20 Best Day Trips From Atlanta, Georgia
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

30th Jan | 22 min read

Table of Contents

    Atlanta, Georgia is a bustling metropolis with a lot to offer its residents. Still, it's always fun to go out of the home and discover what adventures await you close to home.

    The South's most busy town offers lots of outdoor activities, with hundreds of city parks, more than 40 state parks, and five national parks just in north Georgia. The majority of them are within a two-hour drive of Atlanta.

    Day excursions from Atlanta are a fantastic opportunity to see all the Peach State has to offer, from cool caves, beautiful mountains, and sparkling lakes to rushing rivers and magnificent waterfalls.

    So, whether you're planning a day trip to the highlands or a leisurely beach holiday, this list should offer something for everyone!

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL

    1. Lake Lanier

    Lake Lanier is a great location to visit during the summer for a short road trip from Atlanta. 

    The lake has 692 miles of coastline and was formed in the 1950s when the Chattahoochee River's Buford Dam was completed. Every year, tens of millions of people visit Lake Lanier.

    Adventure awaits in Margaritaville at Lanier Islands Water Park. One of the top Lake Lanier attractions, this spectacular, action-packed water park is plenty of things to do.

    Coast the Raging River, swim in Georgia's biggest wave pool or take on the Blackout, a winding water ride. There's also a double-lane slide where visitors may compete to see who can reach the bottom first. The Thunderbolt Triple Zip, which takes visitors 50 feet in the air, is a must-do for thrill-seekers.

    A visit to Lake Lanier Olympic Park may encourage you to go out on the water as well as offer you a glimpse of history. Canoeing and kayaking are two of the most popular activities.

    The Gainesville Garden, a satellite garden of the famous Atlanta Botanical Gardens, is open to the public in Gainesville. Walking along the well-kept trails will allow you to take in the garden's natural beauty.

    Georgia's newest state park, Don Carter State Park, is the only one on Lake Lanier. You may park an RV, set up a tent, or rent one of the two-bedroom cottages that are available.

    Don Carter State Park also offers fishing and swimming opportunities and a 2-mile hiking trail for hikers.

    Distance and driving time: 46 miles, a 50-minute drive from Atlanta. 

    2. Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Chattanooga, located in southeastern Tennessee on the Georgia border, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the southern US.

    Drive all the way to the top of Lookout Mountain for a spectacular view of Chattanooga if you like the outdoors.

    Rock City, a 1,700-foot-tall clifftop overlook with views of seven states and a magnificent 100-foot waterfall, is one of Chattanooga's most popular tourist attractions.

    The magnificent Ruby Falls, the country's deepest cave with a beautiful subterranean cascade, is another significant attraction.

    Point Park is a unit of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Point Park is the location of a Civil War battle known as "The Battle Above The Clouds." You will learn about the battle from the small museum down at the end of the park and the Visitor Center. Or, join the Walking Tours of Point Park with the ranger at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., or 4 p.m.

    Chickamauga National Military Park is just 20 minutes from Chattanooga. Visit the Visitor Center to see the exhibits and watch a film on the wars. A vast collection of military weapons may be seen on the opposite wing.

    Walk along the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge with residents and visitors. It is one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges, having been built in 1891. It connects downtown Chattanooga to the north shore and is approximately half a mile long.

    The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum offers a variety of fun excursions aboard vintage steam and diesel engines. One of the most popular experiences involves having the chance to ride a 1930s steam train along six miles of track through idyllic Tennessee countryside.

    Chattanooga also has a variety of excellent world-class museums, such as the Hunter Museum of Art and the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts. In addition, art lovers should include the Bluff View Art District in their travel plans. The 13-acre Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park makes for a fun outing for those traveling with kids.

    Distance and driving time: 118 miles, 1 hour and 45 minutes drive from Atlanta. 

    3. Dahlonega

    Dahlonega is a favorite weekend getaway since it is just an hour away from Atlanta. With its historic past in the Gold Rush and numerous offerings, it's easy to understand why it's an ideal weekend getaway.

    Dahlonega is the ideal place to visit if you want to see a wide range of mountain trails, waterfalls, beautiful drives, and views.

    Cane Creek Falls is the nearest trek, and it's just a few miles from Dahlonega. Hiking along the stream is a possibility, although there is no significant height or difficult stairs.

    Amicalola Falls features many stairs and may leave you out of breath until you reach the top, but the views are spectacular.

    DeSoto Falls and Dicks Creek Falls, the other two waterfalls on our list, are both around a 30-minute drive from Dahlonega and are definitely worth visiting.

