The author, Lindsay Wenndt on a bridge in Stone Mountain Park, one of the top day trips from Atlanta

27 Best Day Trips from Atlanta in 2023 (By a Local)

As someone who’s lived in Atlanta for 15 years, I’ve explored many interesting day trips from Atlanta. 

To help you explore the best spots near Atlanta, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites. We’ll cover getaways ranging from luxury experiences to hidden gem hiking trails to family-friendly attractions.

Because of Atlanta’s central location in the Southeast, day trip options are nearly endless! With so many things to do in Atlanta and nearby, it’s the perfect place to experience much of what the South has to offer.

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27 Best Atlanta Day Trips

Alpine Helen

Alpine Helen is a family-friendly spot famous for its German food, Bavarian architecture, and great hiking.

View of the Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites
Looking up at the Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites.

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Alpine Helen is a charming town in the North Georgia mountains made to look like Bavarian Germany, and is my top pick among all day trips from Atlanta. 

Tubing down the Chattahoochee River is a local favorite. Remember to bring good water shoes. The water is shallow and you’ll need to get up and walk in certain sections!

Local tip: Oktoberfest is their busiest season, and traffic can be backed up for hours. There’s only one main street in Helen, so getting in and out can be a nightmare during the festivities. 


Marietta’s historic downtown district is full of eclectic restaurants, live music, and Victorian Southern charm.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt smiling for a photo with the water fountain in Marietta Square
Me at the fountain in Marietta Square.

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Marietta is best known for its historic charm and Victorian architecture. At just a half hour away, Marietta makes for one of the easiest day trips from Atlanta. 

Marietta’s historic downtown area is the go-to stop in the area for food and family-friendly activities. The main square is lined by shops and restaurants, such as Latin-Asian fusion chain Taqueria Tsunami and L On North (which often has live music). Marietta Square Market is a new food hall two blocks off the square, where you can taste eclectic and international fare.

Chateau Elan

Barselton’s luxury resort Chateau Elan is the perfect getaway for spa treatments, golf, and wine tastings.

Aerial view of a golf course in Chateau Elan
Take in a round of golf at Chateau Elan

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Chateau Elan Website

Braselton is most famous for the luxury resort and spa Chateau Elan. While resort guests have access to a variety of activities like painting classes, you can visit on a day trip and enjoy tasting at the onsite vineyard and tap room, or book a round of world-class golf. 

Reservations, which are required for winery tours and encouraged for tastings, can be made here.

Nantahala National Forest

Nantahala National Forest is full of thrilling outdoor adventures like white water rafting and kayaking.

People enjoying rafting at the Ocoee River
Getting wet while rafting on the Ocoee River (photo: Nor Sham Soyod / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps

Nantahala National Forest is a national park that spans both Tennessee and North Georgia. Ocoee, Tennessee played host to the 1996 Olympics white water canoe and kayak events. 

I go to Nantahala National Forest for the weekend when I want thrilling outdoor adventures. Plan for a full-day excursion if you want to try white water rafting. Be prepared to get wet!

Yonah Mountain

Take in a wine tasting after burning lots of calories on a vigorous hike at Yonah Mountain.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt holding a glass of wine at the Yonah Mountain Vineyards
Me enjoying the crisp wine and mountain views at Yonah Mountain Vineyards

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Yonah Mountain is part of the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia. Yonah Mountain is best known for wine and hiking. 

My favorite way to do both is a tour of the Bartram Trail at Yonah Mountain Nature Preserve followed by a wine tasting at Yonah Mountain Vineyards. The trail is very steep with lots of hills, so I don’t recommend this trail for beginner hikers.

Yonah Mountain Vineyards has live music every weekend, but can be very crowded with long lines. Weekdays are much less crowded and you’ll have uninterrupted views of the mountains from your spot on the patio.

Springer Mountain

Serious hikers will love the chance to climb the start of the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail.

View of the entrance to Appalachian Trail
The entrance to the Appalachian Trail

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 15 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Springer Mountain is the southern tip of the 2000-mile Appalachian Trail and runs through the Chattahoochee National Forest. The entire trail runs along the East Coast up into Maine.

Springer is one of the toughest hiking trails in the South, so I don’t recommend this for beginners. Carpooling in a vehicle with 4-wheel drive is highly recommended as the mountain roads can get a little tough to traverse.

For serious outdoor enthusiasts, however, hiking Springer is definitely one of the best day trips from Atlanta. 

Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald offers stunning panoramic views for outdoor enthusiasts willing to make the climb.

Scenic view of the Brasstown Bald in Atlanta, Georgia
The views from Brasstown Bald are breathtaking

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps

Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia at over 4,700 feet above sea level. The mountain is part of the Appalachian Trail and has tons of nature trails, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.

For those who find the climb daunting, check out Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa. Take some time to relax and look at the views without having to climb the mountain yourself.


History buffs will love panning for gold in one of Dahlonega’s many gold mines.

The Dahlonega Gold Museum from the outside
Dahlonega is famous for its gold mining (photo: Rob Hainer / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 10 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Dahlonega was part of the gold rush of 1828-29. History buffs will appreciate the historic square, Dahlonega Gold Museum, and the still-operating Dahlonega General Store.

Dahlonega is also an excellent spot for Sunday brunch and strolling through the many art galleries off the square. Be sure to book reservations early as many of the most popular brunch restaurants, like Bourbon Street Grille and Foothill Grill, do fill up in advance. After brunch, stop at Wolf Mountain Vineyards for some wine tastings. 

👉 Local tip: Much of Northeast Georgia is still “dry” until noon on Sundays (i.e. no alcohol is served). Plan any drinking activities accordingly.


Clayton is best known for its outdoor adventures, moonshine, and old-fashioned craft demonstrations.

Overlooking view at Tallulah Gorge during sunset
Tallulah Gorge in the fall is almost storybook-like

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps

Tallulah Gorge is the main attraction in Clayton. You can hike to the bottom of the falls, except for the first two weeks in April and November. At those times, the dam is opened and permits are issued to anyone wanting to white water kayak on the falls.

Rabun County is famous for its moonshine distilleries and Appalachian artisanship. At the annual Foxfire Festival, you can watch demonstrations of basket weaving, candle making, blacksmithing, and more. 

After the festival, head up to the Dillard House for an old-fashioned family-style meal. Patrons sit at long tables together and pass around large dishes of food.

Amicalola Falls State Park

Amicalola Falls is one of the more family-friendly waterfalls in Georgia, with options for both short and long trails.

View of staircase the Amicalola Falls State Park
Some of the 600+ stairs to climb Amicalola Falls

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Amicalola Falls can be hiked at any speed and ability level. The Blue Trail is the best option for those with small children. It’s one mile down to the reflection pool at the base of the falls.

The Hike Inn is a unique way to stay in the area if you want to extend your Atlanta day trip overnight. It’s a hotel only accessible via a 5-mile hike. Don’t expect room service or luxury accommodations. The Hike Inn has rustic bunk beds and a summer camp feel. It’s most popular with hikers on the Appalachian Trail wanting to socialize with other hikers.

Lake Hartwell

Have a relaxing day on the lake boating, fishing, or swimming at any of the beaches on Lake Hartwell.

Aerial view of a sailing boat in Lake Hartwell
Lake Hartwell is a favorite spot for boating

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps

Boating in all its forms reigns supreme at Lake Hartwell. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and fishing gear are all available to rent at any of the numerous outfitters in the area. 

You can also swim at many of the beaches along Lake Hartwell. Just be sure to check local signage to see if it’s allowed in that specific spot.

Ellijay and Blue Ridge

For a fun autumn day trip, stomp on some grapes at Cartecay Vineyards in September, or go apple picking at Georgia’s Apple Festival in October.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt enjoying wine stomping at Cartecay Vineyards
Wine stomping at Cartecay Vineyards is an annual tradition

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Ellijay and Blue Ridge are two side-by-side small towns in North Georgia. They’re part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so the views alone are always worth the drive. Ellijay and Blue Ridge especially make for one of the best day trips from Atlanta during autumn. 

Stop at Cartecay Vineyards in mid-September for their wine-crushing festival. Participants can help harvest the grapes, tour the vineyard, then stomp on the grapes to create the juice used in the wine.

Autumn is the most popular time to visit as most of the pumpkin patches and apple orchards are here. There are only a couple of main roads that run through the area and traffic can back up for hours. Plan to get there very early and stay late, or go on a weekday for fewer crowds.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga is a haven for both outdoor adventures and city views at the same time.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt smiling for a photo with the overlooking view of downtown Chattanooga on her background
Me overlooking Stringer’s Ridge in downtown Chattanooga

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Chattanooga is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Stringer’s Ridge is my favorite trail in the area. It’s a mountain trail that runs right through downtown Chattanooga, so you get both city and mountain views.

Another fun excursion is to go caving and look for bats at Nickajack Cave. There are plenty of options to walk through the underground caves for anyone who’s claustrophobic.

Lookout Mountain and Rock City Gardens are nearby tourist attractions. But for a similar feel without the crowds, try visiting one of the many waterfalls in the area, including Greeter Falls, Laurel Falls, or Foster Falls.

Providence Canyon

Providence Canyon State Park is perfect for anyone wanting to visit the Grand Canyon, without making the trek to Arizona.

Scenic view of the Providence Canyon during sunset
Providence Canyon is Georgia’s little Grand Canyon

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours 10 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Providence Canyon State Park Website

Providence Canyon State Park is a little over two hours south of Atlanta near the Alabama border. Although one of the longer day trips from Atlanta on this list, it’s worth the drive.

Providence Canyon State Park is full of breathtaking natural beauty and plenty of photo ops. It can be a little otherworldly, especially compared to many of the mountain hikes on this list. Providence Canyon State Park offers some of the more family-friendly hike options, with some dog-friendly trails too.

Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park is a family-friendly destination with nature trails, train rides, and Confederate historic sites.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt on a bridge in Stone Mountain Park, one of the day trips from Atlanta that you can try
The historic mill at Stone Mountain Park

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps | Stone Mountain Park Website

Stone Mountain Park is a private nature preserve just east of downtown Atlanta. Note that there’s a $20 entrance fee per car on top of any attractions you want to visit.

Families can purchase an all-attractions pass to fit in a ropes course, train rides, and the laser show after sunset. At just a half hour from the city, it’s one of the best family-friendly Atlanta day trips.

For a special treat, hike the 1-mile trail to the top of Stone Mountain at sunrise. You’ll catch incredible views and miss all the crowds. Sunset is another great time since you’ll see the sunset over Atlanta’s skyline, but the crowds will be greater.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield

Civil War buffs will love this national park filled with museums, memorabilia, and munitions.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt smiling for a photo with a cannon at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield
Me by the cannon at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Kennesaw Mountain is a national historic landmark commemorating a Civil War battlefield. The national park features more than 15 miles of trails ranging from flat and family-friendly to a steep climb up to the summit.

History buffs will love the Civil War museum in the visitor center, which is included in your admission fee. For more history, do a tour of several Civil War sites in the Atlanta area.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

The Chattahoochee River is great for outdoor enthusiasts looking to take in some hiking, kayaking, and tubing all in one day.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt smiling for a selfie while tubing at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Me “shooting the ‘Hooch” (aka tubing on the Chattahoochee River)

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 25 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is part of the national park system. It’s a local favorite for hiking, kayaking, and “shooting the ‘Hooch” (a.k.a. tubing) every summer.

There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails, many of which are family- and dog-friendly. Note that there is a $5 entrance fee or spring for the annual pass which includes all national parks for $50.

Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier is a boat lover’s paradise, even offering restaurants you can dock at.

People enjoying their day jet skiing at Lake Lanier
Jet skiing is popular on Lake Lanier

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps

Lake Lanier is very family-friendly, especially if you take the kids to Margaritaville’s water park. In the winter, they offer snow tubing, ice skating, carnival rides, and fire pits.

Adults will appreciate the boating and fishing available in the Lake Lanier area. Grab dinner at the dock and dine at LandShark Bar and Grill if you don’t even feel like leaving the boat.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain is an eclectic mix of tourist attractions, Civil War history, and strenuous hiking.

Colorful sky over a waterfall in Lookout Mountain during sunset
The waterfall at Rock City Gardens at Lookout Mountain

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps

Rock City Gardens is the main attraction in the area. To avoid the crowds, consider a helicopter tour that flies over the waterfall.

History buffs will love Chickamauga National Battlefield just 13 miles east. Chickamauga is a Civil War site famous for one of the largest Confederate victories in the war.


Downtown Athens is a charming college town with a love of all things botanical.

Overlooking view of Downtown Athens during sunset
Picturesque and historic downtown Athens

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 20 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Downtown Athens is a college town home to the University of Georgia, a football stronghold in the South. Saturdays in the fall can be nearly impossible to get in and out of the city.

Just outside downtown Athens is the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a free public botanical garden. Stop at the visitor center, which houses several greenhouses and tropical plant exhibits. There are several nature trails and hiking trails throughout the park, most of which are family-friendly.

👉 Local tip: Visit the State Botanical Garden during the day in late November or December. At night, they host a drive-through holiday lights display. You can catch the exhibits in the afternoon, then stay for the lights in the evening.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens is a resort full of nature trails and attractions for the whole family.

Clear blue sky over the Callaway Gardens
Callaway Gardens is full of peaceful nature trails

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 20 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

To get the most out of your visit, stay overnight at the Callaway Gardens resort. You’ll be able to catch the holiday lights in December, hot air balloons in September, or fireworks in the summer.

Just outside of Callaway Gardens is FDR State Park. The state park is home to Franklin Roosevelt’s Little White House historic site. FDR would retreat here to soak in the therapeutic waters in Warm Springs to help with his polio.


LaGrange is a family destination with an indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge and the drive-through Wild Animal Safari Park.

People enjoying their day at the Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge sells day passes to the indoor water park (photo: The Image Party / Shutterstock)

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps

LaGrange is home to several attractions, including the Great Wolf Lodge, the Biblical History Center, Hills Dales Estate, and the Wild Animal Safari Park. It can be difficult to do it all in one day, so staying at Great Wolf Lodge would be a fantastic idea if you want to extend your Atlanta day trip. 


Serenbe is a luxury rural neighborhood with great farm-to-table fare and goat yoga.

People doing goat yoga at Serenbe in Georgia
Goat yoga is popular on Saturday mornings

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 35 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Serenbe is a high end neighborhood that makes for an easy and relaxing day trip from Atlanta. 

Start the day by grabbing coffee at the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, then peruse the art galleries on the main strip. Stop in for lunch at the Farm House for a farm-to-table meal sourced from the on-site Serenbe Farms.

If you go on Saturday morning, take a goat yoga class from Serenbe Yoga. It’s a popular class, so register early.

👉 Read Next: Best Neighborhoods in Atlanta


Cartersville is an eclectic mix of nature trails, Native American culture, and geology museums.

The author, Lindsay Wenndt smiling for a selfie at the Red Top Mountain State Park
Lake and mountain views at Red Top Mountain State Park

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Start the day at Red Top Mountain State Park and fit in a hike at the Iron Hill Trail. The parking lot fills up quickly, so get there early. 

After the hike, head over to the Tellus Museum to learn about geology and fossils.

Finish the day at the Etowah Indian Mounds. Etowah is home to the most intact example of Mississippian Native American culture. Visitors can see how early civilizations lived, caught fish, and made medicine.

👉 Local tip: The Tellus Museum is a participating museum in Bank of America’s Museums on Us program. If you have a Bank of America credit or debit card, you can visit the museum for free the first weekend of every month.

Lake Oconee

Lake Oconee is a luxury paradise and home to the Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee.

A couple getting relax on a spa in Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee
Take in a spa day at the Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 1 hour 20 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Lake Oconee sits in the picturesque Chattahoochee National Forest and has tons of great lake activities and nature trails.

My favorite way to spend the weekend is at the Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee. The luxury resort is home to some of the best spa treatments, golf, and accommodations in the Southeast.

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville has been hosting Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center for over 30 years.

Clear blue sky over a space shuttle in U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Go to Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 3 hours 20 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

Huntsville is famous for one thing: Space Camp!

You’ll need a whole day to get through all the attractions at the US Space and Rocket Center, but it’s well worth it. Take in a show at the planetarium and see what the night sky looks like without light pollution. Or ride in the G Force Accelerator or the Flight Simulator.

Silver Comet Trail

The 60+ mile Silver Comet Trail is almost entirely wheelchair accessible, making this an excellent pick for all ability levels.

Cyclist enjoying their day at the Silver Comet Trail
Take a bike ride on the Silver Comet Trail

🗺️ Distance from Atlanta: 25 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

The Silver Comet Trail is one of the closer Atlanta day trips at just 25 minutes west of downtown Atlanta.

No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail. Bikers, skaters, walkers, and horse riders are all welcome.

FAQs About Atlanta Day Trips

What are the best day trips from Atlanta?

The best day trips from Atlanta are Alpine Helen, Yonah Mountain, Ellijay, and Blue Ridge. All are within 2 hours of Atlanta and are easily accessible from multiple routes.

What are good destinations within 2 hours of Atlanta?

Good destinations within 2 hours of Atlanta include Alpine Helen, Yonah Mountain, Ellijay, and Blue Ridge.

What is the closest ocean beach to Atlanta?

The closest ocean beach to Atlanta is Tybee Island. Tybee is 17 miles east of Savannah and takes approximately 4 hours to get there from Atlanta.

What cities are 2 hours from Atlanta?

Cities that are within 2 hours from Atlanta include Chattanooga, Athens, Stone Mountain, Clayton, and Dahlonega.


Hopefully, this guide helps you pick some excellent day trips from Atlanta. Let me know your favorites in the comments below!

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