The last of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established, the great state of Georgia can be found in the Southeastern United States. Towering mountains dot its wild and remote northern realms, and the eastern part has a scenic and serene coastline, as well as sprawling swamps and beautiful barrier islands.
Just as diverse and delightful as all of its dramatic scenery are Georgia’s towns, cities and cultural make-up. While the metropolis of Atlanta boasts plenty of exciting tourist attractions and a thriving cultural scene, history and heritage can be enjoyed in the sophisticated city of Savannah.
With so many different things to do in George along with Southern charm and hospitality wherever you go, this is a fascinating state to visit and explore.
15. Amicalola Falls
Towering 222 meters in height is the arresting Amicalola Falls, remarkably the tallest waterfall in the southeast of the States. Set in a very scenic and secluded spot, it lies within the wild mountainous reaches of the stunning North Georgia State Park.
Cascading down a craggy cliff face, the fabulous falls make for a spellbinding sight as lush foliage threatens to overwhelm them on all sides. Besides basking in its beauty and snapping photos of its wild waters, visitors can also enjoy some lovely hiking in the nearby mountains and nature.
14. Providence Canyon
Dominating and defining Providence State Park, the phenomenal Providence Canyon is situated around 45-minutes’ drive to the south of Columbus. Often called Georgia’s ‘Little Grand Canyon’, it boasts breathtaking scenery with colorful cliffs, rugged ridges, and rock formations.
While parts of the colossal canyon were formed over millennia by the wind and rain, many of its massive gullies are actually due to poor farming practices by early settlers. Now a natural wonder, its dramatic landscapes are a treat to hike, with wonderful woods and wildlife to be spied alongside the kaleidoscopic colours of its crumbling cliffs.
13. Cumberland Island National Seashore
Only accessible by ferry, the isolated and idyllic Cumberland Island is home to beautiful beaches and dunes, with freshwater lakes and marshes dotted about. Now protected, as part of a National Seashore, its serene shores and untouched wilderness can be found in the southeast of the state, separated from the mainland by the winding East River.
Besides offering up some epic hiking and camping, its charming confines are also home to a couple of interesting historic sites; the crumbling ruins of the Dungeness Estate and the pretty Plum Orchard mansion. In addition to enjoying the barrier island’s scenic splendor, visitors can also learn about its history and nature at the museum in St. Mary’s on the mainland.
12. World of Coca-Cola
Located a stone’s throw from downtown Atlanta is the World of Coca-Cola, an excellent museum on the history of the world-conquering company. It has plenty of interesting and interactive exhibits, and a fantastic film on its fizzy beverages for visitors to enjoy with some 60 or so taste-bud-tickling samples to try at the end.
As well as delving into the humble beginnings of the iconic beverage brand, the museum has old drinks machines and merchandising from different decades on show. The undoubted highlight, however, is the chance to try various Coke products from all over the world.
11. Finish (or Start) the Appalachian Trail
Stretching a staggering 3,500 kilometers in length is the incredible Appalachian Trail, one of the most scenic routes to hike in the States. Taking you along rugged ridges and through wild and remote reaches, the peaceful and picturesque path impressively winds its way through 14 states.
Georgia is home to the trail’s southern terminus, Springer Mountain, so avid hikers can either choose to start or end their journey on its secluded slopes. While it takes months to arrive at Mount Katahdin in Maine, the trail’s northern terminus, there are plenty of natural wonders to be spied along Georgia’s scenic section.
Nestled in the northeast of the state is the tourist town of Helen, a fun and festive place to visit. While it may be located in the Appalachians and not the Alps, it looks every bit the atmospheric alpine village. All of its buildings are built in beautiful Bavarian style.
Due to its appealing aesthetic and ambience, the kitschy German village is a popular destination, and Oktoberfest is one of the best times to visit. Besides brilliant bakeries and restaurants that serve traditional German fare, visitors can explore the town’s scenic surroundings which offer outstanding outdoor activities.
9. Wormsloe Historic Site
Set just to the south of Savannah’s city center is Wormsloe Historic Site, which is a fascinating look into the picturesque plantation’s past. Located on the Isle of Hope, the crumbling colonial estate can be reached by driving along an avenue lined by centuries-old oak trees.
In addition to exploring its gigantic grounds, and enjoying its exquisite antebellum architecture, guests can learn about the history of the site at its magnificent museum. Boasting interesting artifacts and excellent exhibits, costumed interpreters highlight what life would have been like on the plantation in colonial Georgia.
