Despite the state's motto advocating moderation, Georgia is truly the land of plenty, offering up a multitude of landscapes, history, and good old fashioned southern charm. Georgia's varying environment and personality make it the perfect getaway for both non-stop activity, and relaxation.
Georgia's varying landscape means that there are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. From hiking the Appalachian Mountains in the North, to tanning on the beaches in the west.
The southern region will appeal to nature lovers. It offers beaches, offshore barrier islands, wetlands, walking and biking trails, and quaint shrimping villages to explore. Visitors will be charmed by the romantic city of Savannah with its cobblestone antebellum squares, surrounded by historic architecture which lines the rivers.
Further north the pace of life picks up in the entirely modern city of Atlanta. The cultural and business hub of Georgie, there is an endless stream of entertainment in the form of opera, ballet, theatre, and mmuch more. Particularly interesting are the museums dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement that was birthed in Atlanta.
Whichever region of Georgia one chooses to visit, from the Atlanta metropolis, plantations of the deep South, or the coast, there is one common denominator: everywhere visitors are received and hosted with traditional southern hospitality.
Georgia is the fifth largest state in the US and offers its visitors a multitude of places to see and exciting things to do. One of the reasons Georgia is so popular is because it offers such a variety of tourist attractions and activities. With bustling metropolitan areas like Atlanta providing the bright city lights and modern appeal, and the picturesque coastal regions and historic estates offering a trip back in time, Georgia has it all.
In Atlanta you'll find history, culture and all forms of urban amusement. Martin Luther King Jr was born in Atlanta and many of the city's most popular attractions pay tribute to this well-loved native son. The Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Site and the Atlanta History Center are always popular choices. Those in search of some adventure or just some unadulterated fun will find it at places like the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola, Six Flags Over Georgia or Stone Mountain Park - all fabulous family attractions for those travelling with kids in Atlanta.
Savannah is also not to be missed. An historic neighbourhood in its own right and home to cultural gems like the Telfair Museum of Art and the History Museum, Savannah also gives visitors a vibrant experience with its many waterfront souvenir shops, jazzy sidewalk cafes and wonderful restaurants.
Explore the 13 hectares (33 acres) of beautiful gardens, award-winning exhibitions, and interactive activities at the Atlanta History Center.
The main attractions are two historic homes, open to the public offering informative guided tours. The Tullie Smith House originally stood outside the city limits but has been relocated to the History Center. The house was built in the 1840s and survived the near-total destruction of Atlanta in 1864 when General William Sherman burned almost two thirds of the city during his infamous 'March to the Sea'. The farmhouse is typical of most in Georgia at the time, despite popular belief that not all Georgians owned large plantations and mansions.
The Swan House, built in 1928, is a grand Italianate mansion that is an Atlanta landmark, once the home of Edward and Emily Inman, heirs to a cotton brokerage fortune. The History Center also features several other historic buildings and exhibitions.
Venture through the Victorian house where Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929. Here visitors can see where America's Nobel prize-winning Civil Rights leader grew up and where the movement was birthed.
A half-mile stretch of Auburn Avenue, including King's birth home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and the memorial tomb at the King Center where he is buried has been made designated a historic site, drawing hundreds of visitors every day. The exhibits contained within provide insight into the life and times of this much-revered man. Tours are conducted every 30 minutes on a first-come first-serve basis.
In 1886 Jacob's Pharmacy, a small drugstore in Atlanta, began selling a new headache and hangover tonic called 'Coca-Cola'. In 1891, entrepreneur Asa Candler paid $2,300 to acquire the rights of what is now the world's most valuable brand. The following year he founded the Coca-Cola Company.
The new, environmentally-friendly construction houses more than just a museum dedicated to Coca-Cola; it is an entire soft-drink experience. Thousands of Coke objects, trivia and memorabilia are contained among the interactive exhibits, backed up by commercials, radio jingles, a 4-D theatre, tasting, and a Pop Culture Gallery.
Kennesaw Mountain was the scene of a bloody Civil War battle, where in 1864, General Sherman led his Union forces against the entrenched Confederate forces at the site. This resulted in the death of more than 67,000 soldiers.
The park now consists of several thousand acres of protected land, covered with more than 17 miles (27km) of interpretive walking trails. The trails contain historic earthworks and cannon placements, wuere markers and memorials have been placed to commemorate the event.
A small museum at the site displays Civil War artefacts, and a visitor's centre provides information about the battle on the site. This popular park is visited by more than a million people each year, many of whom come to picnic and enjoy the views that the mountain has over Atlanta.
