Sapelo Island Lighthouse

The Lighthouse on Sapelo Island, Georgia

9 Affordable Day Trips for a Georgia Getaway

With so many school vacations, it's difficult to plan a trip for each one. Or maybe you don't have kids, but can't steal away for a full week's vacation. Instead of traveling for an extended visit, why not plan some awesome day trips? Here are nine great outings that will have you exploring all over Georgia.

Aerial view of downtown Alpharetta, Georgia

Downtown Alpharetta, Georgia

Alpharetta

Alpharetta is the perfect place for a shopping holiday. Explore the brand-name shops at Avalon, like Apple, lululemon, Kendra Scott and West Elm. And, be sure to check out the shops downtown that specialize in unique gifts, apparel and home furnishings you can’t find anywhere else.

Refresh yourself with a stop into Jekyll Brewing to take in the view of the city center from the rooftop bar while you sip a Hop Dang Diggity IPA, Cooter Brown or another of their special creations. Catch a show at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre or any of the other live music venues in town.

Make your trip extra special by spending the night at The Hotel at Avalon, Autograph Collection that has a plush outdoor pool terrace and an on-site South City Kitchen, or EVEN Hotel Alpharetta that focuses on supporting guests’ wellness goals with in-room fitness equipment and spa-inspired showers. For a boutique hotel experience, you can’t beat The Hamilton located in downtown Alpharetta.

Visit Alpharetta

Horse and cowboy sculpture outside The Booth Museum in Cartersville, Georgia

The Booth Museum in Cartersville, Georgia

Cartersville

No time or money to visit the Old West? Then head to Cartersville to The Booth Museum instead. In addition to cowboys and Indians, you'll also find a gallery of American presidents. Best of all, the Booth is free the first Thursday of the month after 4 p.m.

Don’t miss the city’s newest attraction, the Savoy Automobile Museum, featuring four galleries that showcase race cars, classic American cars, station wagon woodies and rare and unique vehicles. The awe-inspiring displays will appeal to collectors, enthusiasts and admirers everywhere.

Be sure to stop downtown for a bite to eat at family-friendly restaurants like Swheat Market and Ate Track Bar & Grill. Stay nearby at Lake Allatoona Inn or in a cottage at Red Top Mountain State Park.

Visit Cartersville

Glass of wine and mountains at Yonah Mountain Vineyards in Cleveland, Georgia. Photo by @_bellabellini_

Yonah Mountain Vineyards & Winery in Cleveland, Georgia. Photo by @_bellabellini_

Cleveland

Did you know Cabbage Patch Dolls are from Cleveland, Georgia? In addition to seeing a cabbage birth at BabyLand General Hospital, you'll see dolls in the maternity ward, original dolls from time gone by, and a superstore filled with accessories and dolls with personalities as unique as your own child’s.

Nearby, you can get up close and personal with camels, wolves and more at the North Georgia Wildlife Park & Safari. For a really wild time, spend the night at the zoo.

Sample local wine at award-winning wineries like Yonah Mountain Vineyards & Winery and The Cottage Vineyard & Winery, and stop into Cleveland's town square for eclectic shopping at Meaders Mercantile and Antiques, where you can have a personal pottery lesson from a member of the renowned Meaders Family. Be sure to stop by the old-fashioned Soda Fountain Cafe for freshly squeezed lemonade and other delightful treats.

For a fun place to stay, check out Gabby’s Country Cabins, a collection of A-frame cabins set on 18 acres of North Georgia countryside. Or stay in one of the cozy Little Andy Mountain Cabins with spectacular mountain views.

Visit Cleveland

Sunset at Wild Leap Brewery in LaGrange, Georgia. Photo by @jcolbymoore

Wild Leap Brewery in LaGrange, Georgia. Photo by @jcolbymoore

LaGrange

Located near Georgia's western border, LaGrange is a great small-town getaway with everything from an indoor water park to two craft breweries and a downtown amphitheatre that attracts big-name acts.

Visitors in search of great estates can tour the Italianate villa Hills & Dales and its 35 acres of rolling grounds and formal gardens. Spend the day on West Point Lake, a popular spot for boating and fishing. Or, play in the indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge, which is also a great place for families to stay overnight.

Grab a hot dog at local landmark Charlie Joseph’s, which has been family-owned and -operated since the 1920s. Or, enjoy a homestyle meat-and-three lunch at Taste of Lemon Restaurant. Downtown, cap the day at Wild Leap Brewery, or pay a visit to Beacon Brewing Company, operating in a former textile mill. And be sure to check the concert schedule at Sweetland Amphitheatre.

