Woman biking beneath live oak trees on Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @wandernorthga

Best Trips of 2023

Make this the year you venture deep into Georgia's natural wonders, to the height of urban adventures, through charming small towns, and as far away from your everyday as you can imagine.

Sign inside The Village Retail in Atlanta, Georgia, that says Support is a Verb.

Shop for goods from Black entreprenuers at The Village Retail in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Melissa McAlpine, @discoveratlanta

1. Classic Atlanta Vibes vs. New Atlanta Favorites

Visit Atlanta’s bustling metropolis, where Black culture has shaped its past and present. Come for the city’s celebrated classics, plus a growing list of new and fresh things to do.

You can’t talk about classic Atlanta without mentioning the bustling Sweet Auburn District, which was the commercial center of Black Atlanta in the 1920s and continues to be an iconic part of the city. Explore the mile-and-a-half stretch of Auburn Avenue — established as a National Historic Landmark in 1976 — where the vibrant street art dazzles.

The Busy Bee Cafe, founded by self-taught cook Lucy “Momma Lucy” Jackson in 1947, is a must-stop for anyone who loves soul food. It’s also the recipient of a 2022 James Beard Classics Award. Expect a warm greeting and flavorful grub as you indulge your taste buds with delightfully homestyle Southern dishes like fried chicken, candied yams, cornbread dressing, collard greens and black-eyed peas.

For more storied locales, visit the Atlanta University Center on the city’s west side. It’s the world’s largest consortium of African American private institutions of higher education and includes Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morris Brown College, Morehouse College, and Morehouse School of Medicine. Walk the sprawling campuses and soak in the dynamic atmosphere brought by its students and notable alumni such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alice Walker, Spike Lee and others.

Zooming forward a few eras, Atlanta rollerskate culture has thrived for decades, in no small part because of Cascade Skating Rink. Since opening in the Cascade area in 2000, it’s been a favorite place for skate lovers to gather, and you can marvel at acrobatic rollerskaters, dance teams and novices together at the rink. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Sean “Love” Combs (formerly known as P. Diddy), Usher and Magic Johnson have all been spotted reveling in Cascade’s lively energy.

As far as new Atlanta goes, don’t miss Ponce City Market. It sits on a historical stretch of Ponce De Leon Avenue in Old Fourth Ward — the neighborhood where Martin Luther King, Jr. once lived — and has become a seat for thriving Black-owned businesses. The Village Retail is an alluring marketplace offering goods from dozens of local Black entrepreneurs. Drop by Bar Vegan for tapas like the onion-ring flight, green goddess pizza and cheesesteak eggrolls. Then head to the rooftop for a gorgeous view of the city and local brews at 9 Mile Station, or savor a cocktail and skee ball, mini golf and other games at Skyline Park.

Take a peek into Atlanta’s trap music and culture at the Trap Music Museum, conceptualized by rapper T.I. who hails from Atlanta’s west side. Check out the photos and authentic memorabilia from stars like Cardi B and 2 Chainz and book the museum’s escape room, aka “Escape the Trap,” to up the fun with friends.

Call it a night at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Once called the “hotel of hope,” it was one of the only hotels to welcome civil rights activists like Xernona Clayton and Martin Luther King, Jr., who hosted the annual convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference there in 1967. Today, it has all the expected modern amenities and a central location to all the fun things to do in the city.

Visit Atlanta

Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island

Play in the water at Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

2. There's More than the Beach on Family-Friendly Jekyll Island

Adventures go way beyond the beach when it comes to vacationing on Georgia’s coastal paradise, Jekyll Island. Your family can splash, explore and see the sights — with time to play along the shores of the popular barrier island.

Start by seeing the destination’s robust population of bottlenose dolphins. Take a 90-minute dolphin tour along the Intracoastal Waterway with Jekyll Island Boat Tours to witness their perky, playful ways in their natural habitat. Look closely and you’ll spot other marine life like slow-moving manatees, plus water birds like long-legged herons and swooping osprey. Book a memorable sunset tour to admire seacoast clouds painted in delicate pinks and golds as dolphins frolic around you.

Next stop is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you can learn about wild sea turtles. This spot boasts a rehabilitation program and all types of interactive exhibits. Or partake in a hands-on eco-experience with Gatorology at Horton Pond, to learn about the American alligator’s history, biology and conservation — and why they’re known as true dinosaurs.

