Picture this: majestic landscapes that will leave you breathless, sun-kissed beaches inviting you to bask in their warmth and charming towns that whisper tales of history. If you’ve ever doubted the diversity a single state can pack, let Georgia’s tourist attractions prove you wrong.
The Empire State of the South is a mosaic of landscapes, climates and cultures. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, seaside seeker, history buff or someone in search of the perfect mix of vibrant city life and serene nature, Georgia’s got a little—or rather, a lot—of everything.
Join us as we uncover some of the best vacation destinations that make Georgia a true haven for the insatiable traveler.
Visit Savannah: one of Georgia’s oldest cities
Savannah, with its undeniable charm, weaves together the threads of its antebellum past and vibrant present in a city that perfectly captures the essence of Georgia. The historic landmarks, romantic Spanish moss-lined streets and the iconic fountain in Forsyth Park are just some of the attractions for your to-do list while in Savannah.
- Stroll through Savannah’s historic district
Exploring the historic district allows you to appreciate the colonial and antebellum architecture, delightful squares and cobblestone streets. Additionally, you have the opportunity to explore significant landmarks like the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the earliest public museums in the South.
- Wander through Savannah’s pretty streets
Savannah has earned its reputation as one of the most walkable cities in the USA, and there’s no finer way to experience this charm than by leisurely wandering through some of its most picturesque streets. Bull Street is an essential stop in Savannah, and Broughton Street stands out as the city’s cherished shopping haven, boasting a diverse array of stores from global brands to charming boutiques. Additionally, the delightful Taylor Street provides another enchanting destination for a leisurely stroll in the heart of Savannah.
- Experience true Southern hospitality
Stroll through shops and eateries and engage in the party atmosphere of River Street to understand Savannah’s well-deserved title as the “Hostess City of the South” and its place as a top Georgia tourist attraction.
Embrace the locals’ warmth as you explore the city’s landmarks, savor local cuisine, and uncover the stories that have shaped this historic destination. Here, every cobblestone narrates a tale, and every smile invites you to savor genuine Southern hospitality.
Discover the secluded beaches and pristine nature of Cumberland Island
The largest and southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands, Cumberland Island is famous for its rich history and breathtaking landscapes. This beautiful and historic Georgia tourist attraction is the largest of the Sea Islands and a national seashore park. When you decide to visit Cumberland Island, the adventure begins with a ferry ride, building up anticipation for the adventure ahead.
- A haven for wildlife enthusiasts
Upon setting foot ashore, you immerse yourself in 10,000 acres of protected wilderness, a haven where nature thrives undisturbed. Cumberland Island hosts a diverse array of wildlife, including feral horses, gopher tortoises, loggerhead sea turtles, deer, armadillos, alligators and over 300 species of birds, all thriving in their natural habitats like the maritime forest, salt marsh and beaches.
- Explore the historic locations
While meandering through this sanctuary, you can also explore the island’s historical sites, each resonating with tales of eras long past. Venture into the Plum Orchard Mansion, erected by the Carnegies in 1898; witness the enduring spirit of the First African Baptist Church; and visit the remnants of the Dungeness Mansion—a four-story, 59-room castle constructed by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie in 1884.
- Hike, swim or beachcomb through the Cumberland trails
With more than 50 miles of hiking trails traversing diverse ecosystems and historical landmarks, Cumberland Island invites you to explore on foot. Popular trails include the Parallel Trail, River Trail, Southend Loop and Stafford Beach Trail.
Cumberland Island is also home to 17 miles of serene beaches, offering a tranquil escape with its warm sun, gentle waves and soft white sands. It’s a perfect place for beachcombing, particularly after storms, when you can find beautiful seashells.
Athens: an essential stop for history lovers
History buffs should make a beeline for Athens as the city marks the beginning of Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, a captivating journey through 17 historic districts showcasing the grandeur of Civil War-era homes and period architecture.
