31 Day Trips From Atlanta That Should Be Tops On Your Bucket List

Atlanta has so much to do, but sometimes you just want to get out of the city and explore what the surrounding areas have to offer! These places are all perfect for a day trip from Atlanta Metro.

Lake Blue Ridge, courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Each of these experiences are within ~ 3 hours- so you can get there, explore, and get back home to the comfort of your own bed! Make the most of your weekends by trying out one of these day trips.

South of the City

Head down south from the city, and get your fill of small towns, beautiful gardens, a train, and maybe even an indoor water park!

Not Too Far: 1-2 Hours Away

Serenbe Farms is located just south of the city in the wonderfully magical community of Serenbe near Chattahoochee Hills. Serenbe Farms hosts an Artisan and Farmers Market every Saturday from April through November that you’ll love. You’ll find organic food and artisan goods with live music and other activities too. And stick around and explore the community while you’re there! You won’t be far from the city, but it will feel like you are. Distance from Atlanta: 45 minutes

Callaway Gardens. Head west from Atlanta – and a little bit south – and you’ll find the beautiful Callaway Gardens. Beautiful plants and flowers abound on this 2,500-acre paradise that offers biking and hiking trails, a swimming beach, and two awesome golf courses. I grew up riding the biking trails here with my family, and it has some of the most beautiful trails you can imagine. Callaway also hosts events throughout the year — like their holiday Fantasy in Lights, their Hot Air Balloon Festival in September, and their July 4th Star Spangled Beach Party. Read more about their special events HERE. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 15 minutes

LaGrange. If you have kids, then you know that LaGrange is home to a Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park hotel – which is so awesome, and definitely worth the visit. In addition to that water fun, LaGrange has amazing restaurants, and is home to the Hills Dales Estate, the Biblical History Center, and the Azalea Storytelling Festival. Just outside of LaGrange you’ll find the Wild Animal Safari Park, which is a drive-thru animal park that my kids just adore. If you’re ready to have giraffe tongues be the topic of conversation for weeks, a visit to the safari park is a must. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour

Columbus. When I think of Columbus, I think of the amazing whitewater adventures offered there. There’s just nothing like it. USA Today voted it the best man-made white water on the planet! You can also zipline over the Chattahoochee River from Georgia to Alabama! How cool is that? Walk or bike the Columbus RiverWalk, which is a 22-mile paved trail that follows along the river. You’ll find shops, restaurants, parks, and plenty of beautiful views along the way. While in town, take in the Sculpture Walk on Broadway where you’ll find original art and sculptures with new additions each year. Columbus is also home to some amazing museums — such as National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus. Distance from Atlanta: 1.5 hours

Macon. Oh, Macon! Home of the Cherry Blossom Festival and all things PINK! (You really must go to this festival that’s held for 2 weeks every spring. It’s fantastic!) Macon is home to a downtown area that’s got so much to do and so many great restaurants — and during the holidays it’s beautifully decorated with lights! Visit Amerson River Park and walk the paths while watching the kayakers paddle by on the Ocmulgee River. A visit to the Ocmulgee National Monument is a must-do (it’s my favorite!), take a hike or bike the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, or spend the day on Lake Tobesofkee!

And if music is you’re thing — you’re in luck! Macon hosts a 2-day music crawl event every July called Bragg Jam that is just fantastic. And while you’re in town, make sure you visit The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House — it’s fascinating. Since I grew up near here, I could honestly go on and on — and I did, and you can find that HERE. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Senoia. There are two types of people who visit Senoia — those who are looking for a relaxing break from city life, and those who are fans of The Walking Dead! If you’re the former, Senoia is perfect at showing how amazing a slower pace of life can be. With an adorable downtown area filled with shops, and antique stores, and a town filled with great restaurants and beautiful historic homes, you’ll leave a visit here feeling refreshed. And if you’re a Walking Dead fan — well there’s a lot for you to see here! Take one of the Walking Dead tours and see places in town that appeared on the show. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour

Great Wolf Lodge Day Pass. Did you know Great Wolf Lodge offered ay passes? I didn’t! Want to enjoy the indoor water park, but don’t want to commit to an overnight? Then the Great Wolf Lodge Day Pass is the perfect choice. Come spend the whole day at the park, and then end the day in your own bed! The water park is filled with slides and pools and activities for all ages, and the water is always 84 degrees. Great Wolf Lodge is located just an hour away from the city in LaGrange. Read more about everything you can do at the park HERE. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour

Milledgeville. The central Georgia town of Milledgeville is filled with outdoor adventures, history, and really cool annual events! There is so much to do in this college town, that your problem will be deciding which to do first. Spend a day on Lake Sinclair — soak up the sun, or rent a kayak or SUP. Or bike, jog, launch your boat, or fish along the Oconee River Greenway. Explore the Antebellum Trails, or visit the historic district. Make a day out of visiting the Lockerly Arboretum, the Natural History Museum, or take the African-American Heritage Tour.

