Road trips from Atlanta made easy—getting there is half the fun!
The options for road trips from Atlanta abound. Within hours, you can be in the mountains, at a lake or on Georgia’s glorious coastline. If you’re itching to plan an itinerary, here are three must-visit destinations and enticing stops along the way to break up the drive.
LIVE THAT LAKE LIFE AT LAKE RABUN
Lake Rabun, about two hours from Buckhead, has long been a home away from home for Atlantans thanks to its proximity and all it has to offer, especially for nature enthusiasts. Peace and quiet can be found along the winding lake, as can traditional outdoor activities such as boating and waterskiing. Most food options can be found in nearby Clayton (cityofclaytonga.gov) and Tallulah Falls (tallulahfallsga.gov), such as Tallulah 1882 (tallulah1882.com), a tea house and coffee shop. If you’re looking to have a bite on the lake, Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant (lakerabunhotel.com) will satisfy. Private rentals are the preferred accommodation as most are on the lake, but there are a few bed-and-breakfasts and inns such as Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant (glenella.com), a short drive away from lake access.
On the Way
Practically a destination unto itself, Jaemor Farms (jaemorfarms.com) is about halfway between Atlanta and Lake Rabun. Enjoy its robust farmstand and market, plus activities such as corn mazes, pumpkin patches or peach picking, depending on the season. Stop in Clarkesville (clarkesvillega.com), which has a quaint downtown and Main Street with shops and restaurants. Before getting out of the car, stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park (gastateparks.org/tallulahgorge), 8 miles from Lake Rabun, to take a scenic hike at one of Georgia’s most visited state parks.
STAY SEASIDE ON ST. SIMONS ISLAND
A five-hour drive to the coast of Georgia might seem interminable, but it’s worth it if St. Simons Island, the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles, is your destination. A popular vacation spot for a reason, it boasts many features, including its quaint downtown The Pier and several resorts such as The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort (kingandprince.com), The Cloister at Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island (seaisland.com). Barbecue fans will want to pencil in a stop at Southern Soul Barbeque (southernsoulbbq.com). If you’re into seafood, options such as Barbara Jean’s (barbarajeans.com) and Crabdaddy’s (crabdadysgrill.com) have been serving locals and visitors alike for decades. Day trips to nearby Cumberland Island (cumberlandisland.com), Jekyll Island (jekyllisland.com) and Sapelo Island can also be easily arranged.
On the Way
The small town of Juliette is the home of The Whistlestop Cafe (thewhistlestopcafe.com), a central figure in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Indulge in traditional Southern fare such as fried chicken and country fried steak while you take in the picturesque restaurant. Savannah (visitsavannah.com) is a natural stop as I-16, the middle interstate that connects I-85 to 1-95, ends there. It warrants its own trip, of course, but if you only have a little while to explore, I-16 ends about 6 blocks from the Mercer-Williams House Museum (mercerhouse.com) and nearby famous Forsyth Park. Further along I-95 is Old School Diner (oldschooldiner.com) an out-ofthe- way seafood joint that is an experience to remember. After you turn at the Smallest Church in America on Highway 17 and Harris Neck Road, you’ll know you’re close to Old School Diner when you smell fried shrimp.
MAKING MOUNTAIN MAGIC IN BLUE RIDGE
If it’s wide-open expanses and sunsets that you crave, head to Northwest Georgia and visit Blue Ridge. Unwind Luxury Vacations (unwindluxuryvacations.com) is a good place to start if you’re looking for vetted, luxurious cabins. The area has 15 to choose from, and there’s not a bad view in the bunch. Stroll through downtown and be sure to stop at Das Kaffee Haus (daskh.com) on Main Street for your morning brew. Restaurants and local shops mix with attractions such as the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (brscenic.com) and Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (blueridgearts.net). Take a midday break at Harvest on Main (harvestonmain.com), a farm-to-table restaurant where housemade pimento cheese and blackened local trout are favorites.
On the Way
Any northwest-bound road trip needs to start with a trip to Expedition: Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum (expeditionbigfoot.com). There, browse the world’s largest Bigfoot museum, complete with interactive displays. If you have time once on I-75, head west to Booth Western Art Museum (boothmuseum.org) in Cartersville. It’s easy to get back on track by connecting with State Route 411. Ellijay (PickEllijay.com) is another nearby charming mountain town popular with explorers.
STORY: Lauren Finney Harden
Simply Buckhead is an upscale lifestyle magazine focused on the best and brightest individuals, businesses and events in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the magazine serves as the authority on who to know, what to do and where to go in the community, and its surroundings.