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: February 15, 2021
15 Popular Day Trips from Atlanta Georgia
- Lake Lanier
- Amicalola Falls State Park
- Callaway Gardens
- Toccoa Falls
- Blue Ridge
- Chattahoochee National Forest
- Brasstown Bald
- Chattanooga, TN
- Georgia Guidestones
- Rock City Gardens
- Providence Canyon State Park
1. Lake Lanier
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
I used to visit Helen a lot during college with friends. We would go drinking and float down the river. 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!
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
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.
photo: John Pryor / Shutterstock
9. Blue Ridge
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
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
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 one of the first places we camped together. It’s 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!
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
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
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
I grew up visiting Rock City as a kid and still love going back for the nostalgia. 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
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)
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. We might have to plan a trip home to visit this year.
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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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
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.