    If you're looking for a place to camp, go to DeSoto Falls. It's an ideal spot for tent camping or even smaller pop-ups without connections. Outside of busy holiday weekends, they offer campsites and toilets, and it is seldom crowded.

    Visit Dahlonega Gold Museum State's historic site to get an overall feel for what it was like during the gold rush. The North Georgia Astronomical Observatory is another unusual thing to do in Dahlonega. Astronomers and stargazers alike will enjoy this location.

    Dahlonega is renowned for its vineyards and wineries across the Southeast and the state. They have a wide range of wines to choose from, including conventional reds and whites as well as muscadine wine produced from local muscadine grapes.

    Distance and driving time: 65 miles, a 1 hour and 5 minutes drive from Atlanta. 

    4. Athens, Georgia

    Athens, Georgia is a lively college town steeped in Southern charm, home to the University of Georgia.  There's much to do in this Georgia town only an hour's drive from Atlanta, whether you're dropping by for a weekend or planning an extended stay.

    Downtown Athens is the oldest section of town and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, yet it is still the heart of modern-day Athens. The region is studded with beautiful buildings that blend British Victorian-era construction techniques with southern-style architecture. The City Hall structure from 1904 is probably the most opulent of them all. The town's domed clock tower serves as a symbol.

    Since 1982, the Georgia Museum of Art has served as the official state art museum. The museum was founded in 1945 following a gift of 100 paintings, and its walls are permanently adorned with works by some of America's most significant contemporary painters, including Georgia O'Keeffe, who is best known for her paintings of New Mexico.

    The State Botanical Garden stretches along one bank of the Middle Oconee River for more than 125 acres. There are about 5 kilometers of nature trails divided into 11 different sections. 

    The Sandy Creek Nature Center offers access to an area of Athens that has never been developed, allowing visitors to learn about the region's flora and wildlife. It has 5 kilometers of walking paths and spans about 90 hectares of unspoiled landscapes.

    Distance and driving time: 72 miles, a 1 hour and 13 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    5. Amicalola Falls State Park

    Amicalola Falls is a state park featuring Georgia's tallest waterfall, and it's a wonderful location to spend a weekend away without spending time on the road thanks to its accessibility to Atlanta for about two hours. 

    Hiking is the primary attraction of Amicalola Falls, with approximately 12 miles of trails spread across the park. The 0.3-mile West Ridge Falls Access Trail is the greatest option for those with restricted mobility or those who just want the finest views of the waterfall. There's something for everyone at Amicalola Falls State Park's other nine trails, which vary in length and difficulty.

    Another wonderful thing to do here is to go trout fishing at the foot of Amicalola Falls. The on-site stream is teeming with trout, making it an angler's dream come true.

    Amicalola Falls, like other Georgia state parks, is an excellent spot for a picnic meal. There are a lot of excellent locations to take a breather, with covered picnic tables and plenty of bench sitting.

    Geocaching is another great activity to try at this state park.

    If you want to camp, just reserve a space on-site for $25 plus a $5 parking fee and enjoy the outdoors at all hours.

    Distance and driving time: 72 miles, a 1 hour and 13 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    6. Callaway Gardens

    Callaway Gardens is the perfect weekend trip for families of all ages. Originally established in 1952, Callaway Gardens was designed to advance and preserve a rare azalea species. It is now expanding to 6,500 acres, attracting 750,000 people annually.

    The Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl is one of the major attractions of the Callaway Gardens. Over 3,000 different azaleas may be seen in the 40-acre garden and are ideal for a spring walk.

    Moreover, approximately 2000 butterflies of 50 distinct species are present in the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.

    During the summer, Robin Lake Beach is accessible to tourists every day and provides all kinds of activities. You may also kayak, paddleboard and golf, while relaxing on this artificial beach.

    Distance and driving time: 72 miles, a 1 hour and 13 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    7. Ellijay, Georgia

    Ellijay is a great location to visit if you're looking for a quick getaway from Atlanta. On your vacation to Ellijay, you may pick apples straight from the trees in the autumn, sample local wines, go boating on Carters Lake, and much more.

    The 3,200-acre Carters Lake, which is lined with trees, is a wonderful location to take in the changing leaves of the mountains. Carters Lake Marina has rentals available for the whole family, no matter how big or little.

    Choose your favorite pig and cheer it on at Hillcrest Orchards' renowned pig races. You may also pick apples, pet the animals, and explore the first apple tree maze in the South.

    Ellijay has some of the finest mountain biking routes in the state. Visit the wineries in Ellijay and taste some of the region's distinctive varieties while relaxing and gazing out over the vines.

    Distance and driving time: 78 miles, a 1 hours and 15 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    8. Helen, Georgia

    Helen is a mountain town in Northeast Georgia that was designed to resemble a Bavarian alpine village.

    Helen Tubing & Waterpark and Cool River Tubing attract visitors throughout the summer months to enjoy tubing down the Chattahoochee River.

    There are lots of interesting outdoor things to do even if you come outside of the summer!

    Raven Cliff Falls Trail, Anna Ruby Falls (easy, short trail), Dukes Creek Falls Trail, and the adjacent Yonah Mountain Hiking Trail are just a few of the beautiful hiking trails around Helen.

    Helen is also a great place to go camping, ziplining, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding.

    Attending the town's Oktoberfest festival is one of the finest fall activities in Georgia.

    Distance and driving time: 86.7 miles, a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    9. Blue Ridge, Georgia

    Another excellent way to get away from the city and unwind while being surrounded by the North Georgia mountains is to visit Blue Ridge.

    Mercier Orchards is one of the finest locations to visit while in town. Apple picking, hayride excursions, wine tastings, and delicious apple pies are all available at this family-owned apple orchard.

    Taking a trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is another must-do activity. This 4-hour trip through the North Georgia countryside provides breathtaking views and is an excellent family activity.

    Spend a day hiking to nearby waterfalls or horseback riding in the Chattahoochee National Forest to refresh your mind. Hundreds of hiking trails may be found in Blue Ridge! Long Creek Falls, Jacks River Trail, and Aska Trails are among the most popular. Don't forget to stop by Grumpy Old Men Brewery after a hard day of trekking to sample a new craft brew!

    On Lake Blue Ridge, you may hire a pontoon boat and kayak, or do stand-up paddleboarding.

    Blue Ridge is Georgia's Trout Fishing Capital. Catch a trout in the Toccoa River's tailwaters or a clean mountain stream.

    Distance and driving time: 92 miles, a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    10. Toccoa Falls

    One of the most popular day trips from Atlanta is to Toccoa Falls, a 186-foot-high waterfall on the Toccoa Falls College campus in northern Georgia.

    This waterfall is the highest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi River, according to its height. To put this in context, Toccoa Falls is higher than certain parts of Niagara Falls.

    Bring your hiking boots and a picnic lunch with you. There are many wooded areas where you may relax and dine while admiring the magnificent waterfall. 

    The walk from campus to the falls is very short and simple, making it an ideal choice for people who may be unable to participate in longer treks in the area.

    Travelers Rest Historic Site is a great place to learn about Toccoa's history. While you're here, take a walk around the lake's shore.

    During your visit to Toccoa, you may also visit the Currahee Military Museum and browse the exhibits.

    Distance and driving time: 92 miles, a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    11. Brasstown Bald, Georgia

    Plan a day excursion from Atlanta to Georgia's highest peak for breathtaking views and quality time with Mother Nature. Brasstown Bald, at 4,784 feet above sea level, is the state's highest mountain and one of the first to show off the season's vibrant autumn colors.

    The Chattahoochee National Forest is visible from the summit of the mountain, which provides exceptional 360-degree views. On a clear day, you can see four different states! Because the climb to the top is steep, use traction-enhancing hiking shoes or boots. Although the walk-up will undoubtedly be strenuous, the views from the summit are well worth the effort.

    Spend time in the visitors center to view exhibits on local culture, geology, wildlife, and more. 

    For more intense hikes, check out the three other trails accessible from the Bald, including Jack's Knob Foot Trail, which leads to the Appalachian Trail.

    Nearby, the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway offers a scenic journey through the national forest. Stop at Vogel State Park, which has plenty of campsites, as well as fishing, hiking, and lake swimming.

    TrackRock Archaeological Area, located in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, is the site of remarkable rock art engravings created by the Creek and Cherokee people about 1,000 years ago.

    Take a float down the Nottely River in Blairsville or splash about in Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee when the summer heat gets to you. Visit Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris for wine tasting.

    Distance and driving time: 102 miles, a 2 hours drive from Atlanta.

    12. Hiawassee, Georgia

    Hiawassee, Georgia, USA landscape with Chatuge Lake in early autumn

    Hiawassee is a wonderful day trip destination from Atlanta because of its beautiful mountain scenery and recreational opportunities. 

    Hiawassee is a town in the Appalachian Mountains that was formerly home to Cherokee tribes. The Appalachian and Southern Highroads trails are nearby.

    Lake Chatuge, together with the Hiawassee River, is another well-known attraction with many recreational possibilities. Boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming, and camping are all available to visitors.

    A vast botanical garden with over 3,000 species, including dogwood, native azaleas, wildflowers, trillium, and rhododendron, may be found at Hamilton Gardens near Lake Chatuge.

    High Shoals Falls, a series of five falls with a total vertical drop of 300 feet, is one of the area's most beautiful waterfalls. 

    At Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Campground, you may camp in your RV or tent at one of the 189 sites. The fairgrounds include playgrounds, a boat ramp, sports courts, and picnic tables, and most offer lake views.

    You may also visit some of the finest vineyards in the state and see the leaves change color in the fall.

    Distance and driving time: 107 miles, 2 hours and 5 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    13. Cloudland Canyon State Park

    Cloudland Canyon State Park Waterfall

    This 3,485-acre state park on the western side of Lookout Mountain is a little more off-the-beaten-path. It does, however, provide a wide variety of activities for outdoor lovers of all levels of fitness.

    Casual nature enthusiasts may just park at the picnic area parking lot and enjoy breathtaking views of the canyon without getting sweaty.

    Experienced hikers, on the other hand, will like the 4.8-mile West Rim and Waterfalls Trail, which provides a more in-depth look at the region (which ranges in elevation from 800 to around 2,000 feet).

    Sitton Gulch Creek carved a canyon through the mountain, resulting in stunning granite outcroppings that are contrasted by colorful flora. As the leaves begin to change color in the fall months, these breathtaking views become even more beautiful.

    Cloudland Canyon State Park gets its name from the rolling fog that covers the hills in the morning, giving the impression that you're traveling through the clouds. 

    They offer 100+ campsites, as well as freshly refurbished houses and ten fantastic yurts.

    Distance and driving time: 120 miles, a 2 hours drive from Atlanta.

    14. Augusta, Georgia

    Augusta, a beautiful city with a welcome mix of outdoor activities, rich cultural events, retail places, and nightlife, is located east on I-20 towards South Carolina.

    Augusta, known throughout the world as the home of The Master's golf tournament, offers a variety of year-round activities. The Augusta Museum of History, the Augusta Canal Discovery Center, and President Woodrow Wilson's Boyhood Home bring history to life. 

    Take a nature walk in Phinizy Swamp Nature Park or take a boat tour of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area on one of their daily boat excursions, which are available all year. 

    At the Morris Museum of Art, or live performances at the old Imperial Theatre, Miller Theater, or Le Chat Noir, immerse yourself in art and culture.

    In the historic Summerville district, along Broad Street, and in Surrey Center, you'll find locally-owned shops and businesses. Enjoy traditional Southern cuisine, tapas with an international twist, gourmet burgers, and farm-to-table delicacies at Augusta's finest locally-owned restaurants.

    Distance and driving time: 145 miles, 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    15. Providence Canyon State Park

    Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area provides a wonderful glimpse into the environment that distinguishes this area. In the absence of hardwood foliage and vegetation, visitors experience a landscape like nowhere else in the state. The colorful rock formations of Providence have earned the nickname "Little Grand Canyon" as one of Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders. The park's admission is just $5, making it an affordable day excursion from Atlanta.

    You may walk the 2.5-mile Canyon Loop Trail, deviating off to view the individual Canyons 1-9, or even the 7-mile Backcountry Trail, depending on how much time you have. The trail's first several canyons are densely forested, with trees obscuring some of the views. As you get closer to canyons four and five, however, the trees thin out, exposing the stunning grandeur of the canyon walls.

    The beautiful canyon was formed by erosion caused by poor farming practices in the 1800s, as you'll discover throughout your tour! Whatever happened to create this canyon, it is today one of Georgia's most amazing and unusual locations to explore.

    Winter is the perfect time to visit this beautiful area. 

    Distance and driving time: 150 miles, 2 hours, and 20 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    16. Greenville, South Carolina

    Reedy River Falls in Downtown Greenville South Carolina

    Greenville is a great place to visit for a short weekend getaway or even as a stop on your way to farther destinations, like Asheville or Charlotte, N.C.

    There's much to do in Greenville, whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or an art lover.

    Many prominent attractions are within walking distance of one another in the downtown area, including Heritage Green's cultural complex, which houses the Children's Museum of the Upstate, the Greenville County Museum of Art, and the Bob Jones Museum and Gallery's satellite location.

    Falls Park on the Reedy, a prominent 32-acre park, offers trails, gardens, and stunning Reedy River vistas right in the center of the city.

