12 Perfect Spring Road Trips From Atlanta

Pencil in a weekend getaway to a beach or hiking destination near ATL.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina | DennisJSchmidt/Shutterstock
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina | DennisJSchmidt/Shutterstock

As the temperatures heat up, so does your social calendar. Atlanta has plenty of fun things to do this spring, of course, but there are so many destinations outside of the 404 that deserve exploring. Whether you want to relax in a cabin overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, appease your adventurous side by checking out a massive waterfall, or enjoy picturesque days in Georgia’s most beautiful town, we’ve got you covered. Here are 12 weekend getaways to add to your calendar this spring—best of all, they’re all just a quick road trip from Atlanta.

Dahlonega, Georgia
Amicalola State Falls Park | JayL/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: One hour
Located in the North Georgia Mountains, this cozy town houses quaint destinations and it all feels beautifully nostalgic, no matter where you’re at. This spring, take a hike up nearby trails like Amicalola State Falls Park or get out on the water by taking a boat ride with friends around Lake Lanier. The Price Memorial Hall is great to check out if you’re a history buff, and the city's many mines are a testament to why Dahlonega is considered a gem of the South.
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Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Distance from Atlanta: One hour, 30 minutes
Thanks to their beautiful areas of solace, mountain towns make for some of the best weekend getaways. If you're looking for one that's not too far from the city, you can't go wrong with Blue Ridge. The cozy little town started off as a railroad stop in the 1800s, and now, Blue Ridge has a modest amount of vineyards and breweries, astounding hiking trails, and fun outdoor activities. There’s plenty to do in town, but visitors can also climb aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, an antique train that takes riders on a four-hour trip along the Georgia-Tennessee border.
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Distance from Atlanta: One hour, 30 minutes
Just as its name—which borrows from the Cherokee word for beautiful—implies, Toccoa Falls is a magnificent sight. The South’s answer to Niagara Falls and a semi-hidden gem, it’s the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi, with 186 feet of swirling water that swiftly plunges into an equally gorgeous canyon and is actually 26 feet higher than Niagara Falls. So be sure to bring along your hiking shoes because there are lots of wooded spots to relax and eat while taking in the majestic outdoors.
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Helen, Georgia
Helen, Georgia | The Brownfowl collection/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: One hour, 45 minutes
Easily one of the best springtime getaways in Georgia, Helen is an adorable Germantown nestled in the mountains of North Georgia. With plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout your whole trip—from burning some firewood in the cabins and exploring Anna Ruby Falls Unicoi State Park and participating in events like the Hogpen Hill Climb. It’s the perfect place to take in some fresh air, but be sure to visit Helen’s kitschy souvenir shops between outdoor adventures.
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Distance from Atlanta: Two hours, 15 minutes
Alabama’s second-largest city has a rich civil rights history, and it has also undergone an impressive cultural revival in recent years. Over the next few months, there will be plenty of intriguing events, starting with the Mercedes-Benz Marathon. The city is rich with local breweries, a blooming botanical garden, and plenty of museums like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Birmingham Museum of Art.
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High Shoals Falls
High Shoals Falls | Adam Colick/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: Two hours, 15 minutes
Right on the border of Georgia and North Carolina, Hiawassee is the quiet respite from city life that any nature lover can appreciate. Visitors have spectacular outdoor spaces to explore, from High Shoals Falls—a 170-acre scenic area that boasts five gorgeous waterfalls—to Bell Mountain Park, a park and historical site with a breathtaking observation deck that gives visitors a 360-degree overlook of the surrounding lake and mountains from nearly 3,500 feet up. Add in the beloved local Hiawassee Antique Mall (a must-visit spot for collectors and souvenir lovers) and the Hightower Creek Vineyards, and you’ve got a packed, yet low-key, weekend ahead of you.
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Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina | Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: Two hours, 30 minutes
In about the time it takes to watch a Marvel movie, you can be in one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. Warmly referred to as “The Greenville everyone is talking about,” this South Carolina town offers a whole bunch of contemporary art galleries, locally owned boutiques, and unique restaurants. Main Street is one of the area's must-see attractions, boasting some coffee shops, swanky hotels, and shopping opportunities galore.
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Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

Distance from Atlanta: Three hours, 45 minutes
Home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this Tennessee town has almost a thousand miles of trails where you can hike or go horseback riding off the beaten path. The area is perhaps best known as the home of Dollywood, but that’s just the start of the theme park fun. If you’re visiting in the spring, Ober Gatlinburg is the ultimate destination for an exciting adventure, with an alpine slide, rockwall, mountain coaster, and tramway offering stunning views of the Smokies. Plus, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park provides the opportunity to walk across America’s longest sky bridge or take in the views from a sky deck.
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River Street in Savannah, Georgia
River Street in Savannah, Georgia | Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: Four hours
The oldest city in Georgia is also one of its most beautiful. Undoubtedly one of the most stunning weekend getaways near Atlanta, Savannah is a respite in the springtime with top-notch art, excellent restaurants, and tons of fun things to do. Book a stay at a hotel near River Street—like the elevated boutique hotel, The Alida—and enjoy breezy strolls along the gorgeous strip. While you’re there, be sure to check out Chippewa Square, where Forrest Gump was filmed— because why would you even dare pass up the opportunity? And, in addition to boasting some of the Lowcountry’s best golf, Savannah has gorgeous beaches and endless opportunities for fun by the water, like visiting the Tybee Island Lighthouse.
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Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee | f11photo/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: Four hours
As if honky-tonks, hot chicken, and GooGoo Clusters weren’t enough to merit a spot on this list, pretty much every mile of Music City is part of history. Seeing a live show is a must when visiting Nashville, and for a deeper dive into the city’s rich musical heritage, you can check out some of its musical attractions, like The Musicians Hall of Fame or the National Museum of African American Music. Nashville also offers up smooth, legit Tennessee whiskey that’s not going to drink itself, and visiting the original Slim & Husky’s and Biscuit Love locations are two of the tastiest moves you can make throughout your visit.
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Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina | Denise Kappa/Shutterstock

Distance from Atlanta: Four hours, 15 minutes
One of the longer drives featured in this weekend getaway guide, a road trip to the coast of South Carolina will set you back four hours or so. But once you arrive at Hilton Head Island, you’ll be happy you made that trek. Make it a relaxing weekend and spend the days strolling the beach or exploring the iconic lighthouse. Before you hit the road back home, fuel up at an oyster roast or eat delicious Lowcountry cuisine.
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St. Simons Island, Georgia
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: Four hours, 30 minutes
As the largest barrier island on the Golden Isles, St. Simons Island has beautiful beaches and marshes, as well as areas for fishing. One of the most therapeutic things you can do here is golf, and coastal Georgia has plenty of challenging courses. The Golden Isles Speedway is a great spot for family fun or you can sail on the Tall Ship Lynx if you’re a lover of aquatics. The neighboring islands and cities hold popular annual events, like Dolphin Day Races, so be sure to check the calendar before your visit.
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Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist.

Okla Jones is an Atlanta-based journalist who writes about food, fine arts, and entertainment. His work also appears in ESSENCE, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and Consequence of Sound. Follow him on Instagram at @coolhandoak.