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The 24 Best Road Trips From Atlanta, Georgia

Are you looking for fun and exciting road trip ideas from Atlanta? As a Georgia native, I’m excited to share some fantastic destinations that cater to various preferences–be it a quick drive away from town or an extended vacation.

With this in mind, I’ve curated the 24 best road trips from Atlanta, Georgia. I’ll guide you through nearby gems like Lake Lanier and the North Georgia Mountains, as well as vacations that involve a little more driving, like Charleston and New Orleans.

Whether you’re seeking stunning mountain views or coastal beaches, this article will help you plan an Atlanta road trip itinerary that’s ideal for you! I’ve listed the destinations in this post based on distance from Atlanta to make your choice easier. 

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you book an activity or reservation through these links at no extra cost to you.

1. Stone Mountain Park, Georgia

Stone Mountain Park in the fall with fall foliageDistance from Atlanta: 20 miles (30 minutes)

Just 30 minutes from Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is Georgia’s top attraction, with over 4 million annual visitors. Spanning 3200 acres, the park features serene lakes, scenic trails, and the world’s largest single piece of granite. 

Climb the trail to the summit for views of Atlanta and the Appalachian Mountains, or enjoy activities at the base, from golf to scenic train rides. The park hosts various fun events, including summer laser shows, Christmas celebrations, and the famous Yellow Daisy Festival in September. 

2. Lake Lanier, Georgia

Aerial view of Lake Lanier in Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 49 miles (1 hour)

Just an hour north of Atlanta in Gainesville lies Lake Lanier, a stunning reservoir that makes a perfect summer road trip destination. Boasting over 680 miles of shoreline and 23 beaches, Georgia’s largest lake offers water activities, boating, camping, and hiking trails. 

From boat rentals, waterskiing, and kayaking to Lake Lanier Olympic Park, this destination caters to all interests. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss Margaritaville’s Water Park, featuring water slides, a wave pool, and a sandy beach. Or, at Christmas time, you can see the Lakeside Lights Spectacular!

3. Dahlonega, Georgia

The Dahlonega Gold Museum in a historic building in Dahlonega, GA

Photo credit: Explore Georgia; Geoff Johnson

Distance from Atlanta: 66 miles (1 hour, 15 minutes)

In North Georgia, Dahlonega is ideal for a fall road trip from Atlanta. Famous for the first major American gold rush, explore the Consolidated Gold Mine and go gold panning. Wander historic streets, visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum, and savor the town’s recent wine renaissance.

Now recognized as “the heart of the North Georgia Wine Country,” stop by local vineyards like Wolf Mountain, Cavender Creek, Kaya, Three Sisters, and Frogtown for a delightful day. Add outdoor adventure with hikes at Amicalola Falls State Park, creating a well-rounded Dahlonega escape.

Read More: Best Christmas Towns in Georgia

4. Athens, Georgia

The famous cast iron arch at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.Distance from Atlanta: 70 miles (1 hour, 20 minutes)

Athens, dubbed the “Classic City,” is a must-visit college town, especially during the University of Georgia football season. The bustling downtown offers fantastic dining experiences at places like Mama’s Boy and Last Resort, along with local boutiques and a famous live music scene.

After exploring downtown, head to UGA’s historic North Campus. Other prominent activities include visiting the 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia or grabbing a local beer at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. to kick off an evening enjoying the Athens nightlife.

5. Lake Oconee, Georgia

Overhead view of Lake Oconee in Georgia on a sunny dayDistance from Atlanta: 84 miles (1 hour, 25 minutes)

Discover the perfect summer Atlanta road trip at Lake Oconee! Georgia Power created this reservoir during the construction of the Wallace Dam in 1979. Since then, it’s become popular for boating, jet skiing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, fishing, and other water activities.

Outdoor enthusiasts can find hiking and camping opportunities throughout the Oconee National Forest–easily accessible via I-20. Lake Oconee also has several golf communities with lakefront homes. Additionally, it’s home to The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds luxury resort, perfect for a romantic getaway. 

6. Callaway Gardens, Georgia

The entrance to Callaway Gardens in Georgia

Image courtesy of Callaway Gardens Media Image Gallery

Distance from Atlanta: 80 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)

Explore the beauty of Callaway Gardens, 6,500 acres of land just over an hour’s drive from Atlanta. Established in 1952 to protect a rare azalea species, it now features walking trails, golf courses, and an artificial beach. Of course, the main attraction is the world’s largest azalea garden.