Visit LaGrange

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon, Georgia. Photo by @cute.thulhu

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon, Georgia. Photo by @cute.thulhu

Macon

When it comes to Georgia's musical legacy, Macon is one of the state’s most fertile grounds for producing world-famous legends. From the Allman Brothers Band to Otis Redding, the city has been home to some of the biggest names in music. Explore the Capricorn Sound Studio museum and the Big House to immerse yourself in the vibe of the 1970s. Hear behind-the-scenes tales of the city’s music scene on Rock Candy Tours.

Explore the grand Hay House mansion, built in the 1850s and known as the “Palace of the South.” For those interested in more ancient history, experience Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, which preserves the stories of Native American cultures that lived on the land dating back to 900 A.D. Visit the Tubman Museum to learn about African American art, history and culture.

Stop for lunch at H&H Restaurant for food that’s just plain good for your soul, and enjoy a pint at Macon Beer Company or Ocmulgee Brewpub. Don’t leave until you’ve had a slice of the Cracked Pie at Dovetail. Topped with salted caramel ice cream and toffee, you just might agree it’s worth the trip alone.

Visit Macon

Downtown Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Downtown Plains, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Plains

The best way to see this area of Georgia is by train. Take the SAM Shortline to the Plains Depot with a stop in Leslie at the quirky Rural Telephone Museum. In Plains, explore the hometown of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, which maintains the same charm it had when the 39th president was just a boy.

While in town, you can’t pass up the chance to try a cone of peanut ice cream from Bobby Salter’s Plain Peanuts. And, be sure to pay a visit to the 13-foot-tall Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue, one of the best roadside attractions around. At the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, you can peek into Carter’s childhood home, learn about his life and accomplishments at Plains High School, and see memorabilia from the 1976 presidential campaign at the Plains Depot.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have been involved in the revitalization of downtown Plains, helping to develop the Plains Historic Inn & Antiques Mall located on Main Street. For a one-of-a-kind stay, book a night in one of seven suites — each themed after one of the decades between the 1920s and the 1980s.

Visit Plains

Brisket sandwich and a beer at Eagle Creek Brewing in Statesboro, Georgia

Eagle Creek Brewing in Statesboro, Georgia

Statesboro

Get back to nature at the Center for Wildlife Education on the campus of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. This facility is known for birds of prey, so be sure to catch the flight show during your visit.

Bring your swimsuits to play in the water at the Splash in the Boro Family Water Park & Aquatic Center, a water park with a lazy river, slides and pools that are perfect for all ages. Pools are open year-round.

Be sure to stop in for a pint and a bite to eat at Eagle Creek Brewing Company. Looking for an unusual brew? Try the Tea Party Amber, featuring notes of the Southern favorite beverage: sweet tea.

Visit Statesboro

View from the top of the Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Sapelo Island

A day trip to Sapelo Island is the perfect way to escape the world for a few hours. Board the ferry in Meridian, near the town of Darien. Take the day tour of Reynolds Mansion, or book a private tour of the small community of Hog Hammock and the natural side of Sapelo Island.

Seek out the Sapelo Island Shell Ring Complex, where you’ll find three donut-shaped mounds that rise about 20 feet above the tidal marsh just off the coast. Thought to be constructed by the oldest Native American civilization in Georgia, the rings have been carbon-dated to 2170 BC.

For a unique camping trip, plan to stay at the island’s Cabretta Campground, which is sheltered by live oaks and is just a short walk to the beach. Or, you can stay on the mainland in Darien in a cozy B&B like the Blue Heron Inn or in one of the Sapelo Island Birdhouses.

Visit Sapelo Island

Liam's Cheese Shop decorated with roses in Thomasville, Georgia. Photo by @wandernorthga

Liam's Cheese Shoppe in Thomasville, Georgia. Photo by @wandernorthga

Thomasville

Known as the “winter resort of the South” in the Victorian era, Thomasville is now known for its well-preserved historical downtown and rose gardens. Start by having your photo taken at The Big Oak, a live oak tree downtown that is more than 300 years old. Wander to The Rose Garden, which gives the town its "City of Roses" nickname.

While you walk downtown, you can play the self-guided scavenger hunt called Hunt the Lost Quail. There are 18 bronze quail statues by artist Paul Rhymer set around town that visitors young and old can "hunt" for. Check out the online guide that provides hints to their locations.

Stop into any of Thomasville’s restaurants for tastes you won’t find anywhere else. Sweet Grass Dairy is first and foremost a cheese brand, but it also offers artisan sandwiches along with cocktails and wine. Liam's Restaurant, Lounge and Cheese Shoppe has incredible dishes like North Georgia trout, dry-aged ribeye, and artisan cheese boards. Southern favorites are the reason people come to town to dine at Jonah's Fish & Grits.

Stay overnight at the new Marriott Courtyard conveniently located downtown, or treat yourself to a night in a historic home-turned resort at South Eden.

Visit Thomasville

Published: December 2021
Written by: Sue Rodman