Check out eight places beyond Atlanta to explore this summer. 

Lab, class, home — if this sounds like your daily routine, you’re not alone. That’s why Aurelio Bellotti sometimes escapes the city for a day trip. 

“Just going back and forth from campus to my house can make me feel claustrophobic,” said Bellotti, a third-year Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering. “I like hiking a lot, so Sweetwater Creek is one of my favorite places to go. It’s really cool to drive just 30 minutes away and feel like you’re in the mountains.”

Besides Sweetwater Creek, there are plenty of spots that are perfect for a day trip. Read on for a list of eight nearby destinations that will help you escape the city this summer. 

  1. Check out the largest lake in Georgia. Lake Lanier is located just 45 minutes north of Atlanta and offers a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, camping, and fishing. Plus, it’s home to Margaritaville at Lanier Islands where you’ll find restaurants, a water park with water slides, and more.
  2. Visit an Alpine village. About 90 minutes north of the city is Helen, Ga., a village that looks like it was transported from the Swiss Alps. Visit one of the local vineyards, stroll through the Folk Pottery Museum or Helen Arts & Heritage Council, or get a little shopping in at the Alpine Village Shoppes. If you’d rather partake in outdoor activities, check out Duke’s Creek Falls or the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound.
  3. Hike Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon. Drive south for about two hours, and you’ll reach Providence Canyon, home to trails through nine different canyons. The canyons date back to the 1800s when they were carved out of land damaged by poor farming practices. Visitors can see the red and orange rock formations by walking along the canyon rims, hike through the creeks and trails at the bottom, or check out the museum.
  4. See the state’s tallest waterfall. About 90 minutes north of Atlanta, you’ll find Amicalola Falls, which offers several different trails, including an eight-mile path to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Once you’re done hiking, try ziplining or practice your archery skills at the Amicalola Falls Lodge.
  5. Head to the coast. Not only is Atlanta close to the mountains, but it’s only about four hours west of the beach. Take a swim at one of Tybee Island’s public beaches, and then take a tour of the Tybee Island Light House, or check out historic Fort Screven.  
  6. Listen to some tunes. If you’re a music lover, make the 90-minute drive east to Athens where bands like R.E.M. and the B-52s got their start. You can find live music at spots including the Georgia Theatre, the Foundry, and the 40 Watt Club.  
  7. Find out about folk art. If you’re an art fan, make the two-hour drive north to Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, which is just outside Summerville, Ga. The garden is home to art and sculpture, including several buildings like the five-story Folk Art Chapel.
  8. Leave the state. It doesn’t take long to visit one of Georgia’s neighboring states. For example, a visit to Chattanooga, Tenn., (north of Atlanta) clocks in at about two hours. While you’re there, walk among the fishes at the Tennessee Aquarium, take a walk through the shops and statues in the Public Art District, or check out the Chattanooga Zoo.