From the stunning beauty of the Appalachian Mountains in Northwest Georgia to the relaxing coastline of the Atlantic Ocean in Southeast Georgia, the Peach State has a wide range of opportunities that can make it a perfect fit for just about any type of lifestyle.
Between the large collection of year-round attractions and the dynamic list of annual events and festivals, there are plenty of things to do in Georgia just about any time you happen to be here, whether you plan to retire here or just visit.
Year Round Attractions in Georgia
Whether you are looking for beautiful gardens, rich historical attractions, fun and trendy things to do, stunning art, or just a nice place to relax, there is never a shortage of things to do across this amazing state.
These are some of the most popular attractions that can be visited at any time throughout the year.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe the exhibits you will find when you visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The 30-acres of garden you will find here have been constantly evolving and changing with the seasons since it opened back in 1976.
The two biggest exhibits here are the Fuqua Orchid Center and Alice’s Wonderland. Both are worth the price of admission on their own, so when you combine them with the other seasonal exhibits everyone always gets a great value with every visit to the garden.
Atlanta History Center
The Atlanta History Center is more than just a museum, it is a 33-acre experience that is located right in Atlanta’s popular Buckhead neighborhood.
Visitors to this sprawling campus of history will find The Atlanta History Museum, as well as attractions like the Swan House mansion, the Smith Family Farm, the Margaret Mitchell House, and the Centennial Olympic Games Museum.
Atlanta Movie Tours
There have been more than 1,500 movies and 20 popular television shows shot in and around Atlanta over the last 50 years, and no one tells that history quite like Atlanta Movie Tours.
This fun tour company offers multiple movie tour options that start with the basic “Best of Atlanta” tour before moving into more topic-focused tours like the “Big Zombie Bus & Walking Tour,” the “Hero Tour,” and “Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind Tour.”
Booth Western Art Museum
Located in Cartersville, GA, the Booth Western Art Museum is a 120,000 square foot museum that tells America’s story through contemporary western art.
Visitors will find everything from authentic stagecoaches to military weapons on display, along with a vast collection of western paintings and sculptures. There is also an entire section dedicated to United States Presidents and the Civil War.
Whether you are looking for a full resort experience or just a casual stroll through a beautiful garden in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Callaway Gardens is a perfect destination for anyone looking to embrace the outdoors in Georgia.
This 2,500-acre resort was once the home of Cason and Virginia Callaway, but it has evolved to be one of the most splendid natural destinations in the entire state.
With stunning gardens, a beautiful chapel, zip lines, and watersports all available, Callaway Gardens is a fabulous destination for both day trips and weekend getaways.
Center for Civil and Human Rights
Located in downtown Atlanta, the Center for Civil and Human Rights is a modern museum space dedicated to preserving and celebrating the accomplishments of the American Civil Rights Movement, as well as connecting those accomplishments to the current Global Human Rights Movement.
With four different rotating exhibit spaces, there is always something new and interesting to see at the museum, and one of those exhibit spaces features a constantly evolving collection items from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. collection.
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
With 867,000 acres stretching across 26 counties, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all types in Georgia.
The scenic forest makes it a perfect destination for hikers of all skill levels, and you won’t believe some of the waterfalls and mountains you will see as you make your way down one of the many well-maintained trails.
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is also a popular destination for campers with options ranging from cabin rentals to campground camping.
The CNN Center is the world headquarters of CNN and Turner Broadcasting located in downtown Atlanta right next to Centennial Olympic Park.
In addition to housing an Omni Hotel and a giant food court, the CNN Center offers tours that give visitors an inside look at the world’s first 24-hour cable news channel. These 50-minute tours start every 20 minutes and offer a combination of history and glimpses at current broadcasts.
College Football Hall of Fame
Another popular downtown Atlanta destination is the College Football Hall of Fame, which is also located along Centennial Olympic Park.
Visitors walking into the College Football Hall of Fame are greeted in “The Quad” by a massive wall that features 760 school helmets. In addition to the inductee memorabilia that you would expect to find, there are also interactive exhibits that let you get in the game yourself.
Fun Fact: The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech each have 14 players inducted.
