The 20 Best Places to Visit in Georgia (State)

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial & privacy policies.

Drawing more than 50 million visitors each year and listed fourth on Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2022,” Atlanta GA is one of the most visited cities in the USA. 

But many of the people who visit Atlanta may be unaware of the remarkable array of things to do in North Georgia and coastal Georgia.

From sensational Blue Ridge Mountain views in the north and natural wonders like the Okefenokee Swamp in the south to  the coastal marshlands of the Golden Isles, the areas outside metro Atlanta offer an endless array of activities.

There are hundreds of small towns in Georgia, and most of them have interesting histories, rich local cultures, and lots of natural beauty to share.  

Visitors can try traditional Appalachian food or low country fare, visit local breweries and wineries, explore local hiking trails and waterfalls, or take a haunted ghost tour.

Read on for in-depth guide to the 20 best places to visit in Georgia, including all of the best mountain towns, historical sites, natural attractions, museums, and more. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Live in the Georgia Mountains

Best Places to Visit In Georgia Guide

  1. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
  3. National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  4. Oakland Cemetery 
  5. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
  6. Athens GA
  7. Blue Ridge GA
  8. Dahlonega GA
  9. Helen GA
  10. Tallulah Gorge
  11. Amicalola Falls
  12. Brasstown Bald
  13. Lookout Mountain
  14. Cumberland Island
  15. Golden Isles of Georgia
  16. Macon GA
  17. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
  18. Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area
  19. Savannah GA
  20. Warm Springs GA

READ MORE: The 20 Best Hiking Trails In Atlanta GA (& Hikes Near Atlanta)

 

Best Places to Visit in Atlanta

Inhabitants of the Chattahoochee River -fun places to go in atlanta
Photo Courtesy Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

1. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

1978 Island Ford Pkwy, Sandy Springs GA  678-538-1273

Official Website

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is one of the most picturesque places to go in Georgia.

This national park somehow seems even more beautiful given its location in north metro Atlanta.

City-dwellers and Atlanta visitors alike can grab a fishing pole and head down to the river, where catching species like trout, bass, and catfish is fairly easy if you know the local hotspots. 

Surrounding the popular river, GA Wildflowers provide splashes of color as the seasons change, from azaleas in spring to ironwood when the fall colors start to pop.

With 48 miles of river to explore, the possibilities for outdoor recreation are endless here. The river is open to kayaking, canoeing, and rafting, but nothing beats a lazy afternoon river tubing down the Chattahoochee!

READ MORE: The Best Places for River Tubing in North Georgia

Atlanta tourist attractions -Statues in MLK Jr. Museum
Photo Courtesy Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park

2. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park

450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta GA  404-331-5190

Official Website

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park is one of the best places to visit in Atlanta due to its historical significance in Georgia’s Civil Rights movement.

Visitors can immerse themselves in history by exploring the birth home of MLK Jr., Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Reverend King served as co-pastor), and other historical monuments that honor the efforts that were made for equality.

One of the more popular Atlanta tourist attractions, The King Center is home to the Civil Rights leader’s final resting place. It also showcases the considerable efforts made by Mrs. Coretta Scott King after her husband’s death.

The National Historic Park also features tours of Dr. King’s birth home, as well as a chance to see the D.R.E.A.M Gallery. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best National Parks in Georgia to Visit

Places to visit in Atlanta -Museum Attendee at National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Photo Courtesy National Center for Civil and Human Rights

3. National Center for Civil and Human Rights

100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta GA  678-999-8990

Official Website

Opened in 2014, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is one of the newer tourist attractions in Georgia.

The state of Georgia has been home to important Civil Rights leaders such as MLK, John Lewis, Joseph E. Lowery, Maynard Jackson, and Andrew Young.

The museum‘s focus is on connecting the Civil Rights progress that was made in the past to challenges that are still being faced today. The goal is to continue the change that was started generations ago.

