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 things later. We’ve been there.
Just a short drive away from Atlanta 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 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, Flying Squirrel, Public House
Where to Stay: Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, Mayor’s Mansion Inn, Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast
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.
photo: Sussman Imaging
2 . Asheville, North Carolina
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.
photo: Erin & Caroline
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, Boll Weevil, Abel Brown
Where to Stay: The Queen Anne Inn, Carolina Oaks Bed and Breakfast, The Partridge Inn
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.
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: Andon-Reid Inn, The Swag, Brookside Mountain Mist Inn
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.
5. Charleston, South Carolina
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!
photo: Erin & Caroline
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, Louisiana Lagniappe, Beach Walk Cafe
Where to Stay: Henderson Park Inn, Emerald Grande, Silver Shells Beach Resort & Spa
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.
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, Cherokee Grill, Pancake Pantry
Where to Stay: The Lodge at Buckberry Creek, Bearskin Lodge on the River Hotel, Gatlinburg Inn
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.
8. Jekyll Island, St Simons, Little St Simons, Sea Island (Golden Isles)
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: Driftwood Bistro, Palmer’s Village Cafe, The Half Shell
Where to Stay: The Cloister at Sea Island, Jekyll Island Club Resort, Saint Simmons Inn
Located on the Georgia coast are four beautiful islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Litte 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.
photo: Matthew Blouir
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: Smokey Dreams BBQ, The Trappe Door, Jianna
Where to Stay: Pettigru Place Bed & Breakfast, Aloft Greenville Downtown, Swamp Rabbit Inn and Properties
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.
photo: Roger Bruce
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, WiseGuys
Where to Stay: Inn & Club at Harbour Town, Sonesta Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
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.
photo: Matt Schilder
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: Fire and Smoke Gastropub, Mr. Fish, New York Prime
Where to Stay: Island Vista Resort, Dunes Village Resort, Marina Inn at Grande Dunes
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.
photo: David D’Agostino
12. Nashville, Tennesee
Distance: 250 mi / 3 hr 45 min (map)
What to Do / See: 9 Awesome Things to Do in Nashville
What to Eat: Acme Feed & Seed, Hattie B’s Chicken, Biscuit Love
Where to Stay: Union Station Hotel, Hermitage Hotel, Opryland Hotel
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.
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, Vic’s on the River, Treylor Park
Where to Stay: The Kehoe House, The Marshall House, Thunderbird Inn
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.
photo: J. Stephen Conn
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: Highlands Bar & Grill, El Barrio, Babalu Tacos & Tapas
Where to Stay: Elyton Hotel, The Redmont, The Grand Bohemian Hotel
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.
15. Orlando, Florida
Distance: 442 mi / 6 hr 15 min (map)
What to Do / See: 101 Things to Do in Orlando
What to Eat: Ceviche Tapas Orlando, Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, ICEBAR
Where to Stay: Castle Hotel, Grand Bohemian, The Alfond Inn
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.
How many of these trips have you done? Can you think of any other weekend trips you’ve done?
- 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
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust