With everything going on, sometimes the best option for a vacation is to go on a road trip! Whether it’s for a day, a weekend, or even a week, there are tons of cool destinations within driving distance from Atlanta. This article will go over the 24 best road trips from Atlanta, Georgia. We’ll begin with some of the closer destinations, including Lake Lanier, Callaway Gardens, Athens, and the North Georgia Mountains. Nonetheless, we’ll also review the best options for a longer getaway, like Charleston, Destin, or even New Orleans. So, whether you’re looking for a day trip to the mountains or a relaxing vacation to the beach, this list should have a great road trip idea for everyone!
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Day trips from Atlanta
Lake Lanier, Georgia
Distance from Atlanta: 49 miles (1 hour)
For a quick road trip from Atlanta during the summer, Lake Lanier is the perfect place to go. Check out Lake Lanier Islands, a popular resort complex that offers activities like golf, hiking, boating, water sports, beach volleyball, and even a spa! If you’re visiting with kids, you won’t want to miss the Water Park–it has water slides, a wave pool, and even a section of sandy beach. Around Christmastime, Lake Lanier becomes a popular destination for Atlantans once again due to its Magical Nights of Lights. This festive light display spans 6 miles (9.7 km) and is considered to be the largest animated light show in the southeast.
Distance from Atlanta: 66 miles (1 hour, 15 minutes)
Dahlonega is a charming small town in northern Georgia, which was also the site of the first major American gold rush. For this reason, the most popular local activity is to visit the Consolidated Gold Mine. Here, you’ll learn about the miners who worked to uncover gold and even learn to pan for your own treasure! Especially if you’re visiting with kids, you don’t want to miss the mine. Although Dahlonega is historically associated with gold, it’s recently gained attention as “the heart of the North Georgia Wine Country”. For a more “adult” vacation, spend the day at some of Georgia’s best vineyards. I recommend checking out Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, Cavender Creek Vineyards, Kaya Vineyard & Winery, Three Sisters Vineyard & Winery, and Frogtown Winery.
Distance from Atlanta: 70 miles (1 hour, 20 minutes)
Athens, also called the “Classic City”, is best known as the University of Georgia’s college town. With this in mind, the city is at its busiest in the fall during football season. Even if you’re not usually a sports fan, coming to Athens to tailgate and see a game at Sanford Stadium is a must for any Georgia resident! Downtown Athens is a great place to grab a bite to eat or spend some time shopping at local boutiques. It’s also world-renowned for its live music scene! After exploring downtown, head to UGA’s historic North Campus. Other popular activities include visiting the 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia or grabbing a local beer at Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
Callaway Gardens (Pine Mountain, GA)
Distance from Atlanta: 80 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)
Callaway Gardens was originally founded in 1952 with a mission to promote and protect a rare azalea species. At present, it has expanded to cover 6,500 acres of land, drawing 750,000 visitors each year. One of the main highlights at Callaway Gardens is the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl. This 40-acre garden houses over 3,000 types of azaleas and is the perfect place to take a stroll on a spring day. Furthermore, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center is home to over 2000 butterflies of 50 different species! During the summertime, Robin Lake Beach is open daily to visitors and offers all sorts of family activities. Besides sunbathing on this manmade beach, you can also kayak, paddleboard, and play putt-putt golf.
Distance from Atlanta: 87 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes)
Helen is a mountain town in Northeast Georgia, built in the style of a Bavarian alpine village. During the warmer months (May to September), tourists flock to Helen to go tubing down the Chattahoochee River with Helen Tubing & Waterpark and Cool River Tubing. Even if you’re visiting outside of the summer, there are still plenty of exciting outdoor activities to do! For example, Helen has many picturesque hiking trails in the area including Raven Cliff Falls Trail, Anna Ruby Falls (easy, short trail), Dukes Creek Falls Trail, and the nearby Yonah Mountain Hiking Trail. Additionally, Helen is an ideal location for camping, zip-lining, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. One of the best fall activities in Georgia is to attend the town’s Oktoberfest celebration!
Blue Ridge, Georgia
Distance from Atlanta: 93 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes)
Blue Ridge is another great option to escape the city and relax while surrounded by the North Georgia mountains. While in town, one of the best places to visit is Mercier Orchards. This family-owned apple orchard offers apple picking, hayride tours, wine tastings, and delicious apple pies. Another can’t-miss experience is taking a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. This 4-hour journey through the North Georgia countryside offers stunning views and is a great activity for families. Of course, Blue Ridge is also home to hundreds of hiking trails! Among the most popular are Long Creek Falls, Jacks River Trail, and Aska Trails. After a long day of hiking, don’t forget to check out Grumpy Old Men Brewery to try a new craft beer!
