If you’re thinking of taking a tour of the south, you’ll definitely want to know the top 11 most interesting and beautiful places to visit in Georgia. After all, it is the capital of the south, ya’ll!
I’m proud to call Georgia my home, and when I’m not traveling, seeing this beautiful country, I enjoy everything this great state has to offer.
From the natural settings to the big city lights, Georgia has history, culture and adventure. In the words of John Mayer, let’s find out “Why, Georgia, why”?
Now I have that song in my head! 🙂
Here are my top picks for the best places to visit in Georgia.
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When talking about places in Georgia to visit, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is Atlanta. Hotlanta or THE ATL, as the locals call it, is a mish mash of history, culture, and adventure.
I mean, where can you hop on a bike, ride through old historic neighborhoods, visit an iconic civil rights memorial and grab some amazing tapas on a sun-filtered patio? Atlanta is a happening spot and the secret is out.
If you plan on visiting Georgia, you can find out a lot about the state by starting in Atlanta. Visit a few of the museums around town and you’ll get the flavor and feel of what the heart and capital of Georgia is all about.
The Atlanta History Center can teach you more about Georgia and it’s history, or if you’d like to learn more about one of the most iconic symbols of the south, visit the World of Coca-Cola. Whatever you decide, Atlanta will get you on the right track to getting the vibe of what Georgia is all about.
Cloudland Canyon is one of the most fun places to visit in Georgia.
Being in Cloudland Canyon State Park has elements of other amazing parks rolled into one. It has canyons, waterfalls, caves and amazing hiking.
I’ve been here countless times and it never gets old. I’ve stayed in a yurt and camped in a tent. I’ve hiked on the trails and gazed at the mountain laurel in the canyon.
Visiting here is always an amazing outdoor experience. Not far from the Tennessee state line, this is a great addition to your travels if you are in Chattanooga, Tennessee or visiting other attractions such as Lookout Mountain or Ruby Falls.
This is definitely a four season park, so if you’re in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Make sure you carve out time for this gem of the State Park system.
Savannah is the diamond of Georgia. With its Spanish moss and tales of pirates and folklore long passed, it is sure to satisfy your inner need for all things historical and mysterious. This is definitely one of the best places to go in Georgia!
Savannah begins it’s aesthetic beauty with 22 squares set up in a grid system that make up the downtown area. Each square is lined with historic homes, 200 year old azaleas and all the history to go with it.
Taking a walking tour or renting a bike is the best way to see the squares, where you can also stop and lounge with a picnic lunch.
Don’t miss the Chippewa Square where much of the movie Forrest Gump was filmed.
Fun Fact – The bench where he sat for 80% of the film had to be moved to the Savannah History Museum because people were chipping pieces off of the statue of Forrest for keepsake.
River Street and City Market are sure to satisfy your shopping habit. Eat at the Pirate’s House and learn of the tales of the Seven Seas from the 18th century as it all happened at the inn where pirates and sailors alike would stay.
Being one of the oldest cities in America, Savannah’s legends and stories will keep you intrigued and beguiled as you walk its city streets.
Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge
At Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge, you’ll be asking yourself, “Am I in Hawaii or Dawsonville, Georgia?”
Set in the North Georgia Mountains, Amicalola Falls is the payoff you get before you even start hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The AT, as it is called by the “tough as nails”, hikers that conquer it, is a 2,181 mile trail that runs from Springer Mountain to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Amicalola Falls is the gateway to the AT, where all hikers must sign in, before they leave.
If you want one more night of comfort before you take off on your trek, you can stay at the lodge, which is located at the top of the falls. With views forever and a breakfast buffet to die for, you are bound to be rested and satisfied before your adventure.
If you’re not up for traversing the AT, you can just climb the waterfall and call it a day. I visited Amicalola Falls almost every fall in my childhood and have nostalgic memories of climbing the 604 steps from the bottom of the falls to the top platform.
The rushing water, together with the changing fall leaves will always be etched in my memory. Now, I take my kids here and we conquer the stairs together. It is definitely one of the best places in Georgia to visit.
Where can you touch a sting ray, see a dolphin show and watch a beluga whale being trained all under one roof? The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium on the planet, housing more than 100,000 sea creatures.
The aquarium is home to many different tanks of all shapes and sizes, housing all types of aquatic life. But, nothing compares to the AT&T Dolphin Tales Aquarium that measures 84,000 square feet and contains 1.8 million gallons of water. It’s so large, you could fit 1.5 White Houses inside! Now that’s something to see!
The Georgia aquarium is the only place in America to house a whale shark. You can see more of these amazing beings on the Behind the Scenes Tour of the aquarium that runs everyday. When looking for where to go in Georgia, the Georgia Aquarium should always be on your list.
