Vacation Spots in Georgia: You Won’t Believe These 7 Wonders!




7 Vacation Spots in Georgia

Bless my soul, you haven’t heard of Georgia’s seven wonders?  It’s OK, even though I’m a southern girl, I didn’t hear about some of these vacation spots in Georgia either until I started travel writing a few years ago.   So here I am spilling the beans again about lesser-known, but AH-MAZING vacation destinations and I’m completely obsessed with this list of family vacation ideas …..

Vacation Spots in Georgia

Back in the day, (1926 to be exact), a newspaper journalist asked the state librarian what Georgia’s most stunning physical features were.  She responded and her list was published in a Georgia magazine.  The list was revised and placed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2001.   Let’s get on with that list, shall we?

Okefenokee Swamp

It’s ironic that I have fallen so in love with the Okefenokee Swamp.  You see, I grew up living very close to it, but as a young kid, I didn’t think much about it.  In my twenties, a friend was visiting the Georgia coast from Arizona and begged me to take them back to my childhood town for a tour of the Okefenokee.  I couldn’t understand why they were so excited.  I then saw (through their eyes) the uniqueness the Okefenokee Swamp and how special it truly is.

AWESOME Vacation Spots in Georgia YOU need to see!

AWESOME Vacation Spots in Georgia YOU need to see!

Walking up to the welcome center, three large alligators laid sunning themselves on the sidewalk, a mere four feet from us.  My friend was ecstatic to be so close to their first, in-real-life alligator.  “You’ve never seen an alligator before?” I asked.  Oh yeah, everyone doesn’t have these gargantuan creatures lurking around like we southerners do.

There’s so much more to see than scary alligators, though.  Take a 45-minute boat tour or a train tram through the black swamp and see for yourself what other wildlife is busting out.  I mean, the Okefenokee swamp contains beavers, snakes, beautiful birds, black bears, otters, water turkeys, and more.

I found out that festivals and activities go on throughout the year and recently, a friend and I took our daughters on a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp Pioneer Day.  Fascinating teachers showed us the old-fashioned ways of soap making, blacksmithing, arrowhead artifacts, and palmetto crafts.  I was especially intrigued by the history of its first Native American inhabitants and the families that later moved to the island as well.


My favorite part of this fabulous vacation spot in Georgia was checking out the old 1800s homestead owned by one of those families who experienced tragic history with those Indians.  Let’s just say the word ‘massacre’ is part of the story.  Ekkk!

AWESOME Vacation Spots in Georgia YOU need to see!

AWESOME Vacation Spots in Georgia YOU need to see!

See, there’s this thing called the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge that stretches across south Georgia nearly half a million acres.  The Swamp Park is just a small entry, giving all of us a glimpse so that we can have an appreciation for the wildlife, natural beauty, and culture of the “Land of the Trembling Earth,” a name given by the Seminole Indians.  You can:

  • Jump on the railroad tour and go back in time to Pioneer Island
  • Keep your eyes on nature with the live animal show
  • Take a primitive adventure walk to the Observation Tower
  • See the Alligator, Otter, and Turtle habitats
  • Take a guided boat tour through the Seminole Indian waterways
  • Visit the bear observatories
  • Touch “Ole Roy” the big, bad stuffed alligator
  • Walk “into” the Okefenokee on the boardwalk
  • Visit the Nature Center
  • Check out the Swamp Building
  • See what’s in the Living Swamps Exhibit
  • Experience the Pogo Possum mascot creation and creator, Walt Kelly
  • Try out the Snack Shack (Yes, a gator burger is on the menu)
  • Ride the Light Show Train (during Christmas holidays)

Here’s a link to a printable coupon to use along with the park’s holiday close dates.  If you live in one of the eight surrounding counties of the Swamp, here’s a link to a local’s printable coupon.  Fabulous photos and video are on the Swamp’s Instagram.

Bonus:  There are people milling around but I’ve never witnessed excessive crowds or ridiculous lines, and the welcome center is fabulous.  The Okefenokee is within an hour of Georgia beaches as well.

Providence Canyon

It kills me that I didn’t hear about Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon as one of the most unique vacation spots in Georgia until a couple years ago.  Look at the jaw-dropping view!  The history of the way that the canyon came to be is especially interesting as well.  I also love how you can’t tell secrets while you’re hiking through the canyon.  What?