While most of the attractions on our list are going to require at least some level of activity, Forsyth Park is the type of place that you go when you just want to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings.
Located in downtown Savannah, this 30-acre park was named after former Georgia governor John Forsyth. There is plenty to see and do throughout the park, but the main attraction here is the gorgeous Forsyth Fountain.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
The Fort Pulaski National Monument is located on Cockspur Island just east of Savannah. The monument includes the preserved masonry fort and all of the surrounding marshlands.
Fort Pulaski became famous during the American Civil War when Union soldiers used rifled artillery for the first time, which instantly made this type of masonry fort obsolete.
Visitors are free to explore the fort on their own, but there are also regularly scheduled guided tours and artillery demonstrations.
Located right in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium boasts one of the biggest collections of marine life that you will find anywhere in the world.
With some of the largest viewing windows in the world, guests can spend hours staring at the tens of thousands of animals that occupy more than 10 million gallons of water.
Whale sharks are one of the biggest attractions on display here, and they will most definitely take your breath away. These are the largest species of fish in the entire world, and you can see them for yourself right here in Georgia.
Georgia State Capitol
The historic Georgia State Capitol building was constructed on the site of the demolished Atlanta City Hall and Fulton County Courthouse after the land was donated to the state by the city of Atlanta to encourage the relocation of the state capitol.
Construction on the new Georgia State Capitol building was completed in 1889, making it a prime example of 19th century American architecture.
Today, the Capitol still functions as the official office building of the Georgia state government. It also houses a fantastic museum and hosts guided tours that cover both the architecture and the historic things that have happened in the building.
High Museum of Art
Located right on Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s arts district, the High Museum of Art is one of the leading art museums of the South that features a range of everything from historical to contemporary art.
In addition to the more than 15,000 items on display throughout the museum, the building itself is a modern work of art that architecture enthusiasts rave about. And, like most great art museums, there are always new traveling exhibits making their way through the High Museum of Art.
Famous for their “Turtle Crossing” signs, Jekyll Island is a state park destination that is unlike anything you have ever seen before, which is exactly why it earned itself a place on this list.
As the southernmost island of Georgia’s Golden Isles, Jekyll Island sits approximately halfway between Jacksonville, FL and Savannah, GA.
The area boasts more than 10 miles of white-sand beaches, as well as four golf courses, the stunning Driftwood Beach, plenty of historic homes, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site
It is rare for someone who impacts the entire world to spend the bulk of his life living in a small town, but that is exactly how things played out for former President Jimmy Carter in Plains, GA.
Visitors to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site can start their journey at the former Plains High School, which has been transformed into a museum and visitor center.
From there, they can venture out and explore Carter’s boyhood home, the Train Depot that served as Carter’s campaign headquarters in 1976, and the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.
The Carter Compound is also located in Plains, but is closed to the public as the Carters still live there.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
As one of the most popular historic attractions in Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site deserves to be on just about every list of things to do in Georgia.
The experience starts out at the site’s visitor center, where you can learn a bit more about this history of the civil rights movement. From there, it is only a short walk to the BEHOLD Monument where Dr. King is buried and the “I Have a Dream” Rose Garden.
Historic sites like Fire Station No. 6 and Ebenezer Baptist Church are also located nearby, which provides a full context of Dr. King’s contribution to the civil rights movement.
Georgia is famous for peaches, but there are actually a wide variety of seasonal fruits that can be grown among the mountains of northern Georgia.
Mercier Orchards is a family-owned orchard that has been operating in Blue Ridge, GA since 1943. They grow a full range of seasonal fruit, and visitors can head out into the 300-acre property to pick their own or simply make a purchase at the store.
In addition to picking fruit, Mercier Orchards also offers tractor tours of the property and sells their own hand-pressed hard ciders in their tasting room.
Museum of Aviation
The birth of flight might have happened in North Carolina, but the history of flight belongs to the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robbins, GA.
Located near the Robbins Air Force Base, the Museum of Aviation is a U.S. Air Force museum that has more than 90 airplanes on display across a five building campus.
