Telfair Square in Savannah, Georgia. Photo by @2traveldads.
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta
Georgia Aquarium is among the largest and most well-known aquariums in the world. From the entrance, this enchanting aquarium was designed to look like a giant ark crashing through a wave. Make your way inside, and you’ll learn what truly makes Georgia Aquarium special. Containing more than 11 million gallons of water and more than 100,000 animals, families can spend all day (and night) exploring its many wonders. With Sleep Under the Sea, you’ll call Georgia Aquarium “home” for the night. Fall asleep counting fish through the captivating gallery window and wake up to a complimentary breakfast. Come face-to-face with the aquarium’s friendliest inhabitants with an animal encounter. Or, take a Behind the Seas Tour to learn more about the people and animals that make Georgia Aquarium possible.
Margaritaville at Lanier Islands in Buford
Despite the reference to Jimmy Buffet’s famous song, Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is a family-friendly weekend getaway that can’t be missed. Just an hour outside of Atlanta in Buford, the resort provides a slew of options to beat the summer heat while creating life-long memories. The water park is arguably Margaritaville’s most unforgettable attraction. Swing by Georgia’s largest wave pool, Wild Waves, or challenge your kids to a little friendly competition on the double-lane slides at Racing Waters. Sprawl out on the beach and enjoy a tiki-bar snack, and finish off the night with a full-moon cruise on the excursion yacht. Margaritaville isn’t just a summer destination, though. Visit License to Chill Snow Island for the perfect Christmas-vacation festivities like snow tubing, ice skating, snowball fights and more.
Savannah Historic District in Savannah
A great family vacation wouldn’t be complete without taking the chance to immerse yourselves in culture and history. The Savannah Historic District is one of the largest national historic landmark districts in the country. Catch an open-air trolley ride with Old Savannah Tours, or let your kids’ imaginations run wild in the Exploration Station at the Savannah Children’s Museum. This outdoor museum features 12 kid-friendly exhibits, a mind-bending maze, a peaceful reading nook and more. Now that you’ve earned yourself a sweet treat, head over to the Plant Riverside District. Have your pick of 30 flavors of gelato at District Gelato, or indulge in pink-lemonade cookies and dipped grahams at Byrd’s Famous Cookies.
Explore Tybee Island
Tybee Island is just a 20-minute drive from Savannah, and it offers spectacular views of vast coastal waters, exceptional museums and other activities for the whole family. The barrier island is consistently referenced as one of the top beach towns in the country because of its friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The Tybee Island Lighthouse is a must-see for first-time visitors. Construction of the lighthouse was finished in 1736 and has been rebuilt several times since then. Climb to the top of the lighthouse and explore the Tybee Island Museum just across the street. Drop by the Tybee Island Marine Science Center to learn first-hand what it’s like to care for endangered loggerhead sea turtles and to feel hermit crabs, snails, sand dollars, spider crabs and sea pansies in the touch tanks. For fans of charismatic aquatic mammals, Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventures is here for you. On this 1 – 1.5-hour daytime or sunset boat tour, dolphins will jump and play in the wakes, competing for your attention.
Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn
There are more than 60 state parks and historic sites in Georgia, and everyone will have their preference as to which one is best, but Cloudland Canyon State Park is a safe bet if you’re looking for a family-friendly weekend getaway. Cloudland Canyon got its name from the view at the top of Lookout Mountain, where you can survey the dense forest and towering sandstone walls below. There’s no shortage of activities, with hiking trails ranging from moderate to difficult, mountain biking trails, fishing, disc golf and more. Kids will love exploring the state park’s craggy rock formations and hidden waterfalls, then expending any leftover energy at the playground. Treat the family to a unique overnight stay in one of the yurts. Some people might refer to this as “glamping” (glamorous camping), but to others it’s simply hassle-free camping.
Wild Adventures in Valdosta
Wild Adventures is so much more than first meets the eye. From heart-pounding rollercoasters to animal attractions and special seasonal events, Wild Adventures is a place you can explore for years to come. Test your courage with the adrenaline-pumping Boomerang Roller Coaster, or cool off at Splash Island Waterpark, named one of the top 30 waterparks in the country. The animal attractions at Wild Adventures are not to be missed, either. From the Wanyama Observation Deck & Botanic Garden, you’ll get to see exotic animals, including elephants, giraffes, water buffalo and more. Be sure to check out some of their new events like Sweet Summer Nights, where you can interact with the park's nocturnal animals and catch some live music every Friday night in June and July.
Explore Jekyll Island
This 5,500-acre island is filled to the brim with family adventures. With limited development on the island, you can expect to see abundant wildlife like swooping cranes and scaly reptiles among the Southern live oaks and sprawling sandy beaches. For a one-of-a-kind horseback riding experience, make your way to Three Oaks Farm, where a professional guide will take you through the lush maritime forest, the serene salt marshes and onto Driftwood Beach. At the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, learn about the conservation work that’s preserving these majestic creatures. If you have any early birds or night owls in the family, join the Dawn Patrol or Night Patrol groups, where you’ll work hands-on with a field biologist to collect data about sea turtles’ nesting habits. End your trip to Jekyll Island with a splash at Summer Waves Water Park, featuring wild slides and cozy cabanas.