Georgia might be home to high summer temperatures, but it also offers cool mountain heights, lakes, forests, and plentiful festivals and events that you can’t find any other time of year. For instance, you can enjoy a weekend celebrating great barbecue and bluegrass music, as well as a Renaissance festival that takes you to a bygone era. Regardless of which city you book a Georgia vacation rental in, there are abundant fun summer activities for visitors of all ages. Check out the top places in Georgia for an unforgettable summer trip.

1. Hiawassee

Hiawassee
Source: Flickr/Shawn Taylor

Located just shy of the North Carolina and Georgia border in the Chattahoochee National Forest is Hiawassee, a small town that hosts a huge annual summer festival. The Georgia Mountain Fair, which takes place over a 9-day period in July, pulls in thousands of people with carnival rides, live music and entertainment, family-friendly activities, arts and crafts, and great food. Each day boasts a different musical act ranging from bluegrass to gospel. The Old Ways exhibit is a hands-on demonstration that both kids and adults are sure to enjoy where you learn about quilting, black smithing, soap making, and pork skin frying. The Pioneer Village takes the good old days a step further featuring 19th-century buildings from a one room schoolhouse to a smoke house and barn. With Hiawassee’s location on Lake Chatuge and the Lake Chatuge Recreation Area, you can cool off during the particularly hot days with some swimming and boating.

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2. Atlanta

Atlanta
Source: Facebook/Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta might be a huge, hot metropolis, but there are plenty of fun summer events such as the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, which takes place in early June. There’s something for the entire family from good old Southern favorites such as fried chicken that the kids are sure to enjoy and adult-friendly artisan meats and cheeses. Or you can opt for the music and food option during roughly the same time at the Candler Park Music and Food Festival. This two-day event boasts an artist market, field games, and a morning 5k, a great healthy activity for the entire family. Speaking of family-friendly fun, mid-June as Atlanta Fest, a Christian music festival that takes place at Six Flags. There are rides, music, and all sorts of live entertainment.

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3. Helen

Helen
Source: Flickr/Jeff Gunn

Head north to the southern fringes of the Chattahoochee National Forest to the little town of Helen. The mountainous, wooded town is the perfect place to host Bavarianfest, a festival landing toward the end of May and beginning of June. Try out some brats with sauerkraut, a Bavarian classic, as well as pretzels, hot dogs, and dessert while enjoying live music. After the festival, hike up the Anna Ruby, Raven Cliff, of Dukes Creek falls. Or go tubing down the Chattahoochee River, a popular way to cool off during the summer.

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4. Alma

Alma
Source: Facebook/georgiablueberryfestival

Alma is a little town in southern Georgia known for its blueberries. The two-day Blueberry Festival in early June celebrates the county’s fruity heritage with live entertainment, activities, and food. There’s a blueberry pie contest and blueberry pancake breakfast along with crafts and vendors. There’s an entire inflatable play area for the kids, water slides, a train ride, and face painting, making it the perfect event for the entire family. While in town, stop for some good Southern cooking at Shortys Pit Stop BBQ and Rockingham BBQ.

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5. Fairburn

Fairburn
Source: Flickr/Clevergrrl

Fairburn, southwest of Atlanta, is home to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, a 2-month affair that culminates in June. An entire 16th-century English Village hosts the festivities with jousting and sword fights, carnival games and rides, hundreds of artisan craft shops, and a live birds of prey demonstration. Grab a turkey leg, and gnaw on it as you enjoy the sites. The Kids Kingdom is the perfect place for the little ones with games, activities, and fun to keep them busy as you enjoy the adult entertainments.

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6. Blairsville

Blairsville
Source: Flickr/c_live_lee

Blairsville is in northern Georgia bordering Chattahoochee National Forest and Nottely Lake. Escape the summer’s heat under the cool boughs of the forest with a hike through Meeks Park and Vogel State Park. In fact, June 2 is National Trails Day, and Vogel State Park is celebrating it by offering family-friendly hikes, service projects, and a picnic lunch. The following weak is the annual Kids Fishing Rodeo, a friendly competition in which kids fish Wolf Creek with prizes for the winners. If you can’t make if for either of those, Vogel State Park has events going all summer from twilight kayaking on Lake Trahlyta to night hiking. If you’re in town in mid-June, enjoy the annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Think kilts, log-tossing, bagpipes, and traditional Scottish fare.

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7. Dillard

Dillard

Dillard is a tiny, nearly minuscule, town in northeastern Georgia in the heart of the Chattahoochee and Natahala national forests. While the pace here is slow the rest of the year, during the summer is the Bluegrass and Barbeque Festival when that pace picks up and the population swells. The festival, which falls in early August, features live bluegrass bands, local barbecue, and plenty of kid-friendly activities. There’s a Kid’s Corner with crafts and games, a Pig Pen Challenge, and BBQ Bingo. Between good food and music, go fishing or kayaking on Betty Creek.

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8. Dahlonega

Dahlonega
Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gwringle

If you’re traveling over the Independence Day holiday, head to Dahlonega which is known state-wide for its huge 4th of July celebration. Start off with the Firecracker 5k fun run where you can get some family exercise and enjoy the historic downtown route. Next, browse the All-American Market bursting with handmade crafts and local food vendors. Take the family to the Adventure Zone which has bounce houses, water slides, and other kid-friendly activities. Finish off by watching the fireworks display and savoring some local barbecue. If you have any free time, go down to Lake Lanier for some swimming and boating. LanierWorld, a water park, lies on the banks of the lake if you want to make it a day of water fun.

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9. Valdosta

Valdosta
Source: Facebook/Wild Adventures Theme Park

Valdosta is just north of the Florida border, a good-size city with plenty of summer activities, not the least of which is the Wild Adventures Water and Theme Park. With more than 40 rides, water slides, and a zoo with 300 exotic animals and a massive aviary, it combines fun with education while keeping you cool amid the summer heat. Take time to explore the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area. There are nature walks and boardwalks through the swamp and an observatory tower that gives you a great view of the area.

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10. Tybee Island

Tybee Island

No summer trip is complete without a vacation rental on the beach, and Tybee Island is the ideal place for this. It’s not far from Savannah, so you can always head to the big city for fun while being just far enough away to give you peace among the sand and sea. Take part in the annual Beach Bum Parade in May or party at the Labor Day Beach Bash. Either way, you have access to surfing, kayaking, swimming, and dolphin watching (try Captain Derek’s Tybee Dolphin Adventure for the latter).

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