33 Perfect Day Trips From Atlanta

Visiting Atlanta offers the perfect combination of a vibrant city experience and easy access to some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the area, making it an ideal destination for both urban exploration and nature-filled day trips. Here are the top day trips from Atlanta.

Day trips are a great way to explore the surrounding area of Atlanta without staying away too long.

From outdoor adventures to big cities in neighboring states and from small town gems to important historical sites, there are plenty of interesting places and activities around Atlanta that can make for an exciting and memorable day out.

The day trip ideas in this article are arranged in order of distance from Atlanta (closest to the farthest). All are a drive of 3.5 hours or less (most are quite a bit less). And distances are calculated from the center of the city.

Listed drive times are approximations. The time it takes you to drive to the suggested day trip destination will depend upon several factors including your exact starting point, the time of day, weather, etc.

Tiered waterfall cascading over rocks in Northern Georgia
A visit to Amicalola Falls is one of the best day trips from Atlanta.

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See disclaimer.

Where to stay in Atlanta

There are many hotels in Atlanta you could choose from. Here are some of the top-rated for their cleanliness, friendly staff, and location.

Take a leisurely stroll over to Centennial Olympic Park in just under 9 minutes when you stay at The Candler Hotel Atlanta. Enjoy 4-star accommodations while you explore this great city.

Hampton Inn & Suites Atlanta-Midtown is just about a 6-minute walk from the High Museum of Art.

If you’re looking for something outside the center of Atlanta, try the highly rated Omni Hotel at the Battery. It’s located at Truist Park, and it’s just over 20 miles from the airport.

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Distance from Atlanta: 19 miles

Approximate drive time: 25 minutes

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a popular outdoor destination located just a short drive from Atlanta.

With its easy access, it makes for an ideal day trip from the city. Visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, lunching in a picnic area, bird watching, and more.

The 2500-acre park also offers 15 miles of hiking trails. The Red Trail is the best option for first-time hikers, as it takes you to the five-story New Manchester mill ruins at the white-water rapids of Sweetwater Creek.

TRAVEL TIP: If you have flexible travel dates you need to check out Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). You get amazing flight deals sent straight to your inbox with instructions on how to book directly with the airlines. Check out Going here. Going is my favorite way to find great travel deals. 

Stone Mountain

Distance from Atlanta: 19 miles

Approximate drive time: >30 minutes

Stone Mountain is one of the best day trips from Atlanta. It’s just about half an hour from the city. Stone Mountain Park charges for parking and some of the attractions, but the natural recreation areas are free once inside.

Take a stroll through the natural areas or explore one of several hiking and nature trails. Enjoy kayaking or fishing (no swimming) on the 363-acre lake. Explore the children’s playground, Grist Mill, Covered Bridge, and Quarry Exhibit.

Hike to the top of Stone Mountain to enjoy views of downtown Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Distance from Atlanta: 22 miles to Hewlett Lodge Visitor Center (Island Ford unit)

Approximate drive time: >30 minutes

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is a great day trip destination from Atlanta.

Explore 48 miles of river From fishing, kayaking, and canoeing in the river to biking its multi-use trails, you’re sure to find something fun to do here.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield

Old cannon on a civil war battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 22 miles

Approximate drive time: 40 minutes

The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a 2,965-acre preserve of the Atlanta Campaign in the Civil War, serves as a reminder of the terrible war in and around Atlanta in the summer of 1864. Kennesaw was the “one last mountain” standing between Sherman’s army and Atlanta.

Stop by the Visitor Center to watch the 35-minute film about the battle, join a ranger-led program, explore the museum, and check out the store.

There are also 22 miles of trails to explore the site, enjoy a picnic and go horseback riding. You can even drive to the top of the mountain on most days.

Red Top Mountain State Park

Distance from Atlanta: 36 miles

Approximate drive time: >40 minutes

Red Top Mountain State Park is an ideal destination for a day trip from Atlanta. Located less than 40 miles from the city, it offers visitors plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in its tranquil surroundings.

Although this park is probably best known for its very large lake, it’s also a great spot for those who enjoy hiking.

Enjoy swimming from a sandy beach, enjoy a picnic, play tennis or pickleball, and so much more.

George Washington Carver Park

Distance from Atlanta: 38 miles

Approximate drive time: 40+ minutes

Virtually “next door” to Red Top Mountain State Park, you’ll find George Washington Carver Park on Allatoona Lake.

The park was established in 1950 as a state park for Black Americans. At the time, it was the only swimming area open to African Americans for hundreds of miles.

Of course, the park is open to all now from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There’s a beach area and an enclosed pavilion for hosting events.

