From the cosmopolitan Atlanta to the waterfront beauty of Savannah to the quaint mountain towns of Dahlonega and much-touristed Helen to Stone Mountain, the parks and monuments,… Georgia is ripe for exploration. But head to some less well-known destinations for a sweet experience of history, beauty, and a true taste of Georgia.
Black Rock Mountain State Park
From marsh and shore, head to the heights. Black Rock Mountain State Park is Georgia’s highest state park and offers some incredible views of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. At 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain state park is a perfect late summer getaway offering cool temperatures and plenty of shade. Find four hiking trails that wind past streams, small waterfalls, wildflowers, and cool, lush forests. A small lake is popular with anglers. As well as with those who don’t want to fish can enjoy a walking trail around the lake.
Anyone planning to tow an RV to Black Rock State Park should be prepared to navigate steep winding roads. Tent sites with spectacular views and plenty of privacy are available or stay in one of the park’s mountain top cabins.
Cumberland, Jekyll, and St. Simon barrier islands are among Georgia’s crown jewels and rightly so. Drawing thousands of tourists to their unspoiled beaches and resorts. Head to Sapelo Island instead and go beyond the beaches to soak up some unique history and culture. Accessible only by ferry or plane, Sapelo is the fourth largest island in the chain of coastal Georgia islands. It sits between the Savannah and St. Mary’s rivers. Most of the island is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, except the community of Hog Hammock, the home of about 70 full-time residents, many of whom are descended from the West African Gullah-Geechee freed slaves of Sapelo’s plantations. Explore miles of unspoiled beaches and protected marshland on Sapelo.
Also, on the island is R.J. Reynolds Mansion which was built by Thomas Spalding in 1810 and restored by automotive pioneer Howard Coffin in 1925 and tobacco heir Richard J. Reynolds in the 1940s. Arrange overnight accommodations at the mansion, stay with one of the island’s residents, rent a cottage or camp, but bring everything you’ll need with you; there’s only one small general store which keeps only semi-regular hours.
Carved by roaring river waters millions of years ago, the canyon, on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, will dazzle with thousand-foot canyons, sandstone cliffs, caves and waterfalls, and wild-life rich forested lands. Stay to enjoy the hiking, biking, guided caving trips, fishing, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities. Lodging choices include campgrounds, wilderness camping, cottages, and even yurts.
Peaches may be the Georgia claim to fame, but Ellijay, in the North Georgia Mountains, is the heart of Georgia apple country. Ellijay is a small mountain town that offers big family fun. They have plenty of apple-related activities including apple picking in heirloom orchards and apple festivals. Fun is always in season in Ellijay, even when apples aren’t. Stay in a local campground or rent a mountain cabin so you can savor all Ellijay has to offer. Including golf, a historic downtown, and a stop at a local winery – including some that feature apple infused wines.
Peach Wine Tour
Georgia is definitely more well-known for its bountiful summer fruit than wine, but enterprising vintners have found a way to uncork a new flavor on the world – combining sweet Georgia peaches with wines for a unique Georgia taste. About a dozen wineries produce peach wines throughout Georgia and welcome visitors for tastings and pre-arranged tours. Head to the lowlands and Butterducks, in Guyton, near Savannah, where a full-line of peach wines from the chardonnay blend Duck Call White to Dancing Ducks Super Sweet Joyful, a luscious dessert wine, is produced.
What is your favorite Georgia hidden gem?
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