A playful day at Summer Waves Water Park means you can splash your way down Man o’ War, bob along the Turtle Creek lazy river in a tube, catch a wave in the Frantic Atlantic pool or soak up the sun’s golden rays in your own private cabana.

Back on dry land, try mini-golf or tennis. Rent a bike or a breezy, eco-friendly Red Bug electric car to explore the island. Finish the day with a trail ride through the maritime forest with Three Oaks Farm, where you’ll see the salt marsh and Driftwood Beach atop gentle horses with experienced guides.

Time to eat? Fill your family’s hungry tums with waterfront favorites like seafood mac ‘n’ cheese and poached Georgia white shrimp at The Wharf. And don’t forget dessert! Grab some froyo at Fuse Frozen Yogurt or freshly made fudge at the Island Sweets Shoppe.

Keep the nautical vibes going with a stay at the new beachfront Residence Inn Jekyll Island. Your whole group will delight in the vistas from oceanview hotel suites, many of which offer fully equipped kitchens and separate living areas, along with the island’s largest heated outdoor pool and lapping water views from Shore, the hotel’s own indoor/outdoor restaurant.

Of course, a visit to Jekyll Island wouldn’t be complete without seeing its many miles of peaceful, unspoiled beaches. Frolick, swim, build sandcastles and wait for sunset. Your kids will forever remember the kaleidoscope of shebert-y colors blazing over tranquil waters as blue skies fade to welcome the stars.

Visit Jekyll Island

Sunset on the riverfront in Columbus, Georgia

Sunset on the riverfront in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by @chrisgreerphotography

3. Columbus: Where City & Nature Unite

In Columbus, you don’t have to choose between city amenities and catching a few thrills as you explore the area’s beloved natural gems. You have the pick of the bunch, so to speak.

Start outside on the cascading Chattahoochee River with Whitewater Express, an expert outfitter that takes you shooting through the rapids on the world’s longest urban whitewater rafting stretch. (In fact, the water here is so primed for loops, drops and rolls that the world’s best are set to compete in the 2023 ICF Kayak Freestyle World Championships). Or take a different view of this fabled river from 12 stories above by ziplining across it with Blue Heron Zipline Adventure Park. You’ll soar over racing water from Georgia to Alabama and back through the area’s verdant oak canopies.

After a morning of adrenaline-inducing outdoor play, Banks Food Hall is a must-stop for an upbeat, inviting atmosphere that’s just steps away from rafting. With dining choices spanning poke to hot dogs and even authentic Filipino cuisine in its sprawling indoor/outdoor dining space, you can sip a cocktail or craft beer at the bar and wind down while soaking up live tunes. Take a post-meal stroll for pleasant park views and riverfront beauty along the meandering Chattahoochee RiverWalk that’s accessed just across the street.

Next, delve into America’s expansive military history at the National Infantry Museum, with interactive galleries aimed at preserving the legacy of the U.S. Army Infantrymen. Give the combat simulators your best shot, watch a military documentary on the Giant Screen Theater and tour exhibits dedicated to the Revolutionary, World and Cold wars.

Wrap things up in the heart of the city’s action at Hotel Indigo. You’ll find it tucked in Columbus’ vibrant Uptown neighborhood, celebrated as the area’s thriving entertainment district. Book a plush riverview room for rushing water views. Check out Indigo’s lounge-worthy outdoor pool, and then savor the gorgeous twilight view from the hotel’s roof at Eighteen85 Rooftop Bar + Kitchen. It’s best enjoyed with an artisanal cocktail in hand (think minty peach mojito or a Bee’s Knees, served with tart lemon, calming honey and gin) while sampling small plates. Try the tender brisket tacos, buttermilk-fried quail with ghost-pepper honey and pulled-pork barbecue nachos.

Visit Columbus

Family at dinosaur exhibit at Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia

Explore amazing exhibits at Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

4. Connect with Cartersville's Art, Culture & History

Historic Cartersville — northwest of Atlanta — isn’t loved only for its scenic beauty (of which it has a bounty). Visit for all the stories told through its vibrant museums, unique historical sites and renowned parks.