Lake Lanier

Large blue lake in Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 50 miles

Approximate drive time: 55 minutes

Spending a day on Lake Lanier is the perfect way to enjoy all that Georgia’s outdoors has to offer. Located just 50 miles from Atlanta, it’s an easy day trip for anyone wanting some fresh air and nature.

With its 38,000 acres of lake-age and over 690 miles of shoreline, Lanier is Georgia’s largest lake. More than 45 parks can be found along the lake’s shores.

The most popular activities include fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming, camping, and even golf.

Dahlonega

Distance from Atlanta: 66 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Dahlonega, Georgia, is a lovely destination filled with fun historical sites and pretty views. It’s the ideal spot for a perfect day trip from Atlanta. There are endless activities that you won’t want to miss.

The town is best known as the site of the first major gold rush in the United States, in 1829. To explore more of that history check out the Consolidated Gold Mine or visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum.

LaGrange

Distance from Atlanta: 67 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

LaGrange offers a variety of activities and attractions that make it worth the visit. One of the top draws there has to be Great Wolf Lodge, home to a 93,000-square-foot indoor water park.

From historical sites like The Hills & Dales Estate and Callaway Plantation to breathtaking views at West Point Lake and Franklin Forest, LaGrange has something for everyone.

Visit the Biblical History Center to experience the ancient biblical world, enjoy live entertainment at Sweetland Amphitheatre, or explore The Thread multi-use trail.

Amicalola Falls State Park

Tiered waterfall cascading over rocks in Northern Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 72 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Amicalola Falls State Park is a stunning natural wonder and the perfect place to enjoy a day trip from Atlanta. The park offers visitors the chance to experience some of Georgia’s most breathtaking views and activities in its serene surroundings.

At 729 feet, Amicalola is the third-highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

This park is a haven for hikers. Serious hikers will find the 8.5-mile Approach Trail from the park to Springer Mountain, where the renowned Appalachian Trail begins, a must for their outdoor adventure.

Athens

city hall building in Athens Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 72 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Athens offers visitors plenty to explore and experience. From its rich history to its vibrant culture, there’s something for everyone in this charming city, home to the University of Georgia (go Bulldogs!).

Enjoy the State Botanical Garden of Georgia or bike the Firefly Trail, explore the Georgia Museum of Art, check out the Lyndon House Arts Center, and dine at one of Athens’ fine restaurants.

Little White House Historic Site

Distance from Atlanta: 73 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

The Little White House Historic Site is a great destination for those looking to explore Georgia’s history. The state historic site is also a National Historic Landmark.

The site, which served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s personal retreat during his presidency, has been preserved and offers visitors an insight into the life of one of America’s most popular presidents.

Visitors can take guided tours on the weekends.

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

Distance from Atlanta: 76 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is an ideal destination for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With over 35,000 acres of protected land, it’s home to a great variety of wildlife and plants. Along the ridges of this refuge, you’ll find loblolly pines and an abundance of hardwoods.

Streams and beaver ponds create ideal wetlands for migrating waterfowl. The refuge is also home to an increasing population of endangered Red-cockaded woodpeckers.

At the refuge, you can go birdwatching, wildlife viewing, or hiking on its several trails. You can also try the Little Rock Wildlife Drive (a 6-mile self-guided auto tour).

Macon

Macon Georgia skyline

Distance from Atlanta: 84 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Macon, Georgia, is a great day trip destination for those looking to explore the history and culture of the South.

One of the top attractions in Macon is The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House. This museum celebrates one of America’s most influential bands.

Another important site in Macon is Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, a preserved site encompassing over 700 acres of land containing 7 mounds and a museum dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the ancient Mississippian people who once inhabited this area.

Pine Mountain

Distance from Atlanta: 85 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Pine Mountain is a great day trip destination. Home to Callaway Gardens, the 2500-acre botanical gardens offer visitors breathtaking views of mountain streams and woodlands along with many attractions such as their butterfly conservatory, golf courses, and zip lines.

Callaway Resort would also make a good weekend getaway from Atlanta.

Or pay a visit to FDR State Park (and its Pine Mountain Trail) and Wild Animal Safari.

Pine Mountain is only about 15 miles from the Little White House Historic Site, so they could work well together as a combo day trip.

Helen

Bavarian-style buildings in Helen Georgia

Distance from Atlanta: 87 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen is a tranquil alpine village with an abundance of things to do.

From family-friendly recreational activities and captivating shopping opportunities to tubing down the Chattahoochee River, run awaits. And don’t miss Anna Ruby Falls.

Furthermore, this charming town has become renowned for its annual Oktoberfest celebration while being commended as one of America’s best Christmas towns.

Toccoa

Distance from Atlanta: 93 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

In the town of Toccoa pay a visit to the Currahee Military Museum to learn more about Camp Toccoa, the first WWII Paratrooper Camp. Or enjoy the shops and restaurants in town and explore the antique market.

Make sure you visit Toccoa Falls. It’s one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Georgia. Visitors can marvel at the 180+-foot tall waterfall, take a hike on one of the many trails or go fishing in the nearby Toccoa River.

Toccoa Falls is one of the tallest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.

Toccoa Falls is on the campus of Toccoa Falls College, and admission to the falls is through the gift shop where you will pay a nominal fee.

Blue Ridge

Distance from Atlanta: 93 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

This charming mountain town offers visitors plenty to explore and experience. From its breathtaking natural beauty to its unique attractions, there’s something for everyone in Blue Ridge.

You can take in the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from one of the many hiking trails, or explore the charming downtown area with its unique shops and restaurants.

Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to enjoy the Appalachian foothills in North Georgia. Or go rafting on the Ocoee (Toccoa) River, pick apples at Mercier Orchards, and surround yourself with nature at the Aska Adventure Area.

Scull Shoals Historic Site

Distance from Atlanta: 93 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Scull Shoals Historic Site is a great destination for visitors looking to explore the beauty and history of the area. Located in Watkinsville, Georgia, it offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding forests and is home to some of Georgia’s oldest buildings.

Delve into the depths of 10,000 years of history from Native Americans to Spanish explorer DeSoto and onwards to Georgia’s first paper mill in 1811. Take a wander around the beautiful ruins at Scull Shoals Village located by the Oconee River.

Milledgeville

Distance from Atlanta: 94 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Milledgeville, Georgia, is a great day trip destination for those looking to explore the history and culture of the South.

The historic downtown area is home to many unique shops and restaurants, as well as many attractions such as the Old Governor’s Mansion, where the governors lived when Milledgeville was the state capital.

Visitors can also visit Flannery O’Connor’s farm Andalusia, kayak on the Oconee River, or enjoy a trolley tour.

Brasstown Bald

Distance from Atlanta: 100 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours

Brasstown Bald is a breathtaking destination located in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

At an elevation of 4,784 feet, it is the highest peak in Georgia and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. From its summit, visitors can get sweeping panoramic views of four different states: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Soak in picturesque scenery and have a picnic at one of the designated areas on The Bald and purchase locally-made products from the store.

Talladega, Alabama

Distance from Atlanta: 107 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Talladega, Alabama, makes a great day trip from Atlanta, especially for fans of motorsports.

Visitors can enjoy watching a NASCAR race at the famous Talladega Superspeedway or visit the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and check out the Talladega Walk of Fame.

Venture outside Talladega to explore the beauty of the area at Lake Howard, the DeSoto Caverns, or Cheaha State Park.

Chickamauga Battlefield

Mansion-style visitor center with white columns

Distance from Atlanta: 110 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

This historic site marks the location of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. It’s part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.

Visitors can tour the battlefield by car. There’s even a self-guided phone tour. Explore museum exhibits in the Visitor Center and watch an orientation film. Or participate in a ranger-led tour.

There are also plenty of places for other activities such as hiking trails, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, and paddling through the park.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Distance from Atlanta: 118 miles

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Chattanooga, Tennessee, makes a really great day trip from Atlanta. It’s been named a “Best in the U.S.” destination by Lonely Planet and one of the best places to visit in the world by the New York Times.

The city offers plenty of attractions such as the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of American Art.

Take a walk across the Tennessee River on the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. Explore Chattanooga Market or check out the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Explore Chattanooga from the sky with a private helicopter tour.

Try the best of Chattanooga food with this guided food crawl.

Learn about Chattanooga on this guided Segway tour.

large footbridge over a river in Chattanooga Tennessee

Andersonville National Historic Site

Distance from Atlanta: 125 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Andersonville National Historic Site is an important destination for anyone interested in learning about the history of the American Civil War. This site marks the location where thousands of Union soldiers were held as prisoners during the war.

Visitors to Andersonville National Historic Site can explore its many monuments and memorials which commemorate those who lost their lives at this tragic place.

The 26.5-acre camp was designed to hold up to 10,000 prisoners but held up to 32,000 at one point. Nearly 13,000 of the 45,000 prisoners held there died, making it the deadliest POW camp in the Civil War.

The park is also home to the National Prisoner of War Museum and the Andersonville National Cemetery.

SAM Shortline Excursion Train

Distance from Atlanta: 141 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

The SAM Shortline Railroad excursion trains take visitors through some of Georgia’s most beautiful countryside and historic sites.

