Sunrise at the pier on Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Memorial Day Getaways Around Georgia

Memorial Day weekend is the official kick off for summer and a perfect excuse to pack up and head out on a long weekend adventure in Georgia. No matter your preference for a beach, city or lake vacation, you’ll find lots of options throughout the state. Here are a few of our favorites.

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River with Whitewater Express in Columbus, Georgia
Rafting in Columbus, Georgia, with Whitewater Express

Ride the Rapids in Columbus

Tackle the rapids of the Chattahoochee River by day with Whitewater Express, relax and let the kids play in the splash fountain in the afternoon, and enjoy a great meal in the evening. The next day, take in the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, the world-class Columbus Museum, a leisurely bike ride along the Riverwalk, or a zip line into Alabama. Columbus has lots of adventure in the heart of the city.

Find more things to do and places to stay in the Guide to Columbus.

Aerial view of a water slide at Summer Waves on Jekyll Island, Georgia
Summer Waves on Jekyll Island, Georgia

Brave the rides at Georgia's amusement parks

Feel the lash on CATWOMAN Whip, take a dizzying journey on POISON IVY Toxic Spin, or go old school and ride the legendary Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta. When the heat of the day sets in, cool off on one of the park's thrilling water rides.

Several other Georgia amusement parks are home to amazing rides, too. At Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, rush down the Nature's Revenge water slides and hop on a double-seater tube to slide down a five-story enclosed tower on Pirate's Passage. In Valdosta, meet life-sized dinosaurs at Wild Adventures, or experience the Cannonball at Lake Winnepesaukah.

Find more Family Fun at Theme Parks around Georgia.

Person and dog on the beach on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by Mark Durant
St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by @iammarkdurant

Hit the Beach on St. Simons Island

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a big beach holiday. Take a break from the sand and surf by climbing the 129 steps to the top of the St. Simons Island lighthouse for spectacular views of the island. Learn more about the area’s military history with a visit to the World War II Home Front Museum and Fort Frederica National Monument, or just relax with some freshly popped popcorn on the upstairs deck at Brogen’s and watch the activity on the pier.

Find more things to do and places to eat in the Guide to St. Simons Island.

White dog in a green sweater sitting outside a tent at Shady Grove Campground with Timberline Glamping Company in Cumming, Georgia. Photo by @teddy.takesthecity
Camping on Lake Lanier with Timberline Glamping Co. at Shady Grove Campground in Cumming, Georgia. Photo by @teddy.takesthecity

Go Glamping on Lake Lanier

For something a little different, rent a houseboat on Lake Lanier. After cruising around the lake, there are lots of different activities available at the Lanier Islands Resort, such as kayaking, golf, horseback riding, zip-lining, and the Fins Up Water Park at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands. Or, you can go camping at a number of campgrounds on the lake such as Don Carter State Park and Timberline Glamping Co.

Plan a getaway with these 8 Amazing Ways to Go Camping Without a Tent.

Tubing on the Chattahoochee River in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @pwhidby
Tubing in Helen, Georgia. Photo by @pwhidby

Go Tubing on the Chattahoochee River

Sit back on your float and go with the flow on a tubing trip on the Chattahoochee River. From Helen to Roswell, Sandy Springs to Columbus, outfitters can set you up with a tube and a ride to some of the best places to float on the river. Experience the gentle current carrying you through the beauty of nature, and watch as birds, turtles and other wildlife join the summer party on the water.

Find outfitters throughout the state in Tubing in Georgia: A Must-Have Summer Adventure.

Woman in the infinity pool at Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia.
Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia. Photo by @ritzcarltonreynoldslakeoconee

Relax on Lake Oconee

With its 30 acres of pristine lakefront property and amenities like golf and tennis, fishing and boat rentals, and an infinity pool with private cabanas, the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee is renowned for its luxurious accommodations. Book a stay in a suite with a private balcony, where you can spend the morning sipping coffee, and then spend the day lounging by the pool after your massage at the spa. End the day with an indulgent meal at the Linger Longer Steakhouse, and you've set the tone for your most relaxing summer yet.

Find more lake getaways in Georgia's Six Best Lake Vacations.

Outdoor dining at The Crab Shack on Tybee Island, Georgia
The Crab Shack on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @eastcoast_usa

Celebrate Summer in Savannah and Tybee Island

Spend the long weekend soaking up the Old-World-meets-modern-cool vibe in Savannah, highlighted by some fun in the sun on Tybee Island, just a short drive from the city. Explore the shops and restaurants at Savannah's Plant Riverside District on the river, grabbing a cocktail on the roof at Myrtle & Rose, and be sure to stop at Leopold's for a perfect summertime treat to enjoy as you relax in Forsyth Park. Dig into fresh seafood at The Crab Shack on Tybee before heading to the beach to play in the sand near the pier or climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the island.

Find more trip ideas in the Guide to Savannah and Guide to Tybee Island.

Published: March 2024
Written by: Sue Rodman
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