From actual cities to more specific destinations, Atlanta sets central to some pretty cool places. Mountains, beaches, amusement parks—all of this exists no further than a few hours away from the big city. Planning a weekend getaway or more extensive trip is pretty simple when departing from a place so close to unique terrain and landmarks. So whether you live in the ATL, or are just trying to plan the ultimate southern vacation, these are the best vacation spots close to the Peach State’s capital.
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Stone Mountain Park
Probably the closest to Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is barely east of the Perimeter. Of course, we all know about the massive rock which the park circles, but there are a number of ways to make an entire week of the visit. Hike the trails, travel to the top of the mountain via cable car, ride the train, explore via boat, see a spectacular laser show, play at the water park—we could keep going. On top of all the things to keep everyone busy, it’s just a relaxing place to be, that happens to be conveniently close to midtown.
Also not very far from the city, along the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, we have the lovely Chateau Elan. Vineyards cascade over the hills painting an envious horizon, which appropriately accents the luxurious accommodations and world-class spa. Perfect for a romantic getaway, there’s nothing like enjoying superior wine and massages for a vacation.
Asheville isn’t far beyond the Georgia border and offers gently rolling mountains, scenic drives and an artsy downtown area with eclectic eateries and shops. Home to the famous Biltmore Estate, the city has a deep vein of history that can be explored through a tour of the astoundingly expansive grounds. You can also stay at the ritzy establishment while enjoying their spa, restaurants, shops and winery, all on site. The Omni Grove Park Inn is another historic resort nestled among the trees, and they definitively trump everyone’s spa game with dazzling cave like amenities and fiber optic star ceilings above one of the pools.
Chattanooga is widely known for interesting rock formations and the scenic Lookout Mountain. That alone makes it a great destination not far at all from Atlanta, but there’s more. Historic tours, pedaling bars and boat or train rides could easily fill a week, and the city also houses the largest freshwater aquarium in the world.
Southwest Georgia’s Pine Mountain is a pleasant surprise in an otherwise smooth landscape. Callaway Gardens is situated perfectly to take advantage of the unusual terrain, which offers a number of activities to round out a perfect getaway relative to the capital city. Hit the trails by foot or bike, socialize with butterflies in the conservatory, grab a fishing pole, lounge at the spa, sink into luxurious accommodations or build a trip around the famed Christmas lights display through November and December. Any time is a great time to visit.
While you’ll need to stay in nearby Clayton, Tallulah Falls warrants a full-blown vacation. You could hike for days exploring the park, and the crystal waters offer amazing trout fishing. At the very least, if you choose to spend most of your time in surrounding towns, stop at the Tallulah Gorge Overlook Store, where a large deck extends over the cliff side for unbeatable views of the valley below.
Charleston spans across the South Carolina coast while emanating historic charm that the town is strongly centered around. Buildings are beautifully preserved and numerous tours will take you on an enriching adventure into the past. Of course, you have the beaches and interesting marshlands to navigate, along with a tasty southern seafood scene. Hop onboard one of the many horse and buggies for an authentic site-seeing experience.
Amelia Island is a little piece of land on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, barely over Georgia’s border. Simple, southern influenced and naturally striking, the Island is peaceful and not overcrowded—it’s the place to come to truly get away. Not too many, but plenty, of hotels and restaurants provide exquisite surroundings to complement the beach setting, and Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort offers a polished, dreamy place to enjoy it all. Everything you need is on site, from water activities to delicious food.
About 250 miles away, Nashville is one to check off the bucket list. Famed for its music scene, you better bet there’s plenty of things to do, that any country music lover would flip over. Visit the Grand Ole Opry, explore the Country Music Hall of Fame, pop in Madam Tussaud’s Nashville display to see life like music legends—that barely skims the surface. Pair all that with Nashville’s chef-driven food scene and awesome cityscape, then you have a winner.