15 Best Day Trips from Atlanta Georgia

These are the most popular day trips from Atlanta.

Growing up in ATL, we spent most of our time in the city, but just a short drive away, you can find yourself surrounded by lush, green forests and small historic towns. For many of these spots, we didn’t learn to appreciate them when we went as kids.

When we moved to LA, it always surprised me how many times I heard our SoCal friends mention how beautiful, lush, and green Georgia was. Funny how you learn to appreciate trees when you live in the desert, and sometimes you learn to appreciate the desert when you’re surrounded by trees.

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.

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Last Updated: June 23, 2020

1. Lake Lanier

2875 Browns Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30504, map

Distance: 53 mi / 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Rent a Boat, Lanier Park Beach, Van Pugh North Park 
What to Eat:
Atlanta Hwy Seafood Market, Sherry’s Bait and BBQ, Atlas Pizza

Lake Lanier is a popular place for Atlantans to swim, boat, fish, or enjoy other water sports. We used to love tubing here in the summer, and you can find hiking trails and even zip line through the trees.

2. Dahlonega

13 S Park St, Dahlonega, GA 30533, map

Distance: 66 mi / 1 hr 5 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Dahlonega Gold Mine Museum, Cane Creek Falls, Yahoola Park
What to Eat: 
Bratzeit, Shenanigans, Bourbon Street Grille

Learn about the Gold Rush or even try panning for gold in this historic town. This is also the center of Georgia’s wine country! There are five vineyards and 12 wine tasting sites. Frogtown Cellars was our favorite, and I often dreamed of having my wedding here.

3. Amicalola Falls State Park

418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd, Dawsonville, GA 30534, map

Distance: 70 mi / 1 hr 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Hike to Amicalola Falls, Aerial Adventure Park, Amicalola State Park Lodge
What to Eat: 
Maple Restaurant (only spot on location), Home Restaurant, Sourwood

Climb to the top of the tallest waterfall in Georgia, which drops 730 feet and has multiple tiers. There is also a trail leading to Springer Mountain, the southern endpoint of the Appalachian Trail.

4. Athens

280 E Dougherty St, Athens, GA 30601, map

Distance: 73 mi / 1 hr 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Downtown Athens, Creature Comforts Brewing Co
What to Eat: 
Mama’s Boy, Last Resort Grill, Cali N Tito’s

As Georgia Tech grads, this is the home of our rivals, University of Georgia, but you can’t deny the great indie music scene and fun college town atmosphere. We used to frequently drive to Athens on Thursday nights to party all night, stop for a greasy bite at Waffle House, and head straight to class in the morning. I can’t believe we used to do that. Even if you’re not into the nightlife, it’s a great place to visit for food and find historical buildings with typical Southern charm.

5. Callaway Gardens

4500 Southern Pine Dr, Pine Mountain, GA 31822, map

Distance: 80 mi / 1 hr 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Callaway Discovery Center, Azalea Bowl, Spa Prunifolia
What to Eat: 
Country Kitchen, Piedmont Dining Room, Cason’s Tap Room

Callaway Gardens is great for the whole family. Jacob used to visit as a kid, and the last time I went was with an ex (shh don’t tell Jacob! haha). There are multiple lakes and tons of natural exhibits. Walk through the gardens, check out the historical pioneer log cabin, or explore the LEED-certified Butterfly Center. During the holidays, they also have a light show that’s popular to go to.

6. Helen, Georgia

726 Brucken Strasse, Helen, GA 30545, map

Distance: 92 mi / 1 hr 30 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Tubing, Anna Ruby Falls, Unicoi State Park
What to Eat: 
Bigg Daddys Restaurant & Tavern, Mully’s Nacoochee Grill, North Georgia Bar-B-Q

Although there are only 430 residents, it is the state’s third most visited city. It is the Southeast’s finest Bavarian Village giving you a glimpse of Germany. There are quaint hotels, lots of shops, and great alpine food and drink. On hot summer days, you can also float down the river in a tube!

photo: Dizzy Girl

7. Summerville

34.4742691,-85.3655721, map

Distance: 89 mi / 1 hr 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: James H. Floyd State Park, Paradise Garden, Historic Summerville Train Depot
What to Eat: 
Willow Tree Grill, The Crushed Tomato, Jim’s Family Restaurant

Step back in time in this tiny mountain town. You’ll be surrounded by hills and trees, but it still offers tons of festivals, park attractions, and friendly locals. Also, check out the Paradise Garden. It’s a huge collection of sacred works with an interesting background and reminded us of Salvation Mountain and Slab City.

8. Toccoa Falls

107 Kincaid Dr, Toccoa Falls, GA 30598, map

Distance: 93 mi / 1 hr 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Toccoa Falls, Currahee Military Museum, Currahee Vineyard and Winery
What to Eat: 
The X-Factor Grill & Cornerstone Restaurant, Shirley’s Soul Food Cafe, Bell’s Hamburgers

These falls are 186 feet tall, making it one of the highest cascades east of the Mississippi River. It is actually on the Toccoa Falls College campus but the falls are secluded in a separate area. A private path leads to the base where it opens up to an area surrounded by cliffs.

9. Blue Ridge

152 Orvin Lance Dr, Blue Ridge, GA 30513, map

Distance: 95 mi / 1 hr 30 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Long Creek Falls
What to Eat: 
Harvest on Main, Mystic Mountain Hops, Chester Brunnenmeyer’s

If you’re looking to escape city life, this city in the foothills of the Appalachians is a great getaway for the day. Hop on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to enjoy the views or explore the shops along Main Street. Whatever you decide, just take it easy and enjoy.

