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Georgia is primarily known for its capital and largest city, Atlanta. And a visit to Atlanta should be on every traveler’s list of places to visit in the American South. However, there are also lots of fun, quaint, and interesting small towns in Georgia that are worth stopping by as well.
Instead of bee-lining it straight to Atlanta on your next trip, consider making a few stops along the way to see what the small towns and rural areas are all about. With a big dose of Southern hospitality and a family-friendly atmosphere, you might be surprised at what you find around the state!
Here are some of the best small towns in Georgia to see on your next road trip.
Senoia has become famous for being a film site for the popular television show, The Walking Dead. Take a Walking Dead tour if you’re a fan of the show! Scenes from the remake of Footloose were also filmed here, which helped to transform the town into the Hollywood of the Southeast. It’s located near Peachtree City, which is another fun small town that’s a favorite among golf enthusiasts. There are some nice B&Bs to stay at when you visit Senoia and a buggy museum that will transport you back in history to a simpler time. Two recommended B&Bs are the Veranda Bed & Breakfast Inn and the Culpepper House Bed and Breakfast.
Newnan is another smaller Georgia town, with only 41,000 residents calling it home, but has seen a surge in population over the last decade. The historic town boasts quintessential southern charm and historic antebellum architecture to match. Be sure to visit popular restaurants for some southern dining. Popular options include Meat N Great for American fare and Redneck Gourmet for some iconic southern dining.
There are some incredibly beautiful and remote islands off the eastern coast of Georgia, and one of the finest is Jekyll Island. This island town has a small population and views that can’t be beat. For many people, this is a more of a place to visit than to move to, as home prices are fairly expensive. It’s a favorite spot among retirees and beach lovers who enjoy water sports. You can rent stand-up paddleboards from a local guide company or take a walk along the driftwood beach that has an eerie and fascinating vibe. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is a top place to stay when you visit the island. Other good options are the Hampton Inn & Suites, the Holiday Inn, and The Westin on Jekyll.
Another great small town in Georgia is Stockbridge, which is located in Henry County and near the Panola Mountain. This town has been growing in recent years and offering more activities and events for visitors. In addition to hiking at Panola Mountain State Park, this is also a great place to golf at the Rum Creek Golf Club and the Eagle’s Landing Country Club. The Yule Forest is fun for families, and the Reeves Creek Trail is nice for a casual walk. Pin Strikes is a popular place for bowling and family game night in this small Georgia town. When you visit Stockbridge, you can stay at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Stockbridge/Atlanta off of Interstate 75, the Super 8 Stockbridge, or the LaQuinta Inn & Suites Stockbridge/Atlanta.
Dahlonega was home to the first major gold rush in America back in 1829. Although we typically think of Colorado and California as the big mining destinations in the 1800s, Dahlonega was what got it all started. This small town is only about an hour away from Atlanta, so it’s an easy drive for a weekend trip. You can visit the gold rush-related attractions downtown, dine outside at local restaurants in nice weather, and sample local wine. This town is in the middle of Georgia’s wine country, so this is a great trip for a romantic getaway or girls weekend out. Top picks for places to stay in Dahlonega include the Dahlonega Square Hotel & Villas, The Smith House, and the Forrest Hills Mountain Resort and Conference Center.
This small Georgia town was named after a hero in the Revolutionary War and has been designated a Main Street City. The downtown region has been revitalized to show its historic roots and architecture. The town of Fayetteville is famous for the iconic Starr Mill’s Waterfalls, which is a beautiful country scene straight off of a picture-perfect postcard. It’s south of Atlanta and a popular place for young families and retirees. Less than 15,000 people live here, and you’ll feel the pace of busy city life slow down as soon as you arrive. It’s been said that this town was the inspiration for Margaret Michell’s Gone with the Wind. There aren’t too many choices for accommodations in Fayetteville, but there is a Hampton Inn and a Holiday Inn that receive good reviews from guests.
Athens is a fun town that’s gotten a big reputation on the college music scene. It has a rich history, Civil War relics, and culture events sponsored by the University of Georgia. It’s nice to take a walk around town to admire the Antebellum architecture on a weekend away from big city life. The Blue Ridge Mountains are also close by, which makes Athens a nice home base for outdoor adventures. Athens is also an excellent place to visit if you enjoy shopping. Top shops include Encore Clothing, Bee Natural, and Wuxtry Records. Graduate Athens, Hotel Indigo Athens-University Area, and Country Inn & Suites by Carlson are all nice places to stay when you visit this vibrant town.
Hands down, one of the most unique places in the entire state of Georgia is Helen. It isn’t just everywhere that you find Bavarian-themed town in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Local business leaders decided to reinvent the town in the 1960s to bring in tourists and boost the economy…and it worked. You’ll find lots of tourists in Helen today dining at the traditional German restaurants, drinking German beer at the pubs, shopping for German handicrafts, and embracing the culture at local festivals. It’s easy to hike in the nearby mountains and forests to see the stunning waterfalls when you stay in Helen. For your vacation to Helen, consider staying at the Riverbend Motel & Cabins, the Heidi Motel, or the Helendorf River Inn and Conference Center. The Unicoi State Park & Lodge is nearby as well if you want to head to the state park to hike for the day.
Duluth is located on the outskirts of Atlanta and has a nice little downtown area that’s fun to explore. Top attractions are the Hudgens Center for the Arts, the Southeastern Railway Museum, and events at the Gwinnett Center. This small town is growing fast but has a strong sense of community that helps it retain a small-town vibe. Duluth is a walkable and bike-friendly small town that’s easy to get around. Stay at the Sonesta Gwinnett Place, the Best Western Gwinnett Center, of the Wingate by Wyndham Duluth/Atlanta when you visit this area of the state.
Cumming is a beautiful small town in Forsyth County that’s definitely worth a visit when you’re in Georgia. You’ll have lovely views of the mountains and lake when you stay in Cumming for a weekend or longer. Head north of Atlanta to reach Cumming, and don’t miss the Sawnee Mountain Preserve. This is where you can hike, climb, picnic, and play in the great outdoors. There are festivals and fairs scheduled throughout the year in Cumming, and the Cumming Playhouse has live performances that are worth checking out if something is playing while you’re in town. There’s a nice Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and Fairfield Inn & Suites to stay at when you visit Cumming.
Nature enthusiasts will fall in love with Blairsville, Georgia because it is wonderfully situated near the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chattahoochee National Forest. Brasstown Bald, which is the highest peak in Georgia, and the Appalachian Trail connect to Blairsville as well. Come here for a break from technology and to disconnect from a hectic schedule. You can also spend time by Lake Trahylta and Lake Nottely for a little water recreation. Accommodations are a bit limited in this small town, but there are a couple nice B&Bs here, including Misty Mountain Inn & Cottages and Your Home in the Woods Bed and Breakfast.