When working in the airline business, I spent time at airports all around the country conducting training and assisting with new expansion. Atlanta, Georgia was one such experience. I was only there for part of a summer, and a little bit of fall. While there, I discovered some excellent travel experiences all close enough to be called a day trip.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
As I wasn’t acclimated to the summer weather of Atlanta, my first motivation when seeking out day trips was to go somewhere to experience a little drop in temperature.Tallulah Gorge fit the bill. Less than two hours from Atlanta, it’s billed as one of the most spectacular canyons in the Eastern U.S. Two miles long and 1,000 feet deep, Tallulah Gorge is magnificent.
The path to the suspension bridge is described on the Georgia State Parks site as strenuous. I would just call it a brisk hike, as there are steps. It’s well worth going down past the bridge all the way to the gorge floor, but it does require a permit. Only 100 are issued per day, so you might want to arrive early.
If you happen to hear a banjo twanging, look out- part of the 1972 movie classic Deliverance was filmed at Tallulah Gorge.
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Another spot to get out in nature on a day trip out of Atlanta is Cloudland Canyon State Park. Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, around a two hour drive from Atlanta. Take I-75 toward Chattanooga, getting off on exit 320, and follow GA Route 136 all the way up to Cloudland.
There are some good hiking opportunities, including another staircase hike down to the bottom. This one is easier than Tallulah Gorge. Picnic areas, campsites and cottages if you choose to overnight, and a good outdoor experience await you.
The Waterfalls trail has the 600 step staircase, and is a two mile journey. The longer West Rim hike has some exceptional views. The park is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for day use, with the office hours being 8 -5.
The alternative music outpost of the Southeast, Athens has given rise to bands like Widespread Panic, R.E.M., and the B-52’s. Still with a lively music scene including Athfest, which for 2011 runs June 22-26. If you can’t make it during Athfest, fret not. Athens has a lively music scene throughout the year.
While in Athens, sample the eats at Farm 255, great food done in a sustainable fashion with locally sourced food from their own farms. Before, or after, eating, take a walk down to the east and explore historic downtown Athens with it’s antebellum architecture. Athens is only about an hour away.
A beach day trip always has to rank up there near the top. Getting to the sand, taking in the ocean views, marveling at the sea while enjoying good ice cream – hard to beat. Tybee Beach and Tybee Island are just about 20 minutes east of Savannah. Wide, expansive beaches that don’t get quite as crowded as some, a laid back atmosphere, and ocean breezes await.
There is history nearby too. The Tybee Island dates from 1773, and the Fort Pulaski National Monument is just to the west of the island. After a day lounging on the beach, check out historic Savannah before heading home. Savannah was spared the destruction Atlanta saw during General Sherman’s March to the Sea in the Civil War. Much of it’s antebellum distinction remains.
Screaming Eagles Zip Line Tours, Banning Mills
Feeling a little adventurous? Try the zip lines at The Lodges at Historic Banning Mills for an adrenaline rush. More than six miles of zip line, challenge elements, tree houses, towers with heights from 60 to 300 feet, you can spend a day zipping around the canopies. The website does have a warning letting guests know what to expect, but if you can meet the basic elements, it’s a worthy way to spend a few dollars.
Historic Banning Mills is a non-profit retreat and conservation center, with overnight options. You must make reservations for the zip line tour, make them online here.