Discover the mysteries of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Photo by @wandernorthga
With more than 10 million gallons of water and thousands of aquatic creatures (including penguins, beluga whales, and sea lions), the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere (also the only one on this half of the globe home to whale sharks). Feeling extra adventurous? Snorkel with the gentle giants, as well as manta rays and thousands of other fish in the jaw-dropping Ocean Voyager exhibit. You can even cage-dive with sharks in the aquarium’s new exhibit devoted to the fascinating predators. Save on animal encounters with exclusive, online-only Explore Georgia discounts.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
Visit King’s boyhood home in Atlanta; step inside the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he served as pastor; and pay your respects to the civil rights champion at his memorial at the King Center, all in the historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Discover more about his legacy on the state’s Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Trail, which includes 28 additional sites, among them First African Baptist Church in Savannah, the oldest Black church in North America.
Rock City Gardens
Lover’s Leap on Lookout Mountain offers more than just pretty views; from the peak, you can see seven states at once — more than any other place in the United States. The northwest Georgia park’s other highlights include the exhilarating 180-foot-long Swing-A-Long suspension bridge, ancient rock formations, lush gardens, and kitschy fairytale displays tucked into the caverns.
The Masters Tournament
Each April, the Augusta National Golf Club becomes the center of the sporting universe as it hosts the Masters — the only major championship held in the same place every year. Snacks are famously cheap (snag a classic Southern pimento cheese or egg salad sandwich for $1.50) at the prestigious tournament, where lucky attendees watch the pros compete for an iconic Green Jacket. No ticket? No problem — there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the fanfare. Tee up at the nearby River Golf Club; get your fill of pimento cheese at WifeSaver restaurant (the tourney’s former pimento cheese provider); and attend a Masters watch party at the historic Partridge Inn.
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site
The only president from Georgia, Jimmy Carter is honored all over the state, but especially at the historic site in his hometown of Plains in southwest Georgia. Visitors can tour the Plains High School museum, Carter’s childhood home, and his presidential campaign headquarters in the town’s small train depot. (Located in Atlanta, the presidential library and museum is one of 15 in the country; a highlight is the life-size replica of the Oval Office.)
World of Coca-Cola
One of the most recognizable brands in the world, Coca-Cola was first served at a soda fountain in a downtown Atlanta pharmacy. Check out hundreds of artifacts representing the company’s 130-year history, see the vault where the legendary secret recipe is stashed, and sample more than 100 Coke products from around the world, including Italy’s infamously bitter Beverly and Zimbabwe’s popular Sparletta Sparberry, which tastes like a raspberry cream soda.
Centennial Olympic Park
This 22-acre park in the heart of downtown pays tribute to the 1996 Summer Olympics. (Atlanta is one of only three U.S. cities chosen to host the Summer Games.) Snap a selfie at The Spectacular rings sculpture, splash around in the Fountain of Rings, or wander through the park checking out other landmarks celebrating the Games in Georgia.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
This 680-square-mile wilderness on Georgia's southern border is North America’s largest blackwater wetland. Paddle a canoe or kayak along the marshy waterways, and look out for herons, egrets, turtles, and even alligators. For the ultimate camping adventure, sleep on an open-air platform — under the stars and among the wildlife.
Whitewater Rafting on the Chattahoochee River
The world’s longest urban whitewater course can be found on the Chattahoochee River, which cuts straight through downtown Columbus and offers fun for all thrill levels. Hit the Chattahoochee River rapids in the morning for a more gentle experience (best suited for beginners); late afternoon, the rapids rev up, providing an adventurous challenge for expert rafters. The water level reaches up to 13,000 cubic feet per second, creating the largest rapids south of Canada and east of the Mississippi.
Truist Park and The Battery Atlanta
Pay a visit to the stomping grounds of the most recent MLB world champions, where Atlanta Braves supporters and casual fans alike gather to eat, drink, shop, and cheer on the celebrated team from the capital of Braves Country. Visit Punch Bowl Social for games and endless entertainment (plus tasty burgers and craft beverages) or the upscale Garden & Gun Club for cocktails and Southern-inspired fine dining — both just steps from the stands.