There are a multitude of informative and educational exhibits to explore, including “Spark of Conviction: The Global Human Rights Movement.” 

If you plan to visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, they strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance. You can also experience an immersive virtual tour via their website.

READ MORE: The 25 Best Day Trips From Atlanta GA

Georgia places to visit - Arboretum at Oakland Cemetery
Photo Courtesy Oakland Cemetery

4. Oakland Cemetery 

248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta GA  404-688-2107

Official Website

With its excellent array of tours and seasonal events, historic Oakland Cemetery (which dates back to 1850) is regarded as one of the most unique Atlanta attractions.

One of the area’s oldest parks, and the final resting place for many of the city’s esteemed citizens, the cemetery features 48 acres of well-maintained gardens and architecture.

On September 25, 2022, they’ll be hosting “Tunes From The Tombs,” a music festival to raise funds for the preservation of the cemetery.

There will also be a Pumpkin Patch and “Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tours” in October. 

Entry and self-guided tours are free, but guided tours usually cost $12 for Adults, and $6 for Seniors and Children ages 6 to 17. Tours for Historic Oakland Foundation members and kids ages 5 and under are free. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Haunted Houses in Georgia to Visit

 

Best Places to Visit in North Georgia

Civil War cannons at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, photo by Thomson200 via CC0 1.0

5. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr, Kennesaw GA  770-427-4686

Official Website

One of the best places to visit in GA for hikers and history buffs alike, the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park encompasses more than 3,000 acres in the Appalachian foothills. 

The park is best-known as home to one of the most important Civil War battlefields in Georgia, but it’s also home to some of the most popular hiking trails in North Georgia.

The Visitor Resource Center offers many options of Kennesaw Mountain activities, most of which are free of charge.

There are museum tours, ranger presentations, living history events (cooking demonstrations, artillery fire, infantry volleys, etc), and picnicking on the battlegrounds. There are also horseback riding tours available (for a fee).

Kids who visit the park can become a Kennesaw Mountain Junior Ranger by completing activities outlined in the Junior Ranger booklet, making this one of our favorite fun places to go in Georgia with kids. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Scary Escape Rooms in Georgia

Places to go in Georgia - Wall art in Athens GA
Photo Courtesy Visit Athens

6. Athens GA

300 N. Thomas St., Athens GA  706-357-4430

Official Website

As the birthplace of bands ranging from The B-52s and R.E.M. to Widespread Panic and the Elephant 6 Collective, Athens is one of the best places to visit in North Georgia.

Home to the University of Georgia Bulldogs (currently ranked #2 in the nation), Athens is dominated by football games and tailgating during the season.  

There are countless restaurants and bars in the college town where you can grab a bite to eat, drink local craft brews, and watch the big game. You can also visit the Georgia Museum of Art or one of Downtown Athens’ art galleries

Located just over an hour east of Atlanta, Athens has also outdoor recreation options to explore, such as walking the Oconee River Greenway or biking the famous Firefly Trail.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Breweries in Georgia

Attractions in Georgia -Blue Ridge, GA -Scenic Railway
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Blue Ridge GA

152 Orvin Lance Dr, Suite A, Blue Ridge GA  706-632-5680

Official Website

Once best known as a sleepy railroad town, Blue Ridge has evolved over the last 10-15 years into one of the most charming small towns we’ve ever visited.

Ranked as one of the “South’s Best Mountain Towns” by Southern Living in 2021, Blue Ridge also makes our list of one of the must see places in Georgia.

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway offers visitors wonderful tours into the heart of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.  Downtown Blue Ridge features lots of excellent restaurants, boutiques, and cultural attractions.

Outside, visitors can explore the stunning scenery at Long Creek Falls, the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River, and Lake Blue Ridge.

You can also cast a line in the many creeks and rivers of the “Trout Fishing Capital of Georgia,” or simply enjoy a relaxing afternoon in your Blue Ridge Cabin Rental.

READ MORE: The 25 Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, GA

Carriage Ride in downtown Dahlonega GA
Carriage Ride in Downtown Dahlonega, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

8. Dahlonega GA

13 South Park Street, Dahlonega GA  706-864-3711

Official Website

Located in the Heart of Georgia’s wine country, Dahlonega was the site of the first U.S. Gold Rush. But its endless array of modern attractions and activities are what make this one of our favorite places to visit in GA. 

This romantic North Georgia town is arguably among the most beautiful places in Georgia to visit, with its extensive list of wineries and vineyards offering award-winning Georgia wines and picture-worthy views.

There are also some great historical sites to visit, such as the Dahlonega Gold Museum, the Consolidated and Crisson Gold Mines, and the 1884 Lumpkin County Jail & Museum.

Outside, visitors can explore the lush Chattahoochee National Forest, kayak the Etowah or Chestatee Rivers, or take a day hike on the Appalachian Trail.

This is also one of our favorites places to celebrate Christmas in GA, with a parade, Festival of Trees, lighting of the Historic Square, and free photos with Santa every weekend. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Dahlonega GA & Lumpkin County

Alpine-style buildings in Downtown Helen GA
Downtown Helen GA, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

9. Helen GA

726 Bruckenstrasse, Helen GA  800-858-8027

Official Website

Helen GA is easily one of the most fun places to visit in Georgia with kids, offering a taste of the Bavarian Alps in a town surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

The small town is best known as the home of Oktoberfest, one of the most popular fall festivals in Georgia and the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany. The town is also packed with German restaurants.

Arts and culture also rank high in Helen, with places like the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia and the Helen Arts & Heritage Center for visitors to tour. The town is also packed with German restaurants.

Kids will enjoy ziplining in North Georgia over the Chattahoochee River or Lake Unicoi, riding the Georgia Mountain Coaster, or visiting the delightful Lavender Lamb Farm. 

In December, check out Christmas in Helen GA, which was rated the “Top Christmas Town in America” by MSN.com and one of Southern Living‘s Best Christmas Towns in Georgia and the USA. 

READ MORE: The 25 Best Things to Do in Helen GA

Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls, GA
Tallulah Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Tallulah Gorge

338 Jane Hurt Yarn Road, Tallulah Falls GA  706-754-7981

Official Website 

One of the most popular state parks in Georgia, Tallulah Gorge State Park encompasses approximately 3,000 acres of land, with a Visitor Center, hiking trails, and waterfalls to explore. 

The gorge is almost 2 miles long and 1,000 feet deep, with dramatic cliffs and stunning overlooks that make it one of the most striking places to see in Georgia.

The park offers lodging at the Pioneer Campgrounds for tents, trailers, and RVs, as well as shelters for rent.

Mountain bikers and cyclists can join the Muddy Spokes Club and test their limits on the designated bike trails, while climbers can challenge themselves as part of the Canyon Climbers Club.

Note that if you want to hike to the waterfalls in the gorge, the park does require a permit. Visitors can also enjoy activities like fishing, geocaching, swimming, picnicking, and rock climbing at Tallulah Gorge. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Campgrounds in North Georgia

Fun places to go in Georgia - Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, GA
Amicalola Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

11. Amicalola Falls

418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road, Dawsonville GA  706-265-8888

Official Website 

One of the tallest waterfalls in the eastern US, the 729-foot-tall Amicalola Falls is the highlight of Amicalola Falls State Park, with breathtaking views all around.

This North Georgia state park is one of the best places to go in Georgia for nature lovers, with activities like archery, hiking, ziplining, GPS scavenger hunts, and more.

