Rafting on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @whitewaterexpress

3 Must-take Summer Trips with the Kids

Explore Georgia's great outdoors, historical gems and delicious restaurants in Augusta, Helen and Columbus.

Summer is just around the corner, which offers the perfect excuse to explore our great state. Augusta, Helen and Columbus are fantastic towns for families, and we've got the scoop on where to stay, where to play and where to eat!

Woman resting in a kayak in Augusta, Georgia
Kayaking in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by @gracemyers25

1. Augusta

Augusta is filled with great food, outdoor adventure, and a touch of history and arts.

The Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia
The Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia

Places to Stay in Augusta

Parents and kids will love The Partridge Inn, which dates from the early 1800s and has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation to become part of Curio - A Collection by Hilton. Ask for the corner suite so you can spread out, and bring your swimsuits so you can enjoy the outdoor pool.

Find more places to stay in Augusta

Boardwalk through Spanish moss-draped trees in Phinizy Swamp in Augusta, Georgia
Phinizy Swamp in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Things to Do in Augusta

Take a boat cruise down the Augusta Canal to take in the scenery and learn about the city's rich history, then head to Betty's Branch for a guided kayak trip with Cole Watkins.

Enjoy bike riding or a hike at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, then cool off with a visit to Morris Museum, the first museum dedicated to the art and artists of the American South.

Stop at the Augusta Museum of History to see a green jacket from The Masters and jam with James Brown. Top off the weekend with a self-guided sculpture tour, and don't forget to touch the Haunted Pillar!

If you time your visit correctly, you can also catch an Augusta GreenJackets baseball game.

Find more things to do in Augusta

The Pizza Joint in Augusta, Georgia
The Pizza Joint in Augusta, Georgia

Places to Eat in Augusta

Breakfasts are spectacular on the southern porch of the Partridge Inn.

For lunch, savor sandwiches and smoothies at New Moon Café, or salads and such at Boll Weevil Cafe & Sweetery (with the best cakes and pies you've ever tried).

For dinner, choose tacos or sushi at Takosushi. It's the perfect atmosphere for families, and the parents can grab a cocktail.

The whole family will enjoy grabbing a pie from The Pizza Joint. You can sit outside and relax while the kids play cornhole.

Find more restaurants in Augusta

Overlooking the Chattahoochee River with people floating on tubes in Helen, Georgia
Tubing in Helen, Georgia

2. Helen

Helen is only 90 minutes north of Atlanta and offers tons of fun for families. Outdoor excursions and historical walks back in time can fill an itinerary for a week or more.

Cabin at Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen, Georgia
Cabin at Smithgall Woods State Park

Places to Stay in Helen

Families find respite at one of the two nearby Georgia State Parks with cabins: Unicoi or Smithgall Woods. Unicoi's barrel cabins are unusual fun, and the Creekside Cottage at Smithgall is a family favorite.

If you want to stay within Helen, the Hampton Inn is within walking access to all Helen offers, the rooms are large and there is a fun creek out back.

Find more places to stay in Helen

Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen
Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen

Things to Do in Helen

Enjoy a leisurely hike to Anna Ruby Falls, and be sure to stop at Fred's Famous Peanuts before you go; it's a great place to pick up some snacks.

Take a spin on the Georgia Mountain Coaster, play a round at Alpine Mini Golf and then fuel up at Scoop de Scoop Ice Cream Parlor next door.

Take a carriage ride around the city with Alpine Carriage Company, and be sure to go tubing through town, as well.

Nearby, you'll find Sautee Nacoochee Center, a great art and history stop.

Find more things to do in Helen

Bakery case at Hofer's of Helen
Bakery case at Hofer's of Helen

Places to Eat in Helen

Stop into Old Sautee Store & Market for amazing food and a bite of candy. The kids will love to eat outdoors with the bubbles.

For lunch with the family, try Hofer's Bakery - the macaroni and cheese is a winner!

For dinner, Bodensee makes homemade German fare, and it's very family-friendly.

Troll Tavern is a must-stop, too. Be sure to request a table on the patio so you can watch the tubers on the river.

Find more restaurants in Helen

Overhead view of whitewater rafting in Columbus, Georgia
Whitewater rafting in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @whitewaterexpress

3. Columbus

In Columbus, you'll take a wild ride on the water, visit several historical marvels and enjoy tons of hidden gems.

Columbus Marriott
Columbus Marriott

Places to Stay in Columbus

Columbus Marriott is an ideal location, with spacious rooms and a fun history. There is a pool and plenty of dining options, too.

Find more places to stay in Columbus

Columbus RiverWalk
Columbus RiverWalk

Things to Do in Columbus

You can't visit Columbus without whitewater rafting with Whitewater Express. In fact, USA Today calls it the best man-made whitewater course on the planet and one of 12 top man-made adventures in the world.

Saunter the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, and go treasure hunting on the self-guided Chattahoochee RiverWalk GeoTour.

Don't skip the splash pad at Woodruff Park if you have little ones, and Oxbow Meadows is a great place to see turtles, alligators and more.

Explore the nature trails through the garden and the art exhibits at the free Columbus Museum.

Find more things to do in Columbus

Country's Barbecue in Columbus, Georgia
Country's Barbecue in Columbus, Georgia

Places to Eat in Columbus

Country's Barbecue is a hit with the kids; the Broadway location is set in an old Trailways bus. The kids can sit in the driver's seat, push buttons and listen to (what sounds like) an authentic recording of a bus driver from the past. Bonus: the food is serious Southern eats – delicious!

For dinner, head to The Black Cow, a rustic steakhouse with incredible Southern charm and cuisine. The kids will love the high-top tables, Coca-Cola mural and "Lil Rafter," the bull that kids can ride.

Find more restaurants in Columbus

Published: May 2024
Written by: Lesli Peterson
Scroll To Top