The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Georgia
From hidden inner city outdoor trails to breathtaking waterfalls, here are some of Georgia’s natural wonders.
In the words of perhaps the most beloved Atlanta Hip-Hop duo of all time, “you need to git up, git out and git something,” and that sentiment rings especially true right now. The scorching hot temperatures of the summer have finally started to subside and make way for a gorgeous fall, meaning that now is the perfect time to escape the confines of your daily routine and really reconnect with nature. Beauty abounds throughout the city and throughout the entire state—you just have to know where to look. To help you out, here are the most beautiful nearby recreation areas and natural monuments, so git up, git out, and git to visiting one—or all—of these 15 breathtaking places in Georgia.
The more you explore, you’ll quickly realize that some of the most stunning places in the world are pretty difficult to actually get to. Sapelo Island is an amazing example of why you shouldn’t let such challenges deter you. Sapelo Island is both a National Estuarine Research Reserve and Georgia’s fourth largest barrier island, and since there aren’t any roads or bridges connecting it to the mainland, you’ll need to catch a ferry to access it. Fortunately, non-residents, researchers, or workers can still visit Sapelo Island by going on a tour of the reserve or booking a stay at either the Reynolds mansion or Cabretta campground. Once you’re on the Island, there will be plenty of incredible places to check out—from the Sapelo Lighthouse to Nanny Goat Beach—so put in the extra effort and pay Sapelo Island a visit very soon.
Georgia’s natural waterfalls are all sights to behold, and although we can’t decide whether or not Amicalola Falls qualifies as the state’s most beautiful waterfall, we can safely say that it is its tallest. The 729-foot-tall wonder alone is worth the one hour and 15-minute drive, but there are also plenty of other things to do while visiting, such as ziplining, GPS scavenger hunts, guided hikes, and fitness trails. Keep in mind, however, that certain trails at Amicalola Falls State Park are temporarily closed, so make sure you check out the area’s website before visiting for the most up-to-date information.
A late-summer trip to Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach—aka one of Georgia’s most stunning beaches—may be exactly what you need right now. Yes, it’s nearly five hours from Atlanta, but its iconic driftwood and tree-clad shores are definitely worth the drive. Driftwood Beach’s unique and otherworldly scenery will make for some pretty great photos and some truly unforgettable memories.
Right near the border of northwest Georgia and Tennessee is Lookout Mountain, and one of its prized locations is Rock City Gardens, which rests atop the mountain. There, visitors can marvel at ancient rock formations, lively gardens, and breathtaking panoramic views. Timed-entry tickets are available, so if you’re ready to witness the wondrous beauty of Rock City Gardens, go ahead and secure your tickets in advance.
You probably weren’t thinking about taking a road trip to Albany prior to this, but the southwest Georgia city boasts one of the seven natural wonders of Georgia: Radium Springs Garden. This magnificent landmark is one of the state’s largest springs, and it’s known for pumping out tens of thousands of gallons of strikingly blue water every minute from an underground cave. There’s also plenty of history surrounding Radium Springs Garden, so a trip there would be both awe-inspiring and educational.
Since the drive from Atlanta to Helen takes a little under two hours, a day trip to North Georgia could be just what you need. The town’s unique charm will surely draw you in, but the mountains have plenty of outdoor activities awaiting you, from hiking to tubing. For a stunning waterfall advertenture, take a paved one-mile hike in the heart of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to find Anna Ruby Falls, and prepare to have your breath taken away.
Waterfalls. If you’re a sucker for the sound of water crashing against rocks, Cochran Mill Park has to be on your list of beautiful places to visit. The park is an 800-acre wonderland tucked towards the bottom of Fulton County. In addition to housing waterfalls like the gorgeous Henry Mills Falls, Cochran Mill Park boasts historic mill ruins, plenty of forest and riverside trails, and rare flowers that are native to the park. Thankfully, It opens 30 minutes prior to sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset, because experiencing a sunrise/sunset by Henry Mills is unmatched.
At 1,000-feet-deep and nearly two miles long, Tallulah Gorge is the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi. More aptly called Tallulah Gorgeous, the site sits right next to a nearly 2,700-acre Georgia state park. With six waterfalls, which cause the river to drop 500 feet over one mile, an 80-foot-high suspension bridge, and ample hiking and biking space, it’s literally breathtaking. Tallulah Gorge is one of Georgia’s state parks that are experiencing large crowds, but social distancing is still being strictly enforced. As a result, prepare for potential wait times and entry limits.
The serenity and simplistic beauty of a lakefront is a joy to experience, from fishing or kayaking to swimming or sunbathing. Skip that haunted lake off Highway 85 and instead take 75 to Allatoona Lake. The 12,000-acre body of water crosses into multiple counties, and its shorelines have several outdoor recreational activities available. TV buffs will also be interested to know that Allatoona Lake is actually one of the filming locations for Netflix’s sensational lakeside drug drama Ozark. Thankfully, it’s a far safer and more serene place than Ozark makes it out to be.
Arabia Mountain is one of only 49 National Heritage Areas in the country, i.e., places recognized by Congress as sites where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. What you’ll appreciate most, though, is its starkly beautiful granite landscapes, incredible, awe-inducing views, and dozens of brilliantly colored rare plant species. If a more serene place exists, we haven’t found it yet.
A public garden and resort on 14,000 acres of beautiful Appalachian foothills near Pine Mountain, Callaway Gardens is teeming with gorgeous views of multiple multi-acre kaleidoscopic flower gardens, and much more, including some legit golf course action, too.
This 54-acre site is the most intact Mississippian culture (a mound-building Native American civilization) site in the Southeast, and it features six earthen mounds, a plaza, village site, borrow pits, and a defensive ditch. Artifacts at this archaeological site include huge, hand-carved stone effigies that still have some original pigments. No doubt: This is one of the coolest history lessons you'll ever have.
Yes, that’s in Georgia. While some people may think that little, if anything, south of Atlanta is noteworthy, Providence Canyon State Park proves them wrong. The 1,000-plus-acre park contains Providence Canyon, which is known as “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon” because the massive, up-to-150-foot gullies resemble the real thing so closely. They definitely look like nothing else you’ll find in the Peach State.
Step off the ferry on Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island and you’ll immediately feel like you’re on your own private beach, where you can swim, take quiet strolls, fish, and bird watch. Do this all amidst ancient, twisted trees, lush vegetation, similarly ancient turtles, and beautiful roaming wild horses. The best part, especially for anyone who’s sick of Atlanta traffic? Cumberland Island is a car-free zone. Cumberland Island regularly makes important changes, so check out its website for the most up-to-date information on closures and openings.
The largest intact freshwater and black water wilderness swamp in North America, Okefenokee Swamp has to be seen to be believed. It’s full of vegetation and animals you’ve probably never seen before, like alligators and cranes. Check it out via paddleboat/motorboat on water trails that are the sweetest way to explore the indigenous creeks called “The Land of Trembling Earth.”