When you think of a swamp, I’ll bet not much excitement gets stirred.
But, Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp is bound to change that mindset. Here you are guaranteed to see one of it’s 13,000 alligators on it’s 438,000 acres of wildlife refuge, or you might even see a black bear in the woods that border the swamp.
Located in southeast Georgia, the Okefenokee Swamp was originally home to Creek and Seminole Native Americans. Spanish missionaries and then whites moved into the area bringing agriculture and then industry in the form of railroads.
Take a guided boat tour or hike one of the many trails accessible by boardwalk to see the mysterious beauty that surrounds the Okefenokee Swamp.
This is the phrase you’ll continually hear being shouted in every nook and cranny in Athens, Georgia beginning in August of every year. If there was ever a “Capital of Football”, Athens, Georgia is it!
Home of the Georgia Bulldogs is how most Georgians know Athens, but Athens is more than home of the former, #1 Party School”, in the nation. Lined with historic Greek Revival homes from the 18th century, this is one city that every lover of historic architecture should visit.
Take a walking or a shuttle tour and learn about Athens, which is named after, you guessed it Athens, Greece. Stroll down Broad Street and grab a quick bite or take a peek in The Georgia Theater where music legends, REM and Zac Brown used to call their home.
But your visit wouldn’t be complete without attending the quintessential college town pass time. Football is what makes this town live and breathe. On Saturday mornings the whole city is converted into one big tailgate party and it is something to witness.
Wild horses on the beach and thick maritime forests, that’s the thing that fairytales are made of. But here on Cumberland Island, fairytale is reality.
Sitting on the Georgia/Florida boarder, there is an island untouched by the heavy construction and high rises of the mainland. In fact, it looks much like it did when Europeans began settling in the 18th century.
Cumberland Island is part of the National Park Service and only allows 300 visitors a day, so chances are, once you venture out, you won’t see another human.
Leave St. Mary’s by ferry and arrive at the island ready to explore. Visit the ruins of Dungeness, a hunting lodge that notable first Georgian James Oglethorpe built in the 1730’s, or walk the miles of of trails among the twisted live oak trees that have been there for centuries.
Keep your eyes peeled for wild horses and deer and even bobcats. Enjoy the peace and serenity of nature as it is intended to be.
Cumberland Island is just another one of the most interesting and beautiful places to visit in Georgia.
World Of Coca-Cola Museum
A visit to Georgia would never be complete without visiting the home of one of the most recognizable brands in human history.
To a native Georgian, there is only one drink. Well, maybe there’s sweet tea too, but besides that there’s Coke.
When Pharmacist, John Pemberton invented the syrup for Coca-Cola in 1892, he would never believe that today it is a $30 Billion a year success story.
At the World of Coke, you can learn the history of Coca-Cola, taste different sodas from around the world that Coke also makes and even see the vault where the original Coca-Cola recipe is kept in secrecy.
It’s a worth while stop to visit this museum that is so ingrained in the psyche of Georgia.
Stone Mountain Park
If you’ve ever driven around I-285, which is the interstate that loops around Atlanta, you’ll be able to see Stone Mountain and it’s cast of characters from miles away, as you veer east around the loop.
Now, this is one big piece of granite! In 1972, a relief was carved of notable Confederate generals and is the largest relief sculpture in the world.
I can attest to just how big this hunk of granite is.
At seven years old, I remember climbing this mountain with my Dad. At the time, it seemed like it was reaching into outer space.
I struggled and winced, but once at the top, I could see the skyline of Atlanta and the North Georgia mountains. It was my first experience of many, climbing a mountain and a great memory.
Stone Mountain Park has so much to do through out the year. Besides hiking and biking, there are festivals and holiday celebrations. There’s always something going on, no matter what time of year.
If you’re looking for the most gorgeous place in Georgia on a spring or fall day, there’s no need to look further than Callaway Gardens. When Cason Callaway discovered a rare azalea growing on his land, it spurred an idea to grow an elaborate garden of azaleas for all to see.
Today you can walk on trails, bike a ten mile bike path, or roam the gardens and contemplate life. It’s so picturesque and you can get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful native plants to Georgia.
My personal favorite, though is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. Experience what it feels like to have butterflies land on you as you gaze at their eyes looking back at you. Make sure you where bright colors, as the more than 1,000 butterflies are most attracted to colors like yellow and red.
Did we miss any of your favorite places to visit in Georgia?
From the swamps of the Okefenokee swamp, to the top of Amicalola Falls, Georgia is one of the most diverse places in the world. Come and visit some of the places on this list and see for yourself, and let us know in the comments if there are any other great places in Georgia we should add to our list.