Providence Canyon was formed quite by accident.  Yes, there has been some natural erosion over the years (and continues to be), but this unusual masterpiece was created by poor land management in the 1800s.  A combination of specific farm practices, lots of sand, and a lack of natural vegetation caused the sand to slide downhill and form the gullies – up to 150 feet deep.  These days, it’s the multicolored sand layers (pink, orange, red, and purple) that paint such a  gorgeous picture against the green trees and blue sky.

Hike one of the many trails, take a picnic, or pitch a tent in the backcountry campground.  Providence Canyon does not have RV camping, though.  RVers can travel eight and a half miles west of the canyon and stay at Florence Marina State Park.  Oh, and the word is that you don’t want to be sharing your deepest, darkest secrets while walking through the floor of the canyon because your voice echoes throughout and can be heard loud and clear from the top of the canyon’s rim.  Be careful with that, y’all.

Bonus:  The crowds haven’t heard about Providence Canyon except for serious hikers and backpackers.  Yay!

Warm Springs

Early on, Warm Springs Georgia found its fame when settlers heard about the healing waters that the Iroquois and Creek Indians had been taking their sick people to for years.  In the 1800s, the town boomed with resort amenities surrounding the springs, but it wasn’t until Franklin Delano Roosevelt (he wasn’t the president yet but a politician and wealthy businessman at the time) visited in 1924 and fell in love with this town in Middle Georgia, that this little community gained more wealth and attention as one of the most desirable vacation spots in Georgia.

Franklin D. Roosevelt first sought out Warm Springs to find a cure in the healing waters for Polio, a disease that had been ravishing his body for three years and had left him paralyzed from the waist down.  For the next several years, he was instrumental in making Warm Springs not only a vacation retreat but also a place where polio patients could find relief in the special pools created for them where the temperature was always 88 degrees – all year long.

Roosevelt loved Warm Springs so much that he visited as often as possible for twenty-one years, and even died in his “little white house” during his presidency.   The Little White House has been preserved and is a neat thing to see because it remains like he left it when he passed in 1945.  You can also see the White Springs Museum, Memorial Fountain, the Walk of the States, and Roosevelt’s classic cars that he loved.

Warm Springs downtown has over 60 little shops (including a cute, Lil ice cream parlor) in century-old buildings.  We also enjoyed camping at FDR State Park, a trail ride with Roosevelt Stables, and a visit to Callaway Gardens, all of which are very close to downtown Warm Springs.

Bonus:  Did you know that the “unfinished portrait” is on display inside the Little White House (the portrait that was being painted of Franklin when he began suffering the cerebral hemorrhage that caused his death)?  There is also a mini replica of the Mayflower, which was carved from the 1620 ship’s timber, which was given to him by the Quaker society.

Radium Springs 

Radium Springs is famous all the way back to the 1500s with mentions from Spanish expeditions and Creek Indians paddling its waters.  In its heyday, Radium Springs was one of the most bustling resorts in the state.  Radium was discovered within the Springs (which was thought to heal ailments), and in 1927 a casino, hotel, cottages, and golf course, and trails overlooked the Springs.

AWESOME Vacation Spots in Georgia YOU need to see!

Vintage postcard of Radium Springs Resort – Vintage Georgia USA

The Great Depression closed down the resort initially and it suffered major damage from flooding over the years.  Radium Springs made a comeback, however, as a historical gardens area and is now open to the public again.

There are gorgeous gardens, walkways, courtyard, gazebos, picnic area, resort ruins, and a terrace.  Self-guided tours are fun to see the 70,000 gallons of clear water pumped per minute with a steady 68 degrees from an underground cave.

Bonus:  Radium Springs is a lovely place to take the family to the park for a picnic.  It’s also a fabulous backdrop for photo opportunities.

Save on your hotel - www.hotelscombined.com

Stone Mountain

Even though Stone Mountain is one of the most easily recognizable landmarks of the south, it has not become an overly crowded vacation destination for families.  Its magnificence can only be experienced in person with the granite dome 650 feet in the sky.  Did you know that Stone Mountain is 2 miles long and 7 miles in circumference around the base, making it the largest exposed granite in the world?