In addition to the aircraft on display, the museum is also home to the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, and there are permanent exhibits focused on WWII Hump Pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, D-Day, and the Flying Tigers.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park
From the outside, the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park doesn’t look like anything more than a large, grassy hill. But buried underneath that hill is more than 17,000 years of Georgia history.
At the base of that hill is an ancient earth lodge with a dirt floor that is more than 1,000 years old. Visitors can also explore a fascinating museum that has more than 2,000 Native American artifacts on display.
Okefenokee Swamp Park
Contrary to popular belief, Florida isn’t the only place where you can find live alligators cruising through prehistoric-looking swamp land. Located in the heart of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Okefenokee Swamp Park is Georgia’s own version of the gator experience.
The park offers all of the standard swamp amenities like beautiful views and unique wildlife, but to truly capture the experience you need to head out on the water for one of their guided boat tours.
Visitors can also enjoy the Okefenokee Railroad Tours, live wildlife shows, and a complete swamp experience show that is known as “Land of the Trembling Earth.”
Savannah Historic District
If you are looking for the ultimate combination of stunning beauty, rich history, and a thriving cultural scene, you won’t find many destinations that are more appealing than the cobblestone streets of Savannah, GA. And just about everything that happens in this community revolves around the Savannah Historic District.
If you are feeling adventurous, you might choose to simply stroll around, taking in all of the historic landmarks and 18th-century architecture. Or you might opt for the guided version of the tour aboard one of the many trolleys cruising around town throughout the day.
You will also find fantastic boutique shopping and more than 100 excellent restaurants to choose from, so there really is no end to the fun in Savannah’s Historic District.
Stone Mountain Park
It doesn’t take more than a quick glance to understand where Stone Mountain Park got its name, but it will take plenty of time to cover all that there is to do at this 3,200-acre outdoor paradise east of Atlanta.
Home to the world’s largest Lasershow Spectacular and the 825-foot high Summit Skyride cable car ride, there is never a dull moment in Stone Mountain Park. Visitors can take advantage of the campground, or book a room at one of the two Marriott properties in the park.
After closing out the 2016 season in Turner Field, the Atlanta Braves opened the 2017 season in SunTrust Park.
This brand new home of baseball in Atlanta is located just ten miles north of the city and is designed to integrate a host of modern amenities with the old-time feel of a great baseball stadium.
In addition to hosting Braves games throughout the spring and summer months, SunTrust Park also offers regular walk-up tours that offer unprecedented access to normally off-limits areas like the press box and the dugouts.
World of Coca-Cola
Located in downtown Atlanta, World of Coca-Cola is a 20-acre complex dedicated to all things Coca-Cola. Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of a company that has long-been an American institution.
Fun attractions inside the museum include the vault that guards Coca-Cola’s secret formula, an astounding collection of Coke-related art and memorabilia, a meeting with the Coca-Cola bear, and more than 100 different soft drinks to sample.
Georgia Events and Festivals
In addition to all of the amazing year-round attractions in Georgia, the state also hosts a full lineup of events and festivals that will keep your calendar full throughout the year.
Here are some of the most notable events taking place in Georgia this year.
January – March
Atlanta Winter Beer Fest
The Atlanta Winter Beer Fest is a massive beer festival held at Atlantic Station every year in February. Over the years, it has grown to include more than 150 different beers with a strong focus on Atlanta and Georgia breweries.
In addition to all of the beer options, attendees also get to pick from an assortment of food trucks while kicking back with live entertainment. Tickets for this event are always cheaper if you get them in advance, and make sure that you book a nearby hotel room while you’re at it.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Not only is the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival the largest film festival in Atlanta, it also became the largest Jewish film festival in the world back in 2015. Founded in 2000, the festival celebrates Jewish culture and history through film.
Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs is the anchor venue for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, but there will be film showings held all over Atlanta during the course of the festival.
Valdosta-Lowndes Azalea Festival
Georgia residents flock to Valdosta in March every year for the Valdosta-Lowndes Azalea Festival. This fun weekend event celebrates the beautiful flowers along with more than 200 vendors offering everything from arts and crafts to delicious food.
The event is held in Drexel Park, and with all those vendors the entire 11 acres of the park is always needed. There is also plenty of live entertainment, as well as special attractions like “Birds of Prey.”
