The capital city of Georgia, Atlanta is the melting pot of southern America. A former military outpost and a railway junction, the city have grown massively over the years to become an important commercial hub in the US. Eternalized through Atlanta native Margaret Mitchell’s renowned novels such as Gone with the wild, Atlanta is filled with historic sights, art galleries, sports centers, landscaped gardens, and much more – all of which ooze the typical southern charm. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, and Piedmont Park are among the important attractions in the city.
If you are visiting the city for a vacation and are keen on exploring the surrounding towns and cities to elevate your experience, take a look at the top 7 weekend destinations from Atlanta:
Savannah is the epitome of the sublime Southern city with magnificent historic mansions, landscaped parks with huge moss-covered trees, and cobblestoned streets along the harbor. The most accurate way of exploring Savannah’s historic district is by strolling along Bull Street. The starting point of this heritage walk is essentially the City Hall which dates back to 1905 and the U.S. Customs House constructed in 1852 located right opposite. Created in the 19th century, Forsyth Park is the largest and most visited park in the city. Other popular attractions in the city include the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and Bonaventure Cemetery.
Best Time to Visit: The most recommended time to visit the city is from March to July when you can see the azaleas in full bloom and experience a lot of festivals.
How to Reach: The most convenient way to travel between Atlanta and Savannah is by a Greyhound bus that runs once daily and takes around four and a half hours to reach. Expect to pay between $30 to $45 for the tickets.
If you’re hoping for a real experience of southern comfort combined with urban delight, Greenville, South Carolina is the perfect place to be. The Roper Mountain Science center, suited for all age groups, is a great place to appreciate the many innovations made by science. There is also a butterfly garden, an arboretum, and a planetarium with various shows here. Nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts would love the 20-mile trail of Swamp Rabbit Trail that goes across numerous other significant sites in the city. Peace Center, Caesars Head State Park, and Greenville Zoo are also sights that should not be missed during your visit.
Best Time to Visit: The months between September to November and March to May are regarded as the most preferred times to visit Greenville.
How to Reach: You can get direct flights between Atlanta and Greenville that take you to the town in under an hour and cost between $120 to $180. But, if you are on a budget, you can also take a direct bus which will take a couple of hours and only cost $30 to $35.
Visited by a quarter of a million tourists each year, Augusta is more prominently known as the host city of the Masters Tournament which is held here every April. But, there is a lot more to the city than the popular golf tournament. Augusta is home to many historic sites, some of which date back to the Civil War and the times of slavery. Dating back to 1845, Augusta Canal is the only industrial canal to date in this part of the US. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the waters here are best enjoyed on a boat tour. Spread across 60 acres of land, Magnolia Cemetery is not only home to five Jewish and one Greek cemetery but also to the Crape Myrtle – the oldest tree in the state.
Best Time to Visit: The middle year months between April until October are considered to be the best months to visit this stunning city.
How to Reach: While there is flight connectivity between the two Georgian cities, it is more economical to either self-drive or take a direct bus. The latter options take approximately two and a half hours and cost between $15 to $30 either on fuel or bus fare.
Forever memorialized thanks to the recognition of the 1941 Glenn Miller super hit song, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, the city is one of the most popular places for visitors to explore in the southern US. You can still witness the original railway station from 1909, enjoy riding the largest steam railway in the south, the splendid Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. The city houses numerous outstanding world-class museums, too, comprising the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map & Museum, and the Hunter Museum of Art.
Best Time to Visit: The most recommended time to visit Chattanooga is during the fall, between September and November because of the season’s colorful foliage.
How to Reach: If you are willing to splurge around $100 to $600, taking a 45-minute flight between the two cities could be your fastest choice. However, you could easily hop on a bus or choose to drive down in which case it will take around a couple of hours and cost between $10 to $20 in fuel (for a car) or $60 to $70 in bus fare.
St. Simons Island
From exquisite historical sites to a plethora of family-friendly attractions, St. Simons Island is truly the highlight of the Golden Isles. The pleasant climate on the island offers a boon for outdoor lovers who can enjoy several outdoor activities here including but not limited to kayaking, golfing, horseback riding, biking the St. Simons Island Trail System, and so much more. If you are looking for a day out to enjoy some quality time with your family, look no further than the likes of Neptune Park and Fun Zone Water Park. While here, you absolutely can’t miss a breakfast at the quaint Palmer’s Village Café. Also, if you are interested in history, make sure to sign up for the 1.5 hour St. Simons Trolley Tour.
Best Time to Visit: Though early April to May end and October to November are considered as the recommended months to visit the crown jewel of the Golden Isles, you can also come here during the winter months if you are interested in migrating wildlife and serenity.
How to Reach: Whether you decide to take a flight or one of the many buses available, almost all connectivity to St. Simons Island goes through Brunswick from where you can finish the remaining leg of the journey in a taxi. While buses can take over 7 to 9 hours, a flight to Brunswick only takes around an hour and a taxi from the airport to the island takes another half an hour. The entire journey would cost between $60 to $370.
Often regarded as the ‘Gateway to Callaway Garden’, Pine Mountain is one of the loveliest weekend destinations from Atlanta. A haven for outdoor lovers, the 10-mile-long Discovery Bike Trail is a great way to explore the region’s water views and foliage. If you are into hiking, you would love the Azalea Trail irrespective of your level as the trails here vary in difficulty and has something for everyone. Mountain Creek Trail is also another trail that the nature lover in you will surely appreciate. Discovery Amphitheatre, Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, and Pine Mountain Trail are some of the other important attractions around this beautiful area.
Best Time to Visit: For warm-weather activities, the time between late April to mid-June and from late August to mid-October would be the most appropriate time to visit Pine Mountain.
How to Reach: Other than driving to Pine Mountain, taking a bus from Atlanta to La Grange and then a taxi to the destination is your most convenient and affordable option. The entire journey takes slightly over an hour and a half and costs between $60 to $85.
Only 18 miles away from Savannah, Tybee Island feels like you have been transported to a whole different world altogether. A highly popular destination among families for a perfect beach vacation, the island is mostly about gorgeous waters and water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding. While visitors spend most of their time on the island exploring one of the many stunning beaches like Savannah River Beach, North Beach, and South Beach, there is a lot more to do here as well. For instance, you can check out the Iconic Tybee Island Lighthouse & Museum built in 1773, learn about the intriguing history behind Fort Pulaski which is a National Monument, and spot dolphins as you take one of the many dolphin tours.
Best Time to Visit: To enjoy the gorgeous outdoors and excellent warm-weather activities, it is best to visit Tybee island from early April to May end and late September to early November.
How to Reach: There are direct buses and flights between Atlanta and Savannah from where Tybee Island is only a half-hour taxi ride away. While flights + taxi could cost between $148 to $358 and take around 3 hours, a bus + taxi would cost only between $70 to $95 and take around 5 hours.
If you are expecting to witness the cliched romantic Southern city, Atlanta may not be what you need. However, if you are more into history that dates back to the Civil War, museums that capture the essence of Atlanta, and attractions such as the Fox Theatre that dates back to the 1920s, then the city will leave no stone unturned to make your holiday a memorable one, especially when you consider visiting the neighboring weekend destinations from Atlanta.