Depending on the region, Georgia has quite a variety of winter experiences. From milder climates to the frigid mountain tops of the North, two different worlds are hours apart. This, along with the state’s beautiful rural and urban areas, means anyone can find a way to make the best of the chilly months in the Peach State. So, whether you live here and need a weekend away, or have selected the grand southern land for an adventure, these are the top winter vacations in Georgia.
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Let’s get the obvious out of the way—Atlanta is brimming with both indoor and outdoor entertainment. Tour countless famed sites like the World of Coke, CNN Center and Georgia Aquarium, or experience the entertainment scene at a Fox Theater performance, or Center of Puppetry Arts show. Ponce City Market, a historic building turned foodie and shopping hub, turns its rooftop theme park into a winter wonderland with warm bubble igloos and ice skating for the season. The Fernbank Museum has intricate year-round displays intriguing for both the young and old, including a 4-D movie experience featuring dinosaurs, for example. Then there’s the food scene—so yeah, your days will be filled.
Dahlonega epitomizes the North Georgia Mountains, so while it’s a predictable choice, it’s a great one. The cozy town square houses a fudge shop and other quaint places to stop by, and it all feels pleasantly old fashioned. It’s not uncommon to see some snowfall up this way, especially if taking a hike up nearby peaks, like Blood Mountain (definitely keep this at a short day hike in the winter, by starting and heading back early). The Smith House is both an inn and long-beloved restaurant, with an old gold mining shaft inside, and southern cuisine like fried chicken and seasoned veggie dishes.
Savannah’s landscape totally shakes up all you knew about Georgia. Mossy oaks and very old buildings, meld with the Atlantic waters. While it can be chilly to dip your toes in the surf, the winter brings a hazy appeal. The Marshall House, River Street Inn and The Gastonian offer luxe yet age-old digs that are superior to plain old chain joints. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride bundled under blankets, dine on shrimp and grits, and visit symbolic and significant sites like the landmark cemeteries.
Even in some more northern states, one can’t regularly expect to snow tube and build a snowman, but at Stone Mountain, you can. A 400-foot hill allows for the ultimate sledding experience in the most ironic place—the new daredevil slope is pretty extreme. The Village features lights at Christmas but still has little places to eat and shop all year. Stay at the family-favorite Stone Mountain Inn or even in one of the on-site yurts.
Pine Mountain is most famed for being home to Callaway Gardens, where a world-class Christmas lights display can be found. But beyond Christmas, quests are left with numerous outdoor adventures, including biking trails, water activities, luxe lodging and a magical butterfly conservatory. Pine Mountain itself is a random elevated granite hill that pops up out of nowhere in the southwest— overlooks and scenic drives will have you thinking you are up North.
Columbus is also in the southwest corner of Georgia and is popular place to explore. In the summer, adventurists are rafting the river or zip lining across to Alabama, and come winter, the Riverwalk is a lovely spot to stroll and experience local artistry. While feeling like a city, Columbus still manages to hold onto a magical, small-town charm, which is what makes it such a great escape.
Barnsley Resort is northwest of Atlanta, in pretty Adairsville. The semi historic, hyper luxurious resort houses high-end cottages for a mesmerizing weekend away. Many of the buildings were a part of an old plantation, and guests can see up close crumbled ruins from a bygone era. Amenities are everywhere, from a world-class golf course to rooms with toasty fireplaces.
Back to the Mountains, we bring you to lovely Blairsville. Downtown is the epitome of small mountain nooks, so it is inevitable you’ll fall in love. Retreat to the top of proximal Brasstown Bald to peer into multiple states at once, while watching the sun rise or set. Hike the trails at Vogel State Park for glimpses of grand waterfalls and intricate native foliage that looks beautiful against the sky, even when absent of leaves and greenery.
Decatur resides in the eastern outskirts of Atlanta and is a vibrant, funky place to explore. More breathable than actual downtown Atlanta, visitors can experience a lot of the culture that makes Georgia’s capital so interesting, while being able to navigate a bit easier. And if you’re a foodie, Decatur will be a kind of heaven, with its list of international, local, health-driven and sweet-tooth satisfying joints.
Blue Ridge can’t miss this list—it’s cozy, quaint and totally full of mountain vibes. That makes it a winter haven. Stop by Mercier Orchards for a fresh-baked hand pie and some canned treats, then hop aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to more deeply explore the landscape. Breweries, vineyards, waterfalls and a blue lake that is stunning during the occasional flurry shower—perfection.
Athens is well known for being the Home of the Dawgs, aka the college team of the University of Georgia. But the city is so much more than college students running around partying—downtown is snug and has a deep-rooted music scene accented by good food and cute places to lodge. So you could eat your way through the adorable streets before an intimate concert, then retreat to a charming bed and breakfast for the night.