Make time for Tellus Science Museum, an expansive local institution showcasing natural history via interactive experiences such as a Discovery Garden, planetarium and observatory, fossil gallery and more. Or visit the sprawling Booth Museum, where you’ll see signed letters from every U.S. president (a visitor favorite), as well as paintings and sculptures celebrating cowboys and gals, fur trappers and mountain men, American Indians and much more. Keep things rolling at the Savoy Automobile Museum, where rotating exhibitions feature automobiles around themes like “microcars” and “fabulous fins,” allowing visitors to appreciate their design and construction. Both Tellus Science Museum and the Booth Museum are part of the Smithsonian Affiliates network.

Discover the rich history of the area with a trip to the Bartow History Museum, housed downtown in an 1869 red-brick courthouse. This spot focuses on two centuries of regional history — from the area’s 1800s Cherokee residents right up to the people living in Cartersville today. Increase the amusement factor by asking the docent for a scavenger-hunt sheet — you’ll like searching for artifacts to check off among the photos, documents and interactive exhibits. When you’re done, stroll downtown for its assortment of restaurants, public art and antique shops.

Tour the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, a landmark of historical significance in nearby Cassville. It was constructed in 1923 from Rosenwald Schools funding (a crucial early-20th-century effort creating schools for Black children across the South). Restored, it now functions as a heritage museum reflecting Black life and culture from the late 1800s to the present via school relics, area antiques and a historical resource library.

South of town, learn about another aspect of the area’s history at the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. This special landscape honors the rich traditions, skills and craftsmanship of the Native Americans of the Mississipian culture, who populated the area along the rippling Etowah River. Six earthen mounds, a village site and more can be seen along its grassy trails. The mounds are thought to be the most well-preserved Mississipian culture site in the Southeastern U.S. and the area a cultural, political and religious hub for thousands of Native Americans from 1000 and 1500 A.D. Stop at the museum to see artifacts like carvings, jewelry, shells and tools.

Soak up even more history with a stay on the grounds of a 19th-century Southern manor, now in scenic ruins. The sumptuous Barnsley Resort in nearby Adairsville features lovely cottages modeled after English country homes, a championship golf course with rugged mountain views and farm-to-table dining at Woodlands Grill and Rice House (you’ll sample fresh produce from the resort’s very own gardens!).

Visit Cartersville

Milky Way stars over Okefenokee Swamp in Folkston, Georgia.

Count the stars over Okefenokee Swamp in Folkston, Georgia. Photo by @chrisgreerphotography

5. Discover Natural Wonders at the Okefenokee Swamp

Boat tours, nature shows and boardwalk observation areas dive into swamp life at Okefenokee Swamp Park & Adventures near Waycross, in southeast Georgia. Experience nature up close under a lush and fluttering forest canopy, take a boat or train tour, and explore wildlife on a primitive nature walk dappled by sunlight. Watch carefully and you may spot alligators, turtles, bobcats, black bears, skunks, wild boars, common minks, river otters, foxes and other wild creatures that live in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, of which the swamp park is a part.

For a panoramic view overlooking the marshy swamp and surrounding nature, head to the 90-foot-tall Observation Tower. It takes 102 calf-burning steps to reach the top, but the views are worth the climb. Then, if you’re still longing for more swamp goodness, prolong your stay with a fully outfitted platform-camping experience found deep in Okefenokee’s wilderness. Platforms feature all you need for remote camping over open water, like partially covered roofs, cooking nooks, picnic tables and more.

As night falls, head to Stephen C. Foster State Park inside the swamp. It's named a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park for its astonishing darkness and an amazing opportunity to see planets, comets and star clusters.

Back at the swamp, a guided moonlight paddle means you can see sparkles in the vast night sky from a different angle. Listen as fish splash and critters call to each other in a symphony of evening sounds you won’t hear in the city.

Boat and bike rentals, guided tours and multi-day overnight boat excursions are all part of the fun at Okefenokee. Plan your visit around special events like kayaking with a naturalist, stargazing, sunrise tours, or birding and botanical excursions. Stop by the park’s nature center for interactive exhibits before you go.

Make Newell Lodge & Resort in nearby Folkston the home base for all your escapades. Surrounded by 57 acres of old-growth oaks (and all the glimmering fireflies you could ask for), this secluded getaway delivers big on rustic charm. Come for the resort’s private, RV-friendly campsites and cozy vacation cabins, then explore the forested landscape by horseback. The on-site Swampfire Backwoods Bistro will satisfy lunch and dinner cravings with locally sourced ribeye and slices of decadent chocolate and Key lime pie. Or have them pack you a to-go lunch for your daytime adventures.