You also won’t want to miss the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, where you can see over 2000 butterflies. Open year-round, enjoy events like the famous Fantasy In Lights during winter or the family-friendly Pumpkins at Callaway festival in the fall. In the summer, Robin Lake Beach is open daily.

Read More: Where to See Christmas Lights in Georgia

7. Helen, Georgia

View of the Bavarian-themed town of Helen in North Georgia, showing German-style buildingsDistance 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. Then, in the fall, it hosts a famous Oktoberfest celebration.

This area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, making it one of our favorite weekend road trips. Discover picturesque hikes like Raven Cliff Falls, Anna Ruby Falls, and Dukes Creek Falls. Then, explore Smithgall Woods and Unicoi State Parks for camping, zip-lining, kayaking, and paddleboarding. 

Read More: Best Fall Activities in Georgia

8. Blue Ridge, Georgia

Photo of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge, GA.

Photo credit: Explore Georgia; Ralph Daniel

Distance from Atlanta: 93 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes)

Blue Ridge makes for a charming road trip from Atlanta, surrounded by the North Georgia mountains. Relax at Mercier Orchards, offering orchard walks, picnics, fishing, and delightful apple treats. Then, take a train ride through the countryside on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

Explore popular hiking trails like Flat Creek Loop and Lake Blue Ridge Loop. For avid hikers, Blue Ridge is just an hour from the Appalachian Trail’s starting point. After a long day of hiking, don’t forget to drop by Grumpy Old Men Brewery to sample craft beer!

Read More: Where to See Fall Foliage in Georgia

9. Brasstown Bald, Georgia

View from the summit at Brasstown Bald on a sunny fall dayDistance from Atlanta: 102 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)

Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia, sits 4,784 feet above sea level. It’s a top-rated destination on Georgia road trips because the summit 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 to the top can be strenuous for some, the views make it 100% worth the effort. If you can, plan to go on a sunny, clear day where you can avoid fog obstructing your view!

10. Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia

Photo of Providence Canyon State Park at sunsetDistance from Atlanta: 150 miles (2 hours, 20 minutes)

Discover Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon at Providence Canyon State Park, just a 2-hour drive from Atlanta. Shaped by poor farming practices in the 1800s, the 16 canyons reach depths of 150 feet, offering breathtaking views from the Canyon Loop Trail or the Backcountry Trail.

Keep an eye out on your hike for the rare plumleaf azalea, which blooms in July and August in this region. Apart from the unique landscape, admission to the park is only $5, making it a budget-friendly option.

11. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, showing the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge Distance from Atlanta: 118 miles (2 hours)

A quick two-hour drive from Atlanta, Chattanooga is an ideal weekend escape. Explore the vibrant River Walk, filled with food, shopping, and family fun. Must-visit attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium, one of the country’s premier public aquariums, and the Creative Discovery Museum.

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, which is a perfect photo op. Additionally, Ruby Falls, a series of underground waterfalls, is another beautiful place to see while in the area.

12. Greenville, South Carolina

 The Reedy River in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.Distance from Atlanta: 145 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)

Greenville is an excellent option for a weekend getaway from Atlanta or a stop on the way to Asheville or Charlotte, NC. Stay downtown to explore Falls Park on the Reedy or the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Known for its culinary scene, try Sidewall Pizza Company, The Anchorage, and Soby’s.

For outdoor activities, head to Paris Mountain, a short drive away, offering hiking, biking, swimming, picnicking, and fishing. With eclectic boutiques, galleries, and unique dining, “THAT Greenville” is a bustling city worth exploring year-round.

13. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama, view of the skyline at sunsetDistance from Atlanta: 147 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)

Discover Birmingham, a city with a rich industrial history and a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. From the site where Martin Luther King Jr. penned his historic “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to Sixteenth Street Church, Birmingham embraces its transformative civil rights history.

Don’t miss the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham Museum of Art, McWayne Science Center, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Families can enjoy the Birmingham Zoo, while outdoor enthusiasts can explore Red Mountain Park in the Appalachian Mountains.

14. Asheville, North Carolina

View of the front façade of the Biltmore House, showing the Blue Ridge Mountains on the backgroundDistance from Atlanta: 200 miles (3 hours, 25 minutes)

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is famous as the home of the Biltmore Estatethe largest privately owned house in the U.S. Moreover, it’s a great spot to explore nature by visiting the Pisgah National Forest or driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Atlanta, check out the River Arts District along the French Broad River and local breweries like Catawba Brewing Co. and Twin Leaf Brewery. Asheville is thought to have more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country!

