Given Atlanta’s colorful history, and abundance of museums, restaurants, parks, concerts, nightlife, professional sports, it’s no surprise that Atlanta consistently ranks among the top convention destinations in the United States. Even with all of the attractions in Atlanta, there is much more to experience for those willing to hit the road on one of these four incredible day trips.
This tiny town, 40 miles south of Hotlanta, is where Hollywood meets small-town Georgia. More than 20 movies have been filmed here, including Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes and Sweet Home Alabama. Most recently the town was transformed into Woodbury in AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead. While we didn’t see any zombies on our visit, we did enjoy the Woodbury Shoppe, which bills itself as “The Official Walking Dead Store.” The store’s basement museum houses Daryl’s iconic chopper, some prison cells and tons of trinkets from the show. Herschel’s farm from season two of The Walking Dead is also located in Senoia.
Senoia itself has a welcoming friendly down-home southern charm. The locals are super-friendly and love sharing their stories about the movies and television shows shot in their town. While on main street, stop in the Southern Ground Social Club, listen to some live music, and experience a food-gasm from the smoked chicken mac n’ queso! The restaurant is owned by Zac Brown (the country music artist) and features tons of unique art and hand made furnishings.
Located about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta in Pine Mountain, this 6,500-acre resort has something for everyone. Some of the highlights include two golf courses, 10 tennis courts, 10 miles of bicycle trails, a butterfly conservatory, a zipline course, and a 175-acre lake featuring the world’s largest man-made beach. The lake is a perfect spot to go fishing, boating, swimming, skiing, wake boarding, or tubing. You also will want to visit the 5-acre greenhouse and its stunning display of native and exotic plants.
On your way back to Atlanta, be sure and check out The Little White House in Warm, Springs. Franklin D. Roosevelt had the house built when he was governor of New York; his doctors believed the warm mineral springs would improve the leader’s paraplegia. Throughout his presidency, FDR used the house as a retreat, usually staying two to three weeks at a time. He died at the house during his last visit in 1945. Exhibits at the visitor’s center and museum include a car modified for FDR to drive, walking canes sent to him from all over the world, and the famous unfinished portrait that was being painted at the time of his death.
Viewfinder Tip: Traffic in the Atlanta area can be unpredictable; allow plenty of time for daytrips from the city.
Stone Mountain Park
This theme park, 30 minutes east of Atlanta, is home to the Confederate Memorial Carving, the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture carved on the world’s largest piece of exposed granite. The park has a number of other outstanding attractions, including a scenic railroad, amphibious duck tours, an antebellum plantation, the world’s largest carillon, a covered lattice bridge, and one of the largest family adventure ropes courses in the nation.
The park also boasts 422 campsites and 15 miles of trails for hiking and biking. You can hike to the summit of Stone Mountain, or you can take the Summit Skyride to the top. If you visit the park between May and October, stick around for a laser show featuring spectacular lights, music and fireworks. The show is free and the crowds are big, so arrive early and bring a blanket to claim your spot on the lawn in front of the mountain.
This town, about 90 miles north of Atlanta, is modeled after an alpine village and is located on the Chattahoochee River in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. Stroll down Main street and you feel like you’re in Bavaria. Helen is a shopper’s paradise with everything from one-of-a-kind quilts to cuckoo clocks and wild boar jerky. How can you not love a town that has a jerky store? If you visit Helen in the summer, bring a bathing suit to go tubing down the Chattahoochee. If you’re into beer, bratwurst, and polka music be sure to visit in September, October, or November as Helen puts on the biggest Oktoberfest this side of Munich.
On your trip back down to Atlanta, there are three spots worth exploring if you have time: Babyland General Hospital, the birthplace to the Cabbage Patch Kids; Old Sautee Store, an old-school general store and deli; and Chateau Elan, a luxury resort with a winery, championship golf course, and spa.
When you take daytrips on vacation, what sorts of adventures do you seek?