Visit Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Aerial view of downtown Alpharetta, Georgia

Explore shops, restaurants and things to do in Alpharetta, Georgia.

6. Find Suburban Bliss in Roswell, Alpharetta & Marietta

Atlanta’s suburbs are OTP, or “outside the perimeter,” as the locals call towns outside I-285, and they just may become your favorite place to stay. Each spot has its own delightful character, and they’re all easy to travel between given their close proximity to each other.

Upscale Alpharetta

Snuggled between the North Georgia mountains and Atlanta, Alpharetta is a hot spot for high-end dining and entertainment. Stay at the elegant Hotel at Avalon, an airy, modern property with luxury rooms and suites just steps from top shops and restaurants. Dine on flavorful fare like green-tahini hummus and shish kabobs at the Avalon outpost of Persian restaurant Rumi’s Kitchen or spicy prawn tacos at The Cape Restaurant & Beach Bar. Listen to the echoing croons of popular acts like Stevie Nicks and the Black Keys on the grassy lawn at nearby Ameris Bank Amphitheatre or play at the multi-entertainment venue Topgolf.

Visit Alpharetta

Kayaking with Nantahala Outdoor Center in Roswell, Georgia
Nantahala Outdoor Center in Roswell, Georgia. Photo courtesy @visitroswellga

Nature-Loving Roswell

Explore the great outdoors in the neighboring city of Roswell. Wander 2.5 miles of winding trails across wetlands and through wooded forest at the 127-acre Chattahoochee Nature Center along the Chattahoochee River, where you can spot colorful butterflies, sunbathing turtles and other native wildlife. Or trek the more-than-5-mile Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill for views of a tumbling spillway waterfall and a flourishing forest. Visitors can also paddle the rushing river on a guided canoe excursion and soar 55 feet above the trees via a zipline canopy tour or aerial-adventure course. After a day of exploring, stroll along historic downtown’s Canton Street, dotted with trendy restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, including the upscale Southern spot Table & Main and Cajun-inspired Roux on Canton, both of which have shaded patios.

Visit Roswell

Charming Marietta

From walkable, tree-lined streets to shops and restaurants, scenic Marietta Square is the heart of the city. Sample global fare at Marietta Square Market, with 18 vendors serving everything from heaping bowls of ramen to Vietnamese bubble tea, Cuban sandwiches, Neapolitan pizzas and Caribbean-fusion vegan cuisine. Grab it to go and listen to sweet melodies for free during seasonal lunchtime concerts in 1.35-acre Glover Park. Children can climb on the playground and swoosh down a slide before turning cartwheels on a fresh carpet of grass. For an adults-night out, visit the historic Strand Theatre, which screens classic films and hosts live music, plays and other events throughout the year.

Visit Marietta

Aerial view of Tybee Island, Georgia.

You'll find plenty of places to recharge your electric vehicle throughout Georgia, including Tybee Island. Photo by @jdwolfjr via Visit Tybee

7. Georgia's Electric

Charge up your electric vehicle (EV) and recharge your mental battery on an environmentally friendly road trip from the mountains to the coast.

Not only is Georgia home to stunning waterfalls, cosmopolitan cities and 100 miles of sandy shores, but it is also a hub for the country’s rapidly growing electric-vehicle industry. Whatever kind of EV you drive, you’re covered when you need to recharge the batteries — yours or your car’s — with an EV-oriented road trip across the state spanning destinations like Atlanta, Macon, the Atlantic Coast and Savannah.

Atlanta to Savannah: Nearly 286 miles
Start in Atlanta

Begin at The Battery, one of Atlanta’s top entertainment and dining districts. The area’s eight parking lots provide several fast-charging EV stations that are also open to guests staying at Aloft at The Battery Atlanta and Omni Hotel at The Battery. Power up while dining on gourmet sandwiches at Savi Provisions, shopping for wellness-centric gifts like bath salts and soaps at Sugarboo & Co., or free falling at iFly Atlanta, an indoor skydiving facility.

