimes the traffic south of Atlanta in Henry County is terrible so it takes longer than anticipated. Plus, you are going to want more than one day here!

18. Providence Canyon

Providence Canyon

Distance: 148 miles

Known as the Little Grand Canyon, this is a remarkable and unique state park in Georgia. The canyon’s magnificent views show deep gullies caused by poor farming techniques. If you want to visit but are uninterested in strenuous hiking, there’s a rim trail for guests to walk.

19. Columbus

Distance: 107 miles

Columbus sits directly on the GA/Alabama state line and is known for its large military base, Fort Moore (formerly Fort Benning). Many bypass Columbus on the way to the beach, but it is a great day trip for visitors. With its rich military history, popular stops include the National Infantry Museum and the National Civil War Naval Museum. 

I recommend the Coca-Cola Space Museum, the Columbus Botanical Gardens, and Flat Rock Park. The Whitewater Express is on my bucket list—I’m just waiting for the kids to get a little older!

best day trips from Atlanta, GA

In Conclusion: Best Day trips from Atlanta, Georgia

I hope my guide on the best day trips from Atlanta, Georgia, helps you plan your next great adventure. Georgia is a beautiful state just waiting for you to come explore it!

Day Trip Guides on the East Coast Day trips from Charleston, SC Day trips from Greenville, SC Day trips from Portland, Maine

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Rebecca is a wife, mom of 3, and avid traveler. She loves to plan trips for her family to exciting places in the US, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe. In addition, she loves to help family and friends plan their next great adventure. Most hate the planning and research process, and that is her passion. When she isn't traveling, she's a high school US History teacher in an Atlanta suburb.

Let's Roam Explorer

The 17 Best Day Trips From Atlanta for Every Style of Adventure

When it comes to day trips from Atlanta, there are many possibilities, from rock climbing to diving into history, waterfalls and vista views.

day trips from atlanta georgia

Atlanta Georgia is perfectly positioned for some of the USA’s most amazing day trips. It’s surrounded by the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Within 2 hours of Atlanta, there is excitement for every kind of adventurer. Adventure enthusiasts will find plenty to keep the adrenaline pumping from rock-climbing in the mountains to whitewater rafting the numerous rivers. History buffs have an untold number of Civil War monuments, Native American Sites, and historic mansions to explore. Nature lovers will have no shortage of waterfalls and vista views to mesmerize for hours. Plus, there are several great cities within a 2-hour drive of Atlanta. Without further delay, let’s get to it!

Explore Atlanta and Its Surrounding Areas

Let’s Roam offers plenty of scavenger hunts in Georgia , including Atlanta and nearby towns! These professionally designed hunts will take you through the cultural attractions and historical landmarks with interactive challenges and trivia to keep you all on your toes. Play with one person, or play with 20—either way, it’ll be a blast!

17 Amazing Day Trips from Atlanta

Disclaimer: The distances and travel time listed in this guide were taken from Google Maps at the time of writing. They may vary for your trip, depending on what day, time, and season you choose to travel.

1. Dahlonega, Georgia

Distance: 65 miles

Travel Time: 1h 30 mins

Gold mines and wine tours, that’s what Dahlonega has to offer . Oh, and one of the cutest historical downtown areas ever! It’s listed on the National Historic Register, and the city boasts several small museums and great historical tours. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the historic Gold Rush town still offers guests the opportunity to pan for gold too at Consolidated Gold Mine ! 

Dahlonega also happens to be steps from the beautiful hiking trails of the Chattahoochee National Forest and right in the middle of Georgia’s wine country. There are at least ten tasting rooms and several vineyards to visit. We recommend you take the scenic drive along the Wine Trail and try as many as you can fit into a day! Oh, and by the way, Dahlonega at Christmas is straight-up Norman Rockwell perfection. Seriously… puzzle and postcard-worthy.

2. Providence Canyon State Park

Distance: 149 miles

Travel Time: 2h 20 mins

Providence Canyon State Park is the home of Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon.” This beautiful little canyon looks like a rock cake, with several layers of white, pink, red, and orange layers of rock intertwined with emerald green trees. There are over 1,000 acres to get lost in and several great hiking trails to explore. Some of the trees are deciduous, so the canyon gets extra colorful in the fall!

3. Amicalola Falls State Park

​Distance: 73 miles

Travel Time: 1 h and 30 mins

At the base of the North Georgia Mountains, Amicalola Falls State Park is paradise for the outdoor adventurer. The Appalachian Trail starts just a few miles away, but the real gem to this park is its centerpiece, the 729-foot-cascades of Amicalola Falls. The beautiful fall is the third-largest east of the Mississippi River, and it’s a stunner! Take all 620 steps to the top before heading over to the zipline course to take a flying adventure through the treetops. 

Although this guide is specifically highlighting day trips, you would be amiss to not book a night at Amicalola Falls Lodge. The sunset view from pretty much every room is unbeatable. It’s the perfect place to pull up a porch rocking chair and enjoy the evening after a long day of adventuring. 

4. Athens, Georgia

Distance: 72 miles

Travel Time: 1 h 20 minutes

Athens is a beautiful city and the perfect day trip for sports and music fans. It is, of course, home to the University of Georgia and The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. It has a thriving live music scene, especially of the Indie variety. The downtown area is full of historical buildings and house museums from the 1700s. Like any good college town, Athens is full of trendy restaurants, great nightlife, and eccentric art galleries. Plus, if you make it in the fall, you catch the mighty Bulldogs doing what they do best! The Oconee Rivers Greenway is a beautiful riverwalk through the wetlands, and Athens has several great biking trails as well. 

5. Callaway Gardens

Distance:81 miles

Travel Time: 1 h 25 mins

The botanical garden at Callaway Resort and Gardens is stunning! It is one of the best day trips from Atlanta for couples who want a romantic day in the park. The Azalea garden surrounds you in color, as you stroll past charming stone cottages and historic log cabins. The complex also boasts a butterfly center and birds of prey exhibit, as well as miles of hiking and biking trails. 

The Christmas lights show is dazzling, and the gardens host family-fun festivities all year round, like hot air balloon festivals and watersports exhibitions. There are great dining options nearby and Robin Lake offers every kind of water activity imaginable. A road trip to Callaway is a day well-spent!

Once you finish with the gardens, head over to the adjoining town of Pine Mountain. Pine Mountain has boutique shopping, artisan shops, and great restaurants. It also boasts a Wild Animal Safari, where you can meet hundreds of exotic animals and wonderful horseback riding trails at FDR State Park. 

6. Helen, Georgia

Distance: 87 miles

Travel Time: 1 h 40 mins

This small town is full of charm, and not the southern kind…more of the Bavarian variety! A German village in the middle of Georgia? Yep, you heard right, and it is adorable! Helen is tiny. There are less than 500 actual residents, yet it is among Georgia’s most visited sites. Cobblestones streets, German food and beer, majestic surroundings, and great festivals and tours. Spend your morning shopping at the artisan shops, then while away the afternoon hours tubing down the river, before you spend your evening wrapped in a hearty German beer. Sounds like a perfect day to us.

7. Chattahoochee National Forest

Distance: 96 miles

Travel Time: 2 hours

Chattahoochee National Forest is huge! There are over 850 miles of hiking trails, so you have plenty to choose from. Whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River is a favorite adventure pastime in the park, and kayak and canoe rentals are available to peruse the many babbling streams and lakes. The national forest encompasses several state parks and recreation areas, including Amicalola Falls State Park (detailed below). It has everything an outdoor paradise is supposed to. You could definitely spend several days camping here, swimming, boating, and hiking. 

Pan for gold or fossil hunt in the stream beds and make sure to visit Anna Ruby Falls, 150-foot twin beauties. It’s a beautiful area!

8. Toccoa Falls

​Distance: 93 miles

Travel Time: 1 h 35 mins

Niagara Falls got nothing on these Georgia monsters. Toccoa Falls is one of the tallest free-standing waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. The falls sit on the Toccoa Falls College campus, which is a beautiful wooded area to explore, but if you just want to see the falls, there is a separate path that leads right to it! Bring a picnic and your camera. It’s quite the view!

9. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Distance: 93 miles

Travel TIme: 1 h 48 mins

If you are a train enthusiast or a landscape lover, then there is no better day trip than to take a slow ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The ride starts at the historic town of Blue Ridge and travels 4 hours on a roundtrip tour through beautiful North Georgia. The train stops in several cute towns, along the Toccoa River, and you will have a two-hour break to explore them. It’s a leisurely day, great for a date trip!

If Blue Ridge sounds up your alley, you might consider spending a few more days in the region. Check out the best things to do in Blue Ridge, Georgia , and learn about our favorite things to do there!

10. Brasstown Bald

Distance: 99 miles

Brasstown Bald is the tallest mountain in Georgia. It offers sweeping views of four states from its 4,784-foot summit. You can drive to the top or take a half-mile trail. The mountain also has several other trails to enjoy. You can’t go wrong. Pick one and start walking! The observation deck provides a 360-degree view, but don’t spend all day staring. Make sure to check out the museum as well. It’s full of interactive natural history and regional artifacts.

11. Georgia Guidestones

Distance: 109 miles

Travel Time: 2h 15 mins

“America’s Stonehenge,” the Georgia Guidestones , are just slightly less ancient. They hale from the faraway year of 1980. The installation consists of 5 columns and stands 19-feet tall. The stones bear ten “guidelines,” for righteous living, translated into twelve different languages. The structure has astronomical value as well, as the sun pierces the capstone at high noon, illuminating the date below on an engraved portion of the stone. Like the real Stonehenge, there is some mystery around these stones. No one knows who commissioned or designed them. 

The stones probably aren’t worth your whole day, so hit up nearby Richard B. Russell State Park for some kayaking on beautiful Russell Lake, disc golf, or regular old golf on the Arrowhead Pointe Course.

12. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Distance: 117 miles

Travel Time: 1h 50 mins

Chattanooga has been a tourist haven for mountain lovers and nostalgic travelers for what seems like forever. It’s an affordable destination for most families and offers a gorgeous landscape, tons of historical sites, and plenty of A+ outdoor activities. Stroll the monuments along the famous Riverwalk. Go white water rafting on the Tennessee River, or hang-gliding is popular in the area for the super-adventurous. The Tennessee Aquarium is phenomenal, not only for its sea creatures but for the wonderful IMAX shows that take you all over the world!

Families love the Incline Railway , the beautiful glass funicular that makes getting to the top of Lookout Mountain a whole lot easier. Ruby Falls is a magnificent 145-foot underground waterfall, the largest open to the public in the US. Take the glass elevator, 260-feet down into Lookout Mountain, and view the falls from below, tumbling into the canyon. The roar is pretty epic, and it’s a unique and wonderful experience!

13. Rock City Gardens

Rock City has been attracting visitors for over 80 years. It’s one of Chattanooga’s longstanding and most famous attractions, but it’s actually in Georgia! ! The botanical and woodland gardens are incredible with over 400 species of plants along the 4,100-foot- long Enchanted Trail, and the mountain vista views from Lookout Mountain are ridiculous! 

The garden cliff walls are stunning natural formations rising up from the forest. Reportedly, you can see 7 states from the top! While manmade, the High Falls creates quite a picturesque photo, with the Chattahoochee National Forest all around. Snap your pic from the top at Lover’s Leap! Check out their Wing to Soar birds of prey program and help repopulate Peregrine Falcons in the area. The gardens also offer a mildly scary swinging bridge! They are is truly beautiful.

14. Macon, Georgia

Distance: 85 miles

Travel Time: 1h 40 mins

Macon is a great day trip from Atlanta, especially in the spring and the holiday season. It is home to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring, and the downtown area is brilliant at Christmas. Make your first stop at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park ! This beautiful little historical site has a Native American Earth Lodge that is over 1,000 years. The site has a wonderful Native American museum as well. Then head for the Amerson River Park , and stroll along the river through forest and wetlands.

Check out the Tubman Museum , which is loaded with thousands of artifacts of African American history and culture. Macon was also the home of Allman Brothers in the early seventies, and the house is now a museum: The Allman Brothers Band (ABB) Museum at The Big House . Don’t forget to check out the 18,000 square foot “ Palace of the South ,” before you leave.

15. Lake Lanier

Distance: 57 miles

Travel Time: 1h 15 mins

Yay for a happy accident! Lake Lanier is a manmade reservoir on the Chattahoochee River. It was created to deal with the flooding problem and create a water source for Atlanta, but it became a giant, blue haven of watersports and aerial adventures. Lake Lanier has something for everyone! Rent a boat or a jet ski for the day. Take a hike on one of the surrounding forest hiking trails. Go ziplining, relax on the beautiful beach, or go on a fishing expedition. For those looking for a bit of a challenge, hike to the summit of Sawnee Mountain for a fabulous view of the area. 

Weirdly enough, as if you didn’t get enough water in the actual lake, Lake Lanier also has a couple of small waterparks and a putt-putt course. They’re pretty standard as far as waterparks go, but the kids like it! Lake Lanier is beautiful and provides tons of activities that the whole family will love! It’s one of the best summer day trips from Atlanta.

16. Summerville, Georgia (& South Carolina?)

Distance: 88 miles

Travel Time: 1 h 36 mins

This quaint little mountain town of Summerville, GA is a great day trip from Atlanta for the nostalgic. Visit the Historic Summerville Railroad Depot and the Couey House, and log cabin from the 1840s. Download the Historic Area Walking Tour and take a self-guided walk through the history of Summerville.

Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens are a must-visit. Howard was known as the “grandfather of Southern Folk Art,” and made Summerville his home. Mr. Finster was…umm… a collector, we’ll say. His gardens are not of pretty flowers, but of all the recycled materials he collected through his life and repurposed as art. You know that old adage, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Well, Paradise Gardens is a glorious collection of eccentric “treasure.” The gardens even boast a couple of unique Airbnb suites, should you decide to extend your trip to Summerville. In October, the gardens host FinsterFest, a festival celebrating art and music. 

Many articles we found online confuse Summerville, Georgia, and Summerville, South Carolina. Both are great places to visit, but Summerville, SC is about 4.5 hours from Atlanta. It is best done for a weekend getaway!

If you are interested in Colonial history, check out the abandoned town ruins at Dorchester State Historical Park outside Summerville, SC . Azalea Park is another lovely place in town for a picnic or hike. The gardens are wild and lovely, with walking paths winding over bridges, through flower gardens, and past sculptures and ponds. 

Summerville is home to a number of local festivals throughout the year, and the little town is really charming. It also happens to claim the title of “birthplace of sweet tea.” Southerners across the land thank you very much, Summerville! You can stop my Mason, the largest sweet tea in the world, in Downtown Summerville, and pay your respects to the official drink of the south. The town boasts some beautiful Colonial hotels and great restaurants as well. It’s the perfect trip for a relaxing weekend getaway with great food, history, and landscapes!

17. Stone Mountain Park 

Distance: 26.5 miles

Travel Time: 32 mins

Where to even start with this place? The tiny town of Stone Mountain is Georgia’s most visited tourist attraction, and it has everything! The centerpiece is a giant granite blob, set next to a lake, which just so happens to have “ the largest relief sculpture in the world .” It’s also a bit controversial nowadays since it depicts three famous, Confederate, Civil War figures. The mountain has been inhabited for 12,000 years and has an interesting Native American History, but all that is just the tip. That’s not what draws the crowds. 

Stone Mountain Park (not to be confused with Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina-different rock blob,) is one part nature preserve, one part amusement park, one part golf retreat, one part historical park. The park is over 3,000 acres of pure fun. The attractions to name a few, include the longest running-laser show in the world, a 4D theater, multiple golf courses, a Dinotorium, a Summit Skyride tram, a ropes course, a scenic railroad, and a farmyard. On the historic side, there is Grist Mill, The Historical and Environmental Education Center, and Historic Square-a collection of colonial homes and antiques. The Park has festivals and special events scheduled year-round, including a Christmas Extravaganza. There is no better family day trip from Atlanta than Stone Mountain Park .

