Camping on Cumberland Island. Photo by @damiandelgado
Kaya Vineyard & Winery in Dahlonega
Set atop a mountain ridge, Kaya Vineyard & Winery in Dahlonega has incredible views of the surrounding landscape. It's the largest winery in the area, featuring estate-grown grapes in European, Italian, and American varietals, which can be sampled in the tasting room. Favorites include the stainless steel viognier and oak merlot. There's also a deck offering live music and a menu of light bites.
If you want to extend your stay, Kaya has four craftsman cottages (and counting!) with three bedrooms, full kitchens, WiFi, televisions, laundry, and a dining room. The sister resort, The Inn at Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard, is also nearby.
Paradise Garden in Summerville
You don't have to be an artist to live like one. Self-taught artist Howard Finster began turning his Summerville home, Paradise Garden, into a living gallery in 1951, painting murals and adding mosaics to nearly every surface. His work was sold in galleries all over the world, and he produced thousands of pieces over the course of his career. The maze of found objects have long attracted tourists and continue to this day, even after Finster's passing.
Visitors can tour the home and grounds or join the Outsider Art Tour, which stops at other folk art locations around North Georgia. Paradise Garden also has its three Airbnb properties for rent decorated by acclaimed designer Summer Loftin. All have luxury mattresses and linens, along with kitchens, front porches, and, of course, artwork.
Providence Canyon in Lumpkin
Photo by @capturecalliope
Called Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon," the stunning Providence Canyon in Lumpkin was created by erosion from improper farming methods in the 1800s, leading to the deep orange-tinted valleys seen today. Here, visitors can admire the rare Plumleaf Azalea, visit the museum, and hike the 10 miles of trails within the 1,000-acre state park.
The park has three "pioneer campsites" with shelters and six backcountry campsites without shelter - only with cleared land for your tent and a fire ring. The hike to these sites is considered to be strenuous, and you'll need to bring all of your necessary equipment with you. But once there, the views of the night sky are unparalleled.
Suwannee River Eco-Lodge in Fargo
For the most "off-the-beaten-path" destination in Georgia, leave the roads behind to visit the Suwannee River Eco-Lodge near the Okefenokee Swamp. Operated by Stephen C. Foster State Park, the lodge is 18 miles away and made up of 10 rental cottages, a kitchen, and meeting rooms. Each cottage can sleep between two and eight people, and some are wheelchair accessible.
Visitors can use the lodge as a base to explore the swamp by kayak, canoe, or boat. Local outfitters lead fishing charters. There’s a neighboring nine-hole golf course and guided pontoon boat tours. You also can spot wildlife, like alligators and birds, and enjoy the quiet of the Dark Sky Park.
Photo by @mikerenner77
The incredible Cumberland Island National Seashore is popular with visitors looking to get away from cell phone service and instead escape to a remote barrier island. The majority of visitors to the national seashore stay at one of the five campgrounds, including Sea Camp, the closest to the ferry dock. Alternatively, the Greyfield Inn is an 1890 Carnegie mansion-turned-inn with antique furnishings, all-inclusive gourmet meals, ferry transportation, and naturalist tours of the island.
The ferry for Greyfield Inn leaves from nearby Fernandina Beach, Florida. But the passenger ferry to Cumberland Island leaves from the small town of St. Marys, Georgia. In the visitor's center, you can purchase maps, sign up for tours, and reserve ferry tickets.
Len Foote Hike Inn in Dawsonville
Photo by @wandernorthga
The only way to reach the Len Foote Hike Inn in Dawsonville is via a five-mile trail from Amicalola Falls State Park. Built in 1998, the LEED-certified backcountry lodge is close to Springer Mountain and the Appalachian Trail. It was named for a local conservationist and is open year-round. The interconnected buildings are built along a slope for maximum efficiency. The 20 rustic bunk rooms have two beds with blankets, a small closet, and a heater and fan.
There is no cell service atop the mountain, and electronic devices are discouraged in favor of connecting with nature. Family-style breakfast and dinner are included in your stay, and guests are asked to “pack out” their trash when possible. During a stay at the Hike Inn, guests can hike the nearby trails, read a book in the game room, and attend staff lectures about local wildlife.