Did you know that the state of Georgia has a lot of things to offer visitors during a family-friendly trip down south? Of course, major cities like Atlanta should be on the Georgia to-do lists, but also lesser-known areas of natural beauty are waiting to be discovered as well.
In no particular order, here are our top 10 places to see during your next trip to Georgia.
1. Stone Mountain Park
Considered one of Georgia’s most popular tourist attractions, Stone Mountain Park is a monzonite dome approximately 825 feet high. The face of the mountain has a carving of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis who were considered the most famous members of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The memorial on the mountain face took 60 years, from idea creation to finalization, to complete.
Outside of the mountain carving, the park also provides other opportunities to show what it has to offer. The Summit Skyride is a high-speed cable car that allows park-goers to ride from the ground-level up to the top of the mountain. Once you have arrived at the top, you’re greeted with an incredible 60-mile view around you.
Another recommended stop during your Stone Mountain Park visit is to the Stone Mountain Museum, where you will learn about the mountain and the surrounding area’s history.
Stone Mountain Park also offers recreational fun with various hiking trails and two 18-hole golf courses.
2. Callaway Gardens
Founded in 1952 by Jason and Virginia Callaway to protect a rare species of azalea found in the area, Callaway Gardens has turned into quite the destination for tourists to admire the natural beauty the state of Georgia has to offer.
Sitting on a 6,500 acre expanse, Callaway Gardens quite literally has endless attractions to admire in the area. Located in Columbus, the gardens evolved over time into a massive resort that includes attractions, restaurants and other lodging arrangements.
According to the Callaway Gardens website, the Callaway Discovery Center is the logical place to start upon entering the gardens. Dedicated to the memory of co-founder Virginia Callaway, the discovery center provides vital information for discovering the park and the history that comes along with it.
In addition to various displays, the gardens also offers 10 miles of biking trails and eight different hiking trails as well.
3. Okefenokee Swamp Park
Travel back in time to experience untouched America at Okefenokee Swamp Park. The park promotes its “prehistoric environment” on its website that includes living dinosaurs (alligators) and unique species of carnivorous plants. Okefenokee is a National Wildlife Refuge and has been preserved to perfection.
Take the entire family to see the beauty for yourself. With lectures, wildlife shows and boat tours on original Indian waterways, you will able to see how nature is able to thrive here.
4. The city of Savannah/Savannah City Market
Cities like Athens or Atlanta get most of the recognition in Georgia, but you also certainly cannot forget about the charm the city of Savannah has to offer, especially in its historic district. The oldest city in the state of Georgia, Savannah’s historical district stays true to its word by offering visitors a glimpse of what life was like during the Civil War era. With cobblestone squares and preserved houses such as the Pink House, Sorrel-Weed House and many others, there’s a story waiting to be told in Savannah.
If shopping is also of interest, you can find that and more in Savannah’s city market. The four block open-air market has been in use since the 1700’s. Complete with shopping, dining and artwork, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Savannah.
5. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Relive the path of Martin Luther King Jr. and visit the National Historical Site. A site that consists of 35 acres, the historical site contains King Jr.’s boyhood home and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where King Jr. was baptized and later became a pastor with his father.
The visitor center has a museum that outlines King Jr.’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and the tumultuous path he took to ensure that all men and women were created equal. Annual events are held celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, throughout Black History Month in February and King’s assassination in April. These events, naturally, attracts large crowds.
6. Atlanta Zoo
Nothing says family time like a trip to the zoo! The Atlanta zoo houses over 1,500 animals from 220 species, including gorillas and pandas. Pandas arrived at the Atlanta Zoo in 1999 after Lun Lun and Yang Yang the giant pandas arrived on loan from China. Gorillas, who played a major role in the resurgence of the Atlanta Zoo over 40 years ago, became household names in 2005 when Kuchi delivered a set of twins. Kuchi was the first mother gorilla to birth a set of twins in a zoo without human intervention. The gorilla still holds the distinction to this day.
The zoo also boasts many personal firsts as well. Such as Zuri, the first giraffe calf born in the zoo in 2010, Sohni and Samjiv, the first Sumatran tiger cubs born in the Atlanta Zoo in more than a decade and many more.
7. World of Coca-Cola
The state of Georgia is the official birthplace of Coca-Cola, arguably the most recognizable beverage brand in the world. Established in 2007, World of Coca-Cola located in Atlanta is the only place in the world where you can explore the history and origins of Coca-Cola.
Head to World of Coca-Cola’s massive theater to watch the film In Search of the Secret Formula in a true 4-D experience. You’ll receive a pair of 3-D glasses before the experience begins and will sit in moving seats to capture the magic of your surroundings. Of course, non-movable seats are available in the back of the theater.
8. Centennial Olympic Park
Located in downtown Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park is a 21-acre public park that was originally made for visitors and residents to enjoy the Olympic Games being held in Atlanta in 1996. Not so far in the distant past, Centennial Olympic Park’s neighborhood was essentially an eyesore. With the vision of Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games CEO Billy Payne, the area has transformed into what it is today.
According to the Centennial Olympic Park website, the park serves a dual mission: “(The park) serves as Georgia’s lasting legacy of the Centennial Olympic Games and it anchors efforts to revitalize residential and commercial development in Georgia’s capital city of Atlanta.”
9. Unicoi State Park
One of the most popular state parks in the state of Georgia, Unicoi State Park sees a lot of traffic come through to admire the natural beauty the park has to offer. With no gated entrance, the main road and most visited portion of the park is a loop formed by two roads, state highway GA-356 and “Univoi Campground Road.”
Inside the park, Unicoi offers overnight accommodations such as camping, cabins that allow dogs and a lodge. The park also offers five hiking trails, a seven-mile bicycle loop for mountain biking as well as fishing, swimming and boating in Unicoi Lake.
10. Brasstown Bald
Enjoy one of the most breathtaking views the state of Georgia has to offer with Brasstown Bald. The highest natural point in the state of Georgia, you can enjoy a 360-degree view from the observation tower. On a clear day, it is possible to see the tall buildings of Atlanta from the summit. Brasstown Bald sits 4,784 feet above sea level.
The United States Department of Agriculture has a live webcam set up on top of Brasstown Bald that is always available to view.