Guided hikes are also available for your trek up to the falls, as well as Animal Meet & Greets to learn more about the wildlife that inhabits this area of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Park visitors have numerous accommodations options to choose from, including glamping sites, North Georgia cabin rentals, camping, and the popular Amicalola State Park Lodge

READ MORE: The 25 Best Easy Hiking Trails to Waterfalls in Georgia

Best places to visit in GA -Fall colors in Georgia at Brasstown Bald
Fall colors at Brasstown Bald, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

12. Brasstown Bald

2941 Hwy. 180 Spur, Hiawassee GA  706-896-2556

Official Website

The tallest mountain in the state at 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald is arguably the best place to visit in Georgia for views of the Blue Ridge range. On a clear day, you can see 4 states (including North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee).

The Brasstown Bald Visitors Center is located at the top, with a cloud observation deck for visitors to take in jaw-dropping views from one of the most must-see places in Georgia.

To get there, visitors have two options: You can take a shuttle to the top for a small fee, or follow the paved hiking trail trail that starts from the parking lot and heads 0.55 miles up a steep to the summit.

The Visitor Center is also home to an excellent museum featuring interactive nature exhibits. But the excellent view is the star of the show, especially when the colors of Fall in Georgia begin to peak. 

READ MORE: Fall in the Mountains of North Georgia: 25 Places to See Fall Colors

Cool places to visit in Georgia - Waterfall at Lookout Mountain GA TN
Lookout Mountain GA, photo via Canva

13. Lookout Mountain

1214 Lula Lake Road, Lookout Mountain GA  706-820-1586

Official Website

Located in northwest GA on the border with Tennessee, Lookout Mountain is home to some of Georgia’s most extraordinary rock formations and breathtaking mountain scenery.

The most popular Lookout Mountain attractions include Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Ruby Falls, Lulu Lake Land Trust, and the famous Rock City, with its enchanted fairy/gnome gardens.

This is one of the most fun places in Georgia to visit with kids, who can cross the swinging bridge and pass through the gigantic rocks to take in the stunning scenic views.

During the holiday season, this area is one of the best North Georgia Christmas Events, Rock City’s “Enchanted Garden of Lights.”

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lookout Mountain GA/TN

 

Best Places to Visit in South Georgia

Dunes of Cumberland Island - Best place to visit in Georgia
Photo Courtesy of National Park Service

14. Cumberland Island

113 St. Marys St W, St. Marys GA  912-882-4452

Official Website

Located off the coast of St. Marys GA, Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest island. Its 9,800 acres of designated wilderness is full of marshes, maritime forest, beaches, and (most famously) wild horses.

2022 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Cumberland Island National Seashore, with commemorative events taking place on October 1st.

Cumberland Island visitors can explore the area’s various hiking trails, take guided tours, relax on the beach, go kayaking, or go fishing on- or offshore.

You can also spend the night stargazing by reserving your very own camping spot right on Cumberland Island. Just remember the protected area’s strict Leave No Trace policy!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Kayaking Rivers in Georgia

St. Simons Island Lighthouse - Places in Georgia to visit
Photo Courtesy Golden Isles of Georgia

15. Golden Isles of Georgia

529 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island GA  912-638-9014

Official Website

Located right off the coast, the Golden Isles of Georgia are comprised of 4 islands— St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island— which connect to the mainland city of Brunswick.

These unspoiled, historic beaches stretch on for miles, and are surrounded by marshlands filled with an impressive array of Georgia birds

Visitors to the islands’ small towns can stroll through museums and art galleries, tee off on one of the golf courses, enjoy a relaxing day at the spa, or explore the islands’ hiking trails.

Each island offers a multitude of accommodation options, with everything from charming historic inns and B&Bs to beachfront rental cabins

READ MORE: The 15 Coolest Covered Bridges in Georgia

Welcome to Macon GA sign
Photo courtesy Explore Georgia

16. Macon GA

450 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Macon GA  478-743-1074

Official Website

Nicknamed the place “Where Soul Lives,” Macon GA is a place full of history, celebrating both African-American and Native American culture and their impact on the town.