10. Chattahoochee National Forest

34.7672555,-84.1690651, map

Distance: 92 mi / 1hr 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Woody Gap Recreation Area, Toccoa River Trail, Long Branch Loop Trail
What to Eat: 
Two Wheels of Suches, Bootlegger’s Grille, Wolf Mountain Vineyards

This is a dedicated wilderness area, there are miles of trails, and you can explore tons of opportunity for outdoor activities.

11. Brasstown Bald

34.8742761,-83.8284169, map

Distance: 102 mi / 2 hr 5 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Brasstown Bald Trail, Wagon Train Trail, Brasstown Bald Observation Tower
What to Eat: 
Jim’s Smokin Que, Michaelee’s Italian Life Caffe, Dan’s Grill

Brasstown Bald is the tallest mountain in Georgia at 4,784 feet and gives you amazing long-range views. On high-visibility days, you can see four states – Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee!

215 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402, map

Distance: 118 mi / 1 hr 45 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Tennessee Aquarium, Raccoon Mountain Caverns, Chief John Ross Bridge
What to Eat: 
Urban Stack, Maple Street Biscuit Company, 1885 Grill

We visited Chattanooga often when I was a kid, and even now, it still has a lot of charm. You can take a toll along the Riverwalk, check out the attractions, or enjoy one of the many outdoor activities. Before Atlanta had their own aquarium, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga was where all the ATLiens used to go. In the same area, you can also stop by Ruby Falls.

13. Georgia Guidestones

1031 Guide Stones Road, Elberton, GA 30635, map

Distance: 110 mi / 1 hr 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Georgia Guidestones, Richard B. Russell State Park, Elberton Granite Museum
What to Eat: 
Richards Restaurant, Reinas Taqueria, Blazers Hotwings of Elberton

Also known America’s Stonehenge, these large granite statues are shrouded with mystery. No one knows who actually commissioned the landmark, but each is engraved with ten guidelines in twelve different languages.

14. Rock City Gardens

1400 Patten Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750, map

Distance: 120 mi / 1 hr 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Rock City Gardens, Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain
What to Eat: 
Cafe on the Corner, Seafood King Genes, Susan’s Diner

Explore the natural formations (and some man-made attractions) along this 4,100-foot-long Enchanted Trail. Also, don’t forget to check out the peregrine falcon nursing and release program.

15. Providence Canyon State Park

8930 Canyon Rd, Lumpkin, GA 31815, map

Distance: 147 mi / 2 hr 10 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Visitor Center, Rim Trail, Observation Deck 
What to Eat: 
Mom’s Kitchen, 4 Way BBQ, Red’s Pizza

Also referred to as the “Little Grand Canyon” of Georgia, Providence Canyon State Park offers some of the most picturesque views. Tones of orange, pink, and pastel red color the different layers of the canyon and make the perfect backdrop for a hike.

Bonus: Macon, Georgia (Seasonal)

450 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Macon, GA 31201, map

Distance: 85 mi / 1 hr 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Visitor Center, Rim Trail, Observation Deck 
What to Eat: 
The Rookery, Chico and Chang, Papouli’s Mediterranean Cafe & Market

Macon hosts the International Cherry Blossom Festival and is known as the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World with over 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees. The festival dates can range from mid-March to April. See the dates for the upcoming festival here.

Map of Best Day Trips from Atlanta

Best Places to Stay in Atlanta

How many of these quick day trips from Atlanta have you done? Can you think of any other popular day trips?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both 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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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Thanks for the suggestions (maybe do one with best places to look at fall foliage or sunsets/sunrises).
    Oh and look at you famous local adventurers! :)

    1. Great suggestions! We’ll put them on our list.

  2. I just moved to Marietta from Oregon and this is a great list!! Thank you so much for putting it together. I’m excited to explore.

    1. Hope you find some spots you really love!

  3. The waterfalls listed under Dahlonega are actually found in Oregon… that seems like a rather long way to go for a day trip from Atlanta…

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! Must not have saved when we updated. I just fixed it :)

  4. You know what would be cool, if you included a map with all of the locations to help people see which way things are.

      1. That’s great. BTW, do you have a top 15 cities you must see in America list? I’d love to see that as well!

  5. Augusta, GA 2nd oldest city in Georgia! They have a beautiful Riverwalk and you can also take a day cruise down the Augusta Canal. Of course if you’re lucky enough to get on the list for The Masters, that’s a bucket lister! Also now there is the brand New Augusta Green Jackets Baseball Stadium, a minor league park, that sits on the water.
    Also, there are tons of locally owned shops & restaurants as well as art galleries, historical venues and beautiful homes!

  6. Cave Spring, GA is a quaint little town about an hour away. Antiques, food, a Cherokee cabin, a cave, and a spring nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. And even a pool in the shape of Georgia. There are also huge arts & crafts festivals in June & December.

  7. The Tallulah Gorge is also a beautiful place to visit in GA. It ‘s the second largest hole next compared to the Grand Canyon.

    1. Oh yeah! Thanks, Erica. We’ve been before, and it’s gorgeous out there. :) Maybe we will shuffle some things around when we put together a list for weekend trips.

  8. When is the cherry festival in Macon??

    1. Hi, Jaime. Great question! It changes a little every year probably depending on when they predict peak bloo to be. For next year, the festival dates are Friday, March 16 through Sunday, March 25, 2018.

    1. Thanks for the rec, Erika. Will definitely have to check it out the next time we’re in GA for longer than a few days!

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