To kick off summer, make sure you head on down for the Beach Bash — an annual event where they dump 80 TONS OF SAND in the post office parking lot for a family-friendly beach party. Sounds like a can’t-miss! Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 45 minutes

pasaquan
Touching the walls as Pasaquan

A Little Further: 2-3 Hours Away

Albany. Located almost 3 hours south of Atlanta, Albany sits right in the center of southwest Georgia. Here you’ll find outdoor adventures, arts and culture, shopping, dining, and a lot of family-friendly activities! The Flint RiverQuarium is home to one of the few open-air aquariums in the world. You’ll learn all about the fish and plant life that make their home in the Flint River. Get close to exotic animals at the zoo at Chehaw Park. And make sure to visit one of Georgia’s 7 natural wonders while you’re in town with a trip to Radium Springs Gardens! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Pasaquan. Pasaquan is a very unique place — and one of those places you’ve really got to see for yourself. So what is it exactly? Well, it’s a folk art installation and collection located south of Columbus and created by Eddie Owens Martin. Martin (also known as St. EOM) was a southern artist, who created this 7-acre art environment that is now open for tours. Columbus State University preserves and maintains Pasaquan so visitors can see all of the amazing artwork for themselves. Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours

Andersonville. Two hours south of the city, you’ll find the historically significant Andersonville National Historic Site. The site is made up of three different parts. First, the Camp Sumter military prison, where more than 32,000 Union soldiers were held during the Civil War in terrible conditions. Secondly, the Andersonville National Cemetery was originally used for the prisoners who died at the prison, but is now a permanent place to honor those who died in military service to the United States. And finally, the National Prisoner of War Museum is a museum that honors all U.S. prisoners of war from all wars. Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours, 15 minutes

SAM Shortline. The SAM Shortline Train is Georgia’s only rolling state park! Board the train at Georgia Veterans State Park or in Cordele and enjoy a ride in the air-conditioned, vintage train cars. Depending on which trip you choose, you’ll make stops in small towns along the way! One of the most popular stops is in Plains — home of President Jimmy Carter. All aboard! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours

Augusta. Travel a little bit south, but a whole lot east, and you’ll find the great city of Augusta. It hosts a little golf tournament every year that you may have heard of — the Masters?! And although this is a golf-loving town, there’s also so much more! Visit the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area and take a boat cruise down the canal and tour the museum within the Discovery Center there. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, kayak the canal yourself! At Savannah Rapids Park you can bike the canal trail or hike the the Heritage Area. Visit the Augusta Museum of History and take a trolley tour. During baseball season, head on over to SRP Park and catch an Augusta Greenjackets game. Or explore Phinizy Swamp Nature Park! There’s so much to do! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Providence Canyon. This is one of my top choices for day trips! Why? Because it is just so crazy unique! Providence Canyon State Park is located just south of Columbus, and it’s referred to as Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon — for good reason. Of course, the “canyons” in this case were formed due to poor farming practices, but they are still worth seeing! Take in the views from the playground and picnic areas above, or take the short hike down into the canyon and explore everything below. It’s fascinating, and fun, and dirty, and interesting, and great, and I promise you won’t regret the visit. Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours

You’ll love the Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen.

North of the City

Head north for beautiful mountain hikes, waterfalls, awesome views, or a visit to a Bavarian village!

Not Too Far: 1-2 Hours Away

Athens is more than just the home of the University of Georgia. (Although, GO DAWGS!) Even though you’re guaranteed to find thousands of fans at Sanford Stadium on any given fall weekend, this town also offers so much more! You’ll find amazing food at restaurants such as Five & Ten, The National, and Cali n Tito’s. Visit the amazing UGA Botanical Gardens (for free!) and take in their new and completely awesome children’s play area. See the art! Bike the trails! Tour campus! Spend the day downtown! And the music scene here? Well, it’s insane! I mean, I loved this town so much, I moved here — that’s how good it is! Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Blue Ridge is one of the state’s most beautiful mountain towns, and the perfect place to spend the day. The only hard part will be choosing what to do from all the amazing choices! Take a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, or go trout fishing on the Toccoa River. Visit the shops, restaurants, galleries, and wineries in town. Pick apples at a local orchard in the fall! Or try whitewater rafting or one of the many popular hiking trails in the area! A day spent here is a day well spent. Distance from Atlanta: 1.5 hours away