85 Miles to Macon

Stop in Macon for the 1842 Inn, a historical — not to mention palatial — Greek Revival-style mansion now operating as a bed and breakfast. Sample 1842’s signature drink, the mint julep, while your wheels get a boost from the on-site charger. Then head out for some of Macon’s top attractions like the Tubman Museum, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Mercer Music at Capricorn and the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Eat at locals’ favorite spots like Dovetail for artisanal cocktails or H&H Restaurant for hearty Southern soul food.

183 Miles to Tybee Island

Named one of the country’s best beaches by Travel + Leisure, Tybee’s historic North Beach offers three EV stations for recharging. Plug in while soaking up the sun’s warming rays, taking a stretchy SUP yoga class or scenic nature tour with Sea Kayak Georgia.

It’s not a trip to the coast without freshly caught seafood. Dine on local shrimp and grits and pan-seared scallops at Sundae Cafe at Tybee, an upscale restaurant that sources most of its dishes from nearby purveyors and uses only biodegradable products. Another sustainably minded local spot is Sea Wolf Tybee, which serves oysters, mussels and hot dogs, including a vegan Sonoran-style brat so tasty you won’t even miss the pork.

18 Miles to Savannah

Make your way back inland and keep motoring to Savannah for a night at the Thompson. Not only does it offer six charging stations, a luxurious stay here means easy access to the city’s bustling historic district along the beckoning Savannah River. While your car charges, stroll the idyllic Riverwalk, sip a classic old fashioned at Bar Julian for towering cityscape views (it’s on Savannah’s tallest rooftop) or shop the mix of boutiques on nearby River Street.

Pitcher at a Gwinnett Stripers game in Lawrenceville, Georgia

Gwinnett Stripers game in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Photo courtesy @exploregwinnett

8. Take Me Out to a Ball Game

From 2021 World Series champions the Atlanta Braves to minor league and collegiate baseball teams, you’re never far from a ballpark in Georgia. And it’s the robust assortment of teams and baseball-themed entertainment offerings that diehard fans and occasional enthusiasts alike will appreciate. Here’s where to go for the full game experience.

At the Braves’ home field, Truist Park, the home runs and double plays are best accompanied by local bites from favorites like H&F Burger and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Feel the celebratory energy of Major League Baseball with blazing Friday fireworks seen from the stadium or free post-game concerts on select nights. Next to the park, The Battery delivers a slew of dining options — everything from pizza to craft beer to ice cream. The variety makes it a solid meet-up spot before and after a game.

Braves’ AAA affiliate Gwinnett Stripers offer a chance to see up-and-coming players throw fastballs and sprint home before they head to The Big Show. All-inclusive picnics and up-close views from Coolray Field’s Left Field Landing and first-base-line-adjacent The Cove are popular places to soak up summer’s game.

Baseball’s youngest fans can slide, bounce and play interactive games at the large Kids Zone at AdventHealth Stadium, home of the High-A affiliate Rome Braves. Farther south and taking the prize for best mascot, the wood-bat collegiate summer squad Macon Bacon’s games can’t help but make you want to sample field fare like savory bacon chips and oh-so-addictive bacon-loaded cheese fries. Sip your game-day suds at the aptly named Bacon and Kegs Beer Garden.

In-between stops on their 2023 Banana Ball World Tour, you can catch the singular Savannah Bananas from February-September at historic Grayson Stadium. The famous exhibition team and subject of their own ESPN+ docuseries entertains fans beyond the game with a boogieing first-base coach, choreographed dance routines, fan sing-a-longs, silly scoring celebrations and even pie-in-face contests. The Man-Nanas, the Bananas’ “dad bod” cheerleading squad, are legendary in their own right. Sip a refreshing specialty Slippery Banana cocktail or Banana Split cream soda while you’re there.

Prominent state college teams like Georgia Tech, Savannah State University, Georgia Southern and the University of Georgia offer lively games, affordable tickets and quintessential concessions (hotdog and a Coke, anyone?) — plus the distinct rivalries and enthusiastic fans classic to collegiate sports. The latter shares an organist with the Atlanta Braves and takes fan requests.

Explore Georgia Sports

A double zipline at Nacoochee Adventures in Helen, Georgia

Zip through the mountains at Nacoochee Adventures in Helen, Georgia.