They offer a variety of routes, special events, and themed rides such as the Presidential Flyer, which takes travelers on an all-day excursion with stops in Plains (birthplace of President Jimmy Carter) and Archery (where he lived during his childhood).

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Distance from Atlanta: 142 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

This historical site marks the birthplace and childhood home of former President Jimmy Carter. It offers visitors an opportunity to learn about his life and legacy while exploring the rural Georgia landscape he grew up in.

The park features several historic buildings, including the former Plains High School, which serves as the park’s Visitor Center and museum.

The Boyhood Farm has been stored to look like it did when President Carter was growing up there. The Plains Train Depot served as Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign headquarters.

Augusta

Augusta Georgia skyline

Distance from Atlanta: 145 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

While Augusta, Georgia, is known worldwide for the famous Masters golf tournament, there is much more to this town than Augusta National.

Augusta is filled with things to do for all ages. Explore the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area and its trails or stroll along the Augusta Riverwalk.

Take a journey back in time at the Augusta Museum of History or the Boyhood Home of Woodrow Wilson. Admire art at the Morris Museum of Art, the oldest art museum in the U.S. dedicated to Southern American art and artists.

Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham Alabama skyline

Distance from Atlanta: 147 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

From exploring the Civil Rights District to visiting the famous Vulcan Park and Museum, there are plenty of attractions in Birmingham that will keep visitors busy all day long. Tour the Birmingham Museum of Art or the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

Explore the important Civil Rights history of Birmingham, Alabama, with this guided tour of the movement’s historic landmarks.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, take a walk around Railroad Park or check out Red Mountain Park which offers 16 miles of multi-use trails.

Conde Nast Traveler named Birmingham one of the 22 Best Places to Go in 2022. Known as the “Dinner Table of the South,” Birmingham is a top choice destination for food lovers.

Greenville, South Carolina

small river flowing by modern buildings

Distance from Atlanta: 145 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 15 miles

As the largest city in Upstate South Carolina and a top foodie destination, Greenville is sure to please all of your senses. From its vibrant arts scene to its award-winning restaurants, there are plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy while visiting this lovely city.

Take a stroll along the Reedy River and explore Falls Park on the Reedy before heading over to Main Street for some shopping and dining. Enjoy beautiful artwork at the Greenville County Museum of Art or take in a show at the renowned Peace Center.

Explore the best of this city with a guided Segway tour.

Learn more about how to spend one day in Greenville, South Carolina.

Providence Canyon State Park

Distance from Atlanta: 150 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Take a day trip to Providence Canyon State Park and explore the natural beauty of Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon.”

This stunning park is located about 150 miles from Atlanta and features breathtaking views of deep gorges cut through the soil. Use the rim trail to get good views.

The park also offers educational astronomy and geology programs for those interested in learning more about the history and ecology of this unique area.

Bryson City, North Carolina

Distance from Atlanta: 165 miles

Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

This charming town offers plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park and rafting down the Nantahala River. Enjoy boating or fishing on Fontana Lake.

Rail fans will want to take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. If you wish to explore the history of this area, consider visiting the Swain County History Museum and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Museum.

And Bryson City is a great place to stay in the Smokies if you’re looking for a getaway.

Congaree National Park

old-growth trees in Congaree National Park

Distance from Atlanta: 230 miles

Approximate drive time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

This may be a bit of a stretch for a day trip from Atlanta, but since the hiking in Congaree National Park is fairly easy, you can pop in for just a day if you want.

We love its unique landscape of old-growth hardwood forests and wetlands. The park’s boardwalk loop trail is an easy way for hikers (or walkers) to explore the area, while those looking for more of a challenge can take on some of the longer trails.

For adventurers who prefer water activities, kayaking or canoeing through Cedar Creek Canoe Trail offers a 15-mile journey through the Congaree Wilderness.

Final thoughts on taking a day trip from Atlanta

From Stone Mountain to Bryson City, and from Providence Canyon State Park to Congaree National Park, the possibilities for day trips from Atlanta are endless.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities or cultural/historical enrichment, there is something nearby that will suit your needs.

If you need a quick getaway but don’t have time to travel far away, consider taking one of these day trips; each offers its own unique experiences and memories.

Plus, with drive times starting at less than 30 minutes, depending on where you go, it’s easy enough to plan an enjoyable trip without having to take too much time away.

What’s your favorite day trip from Atlanta? Tell me all about it in the comments.

More articles to help you plan your trip to Atlanta

Pin this post!

images of Amicalola Falls and Macon Georgia. Text reads: The best day trips from Atlanta

View the web story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *