Tiny Doors ATL in Atlanta. Photo by @nomasaurus21
The Georgia Bucket List
How many of these eight iconic experiences can you check off during your trip?
Cloudland Canyon State Park is one of the largest in Georgia — and one of the most scenic. Located near Lookout Mountain, it offers a range of outdoor activities, from hiking, biking, and camping to disc golf and horseback riding. Don’t miss the popular Waterfalls Trail, which is only two miles out and back, but fairly strenuous because of a steep climb. Thankfully, there are rewards at either end. Pause at the top for sweeping views. At the bottom, enjoy the sight, sounds, and cooling spray of the trail's two waterfalls.
Stepping onto this beach on the north end of Jekyll Island is like stepping into another world. It's a place that Dr. Seuss might have created, if it didn't already exist. Tree trunks twist and turn, worn down by water and bleached by the sun. Their limbs are great for climbing, jumping, or just relaxing. They also provide the perfect backdrop for that stunning beach photo that will help tide you over until your next vacation.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
This stunning temple outside Atlanta invites visitors to learn about Hinduism, one of the world's oldest faiths. The building is breathtaking. Inaugurated in 2007, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir includes more than 34,000 individual pieces of stone — Turkish limestone, Italian marble, and Indian pink sandstone — carved by hand in India and assembled here. Colorful lighting accentuates the intricate designs, while an audio tour helps put the place of worship into context.
Tiny Doors ATL
This whimsical art project proves the old adage that good things come in small packages. Started in the summer of 2014, Tiny Doors ATL installs — you guessed it — small doors, which are seven inches tall and made to look and feel like the neighborhoods where they are placed. The goal of the ongoing project is to inspire curiosity and exploration of the city. So keep your eyes peeled, and check out the project's popular Instagram account, @tinydoorsatl, for photos of even more doors.
At Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon," layers of bright orange, pink, purple, and red combine to create a colorful tableau at Providence Canyon. It looks like the work of an artist. But, in reality, years of poor agricultural practices are responsible for the spectacular landscape. Take a stroll along the picturesque rim for a birds-eye view of the canyon, or hike down into a few of its gullies. Some are as deep as 150 feet.
National Infantry Museum
History buffs take note: Columbus is home to one of the nation's leading military history destinations. The National Infantry Museum has more than 70,000 artifacts, in addition to exhibits, monuments, and video presentations covering the last 240 years of U.S. military history. Its signature exhibit, The Last 100 Yards, consists of life-sized dioramas depicting significant battles in history, such as Yorktown, Normandy, and Iraq. Watch a documentary on the museum's Giant Screen Theater, and be sure to try the pimento cheeseburger at the museum's Fife & Drum Restaurant.
Atlantic Balloon Race
It's a bird . . . It's a plane . . . It's the Helen to the Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race! Each spring, pilots in the South's oldest balloon event take off from Helen in bright, colorful balloons, competing to be the first to cross Interstate 95 — anywhere from Maine to Miami. (The shortest distance from Helen to I-95 is 225 miles.) When the balloons are not flying, be sure to explore Helen, a charming mountain getaway designed to look like a Bavarian village. In the fall, it hosts a wildly popular Oktoberfest, the longest-running celebration of its kind in the country.
Dive into all things aquatic at the country's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium. This state-of-the-art facility holds more than 10 million gallons of water and is home to tens of thousands of animals, including beluga whales, California sea lions, horned and tufted puffins, dolphins, and much more. A new saltwater gallery expansion featuring sharks is now open.