To reach the summit of Stone Mountain, you can ride the Skyride or hike the one-mile trail to the top.  Take a scenic train ride around the mountain, experience the largest laser light show with fireworks, hike the fifteen miles of walking trails, or play a round of golf.  There are simply too many Stone Mountain activities to list.

The laser light show is also an experience that must be done at least once in your lifetime.  Kids are thrilled with the music and light sychronization. Promise me you’ll grab your oversized blanket and wait for the light show to begin with your family!

Bonus:  Check Stone Mountain’s site throughout the year as they have many seasonal events.  The most thrilling to date, in my opinion, is when Stone Mountain becomes Snow Mountain.  Your kiddos will be singing your praises!

Amicalola Falls

If you want to be a waterfall chaser, this is the place to start.  Amicalola Falls is by far the tallest cascading waterfall in the southeast (east of the Mississippi) at 729 feet.  Wow, it’s breath-taking in person.  You can choose to walk the pathway (a bit more adventurous) or you can take the (more challenging) stairway to the top.  If you are a true hiker, you can take the 8.5-mile trail to Springer Mountain, which is part of the famous Appalachian Trail.  Not that skippy?  Then just take the smaller, Amicalola loop.

When visiting Amicalola Falls, you can stay at the campground, cottages, or 56-room lodge.  Take part in fishing the trout fishing stream, ranger programs, Geocaching, picnicking, the amphitheater and visitor’s center, the Lodge’s restaurant, the playground, and about 9 different types of trails.

Bonus:  While hiking on the beautiful waterfall trail, be sure to look for the little-known moonshine truck that apparently tumbled down the hill during the days of the Prohibition.  History is where you least expect it when you simply look for it!

Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge is a one-of-a-kind adventure because it’s a 1,000-foot deep chasm that has been formed by the Tallulah River flowing through the floor of the gorge.  If you enjoy photographing magnificent nature, then Tallulah Gorge has more photo opportunities than you can possibly keep up with.  Definitely start at Visitor’s Center and watch the movie about the gorge before heading out to hike the rim.

Bonus:  If you are a serious hiker seeking some adventure, arrive at the gorge early to get one of the only 100 permits given per day to hike the floor of Tallulah Gorge.  Call ahead to ensure that the water levels won’t interfere.  Enjoy this video I found that showcases how gorgeous vacation spots in Georgia like Tallulah Gorge are.  You don’t want to miss this:

 

Were you aware of all of these vacation spots in Georgia know as Georgia’s seven wonders?  You do now!  I’m so enamored with my beautiful home state so I’m spreading the word about each of these destinations that are incredible opportunities for clean, outdoor fun with your family.  I remember watching one of my favorite shows called Georgia Traveler on Georgia Public TV and I was hooked on Southern travel.

Now you can learn even more detail about these magnificent places I’ve shared with you …..

 

Which of these vacation spots in Georgia is your favorite?

Ah-Mazing Vacation Spots in Georgia you MUST see!

More helpful travel posts you may enjoy:

Best Vacation Spots Your Family Must See This Summer

5 Travel Experts share RV Campground Faves

Best Weekend Getaways Hidden near Savannah Georgia

7 Reasons for a Family Trip to Marineland Florida This Year

Secretive Reasons to Visit Jekyll Island Soon

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

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56 Comments

  1. June 2, 2016 / 6:45 am

    Wow! I’ve enjoyed our brief travels through Georgia, and we’ve stayed in the Atlanta area a few times, but I had no idea about any of these except for Stone Mountain! Absolutely breathtaking.

    • Shan
      Author
      June 2, 2016 / 10:17 am

      Thank you so much, Jaime. That’s what I love doing MOST – spilling the beans on these gorgeous, hidden treasures in the south. Thanks for your sweet words. Glad it was helpful.

      blessings,
      Shan

  2. June 2, 2016 / 7:05 am

    I have never been there and I wish I would have a chance. What a wonderful post you have. I will bookmark it to plan for a vacation. Thank you for sharing!