9. Embrace Georgia's Great Outdoors in Helen

A vacation to Helen means you’ll fall in love with more than its numerous Insta-worthy photo opps (yes, the whimsical burgh looks like it’s straight out of a European fairytale!). The picturesque, Bavarian-inspired mountain town is also home to some of northeast Georgia’s best outdoor adventures.

Experience Mother Nature’s wild grandeur by floating down the famed flows of the Chattahoochee River with Cool River Tubing; or whipping through the treetops for a bird’s-eye view of the forest’s dense canopies with Nacoochee Adventures’ zipline expeditions. Excite your senses with Nacoochee’s Thriller Giant Swing that lifts you a towering 50 feet up, then sends you swiftly plummeting (and, likely, shrieking) to the ground.

At Helen’s Unicoi State Park & Lodge (tucked within the Chattahoochee National Forest), you can do it all. Love to fish? Roam — with your fly-fishing rod in hand — to Smith Creek’s languid waters for an abundance of silvery trout. More of a storyteller? Roast marshmallows around a crackling communal fire pit while spinning tall tales. Fancy yourself an explorer? Search for hidden treasures with the park’s family-friendly GPS scavenger hunt. And you can record it all with one of the park’s handy GoPro cameras, available to guests through the Unicoi Adventure Lodge program.

Year-round, park visitors can pedal through rugged terrain on a serpentine, 7.5-mile mountain-biking path, hike to the tumbling Anna Ruby Falls and practice 3-D and static archery at the on-site range. In the warmer months, paddle or kayak through the pristine waters of Unicoi Lake, then take a dip to cool off on its dedicated swimming beach.

Stay in the park’s striking Barrel Cabins, rustic one- and two-bedroom structures equipped with full kitchens, fireplaces and balconies with rocking chairs for soaking in lake and forest views. The park also has nearly 100 campsites, ranging from RV hookups to glampsites with minifridges and outdoor grills. Or retreat to a backcountry “squirrel’s nest,” where visitors can string up sleeping bags to rest under a sky so dark it resembles sparkling diamonds on inky-black satin.

Visit Helen

Pride flag at Starland Yard in Savannah, Georgia

Starland Yard in Savannah, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

10. Feel the Pride in Savannah

Immediately upon arrival in Savannah, it’s clear this is a place of inclusion. The friendly greeting starts at the airport, modeled after a charming town square with rocking chairs for sittin’ awhile, and the sentiment is woven throughout this LGBTQIA+ friendly city.

While Savannah Pride brings musical performances, carnival games, costumes and parties — including the “Masqueerade” — to Ellis Square and nearby venues in late October, LGBTQIA+ visitors find comfort in welcoming businesses, restaurants and activities year-round.

Morning, noon and late night, Savannah’s diverse, artsy atmosphere (including the famed Savannah College of Art and Design, home to more than 13,000 students from all walks of life) runs the gamut from Perc Coffee, a rustic-chic cafe where the staff is as diverse as its farm-fresh coffee list, to lowcountry brunch at downtown’s B. Matthew’s Eatery, a fried-green-tomato-slinging restaurant that’s a self-described safe space for the trans community.

Come lunch, feast at Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room, a pretty-in-pink boardinghouse-turned-restaurant — and popular stopover for politicians and LGBTQIA+ celebrities — known for gracious hospitality and cozy comforts like fried chicken, sweet-potato soufflé and meatloaf.

Later, dance the night away at Club One, a massive, multi-level gay bar with billiards, drag shows, karaoke and music into the wee hours. Or explore another side of the city’s LGBTQIA+ scene on a Yes, Queen! Drag Pub Crawl, a lively and hilarious walking tour led by eccentric queens like Marie Con and J. Deveraux.

After a night of revelry, relax your eyes at the Brice Hotel, a chic downtown boutique from Kimpton, one of the country’s most LGBTQIA-friendly brands, complete with outdoor pool, a serene garden and free bike rentals.

Visit Savannah

Woman dining at Montaluce Winery in Dahlonega, Georgia

Montaluce Winery & Restaurant in Dahlonega, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

11. Girls Trip to Georgia Wine Country

Take your best friends and head for the hills — Georgia’s photogenic Blue Ridge Mountains, to be exact — for a girls getaway like no other. With more wineries and vineyards than any other part of the state (12 tasting rooms and eight wineries), Dahlonega’s lush landscape is ideal for all types of parties and groups. Come for award-winning sips, breathtaking panoramas and, of course, lots of bonding in bucolic Georgia Wine Country.

