12-Day Best of Georgia Itinerary

The Peach State is physically immense, the largest east of the Mississippi River, so understandably it will take more than a few days to cover the highlights. This 12-day Georgia itinerary covers some of the best places to visit in the state. A vehicle is required for this grand tour of Georgia, beginning in Atlanta and ending in Savannah on the coast.

historic swan house mansion surrounded by trees
The historic Swan House at the Atlanta History Center. Photo © Wizreist/Dreamstime.

Day 1

Your first day in Atlanta brings you up to Buckhead to visit the Atlanta History Center, with a tour of the ornate and unique Swan House. Do some shopping at Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. For the afternoon head Downtown to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and pay your respects to this great Georgian. Tonight if the Braves are in town go see a game at Turner Field.

Day 2

This morning head to Centennial Olympic Park and enjoy the Georgia Aquarium or perhaps some cheesy fun at the World of Coca-Cola. Head back to Midtown for lunch at Empire State South before visiting the High Museum of Art for the afternoon. After dinner and cocktails at Einstein’s, take in a show at the historic Fox Theatre.

Swiss-inspired buildings in the town of Helen
The town of Helen was rebuilt in the 1960s to mimic a typical German-Swiss mountain village. Photo © SeanPavonePhoto/iStock.

Day 3

Drive the short distance north of Atlanta to Amicalola Falls State Park and stay at the lodge there. Spend the early afternoon hiking in the area, especially around Springer Mountain, southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (you’ll have to come back to hike that when you have a few months!). If that’s too strenuous, shoot over on Highway 52 to Dahlonega and learn about America’s first gold rush at the Dahlonega Gold Museum on the square. Either way, tonight have brats and brews in the nearby Alpine village of Helen.

Day 4

Today head east and enjoy the view from the top of Black Rock Mountain State Park before stopping for a bite in charming Clayton. Spend the afternoon at nearby Tallulah Gorge State Park. Later head back to the lodge at Amicalola Falls.

Day 5

Take I-85 South through Atlanta to Highway 27 and down to little Warm Springs to visit FDR’s Little White House and the nearby therapeutic pools where he swam. After lunch in cute Pine Mountain, head down to the wild folk-art compound of Pasaquan in Buena Vista before hitting Americus for the night, staying at the historic high-Victorian Windsor Hotel.

dusky blue sky over lush forest and canyon in Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia
Providence Canyon is also referred to as the “Little Grand Canyon of Georgia.” Photo © SeanPavonePhoto/iStock.

Day 6

Today you visit nearby Plains, birthplace and still home to former president Jimmy Carter. Visit his old high school, now a museum, and his boyhood farm. From there continue west on Highway 27 to Providence Canyon, a stunning and unique state natural area, before heading back to the Windsor Hotel.

Day 7

This morning head 12 miles northeast of Americus to Andersonville and the National Prisoner of War Museum, a stirring and affecting site encompassing Civil War history and beyond. From here you take back roads to I-75 again, this time north to Macon, hitting the ancient Indian mounds at Ocmulgee National Monument before getting to the best B&B in town, the 1842 Inn.

Day 8

Enjoy your luxurious breakfast at 1842 Inn before touring the incredible Hay House nearby, one of the South’s great house museums. For a change of pace after lunch, stop at the new Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House. At night, take the Lights on Macon free walking tour of the historic Intown neighborhood near the 1842 Inn.

Day 9

This morning head east on I-16 to Savannah, where you’ll spend the day walking the moss-draped squares and perhaps touring the Owens-Thomas House before checking into a boutique hotel like the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront or a classic B&B like the Eliza Thompson House. Tonight, dine in style at Elizabeth on 37th and end with a nightcap at Rocks on the Roof at the Bohemian Hotel while watching the ships go up and down the river. Or, take one of the many ghost tours in town, if that’s your thing.

Day 10

Get up early for the drive down to the Jekyll Island Historic District and the beachcombing on the nearby strand. After a late lunch at the Jekyll Island Club, drive a short ways down to St. Simons Island and spend the afternoon at historic Fort Frederica National Monument before dinner in the old Village and the drive back to Savannah.

blue sky over the remains of Fort Frederica
Fort Frederica was built in 1736 to protect Georgia’s southern flank from the Spanish. Photo © Jim Morekis.

Day 11

Have a morning stroll in green Forsyth Park in Savannah’s Victorian district and lunch at world-famous Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room (get in line early!) before heading back to downtown proper and the Telfair Museums on Telfair Square. Save time to visit the nearby Ellis Square and City Market area and do some shopping on bustling Broughton Street.

Day 12

This morning drive east to beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery on your way out to Fort Pulaski National Monument and the Tybee Island Light Station on Tybee Island for a day of beach-oriented fun. On the way back to downtown Savannah, grab fresh shrimp and oysters at Desposito’s.

Jim Morekis

About the Author

Maybe its because he was born in the same hospital as Flannery O'Connor, but there's no doubt that Jim Morekis has writing in his blood. As longtime editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Connect Savannah, the University of Georgia graduate has written about and experienced pretty much every cultural happening in the area. He credits his love of travel to his mother, Elizabeth, who was John Berendt's travel agent during his stint in Savannah while writing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

As for the ongoing debate over which city is better, Charleston or Savannah, Jim calls it a tie: Charleston has better long-term planning, but Savannah has to-go cups (allowing anyone to explore the Historic District with a beer or cocktail in hand).

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Riverboat docked in Savannah, GA. Pinterest Graphic.