Most people associate the Peach State with Six Flags, Stone Mountain, wonderful beaches, and the historic significance of the city of Savannah. However, some of the most unforgettable points of interest are located along the roads less-traveled, where you can find spectacular sites ranging from unnatural blunders to natural wonders. Whether you want to hike in a canyon caused by blundering farmers, scuba dive in a quarry, hike along a secluded creek, or stop to admire wild horses on an island, Georgia has it all. Book a stay at one of many vacation rentals in Georgia for your upcoming adventure.
1. Sapelo Island
People know about most of Georgia’s coastal islands, but tiny Sapelo Island gives you a unique experience that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of crowded vacation venues. You need to take a ferry, a boat, or an airplane to reach this barrier island, located five miles off the mainland. While you won’t see any hotels or restaurants, your Sapelo Island vacation rental gives you access to the secluded beach and tantalizing hiking trails. Some of the locals rent out bicycles, giving visitors transportation for sightseeing, including going on a guided tour of the Sapelo Lighthouse, the country’s second-oldest brick lighthouse.
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2. Cumberland Island National Seashore
It’s mostly about the wild horses on the beaches when you visit Cumberland Island National Seashore, but you also find dunes, lakes, and marshes. History indicates that the horses arrived in the late 1500s, and islanders kept them as livestock during plantation days before and after the Civil War. You get to enjoy 18 miles of pristine, undeveloped shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean for a secluded beach vacation experience like no other between your visits to historic sites. The only way to travel between the island and the mainland by ferry, personal boat, or kayak.
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3. Noah’s Ark Rehabilitation Center, Locust Grove
Noah’s Ark Rehabilitation Center is a 250-acre sanctuary home for more than 1,500 abused, neglected, and unwanted animals. This free-admission facility includes a playground and a family picnic area, giving you a beautiful natural place to spend the day and learn about the animals. Enjoy free, self-guided tours between noon and 3:00 pm on Tuesday through Saturday. Ask about Walk on the Wild Side tours and Keeper for a Day experiences to enhance your adventure.
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4. Etowah Indian Mounds, Cartersville
The Etowah Indians created their mounds more than 1,000 years ago, and historians say that little is known about this culture. The Etowahs built the mounds for burial sites, and built raised platforms to hold the homes of their leaders. The museum displays artifacts that show how the people used shells, paints, feathers, and copper jewelry to adorn themselves. Other exhibits include hand-carved stone effigies bearing original pigments, wooden objects, and seashells.
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5. Sleepy Hollow, Blairsville
The world of magic welcomes visitors of all ages and their pets to stroll through Sleepy Hollow. A former Disney artist and engineer designed and built this fairyland in the forest, where whimsical magical fairy houses, gnome homes, and hobbit huts peek out along pathways, in the garden, and around the trees. Little kids enjoy playing inside the larger houses and exploring the secrets nestled the woods. The gift shop sells unique, colorful, adorable structures from bird houses to dog houses to children’s playhouses.
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6. New Manchester Mill Ruins, Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs
Many visitors to Sweetwater Creek State Park overlook New Manchester Mill Ruins and its tremendous history. Originally called Sweetwater Mill, this 1849 factory used the flowing creek water to power the cotton mill processes. Near the end of the Civil War, Union troops set the mill ablaze, destroying all but the brick walls. Hiking trails lead visitors to the green, lush grotto where foliage all but covers the crumbling remains of the once prosperous manufacturing structure.
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7. Kraken Springs Watersports Park, White
Get your family together for scuba diving at Kraken Springs Watersports Park, the only recreational open-water diving resort in Georgia. Once known as Dive Georgia Quarry, it features four training platforms, two buoyancy rings, and over 12 sunken treasure to explore. Besides swimming among brim, bass, catfish, and turtles, check out the steam shovel, school bus, jet ski, cars, and lots more at depths from 20 feet to 145 feet. Whether you’re an experienced diver or donning your first wet suit, this strictly scuba park includes a full range of rental equipment along with expert instructors.
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8. Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn
Sneak a peek at the stunning views nestled against the canyon walls of Cloudland Canyon State Park, one of the state’s true hidden gems. Several trails lead down into the canyon, giving you breathtaking views of the canyon, bluffs, and dense, lush forest. Singing creeks meander through the valley, dancing over bluffs and ledges, creating mesmerizing waterfalls along the way.
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9. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Lilburn
Made of thousands of from India, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the largest Hindu temple in America. The mandir contains 36,000 pieces of Indian pink sandstone, Turkish limestone, and Italian Carrara marble, all carved in India and designed to fit together like a puzzle. Artisans engraved reliefs, statues, and interwoven designs into the stones as part of the preparation process. Whether you visit to worship, to relax, or to admire the striking architecture, note the five towering pinnacles, 116 arches, 340 columns, and 86 decorative ceilings. The temple, which stands on 30 acres, welcomes the public.
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10. Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area, Lumpkin
Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area features hiking trails that meander through stunning landscapes and varying terrain. Named as one of the state’s Seven Natural Wonders–and dubbed “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon”–this unique canyon resulted from poor soil management in which inexperienced farmers plowed deep furrows that grew into ravines as a result of wind and rain. Yes, human error gave us the eye-popping canyon walls in this scenic anomaly where rusting 1950s vehicles exist amid rare Plumleaf Azaleas. As you stroll a long the hiking trails, look for the 1859 Providence Methodist Church and its cemetery where some of the early settlers rest. There’s a picnic area and a playground accompanying the trails that require diverse degrees of hiking ability.
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