Craving gorgeous mountain views? Sip on a spicy, fruit-forward cab franc-merlot at family-run Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery or a bright and balanced chardonnay at Kaya Vineyard & Winery, both of which have expansive outdoor decks where you can listen to live music while soaking in sweeping foothills vistas. Book a VIP tasting at Three Sisters to learn about their specialized wine-making process with an on-site sommelier, or take Kaya’s off-road 4x4 tour for hands-on schooling in how they grow their grapes over 90 scenic acres.

Feeling more indulgent? At Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard, try a flight of wines in the luxuriant gardens or in the rustic-chic house restaurant, which serves modern American fare like seared scallops and burgers. Or take your pals to European-style Wolf Mountain Vineyard to sample effervescent wines along with red and white varietals on the veranda. Reserve one of Wolf’s decadent Sunday brunches celebrated for rotating (and mouthwatering) themes like Tribute to Tuscany and Celebration of French Cuisine.

Are you lovers of Italy? Experience Tuscany in Georgia at Montaluce Winery & Restaurant — the Taste of Montaluce menu includes pours of red and white wines and a souvenir glass, while on-site restaurant Trattoria di Montaluce serves house-made Italian pastas. Stretch your legs with a guided “wine hike” along sunlight-speckled trails that meander through the woods, along the rushing Etowah River and around the grapevines. You’ll end your walking adventure with a five-pour tasting menu back at the restaurant. Finally, sample everything from dry and bold cabernet blends to sweet muscadine wines at the pastoral Frogtown Cellars, another Italian-inspired North Georgia vineyard open daily for tastings along with its own bistro.

Rest your sleepy heads back at Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard where your whole group can bunk together in craftsman cottages boasting crackling fire pits or retreat to their own comfy inn rooms and suites. Or rent your own villas at Montaluce for a Tuscan-styled togetherness retreat overlooking the abundant vineyards.

Visit Dahlonega

Woman in an infinity pool at Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia. Photo courtesy @visitlakeoconeega

12. Find Romance at Lake Oconee

Rekindle your relationship along Lake Oconee’s 374 miles of dazzling, secluded shoreline rimmed by lanky Georgia pines. Just 85 miles east of Atlanta, The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee offers all the luxuries of lake life — like reflective water overlooks, swoon-inducing room service and a 30,000-square-foot, lounge-worthy spa. Whether you book a private lake house, cozy cottage or swanky modern suite, this tranquil resort spot will feel like it’s all for you.

The sprawling hotel footprint means plenty of private time, too. Connect with your person as you paddle the peaceful azure reservoir or sip aromatic wine as the sun dips gracefully behind the horizon. Book a poolside cabana, toast your sweetie over a private bourbon tasting or reserve a tee time at one of five championship golf courses. Pedaling through an 8-mile network of abundant lakeside paths on a complimentary resort bike is another must-do.

After all that outdoorsy fun, unwind with a couple’s massage in the spa’s serene private suite before sampling the icy cold plunge pools, soothing steam rooms and a super-toasty sauna. At Gaby’s by the Lake — the property’s relaxed, poolside eatery — sip on chilled cocktails (margarita, anyone?) and nosh on casual fare like lowcountry fish tacos and the coastal-bites-meet-comfort-food lobster grilled cheese. You’ll be treated to sun-drenched views of rippling Lake Oconee from every angle of the restaurant’s popular flagstone deck. Head to the Barrel Room come evening for fireside tables and sipping whiskeys.

Venture into downtown Greensboro to sample everything from a crisp Kolsch to a refreshing pale ale at the expansive indoor/outdoor space at Oconee Brewing Company, or grab coffee and provisions like pastries and fresh produce from the eclectic Ripe Thing Market for an intimate lakeside picnic. For a casual couple’s night out, try Southern fare like country shrimp boil and the famed buttermilk pie at The Yesterday Cafe before finishing things off with a sunset cruise on the Spirit of Oconee.

Visit Greensboro

Did you enjoy this feature from the 2023 Official State Travel Guide? Order your copy for more Georgia travel inspiration!

Published: December 2022

Written by: Jacinta Howard, Matt Kirouc and Laura Scholz

Scroll To Top