Trip Ideas

8 Unusual Bucket List Adventures for 2018

Always wanted to swim with sharks? Be in the movies? Drive a race car? Make it happen this year with these unique adventures in Georgia!

  • Swimming with whale sharks at Georgia Aquarium

    Bucket list: Swimming with gentle giants at the Georgia Aquarium! It's the only place in the world where you are guaranteed to swim with a whale shark

The New Year is a time for fresh starts. It’s a time when we are full of excitement and ready to cast off the ordinary and do something big. Something unexpected. Something new.

Thankfully, there are lots of unique adventures in Georgia to get you out of your daily routine and checking off that bucket list. Here are eight of our favorites for 2018.

Swim with a Whale Shark

Swimming with whale sharks at Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where you can swim with whale sharks; and probably the only place in the world where you can swim with such a diverse variety of fish. In addition to the whale sharks, I was most impressed with the black velvet-like manta rays. The Georgia Aquarium remains the only aquarium in North America to exhibit manta rays, so this is truly an experience in itself.

Shake Hands with an Otter

Sea Otter Encounter at Georgia Aquarium

If you aren't excited to get into the water with the fish, the Sea Otter Encounter at the Georgia Aquarium is a close up look at these adorable mammals. Touch their noses, shake hands with the otters and feed them fish popsicles. There is plenty of cuteness to go around during this 40-minute encounter.

Glide Through the Air

See North Georgia from a hang glider

Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding in Rising Fawn, Georgia, is the only hang gliding school between Florida and North Carolina. They offer a tandem experience that lasts about 20 minutes in flight, as well as a full-day experience, which includes instruction, training flights and the tandem flight. This adventure is sure to get your heart pumping.

Be in the Movies

Zombieland filmed in Valdosta. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Now that Georgia film productions are everywhere, with hundreds of movies, television shows, commercials and music videos being filmed in the state, it's almost a rite of passage that you spend time as an extra on set while visiting. Who knows, you may be the next big star. See what's filming in Georgia now.

Hunt with Falcons

Sea Island Falconry

Did you know you could practice the ancient art of falconry in Georgia? To become a true falconer takes a lot of time, practice and patience, but you can try out the sport in a few places in Georgia, including Birds of Prey at Historic Banning Mills in Whitesburg and The Cloister at Sea Island.

Drive a Car – FAST

Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta

Go full force into 2018 with a driving experience at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta or an official NASCAR experience at the Atlanta Motor Speedway Richard Petty Driving Experience. The adrenaline high is sure to kick off the new year right.

Stomp Grapes

Georgia's relatively young wine industry is garnering praise from critics and wine-lovers alike. Of course, drinking the wine is always a good idea, but why not plan a visit to the Georgia wine country during festival time when you can participate in making the wine through a grape stomp. Contact your favorite winery for specific dates.

Wake up with Camels

Sue and a friendly camel at North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm, Cleveland, Ga.

It's not every day you can wake up with camels, but at North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm in Cleveland, Georgia, it's just part of the overnight package. You also can howl with the wolves, feed a parakeet, pet a sloth, and get up close and personal with a hedgehog.

Sue Rodman is Georgia's official Smart Travel Explorer. Find more of her budget-friendly tips and trip ideas on

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