Family on a water slide at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia. Photo by @wildadventures
Get Summer on Your Mind
Play all day every day this summer at water parks, indoor attractions and festive events throughout Georgia.
There’s no wrong way to spend summer in Georgia. With so many options for unforgettable times, whether you’re out in the sun or staying cool inside, be sure to make the most of the season with some of the state’s best summer activities.
Get Out on the Water
Getting out on the water is one way to explore the splendor of North Georgia’s abundant natural charm and beauty. Toccoa River Tubing Company in McCaysville offers kayak, canoe and tube rentals for floated fun just outside Blue Ridge, along with Cartecay River Experience, whose tube and kayak rentals get you three hours of deep-water floating with a few rapids that’ll make your heart race in Ellijay. At Cool River Tubing, you can take a quick tubing trip on the Chattahoochee River with the family (including special pet tubes!) before hopping out to grab a bite to eat in Helen. Nantahala Outdoor Center serves up the whitewater on the Chattahoochee River, with trips for all skill levels and ages, including some with lunch options.
Indoor and Outdoor Water Parks
Water activities aren’t exclusive to North Georgia. There’s plenty of splashy action farther down state, including the new Man o’ War attraction at Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, along with Statesboro’s weekend-only, resort-style Splash in the Boro! with its lazy river, wave pool and more. If you’re closer to Valdosta, you’ll find acres of wild and wet slides, drops and waves at Splash Island Waterpark at Wild Adventures. Or head down to LaGrange’s Great Wolf Lodge Water Park, a massive indoor water park full of giant slides and expansive pools (always kept at a perfectly warm 84 degrees), where you can also stay the night and do it all again the next day.
After all that summer sun, head indoors to cool off. Visit the Telfair Museums’ three Savannah locations, including the stunning architecture of the Moshe Safdie-designed Jepson Center and its ArtZeum interactive children’s activities. Telfair Academy features 19th- and 20th-century art from both Europe and America. Tour Telfair’s Regency-style Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters to learn about the complicated contrast between the free and enslaved. See the meticulously maintained archives at the Atlanta History Center, including the Native Lands exhibit that showcases stories and the history of Georgia’s original inhabitants. The High Museum of Art is another can’t-miss Atlanta institution loved for its expansive collections of American, African, European and folk art, among other world-class offerings.
Theaters such as the Grand Opera in Macon, District Live in Savannah and the Cobb Energy Center just north of Atlanta provide entertainment of all sorts, from concerts to off-Broadway plays and other live shows to wind down your evenings. Or tour some of the state’s marvelous historical homes, including Hay House, a Renaissance Revival mansion in Macon, and the magnificent Hills & Dales Estate, overlooking dreamy 19th-century gardens in LaGrange. Visit Milledgeville to stand on the grounds of Andalusia, iconic author Flannery O’Connor’s rural farmhouse.
Ideal Summer Destination: Gainesville
Water babies will love summertime in Gainesville for all the aquatic fun you can wish for on Lake Lanier. Located just an hour north of Atlanta, the Queen City of the Mountains offers an abundance of warm-weather activities, ranging from relaxing to invigorating. Here you’ll have a blast stand-up paddleboarding, boating and Jet Skiing, before you head over to Lanier Islands’ Waterpark, where the family can enjoy a water-rific good time and the adults can sing the evening away with a beverage at Jimmy Buffet’s famous Margaritaville. Stop by Lake Lanier Olympic Park — a spot celebrated for its involvement in the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympic Games — for fishing, strolling, canoeing or a peaceful visit to the whimsy-filled Fields Memorial Butterfly Garden. And for one last thrill, visit Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in nearby Braselton, where summertime doesn’t end without a variety of auto races, including sportscars, motorcycles and even historical vehicles zipping around the 2.5-mile course.
Don't-Miss Summer Events
The extended holiday feeling of summer is perhaps best experienced on July 4th, and Georgia has several ways to celebrate.
At Centennial Olympic Park, don’t miss Look Up Atlanta, the spectacular Independence Day fireworks show over the city’s beautiful downtown green space.
Park your car at Great Dunes or Oceanview beach parks, and watch an exciting water-front pyrotechnics display on Jekyll Island.
Callaway Gardens’ multiday party of American pride in Pine Mountain offers a nightly Fireworks Extravaganza, preceded by fun activities, including beach volleyball, watersports and putt-putt golf.
The annual July 4th burst of colorful Fire in the Sky over Lake Blue Ridge in North Georgia makes for a magical celebration best seen from a boat or along the shoreline.
Did you enjoy this feature from the 2023 Official State Travel Guide? Order your copy for more Georgia travel inspiration!