Read More: Visiting the Biltmore Estate

15. Savannah, Georgia

Historic fountain in Forsyth Park in Savannah, GeorgiaDistance from Atlanta: 250 miles (3 hours, 40 minutes)

For one of the most romantic Atlanta weekend getaways, head to Savannah, Georgia. As the oldest city in the state, this coastal gem is packed with history, beautiful architecture, and Southern charm. The best–and the 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, River Street, and Wormsloe Historic Site. Our favorite suggestions are taking a guided food tour with Savannah Taste Experience or checking out the best casual restaurants in Savannah.

Read More: Best Airbnbs in Savannah, GA

16. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Aerial view of Gatlinburg, TennesseeDistance from Atlanta: 200 miles (4 hours)

Gatlinburg is a mountain resort city that makes an excellent 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 of hikers!

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! You can visit three major distilleries here: Sugarlands, Ole Smoky, and Tennessee Shine Co.

17. Nashville, Tennessee

The cityscape of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, USA, along the banks of the Cumberland River.Distance from Atlanta: 250 miles (4 hours)

Nashville is a top-rated road trip from Atlanta due to its brunch scene,  street art, and live music on Broadway. You can’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Grand Ole Opry or the Country Music Hall of Fame while in Music City. There’s also a 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. Regarding other places to eat in Nashville, we suggest Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Biscuit Love, Liberty Common, and Café Roze.

Read More: Photo Spots in Nashville, Tennessee

18. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Harbour Town Lighthouse at sunset on Hilton Head Island, South CarolinaDistance from Atlanta: 280 miles (4 hours, 30 minutes)

Discover Hilton Head Island, a top vacation spot from Atlanta. Enjoy world-class beaches like Coligny Beach or Folly Field Beach, perfect for lounging or biking. Climb Harbour Town Lighthouse for stunning views, and savor local seafood at one of the island’s 250 restaurants.

For family fun, join Island Explorer Dolphin & Nature Tours for guided boat adventures. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore over 14 miles of hiking and biking trails at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge or visit the Coastal Discovery Museum.

19. Charleston, South Carolina

Historic Church Street in Charleston, South CarolinaDistance 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 and 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. Historical sites include Middleton Place, Fort Sumter, McLeod Plantation, the Nathaniel Russel House, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

Read More: Best Airbnbs in Charleston, South Carolina

20. Golden Isles of Georgia

Lighthouse on Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island in GeorgiaDistance from Atlanta: 310 miles (4 hours, 50 minutes)

The Golden Isles comprise four barrier islands (St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Little St. Simons Island) and the city of Brunswick. Spend your vacation lounging in the sand at East Beach, which is popular with families, or the picturesque Driftwood Beach.

Apart from the beaches, you can also find horseback riding, watersports, camping, boating, fishing, and golf! If you’re looking for a place to stay, we suggest Jekyll Island Club Resort, a castle-like historic hotel that’s centrally located.

21. Destin, Florida

White sand beach in Destin, FloridaDistance from Atlanta: 335 miles (5 hours, 15 minutes)

Destin, on Florida’s Panhandle, is a 5-hour drive from Atlanta, boasting some of the world’s whitest beaches. Henderson Beach State Park offers pristine emerald waters and clean sands. Explore Destin’s charm at the Harbor Boardwalk, Baytowne Wharf, and HarborWalk Village.

Destin offers a diverse range of seaside adventures, from boat rentals and dolphin cruises to deep-sea fishing and parasailing. Don’t miss the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, featuring dolphin and sea lion shows, or shopping at the Grand Boulevard or Silver Sands Premium Outlets.

22. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Tourists lining the beach at Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaDistance 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 top-rated attraction, considered one of the best boardwalks in the nation.

Orlando, Florida

Magic Kingdom entrance at Disney World in Orland, FloridaDistance from Atlanta: 440 miles (6 hours, 15 minutes)

In Central Florida, Orlando is mainly known as the home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. However, you can actually find more than a dozen theme parks here, 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 to 5 parks in a week.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, situated in Jackson Square within the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.Distance from Atlanta: 460 miles (6 hours, 40 minutes)

New Orleans, the largest city in Louisiana, is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable 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. For live performances, 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!

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This article was first published in August 2020 and has since been updated.

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