Be sure to visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden while in the city. The Fuqua Conservatory in particular is worthing seeing, a giant greenhouse containing different climate-controlled eco-systems. A walk through the conservatory takes visitors from a desert into a steamy tropical jungle. Outdoors the gardens are criss-crossed with dedicated nature walks, bypassing many quiet spots designed for peaceful contemplation. The garden permanently features numerous sculptures and art pieces, as well as hosting art exhibitions on a regular basis.
As one of the South's pre-eminent museums, Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a gateway for discovery and exploration. It explores the story of the earth's history, the physical universe, the environment and human culture through exhibitions, programs and films in the IMAX Theatre. Opened in 1992, Fernbank is 'Atlanta's Home to Dinosaurs,' a reputation highlighted by , a distinctive permanent exhibition which features the world's largest dinosaurs.
The characteristic pink homestead at the heart of Savannah's historic district was the first of the city's architectural treasures to be saved for posterity. Visitors to the house can tour the building both day and night, and partake in high tea at Mrs Davenport's.
The house was built between 1815 and 1820 by Isaiah Davenport, a master builder. It features a semi-circular staircase with wrought-iron trim leading up to the recessed front door. Inside the polished hardwood floors gleam and the mansion is furnished befitting the period with Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Sheraton pieces.
The Savannah History Museum gives an excellent introduction to the city, its exhibits reflecting the city's history from its founding to the present day. The museum is housed in a restored railway station that dates from before the Civil War and is one of Georgia's 43 National Historic Landmarks. Visitors can enjoy an exhibit on Girl Scout founder Juliet Lowe, as well as sit on the bench used for the filming of 'Forest Gump'. Just across the street in the Battlefield Memorial Park, a memorial to the second bloodiest battle of the American Revolution.
The Telfair Museum of Art is the oldest public art museum in the South, fittingly housed in an important historic building, the Owens-Thomas House. The house, overlooking Oglethorpe Square, was designed by William Jay, a young English architect, who introduced the British Regency style to America.
The art museum's permanent collection includes paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts by both American and European artists. The museum encompasses the art gallery, restored rooms in the historic house, and the Jepson Center for the Arts. Guided tours are offered daily, included in the admission price.
A short distance to the east of central Savannah stands Georgia's oldest standing fort, surrounded by a deep tidal moat. The fort was preceded by a mud battery, the brick fort having been built in 1808. It was the headquarters for the Confederate river defences during the Civil War, when it was enlarged and strengthened. The fort today contains numerous exhibits about the war. Live historical re-enactments and cannon firings are staged daily in spring and summer. The fort also offers picturesque views of Savannah's skyline, and the grounds are a good place for a walk on a pleasant day.
Originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Turner Field was converted after the event to serve as the home of major league baseball team the Atlanta Braves. Affectionately known as 'The Ted', the open-air stadium is a great place to spend a hot summer night in Atlanta. The stadium is also home to the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum and Hall of Fame, with exhibits on famous Braves players like Greg Maddux, Bobby Cox, and Hank Aaron, as well as Braves owner and stadium namesake, Ted Turner.
The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in America, containing over 100,000 animals from 500 species. Creatures from all around the world are are displayed here, from whale sharks and manta rays, to sea lions and sea otters, penguins, sharks and a riot of colourful fish. The Aquarium also has a 4-D theatre that features an animated 3-D film, interactive seats and live actors, as well as a café and the Ocean Ballroom for special events. A popular attraction is the Dolphin Tales show, where features choreographed musical performances by the dolphin stars.
Located in deep in the city's art district, Atlantas's High Museum of Art is home to more than 15,000 pieces in its permanent collection. This includes 19th and 20th century American art, important and visiting European collections, as well as contemporary art and photography, and African art. The museum has an impressive collection of Civil Rights photography.
Atlanta's Fox Theatre, otherwise known as the Fabulous Fox, is a movie palaces built in the United States during the 1920s. The theatre's unique beginnings and Moorish design set it apart from other theatres of that period. Today it hosts an array of artistic and cultural events, including a summer film series, the Atlanta Ballet, and performances by national touring companies of Broadway shows.
The Imagine It! Children's Museum of Atlanta promised hours of exploring and learning. Aimed at children under the age of nine, the museum contains exciting interactive exhibits such as the Curious George Gallery or Healthyville. Children also get the opportunity to paint the walls, crawl through a playground, or even don a raincoat and play in a forest stream.
Zoo Atlanta features around 1,000 animals representing 250 species from around the world and sees over 1 million tourists every year. Founded in 1889, the zoo has become one of Atlanta's top family attractions. It houses exhibitions on the African rainforest, a free-flying parakeet enclosure, and a reptile house.