- Take the time to visit local museums
The University of Georgia is one of the oldest public universities in the U.S. and a top attraction as it is home to the Georgia Museum of Natural History, the Georgia Museum of Art and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, featuring more than 300 acres of gardens, trails and natural areas.
- Feel the pulse of the city
Yet, Athens is not bound by the echoes of history alone. For a contemporary escape, downtown Athens invites you to explore its numerous shops, restaurants and live music venues. This is one of “THE places to go” in Georgia, as the pulse of modernity beats in harmony with the city’s storied past, creating a lively atmosphere.
- Take a walk and have a picnic in the Memorial Park
Memorial Park, a beloved family destination in Athens, features Bear Hollow Zoo, the Birchmore Trail, a charming lake and ample picnic areas and playgrounds. The park’s lush tree cover offers pleasant shade on warm summer days, and all attractions are free to access. You can walk on the Birchmore Trail or circle the Memorial Park lake on the paved Lake Walkway Loop.
Marietta: a remarkable small city close to Atlanta
Nestled just 20 miles northwest of Atlanta, Marietta is a captivating Georgia tourist attraction that beckons history enthusiasts and curious wanderers alike. Renowned for its rich history, Marietta boasts not just one but five national historic districts, each telling a unique story of the region’s past.
- Take a Marietta tour to see what the city has to offer
The historic Marietta Square is a captivating place that seems to have stood still in time. It encourages exploration either on foot or via a narrated trolley tour, providing an engaging journey through Georgia’s history. If you’re looking to combine some spooky tales with your historical experience, consider taking the Ghosts of Marietta tour. For a culinary adventure, indulge in diverse food and drinks while a local expert shares insights into Marietta’s bustling food scene on a Marietta Food Tour. Additionally, you can delve into the historic sites that have played a significant role in Marietta’s African-American history and heritage through the Black Heritage Walking Tour.
- Visit the unique Marietta museums
For those enthralled by the allure of the Old South, Marietta proudly hosts the Gone with the Wind Museum, where visitors can immerse themselves in the iconic narrative of Margaret Mitchell’s timeless masterpiece.
The William Root House Museum and Garden offers a glimpse into 19th-century domestic life, showcasing the architectural beauty of the era. Make a stop at the Kennesaw National Battlefield Park, where nature and history converge, preserving the legacy of the Civil War.
- Discover Marietta’s art and culture
Marietta boasts a vibrant cultural scene with numerous theaters throughout the city. You can watch classic films at the Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre and enjoy live performances at the New Theatre in the Square, both of which contribute to making every visit to Marietta a diverse exploration of the city’s thriving arts and culture.
Behold the natural wonders of the Tallulah Gorge State Park
Situated on the Georgia-North Carolina border, Tallulah Gorge State Park stands as evidence of nature’s wonders. Adventure seekers and Georgia sightseeing enthusiasts will appreciate the landscapes that feel like stepping into a living postcard.
- Go on a hiking adventure
With over 20 miles of trails, the park offers a diverse range of hiking experiences, suitable for both leisurely strolls and more exhilarating treks.
Here, you can explore an array of hiking adventures catering to all levels of enthusiasts. While the two-mile Hurricane Falls Trail Loop is a favorite, boasting almost 1,100 steps, it’s not for the faint of heart. For thrill seekers, the challenging half-mile Sliding Rock Trail guides you down to the gorge floor for a unique experience of sliding on rocks and swimming near Bridal Veil Falls.
- Try water-based activities
Tallulah Gorge State Park offers an array of captivating water activities amidst its stunning natural beauty. Within the gorge, five breathtaking waterfalls: L’Eau d’Or, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana, and Bridal Veil (Sliding Rock) cascade gracefully, with all but Bridal Veil visible from rim overlooks, providing visitors with mesmerizing views.
Additionally, you can partake in fishing, swimming, and paddling adventures. Whether you choose to bring your own canoes and kayaks or opt for rental options during ranger-led paddling tours, the park ensures a memorable aquatic experience in this serene and scenic environment.
