The Getaway
Small Town Georgia: A Journey Through Charm

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.

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01 Dawsonville

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.

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

02 Kennesaw

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.

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

03 Marietta

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.

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

04 Tybee Island

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.

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

05 Enjoy Milledgeville

Milledgeville, the former state capital of Georgia, is a charming small town that has managed to preserve its rich history and Southern hospitality. Start your visit at the Old Governor's Mansion, then stroll down Main Street to explore the quaint shops and restaurants that line the street. Don't miss the chance to visit the Milledgeville Museum, which showcases the town's history and culture.

For a taste of Southern cuisine, stop by the local favorite, Aubri Lane's. They serve up traditional dishes like fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits, as well as more modern fare like sushi and craft cocktails.

06 Americus

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.

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

07 Tallulah Falls

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.

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

08 Macon

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.

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

09 Athens

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!

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

10 Helen

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.

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

11 Augusta

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.

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

12 Cumming

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?

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

13 Ellijay

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.

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

14 Valdosta

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.

15 Peachtree 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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