Although I live in Colorado at the moment, I’ll always consider the Southeast my home. I grew up just outside of Atlanta and have spent countless days and weekends exploring the city and surrounding areas. Atlanta is a great city in and of itself, and it’s located near lots of other awesome towns, so here are some of the best day trips I recommend taking from Atlanta.
Chattanooga, TN – 2 hours
Chattanooga is one of my favorite cities in the Southeast for many reasons: it’s super walkable, has a large variety of activities, and is great for visitors of all ages. Whether you like hiking, photography, live music, food, or history, Chattanooga truly has it all. Although you can easily spend just a day exploring the city, I recommend taking a full weekend to stay in Chattanooga and see all the city has to offer. Click here for my full guide to Chattanooga, where I feature some of my favorite accommodations, restaurants, and activities.
Dahlonega, GA – 1 hour 15 minutes
I lived in Dahlonega for several years during college and absolutely love revisiting this small mountain town. Dahlonega, a former mining town, is a quick drive from Atlanta, but you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another state. The mountains surrounding Dahlonega are beautiful and offer plenty of hiking options, and the town itself is full of cute shops and lots of history. Dahlonega is also not too far from sights like Amicalola Falls and Mount Yonah, and there are a lot of wineries in the area which make for a fun day activity.
Clayton/Lake Rabun, GA – 2 hours
The Clayton and Lake Rabun area of Georgia is simply stunning, featuring beautiful mountains and lakes. This area truly shines during the summer where you can enjoy the outdoors by hiking, boating, fishing, and even horseback-riding. Clayton is a small but quaint town with lots of little shops and plenty of restaurant options (you must visit the Wander North Georgia store while you’re there!) If you’d like to spend the weekend exploring this area, I’d recommend staying at the historic Lake Rabun hotel, a beautiful spot located right on the lake.
Blue Ridge, GA – 1 hour 30 minutes
Blue Ridge is another small town that is perfect for a day trip. During the summer, I highly recommend visiting Lake Blue Ridge for boating, swimming, and kayaking. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat and do some shopping in downtown Blue Ridge or nearby Ellijay. In the fall, Ellijay is also a great spot for apple-picking, which is one of my favorite childhood memories. Another fun and quirky stop in Blue Ridge is Expedition Bigfoot, a whole museum dedicated to the elusive creature. It may seem a little silly, but the museum is truly a one-of-a-kind spot that’s worth a visit. If you don’t mind saying overnight or for the evening, Blue Ridge also has an old school drive-in theater which is a super fun and nostalgic spot.
Helen, GA – 1 hour 45 minutes
Helen is a quirky little town worth a visit because it’s modeled after a Bavarian village. I spent many days and weekends as a kid exploring the town of Helen, and even though it is definitely a popular spot for tourists, the town really does offer a unique experience. If you visit during the winter, Helen will be decked out with Christmas decorations which is truly beautiful. A summer visit, meanwhile, will give you the opportunity to try tubing, where you float down the Chattahoochee River in big inflatable tubes. There are lots of shops and restaurants in Helen making it a great spot for families to visit with kids of all ages.
I hope this guide helps you plan your next Georgia adventure! What are some of your favorite day tips from Atlanta?