- Things to know before embarking on your adventure
Snagging a free gorge floor permit is a must, but with only 100 available daily, early birds have the best shot. Remember, suitable footwear is nonnegotiable; leave the flip-flops and Crocs behind. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, the park offers several moderate and easy trails, ensuring there’s an adventure for every soul. Dive into the trail map for a detailed overview of each path’s character and essential information.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual observer, the park’s diverse trails cater to all, promising an exciting experience in the midst of forests, waterfalls and scenic overlooks.
Have a taste of Europe in Helen
- Experience the architectural beauty
This small town has skillfully crafted its identity as a Bavarian Alpine village, inviting you to stroll through streets adorned with colorful architecture and hints of German culture. A visit to Helen is not complete without a taste of traditional German cuisine and its lively festivals, including the famed Oktoberfest.
- Shop locally
But the magic doesn’t end with the town’s enchanting facade—Helen boasts a treasure trove of amenities. With more than 200 stores, a winery offering sips of local flavors and the backdrop of the majestic Unicoi State Park, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.
- Tube down the Chattahoochee River
Embrace the excitement of tubing down the Chattahoochee River during the warmer months, typically from May to September. You can enjoy a full day of leisurely river-floating with outfitters such as Helen Tubing & Waterpark and Cool River Tubing.
Additionally, explore the scenic landscape through a network of biking and hiking routes that crisscross the area, offering further outdoor exploration opportunities.
In Helen, you can enjoy a promising European-like escape without ever leaving the embrace of the United States, making this small village one of the best places to visit in Georgia.
Enjoy a romantic getaway on the St. Simons Island
Welcome to St. Simons Island, a realm where sandy beaches and the laid-back lifestyle take center stage. The island was named one of the most romantic spots for a getaway in Georgia, as well as one of the most romantic towns in the U.S.
- Disconnect from your routine and enjoy the island life
At East Beach, all the cares of the world drift away as you engage in the simple pleasures of shelling, fishing or sightseeing. Or, if your idea of happiness involves a well-practiced swing, the island’s golf courses are a great tourist attraction in Georgia, promising a leisurely day under the sun.
- Explore the surroundings on foot or by bike
You may want to venture onto the 20 miles of bike paths, experiencing the island’s natural beauty firsthand. Or, if you would rather explore its charming streets, keep an eye out for the enchanting “tree spirits” intricately carved by local artist Keith Jennings. These whimsical creations add a touch of wonder to the island, transforming scars from past storms into captivating works of art.
- Shop for antique items
St. Simons Island offers an array of distinctive shops and boutiques, each hiding one-of-a-kind gems to enhance your home or wardrobe. Antique enthusiasts will delight in the array of vintage furniture, home decor and clothing stores available. Don’t miss out on the must-visit shopping hubs of the island, which host a diverse selection of shops, dining establishments, and entertainment venues.
Catch a glimpse of Macon’s history
Situated in central Georgia, Macon extends an irresistible invitation with plenty of attractions, ensuring a satisfying experience for every kind of traveler.
- Macon is a top destination for history buffs
For history enthusiasts, a pilgrimage to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is a must, offering a captivating glimpse into the prehistoric Native American way of life.
If you would like to learn more about African American history, art and culture, make a visit to the Tubman Museum—the Southeast’s largest collection of its kind.
- Nature escapes await at the Ocmulgee River Park
Nature lovers will find solace at Ocmulgee River Park, where the possibilities are as endless as the river itself. Cycle along scenic bike paths, navigate the waters by kayak or opt for the leisurely pace of a tube float.
- Dive into music
And for those with a passion for music history, the Big House Museum sheds light on Macon’s role in southern rock. Step back to the ’70s, when the Allman Brothers Band called this iconic house their home, and let the echoes of their legendary tunes transport you through the pages of musical history.