Dahlonega. Want to pan for gold this weekend? Go on a hike through the Chattahoochee National Forest? Or maybe just visit one of Georgia’s most beautiful mountain towns? Dahlonega is for you! With a bustling downtown area filled with restaurants, shops, and art galleries, Dahlonega is the perfect place to spend a day. And if you haven’t experienced Dahlonega at Christmastime, you must! It pretty much looks like you stepped into a Hallmark movie. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Rome is one of the most beautiful southern towns, and it’s just a short 1-hour drive away from the ATL. Rome is home to the beautiful Berry College, and a visit to the campus should be a required stop. You’ll also find outdoor adventures — like biking or walking the Downtown Heritage Trail System that takes you along the three rivers of Rome. Nearby in Cave Spring, you can visit the Cave Spring Cave seasonally, or take a dip in the swimming lake in Rolater Park. Rome is home to great restaurants, the Rome Braves baseball team, awesome shops, museums, and even a labyrinth! Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Helen. Just drive 1.5-hours north to the town of Helen and you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different country — Germany to be exact! There are so many outdoor adventures to participate in while you’re visiting the Bavarian village of Helen. And they also have amazing restaurants, and the best little downtown shops too! Every summer, without fail, we tube the Chattahoochee in Helen. It is a must-do Georgia adventure — so fun, and a great way to cool off from the Georgia heat! Try even more adventure with a ride on the new Georgia Mountain Coaster.

There is so much great hiking nearby, but one of our favorites is Anna Ruby Falls. You’ll find a paved trail to the viewing platforms that get you so close to the falls, and the picnic area along the river is the best place for lunch. Visit a nearby state park, take a carriage ride through downtown, or visit the city during one of their extraordinary events, like Oktoberfest or Christmas in Helen! This town has it all. Distance from Atlanta: 1.5 hours

Amicalola Falls is home to the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi and you have to see it to believe it! Lucky for you, it’s just a little over an hour from Atlanta — perfect for a day trip. To view the falls, you can park at the bottom, the middle, or the top — depending on how many stairs you’d like to tackle. (There are 620 steps total!) There’s also a trail that starts beside the visitor center that will take you to the top of the falls, or will take you to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail! The Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge is the perfect place to cool off, or take in the beautiful mountain views from the rocking chairs set up on the back deck. And if you want to fly through the trees, Amicalola also offers zip-lining! Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens located in northwest Georgia is a one-of-a-kind place! Howard Finster was a folk artist who made his home in Summerville. The man who has been referred to as the “grandfather of Southern Folk Art” was recycling materials for art before it was cool. He started his garden in the 40s, and it’s now available for tours. Every year, the garden hosts “Finster Fest” on Memorial Day weekend, where you’ll find southern food, all types of live music, and a whole lot of folk art. Stop by “Sloppy” Floyd State Park while you’re in the area — it’s only 10 minutes away. Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Lake Lanier. Head on up to Lake Lanier for a day on the water! You’ll find a swimming beach, water sports, beach volleyball, and a water park to keep you cooled off in the summer months. Year-round you can enjoy golfing, boating, fishing, hiking and walking trails, and a spa. Lake Lanier also hosts amazing events throughout the year, including their very popular Lake Lanier Lights during the holiday season. It’s the perfect day trip escape! Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour

Cartersville is home to so many great activities — you could spend a whole day just doing one of them! A visit to the Tellus Science Museum is a must. Tellus is a huge natural history and science museum that also houses a planetarium. My kids have always loved it, and getting wet — I mean, panning for gems — is one of the favorite parts. Get outside and enjoy the hikes and water at Red Top Mountain State Park, or get an in-depth look at how Native Americans lived at the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. And a trip to Cartersville isn’t complete without a visit to the Booth Western Art Museum — which is the only museum dedicated to western art in the southeastern United States. Distance from Atlanta: 45 minutes

The waterfall at Cloudland Canyon State Park is one of the most beautiful.