8. Chattahoochee National Forest
Home to stunning scenery and landscapes, Chattahoochee National Forest will delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Established in 1936, it covers a huge part of the North Georgia Mountains, with roaring rivers and terrific trails winding through its endless wilderness.
Mountains and vast valleys are coated in an unspoiled forest, with bobcats, black bears and deer to be spotted within its remote reaches. Besides hiking and camping amidst its spectacular scenery, visitors can go white water rafting along the Chattooga River.
7. Wolf Mountain Vineyards
In the south of the forest’s sprawling confines is the wonderful Wolf Mountain Vineyards, located in a pretty and pleasant part of the North Georgia Mountains. The expansive, award-winning estate is well worth visiting if you want to sample some of Georgia’s most delicious wines.
Founded in 1999, its renown sees people coming from far and wide to tour its vineyards and taste its handcrafted wines. As well as sampling vintage wines paired with platters of gourmet morsels, guests can enjoy fantastic views over the valley and vineyards from its veranda.
6. Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site
A must-visit for anyone interested in the history of the States, the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site documents the life and legacy of the legendary Civil Rights leader. Set across several sites in Atlanta, it includes such important and influential places as his childhood home and the church in which he was a pastor.
At the historic site’s marvelous museum you can learn all about the civil rights movement, and how segregation and systematic oppression inspired Martin Luther King Jr to fight for freedom, justice and equality. In addition to touring around his old district, visitors can stop by moving memorials to both King and Gandhi, and the commemorative International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
5. The Golden Isles
Made up of four beautiful barrier islands, and the mainland port city of Brunswick, the Golden Isles of Georgia are home to stunning shoreline scenery and countless historic sites. Due to their wonderful wilderness, wildlife and wealth of recreation opportunities, the idyllic isles are a very popular holiday destination.
Lying at the entrance to the East River, they have beautiful beaches for visitors to bask on with vast marshes and maritime forests hugging the Atlantic coastline. While Little St. Simons lies almost untouched, both Jekyll and St. Simons have resorts and restaurants, as well as a glut of golf courses and fun water sports. On top of this, there is the historic heart of Brunswick to explore, and the more upmarket and exclusive Sea Island to check out.
4. Toccoa Falls
One of the most spectacular tourist attractions in Georgia, the towering Toccoa Falls can be found nestled in the northeast, on the campus of the Christian College of Georgia. A phenomenal 57 meters in height, its white waters cascade off a rugged rim, plunging straight into a pool below.
Standing out delightfully against the craggy cliff and its lush undergrowth, the waterfall certainly makes for some fabulous photos. Reputed to have the highest vertical drop of any of the falls east of the Mississippi, it remarkably even dwarfs Niagara Falls (only a third of its height), so it is worth dropping by this natural wonder if you have the chance.
3. Georgia Aquarium
Located not far from the center of Atlanta is the gigantic Georgia Aquarium, certainly the city’s standout attraction. Home to hundreds of species of fish and marine mammals, it’s a fun, family-friendly day out.
The largest aquarium in the States, it has seven massive galleries to check out, full of shimmering shoals of fish, sharks and manta rays. While the playful penguins and sea lions are always a popular draw, the bottlenose dolphins, beluga whales and whale sharks are the undoubted stars of the show. With its engaging and educational exhibits, the Georgia Aquarium is not to be missed when in Atlanta.
2. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Set in the southeast of the state is the sensational sprawling swamp of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Protected as part of a park since 1937, its flooded forests and endless wetlands are a treat to explore. Boat tours and kayak trips are the best way to experience all of its sublime submerged scenery.
While paddling through its bogs and swamps, visitors can spot all kinds of birds and amphibians. Over 10,000 alligators are said to be residing within the murky marsh. Despite its unforgiving environment, Native Americans inhabited the area for thousands of years; Okefenokee means the ‘Land of the Trembling Earth’ in their local language.
At the wildlife refuge’s visitor center you can find many interesting exhibits on the history and nature of the swamp, as well as information on all its tantalizing trails.
1. Savannah Historic District
The sophisticated city of Savannah boasts one of the biggest and most beautiful historic districts in the whole of the States. Founded back in 1733 on the banks of the Savannah River, it was the first city and capital of Georgia, with much of this rich heritage still on show in the center of town.
As a prominent port, untold riches poured into the city with massive mansions and majestic monuments springing up along its scenic streets. Most of its attractive architecture and colonial-era churches and buildings are remarkably well-preserved, so strolling around its historic heart is an amazing experience.
With excellent restaurants and shops to be found in the area, and a wealth of historic homes and museums, the Savannah Historic District is certainly one of the state’s standout sights.