Children will absolutely love discovering all the animals, including the rare the giant pandas, Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards, and komodo dragons. The zoo also has the country's largest collection of gorillas and orangutans.
For smaller children there is a petting zoo where they can interact with goats, pigs, and sheep.
A great day out for kids of all ages, Six Flags Over Georgia is an amusement park filled with rides and thrills for every child to enjoy. Try the Acrophobia, the Superman, the Batman, or the Goliath for the really adventurous, while younger tots will enjoy the Thomas the Tank Engine ride, Up UP and Away, and the River Carousel.
Although it doesn't sound like much of a tourist attraction, a visit to the Monetary Musuem at the Federal Reserve Bank leaves visitors unexpectedly entertained.
Tour highlights include an extensive 'History of Money' exhibition, displaying antiquated currency from all over the world, and an interactive, multimedia displays that teach you how to spot counterfeit money. Tourist can try to lift a $450,000 gold bar, create their own currency, and take a free bag of shredded money to take home as a souvenir.
Whether part of a guided group tour, or just perusing the exhibitions on one's own, a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank is bound to instil in visitors a renewed appreciation for the rich history that informs present-day money use in America.
Though small, Ebenezer Baptist Church has played a large role in America's history. Founded in 1886, the church functioned as the epicentre of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Martin Luther King Jr acted as co-pastor from 1960 to 1968, and worked toward equal rights for African-Americans during this time. The church has a new premises across the street, but visitors can still tour the old sanctuary where King preached, before walking around the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park just outside.
Annual events surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January typically draw large crowds. Past speakers have included US Presidents, national and local politicians, and civil rights leaders. Remembrances are also held during Black History Month (February), and the anniversary of King's assassination on April 4, 1968.
Georgia has a subtropical climate typical of the South. Summers are usually hot and humid and the state generally experiences widespread precipitation. Winters are usually mild, with some snow in parts, particularly in the mountains. Tornadoes and tropical storms are fairly common.
One of the trendiest diners in Atlanta, Haven lives up to its name with lively atmosphere and seasonal American fare made in front of your eyes in the performance kitchen. The upscale urban eatery combines traditional American classics with local Georgian ingredients to maintain the friendly neighbourhood feel. Reservations should be made for daily lunch and dinner.
Burger aficionados will literally have their hands full on Ann's famous Ghetto Burger, a monstrous pile of ingredients culminating in the award winning 'Hood" Burger. Consistently chosen as the best burgers in all of America, Ann's Snack Bar churns out delicious fast food treats to locals and the lucky few out-of-towners who catch wind of her fryer. This small establishment is well worth a visit. Monday through Saturday 11am to 7pm.
For nearly a decade, Mary Mac's has provided Atlanta with unpretentious, hearty meals that taste like the South. It is a classic not to be missed institution of southern dining and a litany of celebrity patrons and their pictures on the wall would attest to it. Hearty southern meals like fried chicken and barbecue are big pieces of evidence that cooking doesn't need to be fancy to be downright delicious. Open seven days a week 11am to 9pm.
Bone's is Atlanta's most famous steakhouse, having become the key venue for America's movers and shakers. Bone's serves the best prime-aged Iowa beef, prepared to each patron's exact specifications. The lamb chops are another delicious option, as is the Maine lobster. Desserts include the decadent Mountain-high Pie (layers of chocolate chip, rum raisin, and vanilla ice cream). The wine gallery has hundreds of excellent wines, specialising in French and Californian bottles. Lighter entrees are optional for lunch and Bone's is open daily for lunch (except Saturday and Sunday) and dinner.
At ('hush hush' in Italian), the noise is incredible; with happy patrons delighting over their seafood risotto. The wood-roasted fish is Sotto Sotto's specialty. But the rich chocolate soup with dark Belgian chocolate, hazelnut whipped cream and sugar croutons is a close second. The bartender makes an excellent martini and the all-Italian wine list is extensive. Sotto Sotto is open all week from 5.30pm till late.
Murphy's was a wine-and-cheese shop that evolved into a cozy restaurant and bakery; one of the most popular venues in Atlanta for brunch. The bakery and wine shop has display cases overflowing with pastries, crusty fresh-baked breads, and luscious desserts. For dinner, Murphy's offers a variety of entrees, including sautéed rainbow trout with sweet-potato hash with a large selection of pastas, salads, waffles, and pancakes. Murphy's is open all week till late.
Hidden on a secluded industrial neighbourhood in a renovated warehouse, the Floataway Café is a foodie's paradise. The menu changes daily, with fresh and local organic produce and unusual ingredients being the order of the day. Enjoy succulent wood-grilled meats and seafood, or homemade pastas, or order the house speciality, grilled steak with pommes frites and red-wine shallot butter. The wine list is international and complements the food beautifully. Floataway Café is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 5.30pm to 10pm.