A Little Further: 2-3 Hours Away

Brasstown Bald. Head on up — and I mean UP — to the highest point in the state with a visit to Brasstown Bald in northeast Georgia. This favorite of ours is located near Blairsville, and you can take a shuttle or take the steep but short hike (.06 miles) to the observation tower. Our kids love this hike — it’s paved, and has a huge payoff at the end! At the tower, you can take in the 360 degree views atop the 4,784 bald — and maybe even see four states! They also have a fun scavenger hunt game for kids for a small prize inside the tower — a must-do! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Blairsville. About 2 hours north of Atlanta, you’ll find Blairsville – an outdoor lover’s paradise! Blairsville is home to Brasstown Bald, Lake Nottely, Sleepy Hollow Fairy Gardens, Helton Creek Falls, Vogel State Park, and Blood Mountain. You’ll also find amazing restaurants, and the coolest shop — Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi. This store not only has neat stuff for outdoor enthusiasts, and beautiful views from the back of their building, but it also marks the only part of the Applachian Trail that’s covered — because the AT goes right through the building! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours

Cloudland Canyon is one of Georgia’s most beautiful and unique state parks! Hiking is the name of the game here, and there are so many amazing trails to choose from — you can’t go wrong. You can easily hike the rim of the canyon for beautiful views. There are rock outcroppings that make this trail a hit with kids and adults alike. For a little more of a challenge, you can also hike down into the canyon to view two different waterfalls — Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. There are metal grated steps on this hike, so be warned! I’ve done both with my kids, and as long as you pace yourself, you can definitely do it. (Cherokee is my favorite!) The waterfalls are so great, it makes even the tough hike back out of the canyon worth it! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours

The water rushing at GSMNP

Out of State

Asheville, North Carolina is a town that has plenty to do, plenty to eat, and there is plenty of fun to be had! This beautiful town is home to fabulous restaurants, awesome hikes and outdoor adventures, art, music, and all with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. Take in the magnificence of the Biltmore Estate, explore the French Broad River with a scenic paddle tour, go on a mountain hike, discover why Asheville’s culinary scene has become so popular, or visit one of the many locally-owned shops! The only problem? You may never want to head back home! Distance from Atlanta: 3.5 hours

Chattanooga, TN is one of my favorites. As far as family-friendly towns go, this town is perfect. But I also visited here before kids, and loved it then too! Located just over the Georgia border, Chattanooga has something for everyone. Here you’ll find outdoor adventures abound, along with amazing restaurants, and a thriving downtown area with community events throughout the year. Chattanooga has an aquarium, a minor league baseball team, an incline railway, beautiful river views, Ruby Falls, outdoor — plus, you can SEE ROCK CITY while you’re in town! Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours

Greenville, SC. We adore Greenville, and have even discussed moving there! Whether you’re looking for kid-friendly things to do, wonderful eateries, or just a new place to unwind — Greenville is that place! Just 2 hours from Atlanta, Greenville, South Carolina is home to Falls Park — a nature lover’s paradise. You can walk to it from downtown, and it’s a great place to explore and spend the day. Speaking of the downtown area – it’s great. So many restaurants and shops, and so pretty and easy to navigate! Greenville is a just a really pedestrian-friendly city. And if you have kids, the Greenville Zoo or the Children’s Museum of the Upstate are wonderful places to visit. Distance from Atlanta: A little over 2 hours

Bryson City, NC. Bryson City, located about 90 minutes north of Blue Ridge, is a beautiful town right in the middle of all sorts of outdoor adventures. Take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad — it’s truly amazing! They have special themed train rides throughout the year, with some geared toward kids (like the The Polar Express), and some for the adults (reserve the Moonshine Car on the Nantahala Gorge excursion). We personally love the open air cars during the fall foliage season! Bryson City is also super close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and you’ll never grow tired of exploring it. And the town of Bryson City itself has a great little downtown area, that’s filled with great restaurants and unique shops. Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours

Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Take the 3-hour trip on up to the Cherokee, NC entrance of GSMNP and you’ll spend your whole day happy! There is truly so much to see and do, you could make daily trips up there for a year and still find new things to explore. Check out the Oconaluftee Visitor Center 2 miles north of Cherokee, and explore the Mountain Farm Museum to see what life was like in the mountains long ago. Hike one of the trails — you’ve got 800 miles of them to choose from! Visit a waterfall. Take a driving tour of the park. Bike! Go fishing! Bring a picnic! Observe animals! There is so much to do — but here are 3 unique destinations! Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours

Kate Kelsthorpe

Kate Gelsthorpe is a former TV news writer, and a born and raised Georgia girl who grew up camping with her family at state parks around central and south Georgia. After 18 years in Atlanta, her family recently moved to Athens, and in their spare time you can find them exploring their new hometown. She and her husband, Kevin, are the proud parents of an 8-year-old dinosaur expert, and a 6-year-old outdoor-loving fashionista.

2 Comments on "31 Day Trips From Atlanta That Should Be Tops On Your Bucket List"

  1. Latoya Johnson | 01/14/2020 at 4:39 pm | Reply

    Pine Mountain, Ga has more than antique shops. Just turn on Broad St and you will find some amazing hidden jewels!

  2. Thanks Latoya, That’s great info! What are some of your favorite ‘hidden gems’?

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