Atlanta, Georgia offers everything from art museums and theaters to gourmet restaurants and outstanding shopping. However, if you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, consider hitting the beach on Tybee Island; exploring Georgia’s rich history in Savannah; or curling up in a hideaway in the mountains of Ellijay. An Atlanta vacation rental puts you in the heart of all these nearby attractions. Here’s a look at the seven most noteworthy weekend getaway spots from Atlanta.

1. Helen

Take in all gorgeous scenery as you drive the hour and a half from Atlanta to the mountain town of Helen. Make a stop at Babyland General in Cleveland on your way up to see the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids and get a new friend for your kids. This kitschy town is designed to resemble a Bavarian village. Walk through the downtown area and stop in the shops that sell authentic German and Swiss products, such as Windmill Dutch Imports and Lindenhaus Imports. You can spend your days hiking on the local trails or tube down the Chattahoochee with tube rentals from Cool River Tubing. Don’t forget to stop by Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen for some fudge to take back to your vacation rental.

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2. Augusta

Source: Flickr/Shannon McGee

Each year golfers and golf lovers flock to Augusta to watch the Masters Golf Tournament. Take an afternoon and hit the greens at the Augusta National Golf Club if it isn’t the tournament weekend. On a rainy afternoon, stop by the Augusta Train Museum that documents the history trains and their importance to commerce in the area, or stroll through the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art to gaze at the works of art. Spend an afternoon hiking or biking at the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. The park management offers a boat ride along the canal to learn more about the area for a small fee. Enjoy a low-key meal at Frog Hollow Tavern or grab a pizza from Roma’s Pizza to eat at your vacation rental.

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3. Savannah

Source: Flickr/Miguel Vieira

About five hours from Atlanta, Savannah sits near the coast and offers a weekend of outdoor activities, historical sites, and good food. On weekend mornings, make your way to the historic Grey Hound Bus Station and enjoy an amazing brunch at the Grey, a local gourmet restaurant, on the patio outside if weather permits. After brunch, take a walk in Forsyth Park and Pulaski Square to see the historic townhomes and wander underneath the massive oaks. You can even see where Tom Hanks sat as Forest Gump. Take an afternoon walk along river street and purchase a box of homemade pralines from River Street Sweets to eat as you watch the barrages on the waterway. In the evening, take a pub tour with Savannah Slow Ride. If you’re looking for a weekend of excitement, schedule your vacation rental for the city’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day or Octoberfest.

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4. Jekyll Island

Source: Flickr/Evangello Gonzalez

Who knew within half a day’s drive, you can check out island life on Jekyll Island? This weekend getaway offers a rich history, great food, and easy access to the ocean. Stay within walking distance of Driftwood Beach to enjoy a sunset walk with your sweetie or let the kids play in the surf while you soak up the sun. In the evening, chow down on Low Country favorites at the Driftwood Bistro. Select a table on the patio to watch the sun go down and enjoy the evening breeze. Visit the St. Simons Island Light and historic Coast Guard station to take a guided tour and learn more about shipwrecks and stories of life on the seas.

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5. Tybee Island

Source: Flickr/Dan J

Another great beach location is the small town of Tybee Island, with its retro 1950s beach town feel. Located on the Georgia coast and around six hour’s drive from Atlanta, Tybee Island offers some amazing seafood places with its variety of locally-owned restaurants, such as The Crab Shack and North Beach Bar and Grill, where you can grab a table inside or outside on nice days. If you’re faced with an afternoon rain shower, take the little ones to Tybee Island Marine Science Center, where they can touch a dolphin. Once the weather clears, sign up for a beach walk led by one of the centers knowledgeable guides. Take a self-guided tour of the Tybee Island Light and museum.

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6. Athens

Source: Flickr/Chris Lawrence

Only about an hour’s drive from Atlanta, Athens is home to the University of Georgia and a great weekend escape. Visit in the fall months to soak up the excitement of the college’s championship-winning football team or get tickets for a game. Walk around downtown to check out the cute shops selling clothing, antiques, and jewelry, including the Junkman’s Daughter and Agora Vintage. You can grab a slice of pizza from Transmet, or design your own donut at Zombie Donuts. There are two breweries in town. Terrapin offers a tour of the property with the last stop at the tasting room, where you buy a commemorative glass to fill up with eight different samples of beer, and Creature Comforts that has a tasting room in the downtown area.

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7. Ellijay

Source: Flickr/Nikki Wolfe

Ellijay sits two hours north of Atlanta in the mountains and offers days filled with hiking, biking, and fishing. Arrive in the spring months to enjoy all things apples, including two apple festivals and roadside stands selling baskets of the area’s favorite fruit. In downtown, pick up your own bottle of real moonshine at Mountain Treasures or check out other cute shops including Green Willow Soap. The Back Porch Bistro offers a variety of southern dishes for lunch or dinner. Tour Cartecay Vineyards and enjoy sampling their brand.

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