    • Shan
      Author
      June 2, 2016 / 10:15 am

      Thank you, Michelle! I pray that an opportunity comes for you to visit. Georgia is a special place. Glad it was helpful.

      blessings,
      Shan

  3. June 2, 2016 / 9:00 am

    I had no idea they had all those gorgeous places to visit in Georgia. Thank you for sharing I am planning to visit my that lives in Georgia this summer.

    • Shan
      Author
      June 2, 2016 / 10:15 am

      Thank you so much. I had no idea of all of these either until recently, and that’s what I love – the HIDDEN Gems – without the crowds! I hope you are able to visit a few this summer. Be sure to let me know when you do.

      blessings,
      Shan

  4. June 4, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    I live in GA and had no idea of these spots.

    Thank you so much for this post and all the work you
    did on it.

    • Shan
      Author
      June 4, 2016 / 5:48 pm

      Thank you, Meena! Your sweet comments are much appreciated. It’s my favorite part of travel writing – unveiling the genuinely, amazing places for families in the south. 🙂

      blessings,
      Shan

  5. June 9, 2016 / 10:29 am

    These places look fabulous! Pinned to our family dream vacation board!

    • Shan
      Author
      June 9, 2016 / 10:54 am

      Yay! I’m so glad it was helpful. They are truly beautiful and much fun.

      blessings,
      Shan

  6. June 10, 2016 / 7:12 am

    So I was born in Dalton and my dad’s family is from Claxton, but I have only ever been to Stone Mtn and Amicalola Falls! I at least knew about the swamp (although I actually thought it was in Florida)…My only excuse is that I am a Coast Guard brat and we didn’t actually spend my entire childhood in Georgia!

    Thanks for the tips. I will be sure to check some of these out 🙂

    • Shan
      Author
      June 10, 2016 / 8:09 am

      Glad to have you around, Dara! I understand, I was a military brat kid too and lived in Key West when small, til my Mom longed to be back in Georgia when my Daddy retired. The two that you have seen are great ones at least! Glad you are planning to check out the other ones.

      blessings,
      Shan

  7. June 22, 2016 / 8:23 am

    We’ve been to/heard of all except the Canyon and – WOW, how cool! Pinning this to remember to go check it out very soon! Also, as a Native Floridian, I had to laugh at your friends never seeing an alligator – because we get that all the time when people come visit us!

  8. June 22, 2016 / 5:36 pm

    Believe it or not we went to the Okefenokee Swamp while on our honeymoon ha! I wasn’t thrilled at the time! We rented a motor boat and went all through that swamp. I was sure we would be lost forever and with all those alligator eyes poking out of the water – no thank you! It was just not my thing. Guess that was our first big argument 🙂 I can look back on it now and it is very humorous and my husband feels really bad about taking me there. But he has made up for it plenty since then and I am sure the place is improved since we went 39 years ago. I have been to all the other places except Radium Springs. This is a great list and these are spots that anyone would love to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Anna
    August 26, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    Cool post! I’very been to Stone Mountain. Every Georgiant must go once, preferably as a teenager. Also I’ve been to Okefenokee and Amicalola. I just recently found out about the little grand canyon. A great way to discover Georgia is to get a state park pass and camp at the different parks. Our family has loved doing this for inexpensive vacationing!

  10. September 22, 2016 / 1:36 pm

    LOVE all of these!! I love Georgia, but have only been to Stone Mountain and Amicalola. Providence Canyon has been on my bucket list for awhile, but the others are all new to me!! So glad you joined in this month’s linkup so I could add these to it! Hope to see you again next month!
    Happy Thursday!

  11. December 16, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    I love Stone Mountain. I can’t wait to visit all of the other places on your list! Thanks. ❤️❤️

  12. February 8, 2017 / 7:57 am

    Well I guess Georgia will have to be put on our list of places to visit. Beautiful photos of the many great fun places to visit and have a good time.

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 8:51 am

      Thanks, Candy!

      Yes, put GA on the list. There are so many unique things to do here for families in every region. Let me know if I can help!
      blessings,
      Shan

  13. February 8, 2017 / 8:16 am

    Wow! Beautiful. Hubby and I are planning to head down south this fall so maybe we will have to check Georgia out!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 8:50 am

      Thanks, Kirstin. I may be a little biased as a Georgia Girl, but it truly is beautiful and so diverse. Come see us!
      blessings,
      Shan

  14. Bonnie
    February 8, 2017 / 8:50 am

    I have a friend who lives in Georgie…maybe we’ll check those springs out when I visit her!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 8:53 am

      Yes, Bonnie. I highly recommend it. Such a beautiful part of Georgia – lots to explore!
      blessings,
      Shan

  15. February 8, 2017 / 9:44 am

    I can’t believe these spots are in Georgia! I live in SC and will def be making some trips!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 10:02 am

      I know, right, Kelsey! Some I didn’t even know about and I’ve lived here my whole life. I love South Carolina too and will be writing even more about it this year! Thanks for your input!
      blessings,
      Shan

  16. February 8, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    These are all so beautiful! We really need to check these out. We went one time for a vacation but, would love to go back.

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 10:47 pm

      Thanks, Jehava. Georgia would love to have you back. Let me know if I can help with your Georgia trip in any way when the time comes!
      blessings,
      Shan

  17. February 8, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    Great list!! I lived in Atlanta for a few years and only went to Stone Mountain. That place was amazing!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 10:48 pm

      Thanks, Kristine. Well, it’s time for you to come back and visit us to see what you didn’t know you’ve been missing. 😉 Thanks for your input.
      blessings,
      Shan

  18. February 8, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    Who knew Georgia had so many great places to visit? I used to live there and the only one of these I knew about was Stone Mountain!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 8, 2017 / 10:50 pm

      Jen, now I don’t feel so bad for not knowing about most of these until I was an adult. It’s time for another visit.
      blessings,
      Shan

  19. February 10, 2017 / 1:09 am

    I had no idea all of these places were in Georgia! They all look amazing. Especially the canyon and springs. I’m pinning this in case we travel there anytime soon!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 10, 2017 / 5:17 am

      Most people don’t realize these gorgeous spots are in Georgia either — even me. We’d love to have you come visit our Peach State. Let me know if I can be of any help.
      blessings,
      Shan

  20. February 14, 2017 / 9:50 pm

    Love this list, but as a resident of SW GA, I think I have a few you can add! Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home in Plains, historic Albany (as in the early Civil Rights Movement) and home of Ray Charles, Trail 37 (great display of the growing agri-tourism business), and Chehaw Park…just to name a few! You can find some other ideas here: http://patandcandy.com/top-10-staycation-ideas-for-south-georgia/

    Comes see us sometime :-)!

    • Shan
      Author
      February 16, 2017 / 5:27 am

      Thanks, Pat. These are the actual 7 Wonders of Georgia list created in the 1920s, but yes those you mentioned are awesome places too. Thanks for your input. Love my South!
      blessings,
      Shan

  21. January 30, 2018 / 10:32 am

    Oh my! I’ve never hears of stone mountain but I daresay now I am obsessed with after this post! I’ve never seen anything like that, not even mount rushmore!! MY pal and I were just talking about georgia last night and how i need to go back there since it’s been 16 years, but dang, now I have more reason to because it looks way more awesome than just getting stuck in atlanta traffic!

    • Shan
      Author
      January 30, 2018 / 12:46 pm

      It is the coolest thing to see in person. Amazing to me how long and hard it was to do the carving. It’s just a beautiful area! 😉

      shan

  22. January 30, 2018 / 10:49 am

    I’ve never been to Georgia, but this is making me want to go! I would love to see those waterfalls!

  23. January 30, 2018 / 6:55 pm

    This is really great article! I live in Florida and I had no idea Georgia had so much to offer. I will need to go North for a nice road trip to visit some of these areas. Stone Mountain looks so amazing! I wonder why it is not more well known?

    • Shan
      Author
      January 30, 2018 / 10:25 pm

      Thank you so much. Come on up and visit! We adore Florida too! 🙂

      shan

  24. January 30, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    My boyfriend said he used to go to Stone Mountain all the time when he was a kid! This is a great list of places!

    • Shan
      Author
      January 30, 2018 / 10:49 pm

      Stone Mountain is the coolest. It must be viewed in person for sure!

      shan

    • Shan
      Author
      February 5, 2018 / 8:00 am

      Thanks, Amanda. I’m so glad that Georgia is on your radar for visits now. It’s a beautifully diverse state!

      shan

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