Great Trips Nearby That Are Not Day Trips

If you have done an online search for great day trips from Atlanta (which you probably have), you are likely to see some of these destinations pop up. They are all, without a doubt, worth a visit. However, do not try to take them on in one day! There is just too much to see, and you will spend most of the day on the road.

Charlotte North Carolina 

Charlotte is often listed as a great day trip from Atlanta. It is, without a doubt, a beautiful city, with tons to explore! It’s a four-hour trip from Downtown Atlanta, and you’ll need a long weekend (at the very least ) to explore.

Cherokee National Forest

The same goes for Cherokee National Forest . It’s beautiful and spans portions of Northern Tennessee and North Carolina, and includes The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. While this national park should be on your bucket list. Save it for its own special trip. It deserves it.

Savannah, Georgia

​Savannah is a gem with countless war sites, forts, and monuments. It boasts a vibrant foodie scene, historic neighborhoods filled with Colonial mansions, and art museums and galleries galore. Boat tours, walking tours, and paranormal tours abound. In short, Savannah is awesome. You need several days to enjoy her!

Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham is a great city too. As the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, you could spend a whole day or more just vising the museums and historic sites like 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park. It also has a great art museum, botanical garden, and the trails at Oak Mountain State Park. However, it is 4 hours from Atlanta and is better done over a longer trip. For more great things to do in Birmingham, check out the best things to do in Birmingham, Alabama !

Closing Thoughts

Atlanta and the surrounding area is a perfect vacation destination. Atlanta has one of the largest airports in the world, with frequent cheap flights from several US destinations. With everything that Georgia has to offer, there is no better time to go. Escape the winter cold and head south now!

Plus, if you’re into hiking, some of the best trails in the United States are in the Atlanta area … but not all of them. Find out more , and keep your eyes on our travel blog for more adventure tips and destination ideas!

Frequently Asked Questions

Atlanta is perfectly situated for amazing day trips , especially for nature and history lovers. Take a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visit historic Chattanooga Tennessee, or enjoy a day of watersports of Lake Lanier.

There are tons of great day trips from Atlanta ! Go on a scavenger hunt in Athens , get outdoorsy at Rock City Gardens, or brave the ropes course at Stone Mountain Park.

Some of the best short trips from Atlanta include a visit to the Native American Heritage Site in Macon, climbing Georgia’s tallest mountain, or catching some rays on the shore of Lake Lanier.

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15 Best Weekend Trips from Atlanta Georgia

  • Atlanta / Georgia / In the City / North America / USA

Looking for a weekend getaway from Atlanta? Here are the best spots to go!

I was born and raised in Atlanta and can’t say I’ve spent that much time exploring Georgia or even outside Greater Atlanta. If you live somewhere for so long, it’s easy to take a place for granted and assume you’ll just get to it later. We’ve been there.

To give you some inspiration to get out and explore, we’ve put together a list of best weekend trips from Atlanta. Just a short drive away, you can find yourself surrounded by lush, green forests, small historic towns, and even beaches. 

If you are really limited on time, check out our  15 Most Popular Day Trips from Atlanta , which are even closer. You can always make them weekend getaways too!

15 Amazing Weekend Getaways from Atlanta GA

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Last Updated: March 8, 2024

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  • Map of Weekend Getaways from Atlanta

Planning Checklist

More resources, 1. chattanooga, tennessee →.

Distance:  118 mi / 1 hr 46 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Ruby Falls, Rock City Garden, Tennessee Aquarium What to Eat:  Maple Street Biscuit Company ,  Public House Where to Stay:  Find hotels in Chattanooga

Chattanooga has a ton of charm. We visited often when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of the Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City, and Ruby Falls.

Even to this day, the attractions are fun to explore and there are many outdoor activities in the area too. Regardless of your interest, there is plenty to keep you busy over a weekend.

See More: 17 Fun Things to Do in Chattanooga TN

day trips from atlanta georgia

2. Asheville, North Carolina →

Distance: 208 mi / 3 hr 25 min ( map ) Can’t Miss Attractions:   Biltmore Estate , Looking Glass Hike, Foundation Walls What to Eat:   49 Best Places to Eat in Asheville Where to Stay:  The Best Places to Stay in Asheville

Asheville has a bit of everything! There’s an amazing food scene, craft breweries to quench your thirst, beautiful outdoor landscapes, fun murals and art to track down. Our last family trip was to Asheville during the holidays.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Asheville NC

Biltmore Christmas Packages

3. Augusta, Georgia

Distance:  145 mi / 2 hr 10 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Augusta Canal, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Augusta Museum of History What to Eat:  Frog Hollow Tavern ,  Jackie M’s & Son ,  Abel Brown Where to Stay:  Search hotel deals in Augusta

Most well known for The Masters, Augusta is Georgia’s second oldest city. It definitely draws golfers from all over the world but is a great spot for weekend getaways.

With plenty of food options, eat til you can’t walk anymore, check out the growing arts and theater scene or catch a concert.

day trips from atlanta georgia

4. Blue Ridge Parkway

Distance:  164 mi / 2 hr 55 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Fall Foliage, Tons of Stops Along the 469-Mile Road What to Eat:  Haywood Smokehouse ,  Buttered Biscuit ,  The Sweet Onion Where to Stay:  Find hotels near the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an amazing spot for anyone who loves the outdoors. There are beautiful hikes, fishing, and camping.

If you don’t like being outdoors, you can enjoy the beauty without getting out of the car on the scenic drive. Don’t forget to check out all the amazing spots the drive takes you through.

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville NC + 15 Best Weekend Trips from Atlanta GA

5. Charleston, South Carolina →

Distance:  305 mi / 4 hr 40 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Our Charleston Bucket List What to Eat:   49 Best Places to Eat in Charleston Where to Stay:  Hotels in Charleston

Charleston is one of my favorite cities close to Atlanta. It’s the oldest and second largest city in the state. I love the cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and beautiful architecture. On top of that, there are amazing rooftop bars and delicious seafood!

See More: 101 Things to Do in Charleston SC

day trips from atlanta georgia

6. Destin, Florida →

Distance:  315 mi / 5 hr 10 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Henderson Beach State Park, Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park What to Eat:  McGuire’s Irish Pub ,  Boshamps Oyster House , Louisiana Lagniappe Where to Stay:  Hotels in Destin

If you’re looking for clean, white sand beaches, Destin is your spot! Spring Break will bring party-ers to town but much less than some of the neighboring beaches. Though I prefer to stay longer when we drive down to the panhandle, we’ve done it for a weekend before.

See More: 17 Unforgettable Things to Do in Destin FL

day trips from atlanta georgia

7. Great Smoky Mountains NP / Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Distance:  196 mi / 3 hr 50 min ( map ) What to Do / See:   Great Smoky Mountains NP , Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park, Sky Life What to Eat:   Crockett’s Breakfast Camp ,  Delauders BBQ ,  Pancake Pantry Where to Stay:   Search for nearby Hotel Deals

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the closest national park to Atlanta and the most visited in the US. Fall is one of the busiest times with everyone enjoying the foliage, but there are plenty of spots to explore. 

Although touristy, Gatlinburg is a popular spot to set up home base and also gives you more options for attractions and restaurants.

See More: Complete List of National Parks by State

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg TN

8. The Golden Isles: Jekyll Island, St Simons, Little St Simons, Sea Island

Distance:  322 mi / 4 hr 40 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Driftwood Beach, Fort Frederica National Monument What to Eat:  Southern Soul Barbeque , Driftwood Bistro , Halyards Restaurant Where to Stay:  Search for Hotels in the Golden Isles

Located on the Georgia coast are four beautiful islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. Pristine marshlands fill the landscape accompanied by beautiful beaches. Each island brings its own character. On one hand, Jekyll Island is popular with families, on the other, Little St Simon is privately owned and only 32 people can stay there at a time.

Driftwood Beach Jekyll Island + 15 Best Weekend Trips from Atlanta GA

9. Greenville, South Carolina →

Distance:  145 mi / 2 hr 15 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville Zoo, Liberty Bridge What to Eat:   Takosushi ,  The Trappe Door ,  Thomas Creek Brewery Where to Stay:  Greenville Hotel Deals

Find waterfalls, hike beautiful trails, or fly down a zip line in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Greenville has something to offer year round. You can also find one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, museums, and attractions for the whole family.

See More: 13 Absolutely Amazing Places to Eat in Greenville SC

Bookstore Bakery Greenville SC

10. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Distance:  281 mi / 4 hr 5 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Coastal Discovery Museum, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, Hunting Island State Park What to Eat:  Lucky Rooster ,  A Lowcountry Backyard ,  Skull Creek Boathouse Where to Stay:  Hilton Head Island Hotels

Look for starfish, sand-dollars, and sea turtles at the beach, or spend your day on the golf course, biking, or kayaking. There are beautiful resorts and hotels set amongst spectacular scenery.

Hilton Head Lighthouse - Harbour Town Lighthouse

11. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Distance:  362 mi / 5 hr 30 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Myrtle Beach State Park What to Eat:  Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery , Eggs Up Grill , Simply Southern Smokehouse Where to Stay:   Search Myrtle Beach Hotels

Myrtle Beach has sixty miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Bask in the sun or play in the water. If you need a break from the sun, there are a ton of live shows, endless shopping, a lot of great restaurants.

day trips from atlanta georgia

12. Nashville, Tennessee →

Distance:  250 mi / 3 hr 45 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  9 Awesome Things to Do in Nashville What to Eat:  Peg Leg Porker ,  Hattie B’s Chicken ,  Biscuit Love Where to Stay:  Nashville Hotel Deals

Nashville is the country music capital! Catch an amazing live show on Broadway, see the Country Music Hall of Fame, or try some Nashville hot chicken. Also, there’s a full-sized replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park.

See More: 9 Awesome Things to Do in Nashville Tennessee

day trips from atlanta georgia

13. Savannah, Georgia

Distance:  248 mi / 3 hr 30 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  Savannah Historic District, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, Fort Pulaski National Monument What to Eat:  The Olde Pink House ,  Savannah Seafood Shack , Treylor Park Where to Stay:   Hotel Deals in Savannah

Explore Savannah on a kayak, ride a carriage around town, or hop on a historical bus tour. If you’re a bit more daring, take a walking ghost tour. Savannah is a quintessential southern town with so much southern charm.

Wormsloe Historic Site Savannah Georgia + 15 Amazing Weekend Trips from Atlanta

14. Birmingham, Alabama

Distance:  147 mi / 2 hr 15 min ( map ) What to Do / See:  McWane Center (Aquarium and Science Exhibits), Birmingham Museum of Art, Ruffner Mountain Nature Center What to Eat:  Bamboo on 2nd ,  El Barrio ,  Saw’s Soul Kitchen Where to Stay:   Search for Hotels in Birmingham

Birmingham is currently the largest city in Alabama and is where history meets present day. Even though the city is relatively young, it has a lot of historical significance that you can learn more about in their museums.

If you’re a sports fan, be sure to check out the nation’s oldest baseball stadium. If you’re looking for colorful photo spots, check out the rainbow-lit tunnel ( map ).

day trips from atlanta georgia

15. Orlando, Florida →

Distance:  442 mi / 6 hr 15 min ( map ) What to Do / See:   101 Things to Do in Orlando What to Eat:  Cafe Tu Tu Tango ,  Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster ,  Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa Where to Stay:  The Best Hotels in Orlando

Our parents own a timeshare down in Orlando, so we’ve been going at least once a year ever since I was a kid. Even as adults, we’re still big fans of Disney.

Obviously, there’s Disney World and the Universal Parks, which can keep you busy in and of themselves, but there’s plenty around town if you’ve already been.

See More: The Ultimate Orlando Bucket List

Mead Botanical Garden + Free Things to Do in Orlando with Kids

Map of the Best Weekend Trips from Atlanta

More Weekend Trips from Atlanta

  • Adairsville, GA (61 mi / 55 min /  map )
  • Lake Oconee, GA (77 mi / 1 hr 20 min /  map )
  • Pine Mountain, GA (78 mi / 1 hr 10 min /  map )
  • Suches, GA (80 mi / 1 hr 30 min /  map )
  • Americus, GA (143 mi / 2 hrs 25 min /  map )
  • Cherokee, NC (161 mi / 2 hrs 45 min /  map )
  • Tybee Island, GA (265 mi / 4 hrs /  map )
  • Winston-Salem, NC (320 mi / 4 hrs 50 min /  map )
  • Alys Beach, FL (300 mi / 5 hrs 10 min /  map )
  • Pensacola, FL (324 mi / 4 hrs 55 min /  map )
  • Oxford, MS (331 mi / 4 hrs 55 min /  map )
  • Amelia Island, FL (356 mi / 5 hrs 15 min /  map )
  • Durham, NC (382 mi / 5 hrs 45 min /  map )
  • Memphis, TN (391 mi / 5 hrs 45 min /  map )
  • Raleigh, NC (405 mi / 6 hrs 5 min /  map )
  • Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
  • Download these helpful language apps .
  • Find a great deal on Atlanta hotels .
  • Arrange a rental car for your trip.
  • Book a tour for your visit.
  • Get airport lounge access .
  • Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
  • Get a new backpack for your trip.
  • Buy a Georgia travel guide .
  • Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
  • Don’t forget your in-flight essentials .
  • Save money on attractions with CityPASS .
  • S is for Southern – a Guide to the South from Absinthe to Zydeco
  • Rand McNally Easy to Read Georgia Map
  • 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Atlanta
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Georgia and South Carolina
  • Georgia Beer Cap Map

How many of these weekend trips from Atlanta have you done? Can you think of any other weekend trips you’ve done?

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15 Unforgettablel Weekend Trips from Atlanta GA

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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes ” – M. Proust

Esther and Jacob

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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3 Best Day Trips from Atlanta

By Jennifer Bradley Franklin

Lookout Mountain Chattanooga TN

Atlanta is one of the cultural capitals of the South, rich with world-class food , art , and hotels . But it's also home to one of the busiest airports in the world and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, which means traffic and crowds can be common. Fortunately, if you find yourself in need of a day or two at a slower pace, you'll find beautiful small cities and mountain towns all within easy driving distance. When you're ready for a break, these are the best day trips from Atlanta.

Click the link to read our complete Atlanta guide .

All products and listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Often called “The Classic City,” Athens is a little more than an hour northeast of Atlanta. It’s home to the University of Georgia, the first state-chartered university and the birthplace of modern public education in the United States, and it offers a mix of rich history and new things to do. As the town that spawned R.E.M., Widespread Panic, and the B52s, Athens is also famous for its dynamic music scene. Whether you want to cheer for your favorite college sports team, sing at the top of your lungs at a live music show, taste locally brewed beer, see some of Georgia’s best art, or eat at an award-winning restaurant, Athens has something for everyone.

Georgia Museum of Art Museum Athens Georgia

Georgia Museum of Art Arrow

This free attraction is the official state museum of Georgia, housing more than 10,000 individual pieces. It originally opened in 1948 in the University of Georgia’s library basement and has since moved to the mammoth Visual Arts Complex on the south campus. The state-funded museum has a vast permanent collection of American paintings (most from the 19th and 20th centuries), Italian Renaissance paintings, Asian art, and Southern decorative arts. Additionally, it hosts up to 25 temporary exhibits every year, some of which include works by students.

Georgia Theatre Theater Athens Georgia

Georgia Theatre Arrow

The Georgia Theatre is one of the most iconic music venues in the state and one of the places that made Athens a music hub. The downtown building dates to 1889 when it was a YMCA, and has since morphed into a Methodist Church, music store, and Masonic Temple before becoming a music venue in 1977. Come for a live show on the main stage and you'll likely see an up-and-coming musician or an already big name at a value price in an intimate venue—it only holds 1,000 people. 

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The National Arrow

Athens may be a college town, but the food here is first-class, so The National didn't get to be one of The Classic City's most revered spots by slacking. Inside you'll feel you've stumbled into a European café. The menu draws heavy inspiration from the continent, but dishes are executed using as many hyper-local ingredients as possible. Plan to meander through the menu: share some Manchego-stuffed Medjool dates, then move on to a hearty entree of your own like scallops with saffron calasparra rice and orange-brown butter vinaigrette, and finish with Basque cake and local peaches. 

Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Brewery Athens Georgia

Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Arrow

There are plenty of reasons to visit Creature Comforts Brewing Co. in downtown Athens. First, beer aficionados will likely know it for its Tropicália IPA, which has had a cult following since it was released in 2014. Secondly, you can’t miss the massive brewery and tasting room, built into a refurbished Chevy dealership and auto shop, built in the 1940s. The founders kept everything they could from the old building, including garage doors that create an indoor/outdoor bar and tasting room, exposed beams, concrete floors, and reclaimed wood (after which they named one of their signature beers, Reclaimed Rye). And, though this is a brewery, it's also become a favorite local bar.

State Botanical Gardens of Georgia Athens Georgia

State Botanical Gardens of Georgia Arrow

This lush park has something for just about every kind of nature lover or plant enthusiast. The 313-acre park has five miles of nature trails and habitats constructed to encourage the proliferation of native pollinators. More than 230,000 guests visit each year to explore the heritage garden, horticulture greenhouses, children’s garden and native garden, filled with familiar Southern blooms like dogwoods, azaleas, and magnolias. Runners and walkers are welcome to stroll or hustle through the gardens, too.

The Grit Restaurant Athens Georgia

The Grit Arrow

Housed in a weathered brick building on the outskirts of downtown, The Grit feels lived-in and comfortable. It’s been an Athens institution since the 1990s, when non-vegetarians were a little wary of an all-vegetarian restaurant. It still sports the faded brick, turquoise trim, and a chalkboard of rotating specials, but it’s won a voracious following of carnivores as well as non-meat eaters. With seating in two indoor rooms and a few outdoor tables, there’s almost always a wait, whether you come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but it's worth it. The black bean chili makes appearances in several dishes, including an overstuffed burrito and the loaded nachos with melted cheese and homemade salsa. The tofu Reuben is so well seasoned you might forget it doesn’t actually contain pastrami.



Just an hour and a half northwest of Atlanta , Chattanooga is a city on the rise. The once primarily industrial city has done an about-face and is now one of the tech-savviest and greenest cities in the South (there’s even a free electric shuttle to get around downtown). Set next to the Appalachian Mountains and with the sparkling Tennessee River running right through town, there are plenty of outdoor activities to draw visitors, plus cool new restaurants, boutiques, and museums to keep them coming back.

Coolidge Park Atlanta Georgia GA Day Trips

Coolidge Park Arrow

Coolidge Park is a charming seven-acre plot of green on the north shore of the Tennessee River—small enough to fully explore, but big enough that it rarely feels crowded. The restored Walnut Street pedestrian bridge connects the park with downtown’s main drag (where you’ll find the Hunter Museum of American Art and the massive Tennessee Aquarium) and at its western border, bisected by the John Ross Bridge, neighboring Renaissance Park adds 23 more acres to explore. The manicured, tree-shaded pathways are a popular destination for runners and walkers. And no matter your age, a ride on the park's antique carousel is worth the time. Local Chattanoogan and well-known woodcarver Bud Ellis had the carousel brought in from Atlanta .

The Read Hotel Chattanooga TN

The Read House Arrow

It’s impossible not to be dazzled by The Read House hotel, with its Georgian-style bones and a top-to-bottom $25 million-plus renovation. The structure was built in 1872 and has survived through floods and epidemics of years past. Now, the fully renovated 241-room hotel’s design harkens  to the 1920s with soaring lobby ceilings, dramatic chandeliers, black and white checkered floors, and wood-clad walls polished to a high shine. Noteworthy past guests have included Bing Crosby, Ronald Regan, Oprah Winfrey, and Winston Churchill. Al Capone's stay in room 311 is legendary—he was at the hotel during his federal trial in the 1930s (custom bars were fitted to the window). 

Songbirds Guitar Museum

Songbirds Guitar Museum Arrow

If you like guitars or any kind of music, Songbirds is a treasure trove. The world’s largest display of rare vintage guitars is estimated to be worth more than $200 million and belongs to a group of anonymous collectors. The 14,000-square-foot space includes a z-shaped museum upstairs and Songbirds South, a music venue downstairs, so there's more than one way to experience it all. Part of what makes it so cool is that the installations go beyond just the instruments themselves. On any given visit, you’ll see around 500 guitars on display—but that’s only about 25 percent of the entire collection, which rotates through  an ever-changing line-up. You’ll see Gretsches, Fenders, Les Pauls, and instruments from just about every genre imaginable. 

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Lookout Mountain Flight Park Arrow

Lookout Mountain Flight Park is one of the premier spots for hang gliding and paragliding in the country. There are two ways to fly: pros can take a running leap off of the 1,300 foot Lookout Mountain ridge , while novices fly tandem with a flight instructor. Down in the valley, “students” (legally, you’re not permitted to take a ride, but a lesson) are outfitted with a harness before being strapped close to an experienced instructor and into a feather-light winged glider. You only have to be 10 years old to participate in a tandem flight, so even children can get in on the action. In general, anyone who wants a thrill (and who won't freak out at the prospect of flying) will love this. It's well worth the price tag (starting at $249).

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St. John's Restaurant Arrow

It’s not surprising that every dish at this multi-James Beard Award-nominated restaurant is as beautifully presented as it is flavorful. This place screams fine dining but not in a stuffy, pretentious way.  The chefs here are so committed to freshness that seafood is flown in daily (try the lobster soup), small batches of limited crops are sourced from local farmers, and the menu changes every day to accommodate. St. John's is the kind of place where you walk in and it feels like a special occasion, even if it's just a celebration of successfully completing a Tuesday at work. 

River Gallery Atlanta Day trip Chattanooga TN

River Gallery Arrow

River Gallery is a perfect starting point to explore the Bluff View Art District, a historic walkable area with restaurants, a coffee house, and a charming bed & breakfast. River Gallery and Bluff View are rarely overrun with people, so you’re in the clear if you don’t want to fight crowds. The whole district’s vibe is historic, elegant and quaint. In River Gallery, the rooms are curated according to style or theme, with unobtrusive lights to showcase the art, and the whole gallery still feels like a home. Blown glass pieces hang in front of windows to catch sunlight streaming in, and there’s enough variety in price points that even entry-level collectors can find something in their budget.



Blue Ridge, in the mountains of the same name in north Georgia, is a perfect antidote to Atlanta’s crowds. It’s close enough to feel easy, but far enough away to feel like a true getaway. The area is famous for terrific hikes, acres of apple farms, and the state's best trout fishing. Plus, with an elevation of 1,762 feet above sea level, it can be as much as ten degrees cooler during Atlanta’s steamy summers.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Arrow

This historic train leaves from the 1905-built depot in downtown Blue Ridge. The bright blue engine pulls a line of open-air and climate-controlled rail cars through the Chattahoochee National Forest for a two-hour “layover” in Copperhill, Tennessee. The 26-mile round trip overlooks the Toccoa River for most of the way. Guests can typically walk up to the depot counter to purchase a ticket on the spot, but themed rides (like the popular Santa Express) sell out early, so advanced tickets are a good idea. The scenery along the Toccoa River is beautiful, so anywhere you look (no matter the season), you’re likely to have a great view.

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Cohutta Fishing Company Arrow

Blue Ridge is known as the “Trout Capital of Georgia,” and for good reason: it’s fly fishing heaven. For would-be fishermen (and women) who don’t know where to start, Cohutta Fishing Company is the place. This bright, independently owned shop on the end of downtown’s main drag has everything you need to catch your first fish—from gear and apparel to poles and flies. Score a fishing license and ask the experts about lures and guides. The friendly staff is likely to tell you what the trout (rainbow, brook, and brown) are biting. If you’re really nice, they might share their favorite fishing hole locations.


Wrapsody in Blue Arrow

It might be surprising to find a shopping haven in the North Georgia mountains, but quaint downtown Blue Ridge has become a destination for artists and curators, with wares ranging from rustic to high-end. There are only two main downtown streets with shops, and a good place to start is Wrapsody in Blue, housed in a two-story cabin-style building on the upper street. It stocks home decor items, hostess gifts, art, candles, and jewelry, both from national brands and local artisans. The small town charm is evident, since it’s not uncommon to meet one of the owners while you shop.

Mercier Orchards Blue Ridge Georgia

Mercier Orchards Arrow

North Georgia's mountains are peppered with pick-your-own apple farms, and Mercier Orchards is one of the most popular. The farm sits on 300 acres of rolling hills, dotted with almost 50 types of apples, including Crimson Crisp, Empire, Ginger Gold, Cameo, Yates, and Gold Rush. While there’s a pick-your-own apple experience, the giant country store is the main attraction. The green barn-style building isn’t anything fancy, with concrete and wood floors and supermarket-style baskets, but it sells all manner of gourmet goods, fresh produce, baked goods, and has a cider tasting room.

Benton MacKaye Trail

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge Arrow

One of the beauties of visiting Blue Ridge is that you don’t have to travel far out of town to get off the beaten path and connect with nature. Case in point: the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge. A 15-minute drive outside of town will get you to a gravel National Forest Service road (it’s easier with a four-wheel drive vehicle). Soon after, you’ll find the 270-foot long bridge, the longest suspension bridge east of the Mississippi River. Pack a picnic and find a spot overlooking the rushing Toccoa River .

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Amicalola Falls State Park Arrow

This lush 829-acre state park is set in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The star attraction is the 729-foot waterfall—third highest east of the Mississippi River—named for the Cherokee Indian word for “tumbling waters.” If you’re feeling hearty, climb the 604 steps from the base of the falls to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with views of mountains, the valley beyond and, of course, the falls. If you're just passing through and still want the experience, drive straight to the top, park, and see the falls from the plunge point. Your friends and social media followers don't need to know that you didn't climb up from the bottom.

day trips from atlanta georgia


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Home » Travel Guides » United States » Georgia (GA) » 15 Best Day Trips from Atlanta (2023)

15 Best Day Trips from Atlanta (2023)

Atlanta is a thriving and happening city in Georgia. Having played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and home to the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site there is a lot of cultural and historical heritage to explore in Atlanta.

The state of Georgia borders Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina and Florida too. Bordering such a versatile selection of states means that the day trip possibilities from Atlanta are practically endless. Whether you want to explore national parks or visit quaint rural towns, tick off must visit US cities or simply take in the views then there is a lot to keep you busy.

I’m an Atlanta local and travel is my passion. I’ve explore many regions of my home-state Georgia so I feel very qualified to show you some of the best day trips from Atlanta to kick start your wanderlust.

1. Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier is one of the favourite summertime hangout spots for Georgians and visitors alike. There is just so much to do, for hiking I would recommend the Sawnee Mountain as a great starting point.

If you’re travelling with children, or perhaps just want to connect with your inner child, then a day visit to the not-so creatively named LanierWorld is a great idea. Featuring dozens of water slides and a mini-golf course too, LanierWorld is a total novelty but totally good fun nonetheless.

Lake Lanier Islands are a small group of islands set on the lake itself. Home to zip lines, waterparks and more there is never a dull moment at Lake Lanier.

You may also like :  15 Best Lakes in Georgia

2. Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee

With its roots firmly in Tennessee the city of Chattanooga has a lot to explore. The Incline Railway is a lovely way to spend a morning. Chug along the steep hill up to Lookout Mountain before heading onto Ruby Falls and Rock City.  Ruby Falls are simply magnificent; a 145 ft high waterfall that lies deep underground. There is nothing quite like this in Georgia, you’ve got to cross state line to experience this. It’s estimated that Ruby Falls is over 30 million years old.

Rock City is Chattanooga’s most famous landmark and supposedly, from the rocky ledge, you can lookout and see 7 states. I recommend visiting on a clear day so you’ve got the best view. Be brave and cross over the 200 ft long swing bridge, the view is worth it for sure.

Suggested tour : Chattanooga: Historic Downtown 2-Hour Segway Tour

Macon, Georgia

Macon can be found in the very heart of Georgia and is easily accessible from Atlanta . Macon is home to some real architectural gems, namely Hay House and the Grand Opera House.

Lovers of music and musical history will thoroughly enjoy a day trip to Macron. Home to the The Allman Brothers Band Museum and the Museum of Arts and Science there is a lot of culture to take in in Macon. The Tubman African American Museum provides incredible insights into a vital part of America’s heritage. Featuring folk art and incredible modern sculpture, if you do just one thing when in Macon the Tubman African American Museum should be it.

If you’re going to visit be sure to check out my guide on Macon .

4. Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park is also affectionately referred to ‘Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon’ and deservedly so. If you don’t have time during your visit to the United States of America to head to the wild west then a visit to the Providence Canyon State Park will more than suffice.

With over 1,000 acres to explore you can take a leisurely stroll to the best lookout spots or challenge yourself to cover as much ground as possible during the course of the day. The choice is yourself and however you choose to explore Providence Canyon State Park you’ll have a truly memorable day for sure. It is a year round destination without a doubt, however, the park is most colorful in the autumn months.

Athens, Georgia

Just to confirm, Athens Georgia certainly not Athens in Greece. What a day trip from Atlanta that would out to be.  Athens, GA , is home to the ‘Tree That Owns Itself’ that is a must-visit for eco-lovers and tree huggers alike.

The Tree That Owns Itself was deeded ownership to itself by an eccentric, oddball professor back in the 1800s. Sticking with the nature theme, Athens is home to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and feature an impressive conservatory that will inspire all you green-fingered horticulturalists out there.

As a college town there is a thriving music scene in Athens and a number of buzzing indie bars that should be experienced before you depart back to Atlanta.

6. Summerville

Summerville, Georgia

Summerville is a super cute mountain town that lies about an hour and a half drive from Atlanta city center . Home to a number of festivals and community events throughout the year be sure to time your visit right so as not to miss out on the joy of Summerville in full flow.

The Paradise Gardens is a lovely place to spend a lazy afternoon or perhaps the Azalea Park. The Wassamassaw Community Park is the best bet if you’re travelling with children, there’s a great playground there.

If you’re keen on history and architecture then I suggest you swing by the Colonial Dorchester State Historical Park.

Here you’ll find the beautiful ruins of a colonial era town.

7. Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

A bit of a mouthful, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest spans across a humbling 866,468 acres. Of course, you cannot cover that distance in a meagre day trip from Atlanta but with over 86 trails to choose from there is a hike, walk or bimble to suit every fitness level and every interest.

Spreading over eight counties in Georgia, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is much loved by all who visit. There are a number of particularly beautiful spots along the walking trails that simply must be captured on camera.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a budding photographer or an aspirational botanist you’ll surely fall in love with Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

8. Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens, Georgia

Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat, a solo adventure or a day out for all the family Callaway Gardens ticks all the right boxes. With lakes offering fishing and good old fashioned boating Callaway Gardens is a relaxing and laid back trip from Atlanta. The azalea garden is particularly beautiful when in full bloom.

The pioneer log cabins are a piece of perfectly preserved history that are a joy to explore. There are a number of dining outlets at Callaway Gardens but feel free to bring your own picnic. At the Callaway Gardens Resort you can book in for a round of golf or even book in for a spa treatment.

Augusta, Georgia

Augusta is a peaceful city in Georgia and lies on the banks of the Savannah River. The Augusta Riverwalk is a lovely way to spend a day, perhaps romantic even. Lying close to the South Carolina border Augusta is home to the Augusta National Golf Club. Having hosted the world-famous Masters Tournament for decades Augusta is the holy grail for golf lovers. Although a round here costs and arm and a leg it is well worth it to played on such hallowed ground.

There is are perfectly manicured gardens to explore and a Golf Club restaurant too. Be sure to dress in adherence to the code else you’ll be kicked right out.

10. Nashville

Downtown Nashville

Nashville is the steeped in musical history, lovers of country and folk music will put a day trip to Nashville high on their agenda. The Country Music Hall of Fame not only features some of the genres biggest superstars but also tracks the evolution of the musical movement across the centuries.