Toccoa Falls, Georgia
Distance from Atlanta: 93 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes)
Toccoa Falls* is a stunning 186-foot-high waterfall, located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College in northeastern Georgia. Interestingly, the height of this waterfall makes it the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi River. To put this into perspective, Toccoa Falls is higher than certain areas of even Niagara Falls. The walk from campus to the falls is fairly short and easy, making it a perfect option for those who might not be able to do longer hikes in the region.
*Currently closed due to the global situation.
Brasstown Bald, Georgia
Distance from Atlanta: 102 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Brasstown Bald, known as the highest point in Georgia, sits at 4,784 feet above sea level. Therefore, the top of the mountain offers unparalleled 360-degree views of the Chattahoochee National Forest. You can even see four different states on a clear day! The trek to the summit is steep, so make sure to wear hiking shoes or boots with good traction. Although the hike up is sure to give you a workout, the views at the top make it 100% worth the effort. If you can, plan to go on a sunny, clear day when you can avoid fog obstructing the views!
Providence Canyon State Park (Lumpkin, GA)
Distance from Atlanta: 150 miles (2 hours, 20 minutes)
Did you know that Georgia has its own Little Grand Canyon? Located in Lumpkin, Providence Canyon is a must-see destination in the state. Admission to the park is only $5, making it a budget-friendly day trip from Atlanta. Depending on how much time you have, you can hike the 2.5-mile Canyon Loop Trail, veering off to see the individual Canyons 1-9, or even take on the 7-mile Backcountry Trail. As you’ll learn on your visit, the breathtaking canyon is actually the result of erosion from poor farming practices in the 1800s! Regardless of how this canyon came to be, it is now one of the most remarkable and unique places to visit in the state of Georgia.
Weekend trips from Atlanta
Distance from Atlanta: 118 miles (2 hours)
Chattanooga, located in East Tennessee, sits just across the border from Georgia. Some of the main attractions in this riverside city are the Tennessee Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum, and the Tennessee Riverwalk. Additionally, there are tons of options nearby for the outdoor enthusiast! If you’re traveling with kids, Rock City and Lookout Mountain are not to be missed. Lover’s Leap boasts an incredible view across multiple states. Plus, Ruby Falls, a series of underground waterfalls, is another beautiful place to see while visiting Lookout Mountain.
Greenville, South Carolina
Distance from Atlanta: 145 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Greenville is a perfect option for a quick weekend trip or even as a stop on your way to farther destinations, like Asheville or Charlotte, N.C. If you stay in downtown Greenville, you can easily explore Falls Park on the Reedy, a popular 32-acre park that runs through the city. Recognized as one of the South’s best foodie cities, you’ll find plenty of restaurants in town offering delicious comfort food. Plus, Paris Mountain is only five miles north of Greenville. This park offers just about every outdoor activity you can think of–hiking, biking, swimming, picnicking, and fishing!
Distance from Atlanta: 147 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Birmingham is Alabama’s most populous city and is an important center for the civil rights movement. “The Magic City” has something for everyone between the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Vulcan Park and Museum, the Botanical Gardens, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. If you’re traveling with young kids, you’ll want to add the McWayne Science Center and the Birmingham Zoo to your itinerary! Additionally, everyone who visits Birmingham should take the time to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and pay homage at 16th Street Baptist Church.
Asheville, North Carolina
Distance from Atlanta: 200 miles (3 hours, 25 minutes)
Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is probably best known as home to the Biltmore Estate. Built in the style of a French chateau, this mansion draws thousands of visitors each year. In fact, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately-owned house in the United States. Moreover, Asheville is a great spot to explore nature by visiting the Pisgah National Forest or driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. After spending the day outdoors, don’t forget to check out some of the local breweries. Asheville is thought to have more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S.!
Distance from Atlanta: 250 miles (3 hours, 40 minutes)
As the oldest city in Georgia, Savannah is packed with history, beautiful architecture, and Southern charm. The best–and most entertaining–way to explore the historic district is on a ghost tour! You’ll definitely want to see all the noteworthy spots in town, like Forsyth Park, Bonaventure Cemetery, and River Street. You can also visit some of the historic 19th-century homes in Savannah, which have been converted into museums. I highly recommend the Owens-Thomas House, located at 124 Abercorn Street. For a culinary experience like no other, book a food tour with Savannah Tate Experience.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Distance from Atlanta: 245 miles (3 hours, 50 minutes)
Charlotte is the second-largest city in the Southeast and is an important business and financial hub. Some of its most notable attractions include the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place Science Museum, the Billy Graham Library, and Carowinds amusement park. For a unique outdoor experience, you’ll want to visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center! This facility is the ultimate spot for water sports, where you can partake in whitewater rafting, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Distance from Atlanta: 200 miles (4 hours)
Gatlinburg is a mountain resort city that makes a great base for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plan to spend at least one day hiking in the park–there are trails for all levels! Other must-see places in town are Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, SkyLift Park, and the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook. If you’re traveling with a group of adults, go on a moonshine crawl through Gatlinburg! There are three major distilleries you can visit here: Sugarlands, Ole Smoky, and Doc Collier.
Longer trips from Atlanta
Distance from Atlanta: 250 miles (4 hours)
Nashville is an extremely popular destination for road trips due to its brunch scene, vibrant street art, and live music on Broadway. Since you’re in Music City, you can’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Grand Ole Opry or the Country Music Hall of Fame. Nashville is full of all sorts of quirks; for example, you can find a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park! Another of this city’s gems is the daily Farmers’ Market, where you can purchase local food, produce, and crafts.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Distance from Atlanta: 280 miles (4 hours, 30 minutes)
One of the best options for a vacation from Atlanta is Hilton Head Island. Spend your days lounging on the island’s world-class beaches, such as Coligny Beach or Folly Field Beach, or maybe even rent a bike! After spending time in the sand, climb to the top of Harbour Town Lighthouse and grab some local seafood for dinner at one of Hilton Head’s 250 restaurants. Families will also enjoy Island Explorer Dolphin & Nature Tours, which offer guided boat tours around Hilton Head in small groups.
Charleston, South Carolina
Distance from Atlanta: 305 miles (4 hours, 50 minutes)
Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina, was founded in 1670. This adorable Southern town is known for its quaint and historic architecture as well as its yummy signature cuisines, such as shrimp and grits. Walking the streets of Charleston, it’s easy to see why this destination is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in the U.S. for tourism. Historic sites to visit include Middleton Place, Fort Sumter, McLeod Plantation, the Nathaniel Russel House, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, among countless others.
Golden Isles of Georgia
Distance from Atlanta: 310 miles (4 hours, 50 minutes)
The Golden Isles are made up of four barrier islands (St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island) and the port city of Brunswick. Spend your vacation lounging in the sand at East Beach, popular with families, or the picturesque Driftwood Beach. Although these beaches are undoubtedly the main attractions in the Golden Isles, there are tons of other activities to do here as well. For example, you can also find horseback riding, watersports, camping, boating, fishing, and golf!
Distance from Atlanta: 335 miles (5 hours, 15 minutes)
Destin, located on the Florida Panhandle, is one of the most popular summer vacation spots for Atlantans. In fact, Destin’s beaches are considered to be some of the whitest in the world, drawing millions of visitors each year. Henderson Beach features pristine emerald waters and soft, clean sand. Furthermore, visitors can check out the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, the Village of Baytowne Wharf, and HarborWalk Village. Between the Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and Silver Sands Premium Outlets, Destin is also an ideal spot for shopping.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Distance from Atlanta: 360 miles (5 hours, 40 minutes)
Myrtle Beach is another great option for a summer getaway from Atlanta. Located on the east coast of South Carolina, this city hosts over 20 million visitors along the Grand Strand each year. Besides lounging on its 60-mile stretch of beach, you can also head to Broadway at the Beach, the SkyWheel, Ripley’s Aquarium, or the Hollywood Wax Museum. Myrtle Beach’s 1.2-mile boardwalk is another popular attraction, considered one of the top boardwalks in the nation.
Distance from Atlanta: 440 miles (6 hours, 15 minutes)
Orlando, in Central Florida, is mainly known as the home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. There are more than a dozen theme parks in this city, with Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Universal’s Islands of Adventure among the most popular. Other parks include Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Discovery Cove. Although you probably won’t make it to all destinations in one trip, you can definitely see 4-5 parks in a week.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Distance from Atlanta: 460 miles (6 hours, 40 minutes)
New Orleans, the largest city in Louisiana, is undoubtedly one of the most unique cities in the U.S. NOLA is best known for jazz music, Creole cuisine, its annual Mardi Gras celebration, and the beautiful French Quarter. While much of the history in New Orleans focuses on the colonial era, you can also find the Smithsonian-affiliated National WWII Museum here. If you’d like to see a live performance, don’t miss Preservation Hall. Given everything there is to do here, you’ll want to spend at least a long weekend in New Orleans!