International Cherry Blossom Festival
With more than 350,000 cherry blossom trees, the entire town of Macon becomes pink with blossoms every March, and all of middle Georgia gets together to celebrate with the International Cherry Blossom Festival.
The festival takes over Central City Park for ten full days and turns it into one of the most spectacular carnivals you have ever seen. Between the exciting rides, live stage show performances, and outstanding food, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Macon.
Savannah Music Festival
The Savannah Music Festival has been bringing together music lovers and artists from a wide assortment of genres since it started out all the way back in 1989.
Today, the festival features more than 500 different artists performing at all of the best venues around Savannah over a two-week period that covers the end of March and early April.
No matter what type of music you are looking for, you can find it at the Savannah Music Festival, but you might also find yourself enjoying something you weren’t necessarily looking for as well.
April – June
Thomasville Rose Show and Festival
One of the oldest festivals you will find in Georgia is the Thomasville Rose Show and Festival, which got its start as a department store window display all the way back in 1921.
That window display has evolved into a three-day festival held at the end of April each year.
The event features a fantastic rose parade and all kinds of fun for the whole family, making it the perfect time to visit the historic town of Thomasville.
During the first full week of April, the golf world turns its attention to Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA for The Masters. This iconic golf tournament is one of the PGA’s four major championships, and the course is renowned for its beauty.
Attending The Masters is on the bucket list of just about every major golf fan, and that experience can only be crossed off here in Georgia. Just be prepared to check your cell phone at the gate!
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Any time that a specific tree blooms in Georgia, there is a good chance that someone is throwing a festival to celebrate. During the early weeks of April, the dogwood trees start blooming, so the people of Atlanta celebrate with the Atlanta Dogwood Festival.
This massive event in Piedmont Park dates all the way back to 1936, and today’s version includes all kinds of art displays along with midway rides and the super fun Mimosa 5k.
Admission is free for just about everything at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, but you might want to consider pitching up the extra cash to participate in the Bites & Brews VIP event. Your taste buds will thank you.
Shaky Knees Music Festival
Located in Atlanta’s Central Park, the Shaky Knees Music Festival is a weekend-long celebration of rock music that is held at the beginning of May each year.
The festival typically includes more than 60 different performances, as well as some of the best Georgia food trucks serving everything from southern BBQ to healthy vegan options.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Nothing brings people together quite like a good food and wine festival, and the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival does exactly that on one special weekend in late May or early June each year.
In recent years, this festival has included more than 250 different events happening around the city over the course of one amazing weekend, and that’s not counting more than 90 cooking classes that also pop up around town.
Georgia Blueberry Festival
The Georgia Blueberry Festival is a two-day event that is held in Alma, GA on the first weekend of June. After growing blueberries became popular during the 1970s, the festival emerged as a natural way to celebrate the blueberry season.
The festivities include a blueberry cooking contest, a 5K color run, a Miss Georgia Blueberry Pageant, and a host of other ways to kick back and have a great time.
Georgia Peach Festival
There is nothing quite like a Georgia peach, and the communities of Fort Valley and Byron come together to celebrate that with the Georgia Peach Festival every June.
In addition to all of the normal festival attractions, the Georgia Peach Festival also features a huge parade, a Miss Georgia Peach pageant, and the world’s largest peach cobbler.
AthFest Music and Arts Festival
The middle of June is the perfect time to plan a visit to historic Athens, GA. That is when the AthFest Music and Arts Festival takes over downtown Athens for three full days of music and art.
On the music side, the festival features more than 100 acts performing across three different stages. Then there is the massive Artist Market, which is filled with local creators.
AthFest also includes a 14-stop Club Crawl that takes participants through some of the most popular spots in town.
July – September
Blue Ridge Mountains Wine and Jazz Festival
Another Georgia festival that is known for celebrating music and art in the month of June is the Blue Ridge Mountains Wine and Jazz Festival. Local artists and talented jazz musicians pack Mercier Orchards for this fun celebration each and every year.
The wines that are served at the festival are designed to highlight options from around the world, but there is definitely a specific focus on wines made in Georgia.
