Consider this somewhat of a public service announcement: Summer is not even close to being over yet. With that said, if you haven’t planned a trip or thought about taking some time for yourself, like a weekend getaway or maybe even our favorite suggestion,
The Ultimate Georgia Waterfalls Road Trip Is Here—And Anyone Can Do It, then you need to start some planning. The truth is, you don’t need to have a long vacation in another country, spending an arm-and-a-leg in order to clear your head and relax. We’ve come up with a list of 20 destinations that everyone in Georgia needs to visit this summer, and we’re including you—yes, you.
1. Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground
Nestled in the mountains of North Georgia, you’ll find the beautifully sprawling estate of more than 200 acres and 16 gardens. When the multitude of flowers that pepper this serene place are in full bloom, it can quickly become one of the most beautiful destinations in the state.
2. Château Élan Winery & Resort, Braselton
There aren’t too many states that can boast that they grow award-winning grapes, which are then turned into award-winning wines. In fact, over the past two years the Château Élan Winery has become the most award-winning winery on the East Coast. This summer destination is the perfect place to get away with your significant other, indulge in a spa day, and sip some fabulous wine together.
3. Jekyll Island, Glynn County
The thing about Jekyll Island is that it’s a versatile island that never stops entertaining its guests. Whether you’re exploring the miles of beaches, snapping photos of the swaying Spanish moss on the oak trees, or simply indulging in some fresh shrimp and grits, there’s always something for everyone.
4. Blue Ridge, Fannin County
Blue Ridge is one of those underrated places in Georgia that deserves a visit nearly every season. You can hike the waterfalls trails, trot through the forest on horseback, or even whitewater raft the Ocoee river. It’s the type of getaway that recommends a cabin rental and lots of firewood to get cozy by.
5. Fort Mountain State Park, Chatsworth
There are a ton of state parks in Georgia worth visiting, but Fort Mountain makes it to the top. Why? Because not only is the landscape wonderfully magical, there also is a bit of mystery shrouded in these woods. There is a stone wall at the top of the mountain that runs 855ft and varies in height. The problem is nobody knows who built it or why. This little slice of history is worth a gander this summer.
6. Lake Lanier, Gainesville
If you don’t feel like heading all the way to the beach, then a trip to Lake Lanier will do the trick. You can hike, bike, kayak, paddleboard, swim, or simply hang a hammock and sway in the breeze. Lake Lanier is the perfect summer spot to bring the family and share in a bit of summer fun.
7. Black Rock Mountain State Park, Mountain City
Black Rock Mountain is the perfect place to get in some quality hiking or camping, and be one with nature. At an altitude of more than 3,500 feet, it’s a great destination to get away from the scorching summer heat and stay cool in the shadows of the trees.
8. Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta
This public park is one worth checking out if you haven’t already. There’s always something going on here, such as the live music every Tuesday, or the fountains providing a way to cool down families, or simply just people enjoying a nice picnic on the lawn. If you’re in the area already, you don’t need to go too far to enjoy this summer spot.
9. Skylake, Sautee
A lot of people call the community of Skylake one of the best kept secrets in the state. At more than 1,400 acres, this community is filled with outdoor activities like hiking the trails, renting a cabin on the water, or fishing from two creek-fed lakes.
10. Jacks River Falls, Epworth
You can be out-and-back in 9.3 miles. It seems like a lot at first, but when you’re winding around the lush-green river valley, and listening to the sounds of a running creek, it won’t seem like that long at all. Especially when the end result is being able to swim in one of the best, most hidden waterfalls in the state.
11. Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn
This is the perfect park to visit with the whole family, or perhaps to indulge your adventurous side. Cloudland Canyon is actually noted as being one of the most scenic parks in the state, with a rugged set of hiking trails, or the more peaceful picnic area. There are two waterfalls to choose from visiting, and plenty of cabins, yurts, and tent-sites to find lodging.
12. Cumberland National Seashore, St Marys
Ahh, Cumberland Island. Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. Thank goodness for it still being a more under-the-radar vacation destination. With almost 10,000 acres of Congressionally Designated Wilderness, and undeveloped beaches, it remains as one of the more naturally beautiful places in the state.
13. Rock Eagle, Eatonton
This summer destination is a great place to take the kids and teach them a bit about history. The Rock Eagle Effigy Mound is a designated archaeological site in Putnam County, said to have been constructed between 1,000 and 3,000 years ago. Thousands of individual pieces of quartzite are placed perfectly to form the shape of what seems to be an eagle, despite the fact historians aren’t sure which bird the builders intended to mold.
14. Helen, Georgia
This rustic Alpine town in Georgia is a wonderful destination to explore this summer. Not to because you can walk cobblestone walkways and indulge in Alpine food and chocolates. This small town also features a ton of attractions from mountain hiking, shopping, visiting the local vineyards, and exploring a unique art scene.
15. St. Simons Island, Glynn County
Do you feel like being a beach bum this summer? Then St. Simons Island is the place to go. There are so many different things to do from exciting water sports, biking up the coast, or feasting on the freshest fish. But even if you just want to stretch out on a towel in the sand and relax, we won’t blame you.
16. Tybee Island, Chatham County
This barrier island is just 18 miles away from Savannah, and is known as the perfect vacation destination. There’s a ton of history in this small island, not to mention a great opportunity to kick off your shoes, grab a cold beer, and relax. Rent a cottage on the ocean and enjoy the perfect sunset every evening you’re there.
17. Savannah, Georgia
Visiting Savannah should be added to everyone's summer destination list, even if it's only for the day. Pack your afternoon in with some local shopping, delicious brunch, and a cruise down the river walk. There is so much southern charm and architecture just waiting to be appreciated.
18. Toccoa Falls, Stephens County
The Toccoa Falls waterfall is located conveniently on the Toccoa Falls College Campus. The vertical drop of the falls is around 185-feet and is quite easily one of the most simple, yet most stunning waterfalls in the state.
19. Providence Canyon, Lumpkin
If you can't make it out to the Grand Canyon this summer, have no fear. The Little Grand Canyon is well worth the trip. Providence Canyon State Park sits on 1,003 acres, and features massive rock gullies, and huge man-made canyons which you need to see in person to believe.
20. Lullwater Park, Atlanta
Lullwater Park is not just your average running/walking trail. In fact, the Lullwater Trail itself passes by the 1920s Lullwater House mansion, brushes by Candler lake, and then ventures across a bridge to glimpse the mill and tumbling waterfall below. Sounds like a great day-trip in the making.