Stone Mountain is situated about 20 minutes from Atlanta and features man-made and natural attractions. The best of these is the huge relief carving of the three Southern heroes of the Civil War, which has been etched into the mountainside. The images of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson cover an area larger than a football field and are part of the largest relief sculpture in the world. Three sculptors worked in succession on the carving, beginning with Gutzon Borglum in 1915. He later became famed for his carvings at Mount Rushmore. Subsequently two other artists pursued the work that was completed finally in 1972. Visitors can either walk up the mountain or take the Skylift to the top to see the breathtaking view over Atlanta and the Appalachian Mountains. Stone Mountain also features a restored Antebellum Plantation featuring a colonial mansion, slave cabins, coach houses, and barns. The park contains several lakes and hiking trails, a wildlife reserve, and petting zoo.
About 15 miles (24km) south of Atlanta in Clayton County is the town of Jonesboro, a not-to-be-missed destination for movie fans and those hankering for a taste of the real 'Deep South'.
Jonesboro was the setting for Margaret Mitchell's acclaimed novel, and later film, Gone with the Wind. Devotees come to see the local historic plantation houses and learn about the real people whose lives inspired the fictional characters of the novel. In Main Street, the Road to Tara Museum is housed in the Jonesboro Depot Welcome Centre, containing original props, costume reproductions, doll collections, and an extensive photo gallery associated with the making of the movie.
The Welcome Depot is also the departure point for daily tours, starting at 1pm (except on Sundays). The tours offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the true life stories on which the book was based.
In Carriage Drive, a beautiful Greek Revival plantation home dating from 1839 is open to the public along with its authentic outbuildings.
Northern Georgia predominantly mountainous, dotted with numerous small towns, fascinating historic sites, and national parks and forests.
Among the highlights of this region are the New Echota State Historic Site (the last capital of the Cherokee nation), Chickamauga at Fort Oglethorpe, and Jasper, where the marble quarries produced the marble used in Washington, DC. Also worth seeing is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, at the end of the Appalachian Highway, and the spectacular Tallulah Gorge near the town of Clayton.
The northwestern Georgia region offers hundreds of wooded hiking trails, sparkling trout streams, scenic lakes, and camp sites. Most of the towns and attractions are within an hour's drive of Atlanta, making them perfect day trips or weekend breaks from the city.
The Okefenokee Swamp comprises of 700 square miles (1,813 sq km) of marshy wilderness stretching across the southern part of coastal Georgia. The largest peat-producing bog in North America, Okefenokee provides a refuge for thousands of animals and plants that thrive in its lakes, islands, and wetlands.
The park consists of different environments, from towering cypress stands in still waters to vast prairie grasslands in other areas. Visitors have four parks to choose from: three of the parks are on the east side of the swamp and one on the southwestern side. All three offer sightseeing, boating, and fishing opportunities. The southwestern park is Stephen C. Foster State Park, featuring cypress swamps, at the headwaters of the Suwannee River.
South of Waycross Okefenokee Swamp Park contains alligators, snakes, and other swamp wildlife in easy-to-see captivity for a quick swamp experience. And the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area near Folkston provides access to the prairie environment of the swamp, offering nature boardwalks and historic sites.
A short drive south of Savannah lies the charming old town of Darien, established in 1736 on the banks of the Darien River as a military outpost.
Today it is a favoured tourist attraction. Its historic shopping enclave specialises in unique gifts and antiques, and the picturesque waterfront is filled with shrimp boats. A series of walking and bike paths, lined with Spanish moss-draped oak trees, connect the downtown waterfront with Fort King George, which houses a museum and plays host to living history pageants.
Other diversions include paddling the river and tidal creeks in kayaks or canoes, and dining on shrimp. The area around Darien in McIntosh county particularly scenic, dotted with quaint fishing villages like Valona and Shellman Bluff. Just offshore, accessible by ferry across Doboy Sound, is the pristine barrier island of Sapelo, which boasts one of Georgia's most beautiful beaches and a restored lighthouse.
The small barrier island of Tybee, 18 miles (29km) east of Savannah, is a popular seaside resort. The three-mile (5km) long beach has rolling sand-dunes,with a pier and pavilion at the south end of the island that offer a pleasant stroll, usually accompanied by live band music.
The island also has sightseeing opportunities including Fort Screven, a historic Tybee lighthouse dating to 1773, and Fort Pulaski. There is a selection of restaurants, hotels, motels, inns, and cottages available.