Take a day trip to the Tybee Island
Tybee Island, one of the best attractions in Georgia, is just 20 miles southeast of Savannah, beckoning families for the perfect seaside escape.
- Sunbathe on the beaches of Tybee Island
This small barrier island is a haven for beach enthusiasts, with miles of sandy shores and a climate that warmly embraces sunseekers almost year-round. Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing swim, catching waves on a surfboard or simply soaking up the sun, Tybee Island has your ideal day beach day covered.
- Keep an eye out for fauna
For avid birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts, Tybee Island stands out as a premier Georgia destination, boasting a diverse ecosystem that plays host to over 200 different bird species. While the island is renowned for its pristine beaches and avian inhabitants, its natural charm extends far beyond that. As you explore the island’s lush landscapes and coastal habitats, you’ll have the opportunity to spot a remarkable variety of birds, from elegant wading birds to colorful songbirds, making it a paradise for ornithologists and nature lovers alike.
- Check out the panorama from the tallest viewpoint
Ascend to the top of the Tybee Island Light Station, a cherished landmark that holds the distinction of being both Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. This historic structure offers visitors the unparalleled opportunity to savor breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. As you make your way to the summit, you’ll not only appreciate the rich maritime history embodied by this lighthouse but also be rewarded with a sweeping vista that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Plan a perfect escape on the Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island is draped in the mantle of a Georgia state park, where conservation and wildlife preservation dance hand in hand.
- Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Jekyll Island is home to Georgia’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility. The Center offers the public a chance to learn about sea turtles and see rehabilitation in action with a host of interactive exhibits and experiences. Year-round indoor and outdoor programs are also available for guests of all ages. Here, you can witness the spectacle of sea turtles, alligators and many other coastal creatures.
- Walk along the Jekyll Island’s unspoiled beaches
Strolling along the pristine shores of Jekyll Island is an experience that beckons visitors to connect with the untamed beauty of the natural world. With an expanse of 10 miles of unspoiled beaches, every step you take becomes a tranquil communion with nature itself.
- Learn about local history
The historic district of the island unveils a captivating narrative that transports you back in time. Here, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of history where stately homes, once belonging to America’s elite families such as the Rockefellers and Pulitzers, have been lovingly preserved and remain frozen in time.
Travel gear essential for exploring Georgia’s diverse attractions
Embarking on a journey of Georgia to visit unique and diverse destinations requires strategic packing to ensure you’re ready for every adventure that comes your way. Comfortable and versatile clothing is essential as Georgia’s climate can vary widely—from the misty mountains to the sunny beaches.
Consider the season in which you’ll be visiting Georgia. Hot southern summers and cold winters result in significant temperature variations throughout the year, enough to call for completely different wardrobes.
A sturdy pair of walking shoes will serve you well, especially when exploring the historic districts and natural trails. Consider packing a lightweight backpack and a refillable water bottle for day trips and hiking excursions.
If you dream of a getaway at Georgia’s inviting beaches, don’t forget to pack essentials like sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and a beach towel for soaking in the sun or enjoying the coastal breeze. A beach-friendly tote bag can also prove handy for carrying snacks, a good book and any beachcombing treasures you may find along the way.
Given the rich history and cultural attractions, a good camera is a must to capture architectural marvels and scenic landscapes. Being equipped with the right travel gear ensures you’re ready to savor Georgia down to every detail.
Keep your Georgia sightseeing gear in self storage for future use
Consider keeping your travel gear in a Georgia self storage facility as a practical solution, for an average price of $129/month for a non-climate-controlled self storage unit. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or have seasonal excursions, having a dedicated storage space allows you to keep your gear organized and easily accessible when needed.
A 5×5 storage unit that is about the size of a regular home closet can be particularly beneficial for bulky items like hiking gear or beach accessories that may clutter your home when not in use. Additionally, it ensures that your travel essentials are in top condition, ready for your next adventure without the need to repack and search for items each time.