Curiously, Nashville is also home to the Parthenon, a full sized replica of the same Parthenon that you would find in Athens. Placed in Centennial Park a visit to the Parthenon is the highlight to any visit to Nashville. Also see my guide on Nashville .

11. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

For a leisurely and picturesque day out in Georgia it seldom gets better than the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The village of Blue Ridge is one of the most quaint and charming in all of the state and is the gateway to the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The short 2-mile long scenic railway trip takes around 4-hours and meanders through the countryside landscapes through forest and fields following the flow of the Toccoa River. Many people choose to hop off the train at the halfway point of Copperhill and explore the cafes and gift shops, antique stalls and more. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a locally made ice cream.

12. Georgia Guidestones

Georgia Guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones are one of the state’s most iconic and impressive landmarks. Created in 1980 the stones feature inscriptions of 10 guidelines in eight languages. The inscriptions are noble and suggests rules for life in the modern day.

The eighth stone, for example, says ‘balance personal rights with social duties’ and the tenth ‘leave room for nature’. The Georgia Guidestones are said to be guidelines to an Age of Reason. The placement of the stones themselves has astronomical value.

When the sunbeam pierces through the capstone it marks noontime throughout the year. Translated into Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili and more the Georgia Guidestones are a must-visit by all.

13. Toccoa Falls

Toccoa Falls

Placed inside the Toccoa Falls College Campus is the impressive, majestic Toccoa Falls themselves. Running smoothly into the Mississippi River the Toccoa Falls stand at 186 ft tall. Making it 26 ft taller than Niagara Falls in New York state.

Did you know that ‘toccoa’ in the Cherokee language means ‘beautiful’? Well, you learn something new everyday and what an appropriate name for such a natural spectacle. Toccoa Falls College is a thriving Christian college set in a 1,000 acre wooded campus, the grounds make for a lovely walk of an afternoon. Students are friendly and welcoming to visitors on their campus.

14. Charlotte

Charlotte, NC

The city of Charlotte is the most populated city in North Carolina, modern and thriving Charlotte makes for a great day trip from Atlanta. The uptown district is best known for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Celebrating everything from epic wins to the sport’s biggest personalities the NASCAR HoF is interactive and informative even for the most clued-up auto-enthusiast.

If you seek an adrenaline thrill then when in Charlotte take a few hours to explore Carowinds, a theme park in the outskirts of the city that features rollercoaster and waterslides a plenty. Another great place to visit in Charlotte with the family is Discovery Place, featuring an indoor rainforest and an IMAX theatre.

Suggested tour : Charlotte: Historic Uptown 90-Minute Segway Tour

15. Cherokee Forest

Cherokee Forest, Tennessee

Established in the summer of 1920 the Cherokee Forest encompasses a breathtaking area of over 655,598 acres in Tennessee. Hiking up to Max Patch is a popular pastime as is hiking to Roan Mountain.

Watauga Lake is a tranquil lake open for fishing, kayaking and camping too should you not wish to return to Atlanta in a hurry. The Bald River Falls are a powerful series of waterfall that plumpets 90ft down jagged rocks into the pool below. Cold even on the most balmy of summer days perhaps it’s best just to dip your toes.

The photography opportunities in Cherokee Forest are endless and genuinely enjoyable, making in one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

15 Best Day Trips from Atlanta (2023):

  • Lake Lanier
  • Chattanooga
  • Providence Canyon State Park
  • Summerville
  • Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
  • Callaway Gardens
  • Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
  • Georgia Guidestones
  • Toccoa Falls
  • Cherokee Forest

Top Atlanta Day Trips

Day trips from atlanta.

  • Atlanta to Ellijay
  • Atlanta to Decatur
  • Atlanta to Roswell
  • Atlanta to Dawsonville
  • Atlanta to Senoia
  • Atlanta to East Point
  • Atlanta to Cleveland
  • Up to 1 hour
  • 1 to 4 hours
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • 5.0 of 5 bubbles
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 2.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Likely to Sell Out
  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

day trips from atlanta georgia

1. Half Day Atlanta City Tour

day trips from atlanta georgia

2. North Georgia Wine Country Tour from Atlanta

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3. Civil War & Battlegrounds Tour of Atlanta by Private Car Service

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4. 7-Hr The Walking Dead Private VIP Tour in Atlanta and Senoia with Transportation

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5. Half-Day Wine Tastings in the North Georgia Mountains

day trips from atlanta georgia

6. Atlanta Plantations, Civil War and Civil Rights tour of Atlanta

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7. Full-Day Wine Country Wine Tastings From Atlanta

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8. Half-Day North Georgia Wine Country Tour From Atlanta

day trips from atlanta georgia

9. Blue Ridge Hike w/ Waterfall, Wine and Dine Private Tour from ATL

day trips from atlanta georgia

10. Atlanta Vineyards and Wines Full-Day Tour

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11. All-Day Private Stranger Things Location Tour in Atlanta

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12. Welcome to Hotlanta! City of Dreams Chasers and Saucy Nightlife!

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13. Private Shopping Tour from Atlanta hotels to North Georgia Outlet

Keep the fun going with other experiences in the area.

day trips from atlanta georgia

Full-Day Private Guided Athens Brewery Tour

What travellers are saying.

Curt M

THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Atlanta

Day trips from atlanta.

  • Atlanta to Ellijay
  • Atlanta to Decatur
  • Atlanta to Roswell
  • Atlanta to Dawsonville
  • Atlanta to Senoia
  • Atlanta to East Point
  • Atlanta to Cleveland
  • Up to 1 hour
  • 1 to 4 hours
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • 5.0 of 5 bubbles
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 2.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Likely to Sell Out
  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

day trips from atlanta georgia

1. Half Day Atlanta City Tour

day trips from atlanta georgia

2. North Georgia Wine Country Tour from Atlanta

day trips from atlanta georgia

3. Civil War & Battlegrounds Tour of Atlanta by Private Car Service

day trips from atlanta georgia

4. 7-Hr The Walking Dead Private VIP Tour in Atlanta and Senoia with Transportation

day trips from atlanta georgia

5. Half-Day Wine Tastings in the North Georgia Mountains

day trips from atlanta georgia

6. Atlanta Plantations, Civil War and Civil Rights tour of Atlanta

day trips from atlanta georgia

7. Full-Day Wine Country Wine Tastings From Atlanta

day trips from atlanta georgia

8. Half-Day North Georgia Wine Country Tour From Atlanta

day trips from atlanta georgia

9. Atlanta Vineyards and Wines Full-Day Tour

day trips from atlanta georgia

10. Blue Ridge Hike w/ Waterfall, Wine and Dine Private Tour from ATL

day trips from atlanta georgia

11. All-Day Private Stranger Things Location Tour in Atlanta

day trips from atlanta georgia

12. Welcome to Hotlanta! City of Dreams Chasers and Saucy Nightlife!

day trips from atlanta georgia

13. Private Shopping Tour from Atlanta hotels to North Georgia Outlet

Keep the fun going with other experiences in the area.

day trips from atlanta georgia

North Atlanta Slingshot Guided Group Tour

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Full Day Self Guided Tour in Bell Mountain via Slingshot

day trips from atlanta georgia

Full-Day Private Guided Athens Brewery Tour

What travellers are saying.

Curt M


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp journeys to South Korea in sixth overseas trip

The Associated Press

June 11, 2024, 12:10 PM

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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is traveling to South Korea in his sixth overseas trip as governor.

The Republican left late Monday for a roughly 10-day trip to the Asian nation, arriving on Wednesday in South Korea. He plans to return in the middle of next week.

Kemp is visiting with South Korean businesses that currently do business in Georgia, as well as those who might open locations there, state officials said. The roughly 15-person delegation, which includes lawmakers and state economic recruiters, will host a reception in conjunction with Hyundai Motor Group but doesn’t plan to meet with political or cultural leaders.

Jessica Atwell, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the reception will be “an opportunity to bring many partners together in one place to honor the partnerships we have cultivated over nearly four decades.”

Kemp will also hold meetings with LG Group, SK Group, Hanwha Qcells and CJ Foodville.

LG Group is building an electric vehicle battery plant at the $7.6 billion automotive assembly complex that Hyundai is constructing near Savannah. SK Group owns a battery plant in Commerce and is building a plant to make semiconductor materials in Covington. Hanwha Qcells owns solar panel plants in Dalton and Cartersville. CJ Foodville is building a bakery in Gainesville.

The cost to taxpayers for the trip is not immediately available.

When in South Korea in 2019, Kemp met with then-Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Hyundai Motor Group officials before the conglomerate announced its Ellabell facility. Kemp went to Germany in 2020, visited Israel in May 2023 and the nation of Georgia and France in June 2023. He also attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2023 and 2024 .

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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King of the Netherlands visits Port of Savannah during 3-day US tour

day trips from atlanta georgia

Georgia Ports Authority Hosts King and Queen of The Netherlands-1 The Georgia Ports Authority hosted His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima of The Netherlands, along with a delegation of Dutch businesses, at the Port of Savannah on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. Georgia is The Netherlands tenth-largest U.S. trade partner, with trade in goods and services totaling $3.9 billion annually. (Courtesy: Georgia Ports Authority)

SAVANNAH, Ga. — During their three-day trip to the United States, the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, and Queen Máxima visited the Port of Savannah.

The royal couple was visiting the U.S. on a three-day working tour, and made a stop in Savannah on Tuesday afternoon.

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According to the Georgia Ports Authority, the tour of the U.S.’ third busiest gateway container port also included roundtable discussions with Their Majesties and Dutch industry and business leaders, in addition to government officials on Sustainable Port Development and Hinterland Connectivity.

GPA said these were topics important to the Netherlands, home to the Port of Rotterdam, as a comparison to the Port of Savannah.

The Port of Rotterdam is the world’s 10th business container port and handled 13-45 million 20-foot container units in 2023.


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Comparatively, the Port of Savannah handled five million 20-foot container units this year, so far, according to GPA.

“We are honored to welcome His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima, and their Dutch business delegation, to the Port of Savannah on behalf of the Georgia Ports Authority, and the people of the Great State of Georgia,” Georgia Ports Authority President and CEO Griff Lynch said in a statement.

During the tour of the port, GPA officials showed Their Majesties the Mason Mega Rail and the Garden City Terminal, which has nine berths.

“Georgia and The Netherlands are leaders in global supply chain infrastructure. Our ports are major lifelines for the transport of a variety of goods to come in and leave our shores. It is crucial that The Netherlands and the United States, and Georgia in particular, continue to learn from each other and work together on sustainable port development ensuring connectivity from our ports to the rest of the U.S. and the EU,” said Dutch Ambassador Birgitta Tazelaar during the visit.

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King and queen of the Netherlands pay tribute to MLK during visit to Atlanta

The king and queen of the Netherlands began a four-day tour of the U.S. on Monday in Atlanta, where they paid tribute to the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and learned about the history of the church where he served as pastor.

From left to right, King Willem-Alexander, King's daughter Bernice King and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, pose for a photograph after placing a wreath at the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King, during a visit to the King Center, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

From left to right, King Willem-Alexander, King’s daughter Bernice King and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, pose for a photograph after placing a wreath at the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King, during a visit to the King Center, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, 2nd right, speaks to the media as and Queen Maxima, 1st left, and Bernice King, 2nd left, look on after placing a wreath at the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King during a visit to the King Center, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

King Willem-Alexander, 1st left, and Queen Maxima,, 3rd left, of the Netherlands walk to place a wreath at the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King as the King’s daughter Bernice King, center, during a visit to the King Center, Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are greeted by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, at the Georgia State Capitol Building Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are greeted by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, and First Lady Marty Kemp at the Georgia State Capitol Building Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrive at the Georgia State Capitol Building Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands pose for a photograph with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, second from left, and First lady Marty Kemp, left at the Georgia State Capitol Building Monday, June 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — The king and queen of the Netherlands began a four-day tour of the U.S. on Monday in Atlanta, where they paid tribute to the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and learned about the history of the church where he served as pastor.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were also scheduled to visit a music studio in the city that is a hub for hip hop artists.

The visit — and its focus on Black cultural sites — comes less than a year after the king apologized for his country’s role in slavery and asked for forgiveness during a historic and emotional speech in Amsterdam.

At the King Center, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King, greeted the king and queen and walked with them to a marble crypt containing the remains of her father and mother, Coretta Scott King, where the couple lay a wreath. Civil rights leader and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young also attended the event.

Willem-Alexander called the visit “deeply moving” for the couple and said the “drive for emancipation among people of color” was a story of “pain and anger, but also one of pride, solidarity and the steadfast belief in peace and reconciliation.”

FILE - Bologna's Joshua Zirkzee heads the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Bologna at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy, Saturday, May 11 , 2024. Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has called up Joshua Zirkzee to complete his 26-man squad for the European Championship to fill a gap created when midfielder Teun Koopmeiners was cut earlier this week after suffering a groin injury. (Alessandro Garofalo/LaPresse via AP, file)

“In the Netherlands, too, the fight against discrimination and racism continues to command our full attention,” he said, reading from prepared remarks. “Martin Luther King inspires us never to give up. His voice continues to resonate even across the Atlantic.”

The couple later met with Black students at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where they learned about the church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for racial justice. On Tuesday, they are scheduled to visit Savannah State University, the oldest public historically Black college or university in Georgia.

The trip also has an economic motive. In 2023, total trade between Georgia and the Netherlands was $2.9 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The king and queen met earlier Monday with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp at the state Capitol, where they and a delegation of Dutch business leaders planned to discuss economic cooperation.

They were scheduled to be on hand later for the opening of a new cold storage facility by Dutch company NewCold.

On Tuesday, they plan to visit the Port of Savannah. The trip concludes with a visit to New York on Wednesday and Thursday.

day trips from atlanta georgia


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    Blue Ridge is the perfect trip only 90-min from Downtown Atlanta. 3 Hours in Downtown Blue Ridge. Bring the kids, plan an escape with your girlfriends, pack up family visiting from out-of-town, or enjoy a few hours of solitude. Blue Ridge is always the answer for a delightful day trip from Atlanta.

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    Nashville, Tennessee - the Music City. Summerville - Paradise Garden is ideal for those traveling with kids! Black Rock Mountain State Park, Georgia. Cloudland Canyon State Park. Southeast. With picturesque alpine towns and spectacular countryside, there are so many great day trips from Atlanta to choose from.

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    Lake Lanier is a beloved location in Georgia and is one of the top day trips for getting out in the fresh air and trying water sports. Try to catch the sunset after an exciting day on Lake Lanier! 6. Athens. Distance from Atlanta: 71 miles. Driving Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.

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    Atlanta Day Trips Over 2 Hours Providence Ridge Canyon State Park. Known as Georgia's 'little Grand Canyon', Providence Canyon State Park is located in Stuart County and was formed by poor farming practises in the 1800s with some of the gullies going as deep as 150 feet. It's unique scenery makes it one of the best day trips in Atlanta!

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    Even if you don't have time to travel far, it's easy to take a quick road trip for the day and explore locally. Here's a list we put together of the most popular day trips from Atlanta. 1. Lake Lanier, Georgia. 2875 Browns Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30504, map. Distance: 53 mi / 50 min ( map)

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    Address. 2625 Highway 212 SW, 2625 GA-212, Conyers, GA 30094-4044, USA. Phone +1 770-483-8705. Web Visit website. Experience the tranquility and beauty of this Trappist monk community 30 miles removed from the city. Take a self-guided tour of the Monastic Museum, join the residing monks for mass or mid-day prayers, learn about the art of Bonsai ...

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    Athens (1 hour 20 min Day Trip from Atlanta) Athens is the home of the University of Georgia as well as a thriving indie music scene. The city has a number of historical buildings with typical Southern architecture in addition to several 18th-century house museums open for touring. A college town, it is quite walkable and packs many venues into ...

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    15 Best Weekend Trips from Atlanta Georgia. 1. Chattanooga, Tennessee →. Distance: 118 mi / 1 hr 46 min ( map) What to Do / See: Ruby Falls, Rock City Garden, Tennessee Aquarium. What to Eat: Maple Street Biscuit Company , Public House.

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