Georgia Mountain Fair
Located in the Northern Georgia mountains, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds hosts a number of big events throughout the year, but the one that everyone makes a point to attend is always the Georgia Mountain Fair.
The Georgia Mountain Fair is a week-long celebration of all things Georgia, and that includes some of the best food and music you will find anywhere. The fair is also packed full of exhibits highlighting various aspects of life in the Georgia mountains.
Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival
Callaway Gardens is the place to be on Labor Day weekend, which is when they host the annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival. You will be hard-pressed to find a bigger celebration of hot air balloons anywhere in the state.
The prime attractions at the festival include a Friday night “Balloon Glow,” as well as tethered balloon rides throughout each day of the weekend. Then there is all of the great music and food available around the resort throughout the long weekend.
This can also be a great festival for aspiring photographers as there is a full schedule of evening and night photography classes scheduled.
Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival
You don’t ever have to look very hard for a reason to visit Jekyll Island, but the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival is definitely one of the very best times to experience the island in all its glory.
The shrimp and grits cook-off is the primary attraction, but the island will also be filled with live music, a craft brew festival, an artist market, and plenty of other fun and excitement.
The Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival has taken place in September for years, but starting in 2020 it will move to November.
Arts in the Heart of Augusta
While there are many festivals that highlight local artists throughout the year here in Georgia, the ultimate festival for any local artist is Arts in the Heart of Augusta. This weekend event takes over downtown Augusta every year in late September.
If you are passionate about high-end arts and crafts, there are more than enough to keep you busy at Arts in the Heart of Augusta. On top of that, there is also delicious ethnic food from 20 different countries to choose from.
October – December
The Alpine town of Helen pays tribute to its German heritage, and that truly comes to light when Helen Oktoberfest shows up on the calendar every year in September and October.
Held in the town’s riverside “Festhalle,” it is one of the oldest Oktoberfest events in the entire country, and there is no shortage of authentic beer, food, and polkas…not to mention the lederhosen!
Georgia National Fair
The Georgia National Fair got its start all the way back in 1990, and it has grown over the years to the point where it now attracts almost half a million people to the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, GA every October.
The fair is primarily focused on local livestock with shows, prizes, and competitions. But there are also seemingly endless rows of food vendors, as well as carnival rides and local crafters displaying their creations.
Big Pig Jig
Georgia has long been known as a destination for BBQ lovers. There are BBQ festivals and cook-offs held all over the state throughout the year. But the Big Pig Jig in Vienna is the one that all of the best cooks refuse to miss.
The smell of burning peach wood takes over Vienna every November as the state’s most important whole hog cook-off gets underway. On the line is a guaranteed invite to the legendary Memphis in May cook-off.
Boat Parade of Lights
When it comes to holiday festivals in Georgia, no one wants to miss the stunning Boat Parade of Lights in Savannah at the end of November. This breathtaking parade helps ring in the holiday season each year as more than 40 different vessels make their way past the waterfront.
Visitors can enjoy this parade for free from the shore, or they can sign up to ride along as a part of the parade and enjoy appetizers and drinks with Savannah Riverboat Cruises.
Fantasy in Lights
Another amazing light display that everyone in Georgia will be talking about is the Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens. Ranked as one of the top ten light displays in the world by National Geographic, this is one that you truly must see.
As you might expect from Callaway Gardens, the entire resort goes all out to promote their Fantasy in Lights, and you can book entire getaways there that include even more immersive experiences.
Enchanted Garden of Lights
Perched high atop Lookout Mountain, just south of Chattanooga and the Tennessee border, Rocky City Garden hosts a fantastic light display every holiday season that is known as the Enchanted Garden of Lights.
As visitors walk through the Enchanted Garden of Lights, they will work their way through different themed areas like The Magic Forest, Arctic Kingdom, North Pole Village, and Yule Town. Each theme offers additional activities like meeting Santa and decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus.
Whether you are planning a quick visit or a long retirement in the state of Georgia, there is no denying that the Peach State is bursting with opportunities to keep yourself busy for just about as long as you like.
The only question left to ask is, “What are you going to do first?”