    This area also has many of Greenville's best restaurants and the famous Dark Corner Distillery.

    Take a walk on the almost 20-mile-long GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail when you're ready for some fresh air. And while you're exploring, look for the nine bronze mice statues hidden along Main Street.

    Distance and driving time: 145 miles, 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    17. Birmingham, Alabama

    Birmingham was once an industrial center fueled by the steel industry, but today it is a lively cultural center full of rich history. 

    It is home to many significant Civil Rights landmarks, as well as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which offers a better understanding of the various obstacles that African Americans experienced in the past and continue to confront today.

    With the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Vulcan Park and Museum, Botanical Gardens, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, and Birmingham Museum of Art, “The Magic City” offers something for everyone.

    If you're traveling with small children, don't forget to visit the McWayne Science Center and the Birmingham Zoo!

    Distance and driving time: 147 miles, 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    18. Asheville, North Carolina

    Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is probably best known as home to the Biltmore Estate. This house, designed in the manner of a French chateau, attracts hundreds of tourists each year. In fact, the Biltmore Estate is the country's biggest privately-owned home.

    The mansion, which sits in the heart of the 8,000-acre estate, is four acres in size and has 250 rooms, including 199 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms.

    Furthermore, exploring the Pisgah National Forest or traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway are excellent ways to get out and about in nature in Asheville. The Blue Ridge Parkway spans 469 miles from Virginia's Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains. The parkway is busiest in October when the leaves are bright and beautiful.

    Asheville's downtown area is colorful, artistic, and diverse, with a welcoming, Bohemian atmosphere. The streets are lined with locally owned stores and boutiques, as well as a great variety of restaurants and cafés.

    Don't forget to visit some of the local breweries after spending the day outside. Asheville is considered to have the most breweries per capita in the United States.

    Distance and driving time: 197 miles, 3 hours and 20 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    19. Savannah, Georgia

    Savannah, Georgia is a wonderful destination to go on a romantic getaway, see historic buildings, view film locations like Forrest Gump and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and much more.

    You may begin by taking a tour with Old Town Trolley Tours. As you go through 15 stops and over 100 places of interest, you'll hear historical facts and funny stories.

    Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace is one location you'll want to go back to. The Girl Scouts of the USA founder grew up in this 1800s house, which is now a National Historic Landmark. Then take a stroll around Forsyth Park, the city's oldest and biggest park.

    A Savannah Riverboat Cruise should be included in the itinerary. Choose between a one-hour harbor sightseeing cruise, a dinnertime over-water party, a moonlight ride, or a Sunday brunch adventure.

    The Owens-Thomas House, with its Greek-inspired molding, stained-glass panels, and half-moon arches, is one of the best examples of Regency Mansion style. The mansion is part of the Telfair Academy, the South's oldest public art museum, and was completed in 1819. Visit the museum's permanent collection of about 4,000 pieces of art from America and Europe by walking along Abercorn Street.

    When the sun sets, take an Old Savannah Tours Ghost Tour to see "two of Savannah's most haunted buildings:" the Pirates' House and the Sorrel-Weed House.

    Distance and driving time: 248 miles, 3 hours and 37 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    20. Tallulah Gorge State Park

    Tallulah Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges in the eastern United States, measuring two miles long and over 1,000 feet deep. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet over the rocky bottom, offering breathtaking views of the waterfalls below.

    Only 100 permits are available each day for hikers who wish to go all the way to the canyon bottom and see "Sliding Rock." On beautiful weekends, these typically sell out early, and hikers entering the canyon can anticipate climbing more than 1,000 steps.

    The beautiful river is followed by the paved Shortline Trail, which is ideal for families with small children.

    Tallulah Gorge is home to five magnificent waterfalls: L'Eau d'Or, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana, and Bridal Veil. From the rim overlooks, everything except the Bridal Veil is visible.

    Mountain bikers may ride the Stoneplace and High Bluff Trails, while the Shortline Trail is better suited to casual bicyclists and even those using training wheels.

    Tallulah Gorge State Park is open every day of the year. Autumn is particularly popular with leaf watchers who go to the highlands to see the vibrant foliage.

    During the summer, Bridal Veil Falls is renamed Sliding Rock because tourists may slide down the rocks into the pool below.

    When the flow over the dam more than ten folds in the spring and autumn, “whitewater releases” are planned. Kayakers go from all across the nation to participate in this event and face the raging waterfalls. 

    Distance and driving time: 97 miles, a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Atlanta.

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL