Pin Point Heritage Center in Savannah

Georgia Trips that Just Might Change Your Life

Travel with purpose in Georgia by adding these experiences to your journey.

Travel is a transformative experience -- a way not just to receive from the place you are visiting, but also a way to give back. There are plenty of opportunities to do this when you travel throughout Georgia, depending on your interests.

From learning about other cultures to volunteering in communities, take your Georgia vacation to a whole other level by including these places in your trip. 

Experience other cultures

Hanif Haynes demonstrates how to catch crabs at the Pin Point Heritage Museum in Savannah
Hanif Haynes demonstrates how to catch crabs at the Pin Point Heritage Museum in Savannah

Gullah Geechee

The state of Georgia represents many different cultures that visitors can learn about. For example, the coast has the Gullah Geechee peoples. At the Pin Point Heritage Museum in Savannah, visitors can learn about the Gullah Geechee culture directly from residents who grew up in the small, close-knit community, which was founded in 1896 by freed slaves after the Civil War. In Riceboro, the Geechee Kunda Cultural Arts Center educates visitors on the community and its art, tools and traditions. It’s set on a former rice and indigo plantation and features information on their history from the 1700s to the 1900s.

Habitat for Humanity Global Village and Discover Center

The town of Americus is home to Habitat for Humanity, a worldwide organization that helps communities in need with housing and other projects. Tour the Global Village and Discovery Center to see examples of the types of construction they work on around the globe.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

The largest Hindu temple outside of India welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds to visit. Built in 17 months using 1.3 million volunteer hours, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn is a masterpiece of Indian design and workmanship, and an awe-inspiring place to enjoy hours of beauty, peace and discovery.

Take a food tour

Will Harris at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia
Will Harris at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia

White Oak Pastures

Farming is a big part of Georgia’s communities, and some were active in sustainability long before it was a buzzword. White Oak Pastures in the small town of Blakely has one of only two on-farm USDA-inspected abattoirs in the United States and has been family-owned for generations. They raise cattle, sheep, goat, chicken and more, which are served at their onsite restaurant and sold in their market. The farm even offers onsite accommodations.

Truly Living Well

The Atlanta area has plenty of farmers markets, but Truly Living Well in East Point has natural urban agriculture. The organization offers gardening and agriculture classes as well as guided tours of the farm, which grows fruit and vegetables.

Lady Jane Shrimpin' Excursions on Jekyll Island, Georgia
Lady Jane Shrimpin' Excursions on Jekyll Island, Georgia

Lady Jane Shrimpin’ Excursions

Credle’s Adventures in Brunswick runs the Lady Jane Shrimpin’ Excursions to educate visitors on the shrimping industry and the species that inhabit the waters. Sea turtles, horseshoe crabs and other creatures are returned to the ocean after guests get to see them.

Georgia Winery

Georgia Winery in Ringgold crafts muscadine wines and earned its organic certification in 2003. Established in 1983, the tasting room is a popular stop for those exploring the North Georgia mountains. Tours are offered every Saturday.

Protect wildlife

Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island
Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island

Georgia Sea Turtle Center

An important part of responsible travel is the fair treatment of animals, especially those that are endangered. The sea turtles of the state have found a home at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, which cares for injured turtles and, when possible, releases them back into the ocean. Visitors can see them swimming in their pools or in the hospital recovering from surgery. There is also a small museum that educates on the importance of the ecosystem that the turtles live in.

UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

In nearby Savannah on Skidaway Island, the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium educates visitors on the coastal marine environments of Georgia. The public saltwater aquarium has more than 50 species of creatures. It also has a boardwalk on the river and educational cruises.

Give back

Cafe Campesino in Americus, Georgia
Cafe Campesino in Americus, Georgia

Cafe Campesino

Your stay doesn't have to be long to give back in a meaningful way. Cafe Campesino, based in Americus, started as a volunteer project in Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity in the 1990s. It quickly became one of the nation's first fair trade, organic coffee roasters. They have a production facility near the Habitat for Humanity Global Village and a cafe in downtown Americus that serves coffee and sells fair trade merchandise.

Volunteer

If time allows, visitors can join volunteer opportunities. For example, Hands on Atlanta marshals volunteers on MLK Day in January for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Georgia State Parks have volunteer days throughout the year to assist with cleanup and other tasks at state parks.

Places to stay

Hotel Indigo in Athens, Georgia
Hotel Indigo in Athens, Georgia

Eco-conscious hotels & inns

The places you choose to sleep also can have a positive impact. For example, there are a number of LEED-certified hotels in the state. The SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport Gateway in College Park has gold certification, while the nearby Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway has silver. Hotel Indigo Athens has gold certification, as well, with electric car charging and soap donations to local charities. The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Resort & Gardens in Pine Mountain is also certified. The Len Foote Hike Inn also has its certification, but takes it a step further by collecting rainwater, composting and vermiculture.

Mission-focused B&B

Horse Creek Stable Bed & Breakfast in Mineral Bluff, near Blue Ridge, is a unique inn that rescues animals from around Fannin County, including alpacas, dogs and horses. They also operate tours for children with disabilities.

Spiritual retreat

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers is set on 2,000 acres south of Atlanta. Visitors can come for the day to learn about the 70-year-old monastery and its Cistercian order. Overnight accommodations accept donations, and the store and bonsai nursery also support the center's upkeep.

Published: March 2019
Written by: Caroline Eubanks