The Atlanta Area
Gateway to the Deep South, Atlanta is one of the most progressive cities in America. The hometown of Martin Luther King, Jr., bears no relationship to the city from which Scarlett O'Hara and Aunt Pittypat fled during Sherman's march. It's a fast-paced capital city that, while still sporting a few magnolia blossoms and mint juleps, is marching forward in commerce and culture. Fortune magazine has called Atlanta "America's Best City for Business," and the title still holds into the 21st century.
This area, within 70 to 120 miles of Atlanta, may be the best-kept travel secret in the South. Northern Georgia is a virtual national or state park, a rugged outback that stands in sharp contrast to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northeastern part of the state. The northwest has many Native American sites, as well as the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, where critical Civil War battles were staged. Lookout Mountain rises like a 100-mile linear barrier from the valleys below.
The southern Appalachians contain a mountain culture that hasn't been completely wiped out, and many of the old ways prevail. Dahlonega makes a great base for exploring Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains, much of which lies within 727,000-acre Chattahoochee National Forest.
The very name evokes a romantic antebellum aura. Savannah is the city that General Sherman gave President Lincoln as a Christmas present.
Founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe as Georgia's first settlement, the city is located 18 miles inland on the Savannah River at the South Carolina border. A deep channel connects Savannah to the ocean, attracting massive freighters to the terminals at the Georgia Ports Authority. Visitors can almost touch the ships as they slowly make their way up the river. Lined with classy nightspots and upscale restaurants, as well as a few rough pubs and artsy boutiques, cobblestone River Street has become a hub for tourists.
Macon & the Southwest
Macon is best seen in March during the Cherry Blossom Festival, but this historic town has year-round attractions, too. It once grew fat on the cotton trade and still boasts some nice antebellum homes that Sherman's armies didn't completely destroy. Today it's one of the most rewarding destinations in Georgia. The two other major attractions in the state's southwest are Callaway Gardens and Warm Springs (where Franklin Delano Roosevelt died). You can visit both towns on a day trip from Atlanta, or you can find plenty of old inns in the area if you want to spend the night.
The Golden Isles
Don't leave Georgia without exploring the Golden Isles. Start at U.S. 17 about 17 miles south of Darien (or exit off I-95 South at the Golden Isles Pkwy.), head toward Brunswick, and then travel to St. Simons and Sea islands. The drive culminates in Jekyll Island, once the private enclave of wintering wealthy like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts, but now open to all.
If you can afford it, plan to spend at least 1 night at the Cloister on Sea Island, the grandest resort in the tri-state area. For escapists, there are also Little St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island, the idyllic wilderness where John Kennedy, Jr., married Carolyn Bessette 3 years before their tragic plane crash.
Based at a hotel on the Golden Isles, you can make a day trip to one of the greatest attractions in Georgia: the Okefenokee Swamp, the largest freshwater swamp still preserved in the United States.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.