Jekyll Island Historic District. Photo by @schloetravels

Jekyll Island Historic District. Photo by @schloetravels

Georgia's Best Routes for Breathtaking Views

Prepare to be delighted when you add these three scenic byways to your getaway plans.

Spanish moss-draped oaks arching over the road. Multi-colored hillsides dancing in the fall breeze. Roadside stands stocked with freshly picked produce. These are scenes you won't find speeding down the highway. When you take a detour along the following three byways in coastal, northwest and eastern Georgia, you add a new level of enjoyment to your already amazing road trip.

Leave the interstate for stunning coastal views

Avoid the traffic and hop onto Coastal Highway U.S. 17, which runs through Richmond Hill south to Darien, past Butler Island to the port city of Brunswick.

St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by @johnvaladas
St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by @johnvaladas

Detour here to St. Simons Island and Sea Island, or cross the cable-stayed Sydney Lanier Bridge – with 360-degree views of the Brunswick River –to the causeway entrance for Jekyll Island.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Townsend, Georgia. Photo by USFWS
Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Townsend, Georgia. Photo by USFWS

Meandering past forts, rivers, and salt marshes, U.S. Highway 17 also serves as a scenic drive for the Colonial Coast Birding Trail. Stop by Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge or 17 other viewing spots to observe more than 300 species during migration and nesting season.

Drive through the mountains of northwest Georgia

Spanning from Cohutta to Ellijay, the 56-mile Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway travels through the Chattahoochee National Forest, plus several charming towns.

Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @patelsnaps
Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @patelsnaps

Drive east to Chatsworth, where you can break for lunch and explore the Chief Vann House Historic Site, a restored mansion built in 1804. This town is also home to Fort Mountain State Park, a great place to stretch your legs on more than 3,700 acres of trails.

Apple picking in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @clairpiercephotography
Apple picking in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @clairpiercephotography

Finish your road trip by picking apples in Ellijay, Georgia’s Apple Capital, where you may also buy jams and baked goods to take home.

See Georgia’s natural beauty along the Woodpecker Trail

The Woodpecker Trail is named for the abundant woodpeckers inhabiting pine forests along Georgia State Route 121. This 204-mile drive passes through eastern Georgia from Augusta to Folkston.

In historic Metter, take a meditative stroll through Guido Gardens, which boasts three acres of footpaths and waterfalls.

Jack Hill State Park in Reidsville, Georgia
Jack Hill State Park in Reidsville, Georgia

When you reach Reidsville, explore Jack Hill State Park, a favorite for picnicking, fishing, and spotting beaver dams.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston, Georgia
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston, Georgia

Stop in Folkston to visit the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a 396,000-acre home for endangered cranes, hawks, owls, and bald eagles.

Besides these three byways, there are many more scenic routes to take throughout the state. You can find many more scenic routes in Georgia on ExploreGeorgia.org.

Published: September 2020