Nature lovers can find their bliss outdoors at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park, hiking in Amerson River Park, on the water at Lake Tobesofkee, or by pitching a tent at one of their many campsites.

Downtown Macon has lots of shops and restaurants to stop by, as well as a plethora of local art galleries and museums to peruse. There’s also a great music scene, which brought us artists such as Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers. 

Macon’s bustling nightlife scene includes live music at the Macon City Auditorium and the Hargray Capitol Theatre, and grabbing a drink at the Hummingbird Stage & Taproom.

READ MORE: 40 Facts About the History of the Banjo (From Africa to Appalachia)

Paddling at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge -places in Georgia to visit
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

17. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

4155 Suwannee Canal Road, Folkston GA  912-496-7836

Official Website

One of the most mysterious places to visit in Georgia, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a world-renowned conservation site that’s popular for canoe and kayaking trips, birdwatching, and wildlife watching.

The Okefenokee Swamp is home to many endangered species, as well as a dense concentration of alligators.

So this refuge is protected by the RAMSAR Convention as a Wetland of International Importance, and is well on its way to being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit this unique place in Georgia for fishing, canoeing, boat tours, and the family-friendly Swamp Movie Days. The refuge’s hiking trails are conveniently marked, with difficulty levels ranging from kid-friendly to strenuous.

You can also reserve a in an overnight shelter or for canoe camping right in the swamp’s dense interior.

READ MORE: Non-Venomous vs Venomous Snakes In Georgia (Identification Guide)

Inside the Providence Canyon - cool places in Georgia
Photo Courtesy of @hanwarren8

18. Providence Canyon State Park

8930 Canyon Rd., Lumpkin GA  229-838-6202

Official Website

Known as “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon was formed due to erosion caused by local farming practices in the 1800s.

The breathtaking canyon can be viewed from the rim at the top or via hiking trails that lead deep in the canyon.

Visitors can also stop by the parl museum to learn more about its history, or bring a picnic to be enjoy at one of the picnic tables or shelters (which are available for rent).

Backpackers are invited to camp overnight along the backcountry trails, but guests can also reserve a camping spot in the park.

The views of the canyon are best in early summer, when local wildflowers such as the rare Plumleaf Azalea are in bloom.

READ MORE: 10 Best Apps for Hikers and Backpackers

Downtown River Street Savannah Georgia - fun places to visit in Georgia
Downtown River Street in Savannah Georgia, photo via Canva

19. Savannah GA

101 E. Bay Street, Savannah GA  912-644-6400

Official Website

Savannah is world-renowned as one of the most beautiful places in Georgia to visit. With Spanish moss cascading off the trees, a long line of sandy beaches, and historical architecture, it’s like no other town in the state.

The beaches of Tybee Island are just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, making for an easy day trip. Visitors can also explore the island’s museum, dine at the Crab Shack, or take a sunset cruise.

Downtown Savannah attractions include the Savannah City Market, River Street, the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, local art galleries, and historic graveyards.

For dinner, chow down on some Southern fried chicken at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room before heading in for the night. If you’re feeling brave, try staying the night in one of Savannah’s haunted hotels. 

READ MORE: The 10 Most Haunted Places in Georgia to Visit

Little White House in Warm Springs GA
Photo courtesy Explore Georgia

20. Warm Springs GA

1 Broad Street, Warm Springs GA  706-655-3322

Official Website

Made famous by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid-20th century, Warm Springs GA is a tranquil place of Southern hospitality and comfort.

The town is best-known for its naturally heated, healing waters, but there’s much more to the area.

On Main Street, visitors can check out local shops and restaurants: We recommend grabbing dinner at the world-famous Bulloch House.

For history buffs, there are museums focused on FDR’s life in Georgia, including the Little White House, one of the less crowded Historic Sites in Georgia.

Want to test the warm waters? Make a trip to the famous Warm Springs to see for yourself why FDR loved them (and the town) so much! –by Molly Frazier; lead image via Canva

 

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!