Small Town Georgia: A Journey Through Charm

Small Town Georgia: A Journey Through Charm

Getaway Staff

With Atlanta being the home of the Braves and Savannah, a gift from General Sherman to President Lincoln himself, no one would blame you if you believed a trip through the Peach State must include these two cities. But Georgia is filled with all kinds of towns, any one of which deserves to be called one of the state's best. From towns that look like little Bavaria to million-year-old cascading waterfalls, discovering small-town Georgia is like driving through Christmas morning every mile of the way.



Appalachian Trail approach sign at Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville Georgia USA. A short hike takes the hiker to Springer Mountain where it starts. LCBallard/ Getty Images

While we don't expect you to wander the full 2,000-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail, we can't promise you won't be tempted when you see the trail's end in Dawsonville. A grand stone pathway beneath an impressive stone arch looks like a real-life yellow brick road. You can palpably sense the promise of adventure.



Beautiful hike up Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia during the Fall Ashley Strickland Photography/ Getty Images

If you've been through the South at all, you know that Civil War history permeates almost everything. Kennesaw is no different. But, brother against brother might take second place to railroad history. The best way to experience both in the same place is at Kennesaw's Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.



An aerial view of the Atlanta suburb of Marietta under a blue sky with tiny clouds in Georgia Wirestock/ Getty Images

Atlanta counts among the world's truly great cities, but for some Georgia visitors, the slower-paced vibe of Marietta just feels better. With its fountain-dotted landscape, archaeological ruins, and Gone With the Wind Museum, Marietta offers proximity to Atlanta but has a character all its own. Start by satisfying your hunger at Catfish Hox before wandering around near the Marietta Square fountain. Finally, catch a silent movie-era film at the Strand Theater.


04Tybee Island

Tybee Island, Georgia, USA at the lighthouse at dusk. Sean Pavone/ Getty Images

Walking on the pier and swimming with dolphins are just a few of the best ways to while away your time on Tybee Island. If you're feeling adventurous, take the 178 steps up to the top of the island's lighthouse. If you're more comfortable at ground level, trek around the island on a bike. At the end of your ride, cool off with an ice cream cone at Seaweed's Sno-Balls and Ice Cream.


05Stone Mountain

USA, Georgia, Stone Mountain, Bas-relief representing Confederate leaders Tetra Images/ Getty Images

One of the most impressive historical monuments in the world lives in Stone Mountain. Carved into the side of the city's mountain is a relief of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee. Spanning three acres on the mountain's face, it's the planet's largest confederate monument. It probably comes as no surprise that Gutzon Borglum, the man behind Mount Rushmore, played a key role in this monument's inception.



Clean road with bench in Americus, Georgia LawrenceSawyer/ Getty Images

Given the distance from Atlanta to the border of Florida, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Americus is just a lunch stop on the seven-hour drive. But be warned, the opulence of the Windsor Hotel's restaurant, Rosemary and Thyme, is a foodie's fantasy. However, it's only open for breakfast and dinner, making it tempting to turn a seven-hour road trip into a seven-day sojourn so you can try out the establishment's hearty menu.


07Tallulah Falls

Hurricane Falls at Tallulah Gorge State Park in North Georgia. pkphotography/ Getty Images

The river that carved out the gorge at Tallulah Falls State Park only took about a million years, give or take, to form the five waterfalls that gave this Georgia town its name. Although it's only about two miles long, it's a two-mile stretch of awe-inspiring views, which includes glimpses of monkey-faced orchids, little foxes, and tiny green salamanders.



Macon, Georgia, USA in the spring. SeanPavonePhoto/ Getty Images

During the Cherry Blossom Festival, the city of Macon gets tickled pink. Every year, over 350,000 cherry trees fulfill the promise of a brighter spring. However, given that the blossoms only last about ten days, it's good to know that Macon offers other must-sees. After exploring Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, grab some lunch at H and H Soul Food before heading to Smiley's Flea Market to find something you can't live without.



Athens, Georgia, USA downtown cityscape. SeanPavonePhoto/ Getty Images

Although Athen's Twilight Criterium technically fits the broad definition of a bike ride, its chest-thumping pace separates it from bike rides of a more leisurely kind. This speed race takes place on the streets of downtown Athens. Sidewalk crashes are common. This is one time that the adage proves to be true: If you don't like driving or riding, in this case, stay off the sidewalk!



Helen, Georgia, USA town skyline at Helen Square. SeanPavonePhoto/ Getty Images

If your budget doesn't allow for a visit to Oktoberfest in Germany, then consider a visit to Helen. The Bavarian architectural style known as "Bauernhaus" and window boxes filled with flowers line this city's streets. In the wintertime, Christmas markets replace blossoms as Alpenfest gets underway. Hot cocoa and bratwursts make for cozy company as you stroll the streets in search of holiday cheer.



Augusta, Georgia, USA skyline on the Savannah River at dusk. Sean Pavone/ Getty Images

For many people, few events represent supreme artistry better than the Masters Tournament, the event that Augusta is most known for. However, every day is an artistic celebration in Augusta. Here, art collectors reach fine art Nirvana in Artists Row, a place that celebrates the best in regional art. If that doesn't fill you up, then put on your best Sherlock Holmes hat and find amazing treasures in the Augusta Scavenger Hunt.



Big Clock on City Hall in Cumming Georgia rodclementphotography/ Getty Images

No matter how old you get, you never outgrow the magic of the midway, and in Cumming, you don't have to. Spending a night here means indulging in corn dogs, rodeo tricks, and quarter-midget racing. Granted, the fair doesn't last the entire year, so in the off-season, why not try a trek down the city's miles of greenbelt before taking in some live theater at the School Street Playhouse?



Aerial sunset during the fall in Ellijay Georgia at the Georgia Mountains rodclementphotography/Getty Images

Some events signal that fall is here. In Ellijay, the Apple Festival tells residents that Jack Frost will soon be nipping at their noses. An evening gala includes apple picking along Apple Orchard Alley before heading off for a taste of local wine. Dusk pulling a duvet of stars over your head is the only nightcap you'll need here.



If you're hankering for a day at the theme park, then make a stop at Valdosta's Wild Adventures. Loop-de-loop roller coasters, Jurassic-sized metal bugs, and views as tall as a giraffe's eyelash make up a day of play here. On your way out of town, stop for souvenirs of the non-touristy kind at Restored Treasures Upscale Thrift and a snack at one of the food trucks outside of the Georgia Beer Co.


15Peachtree City

Life in the modern world spins at Mach 2 unless you're in Peachtree City. Usually, you can't go any faster than the golf cart in front of you. The city offers visitors at least 100 miles of multi-use trails that, among other things, welcome golf cart drivers. Such a setup invites you to enjoy the more leisurely side of life.


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