Written by Justin Mewse
Nestled in the heart of the southern United States lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by travellers looking for a unique and unforgettable experience. Georgia, USA, boasts a diverse range of attractions, from pristine beaches to lush forests and vibrant cities. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an outdoor adventurer, Georgia has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at seven of the most unique reasons to visit Georgia, each offering a distinct perspective on this rich and fascinating state. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through Georgia’s unique treasures.
Georgia’s barrier islands are renowned for their natural beauty, pristine beaches, and unique ecosystems. Two of the most breathtaking islands in the state are Little St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island, each with its own distinct character and attractions.
Little St. Simons Island is a private, secluded island located off the coast of Georgia. The island is accessible only by boat and is limited to just 32 overnight guests at a time, ensuring an intimate and exclusive experience. Little St. Simons Island boasts over 11,000 acres of pristine natural beauty, including seven miles of untouched beaches, salt marshes, and maritime forests. Visitors can explore the island’s diverse habitats on guided tours, hike through trails, and observe the island’s abundant wildlife, including loggerhead sea turtles, alligators, and over 330 species of birds.
Cumberland Island, on the other hand, is the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia. The island is only accessible by ferry, and visitors are limited to a maximum of 300 per day to preserve the island’s delicate ecosystem. Cumberland Island is renowned for its stunning scenery, including 18 miles of white sand beaches, towering dunes, and ancient maritime forests. Visitors can explore the island’s rich history, including the ruins of Dungeness Mansion, the Carnegie family’s summer retreat, and the First African Baptist Church, one of the oldest African American churches in the United States.
Coastal Georgia Beyond the Beach
St. Simons Island and nearby Jekyll Island are steeped in history and offer visitors a glimpse into Georgia’s past. Two of the most notable historical attractions on St. Simons Island are Fort Frederica and Christ Church.
Fort Frederica was established in 1736 by James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia Colony. The fort served as a military outpost and played a crucial role in the defence of the colony against Spanish invasion. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the fort and learn about life in colonial Georgia through exhibits and guided tours.
Christ Church is another must-see historical attraction on St. Simons Island. Built in 1820, the church is one of the oldest standing churches in Georgia and has played an important role in the island’s history. Visitors can tour the church and its beautiful grounds, including the historic cemetery, which is the final resting place of many notable figures in Georgia history.
Jekyll Island, located just a short ferry ride from St. Simons Island, is known for its Gilded Age history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jekyll Island was a playground for some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the United States, including J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, and Joseph Pulitzer. Visitors can explore the island’s rich history at the Jekyll Island Museum and the historic district, which includes the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and several other historic buildings.
The Wanderer Memory Trail on Jekyll Island is another unique and important historical attraction. The trail commemorates the arrival of the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans to the United States, the Wanderer, which landed on Jekyll Island in 1858. Visitors can follow the trail and learn about the legacy of slavery in the United States and the ongoing struggle for civil rights.
Georgia is home to some of the most breathtaking natural attractions in the United States, including the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Providence Canyon State Park, and Amicalola Falls State Park.
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a vast wilderness area covering over 400,000 acres in southeastern Georgia. The refuge is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including alligators, black bears, and over 200 species of birds. Visitors can explore the refuge’s unique ecosystem by hiking through trails, paddling through its waterways, and taking guided tours.
Providence Canyon State Park, also known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” is a stunning natural wonder located in southwest Georgia. The park features a series of colourful, towering canyons carved into the soft, sandy soil over millions of years. Visitors can hike through the canyons, take guided tours, and camp in the park’s scenic campsites.
Amicalola Falls State Park is another must-see natural attraction in Georgia. Located in the north Georgia mountains, the park is home to the highest waterfall in the state, with a stunning drop of 729 feet. Visitors can hike to the top of the falls, take in panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, and explore the park’s extensive trail system.
Civil Rights History
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail features over 100 historic sites across 14 states that played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Three notable sites along the trail in Georgia are located in Albany, Atlanta, and Midway.
In Albany, visitors can explore sites such as the Albany Civil Rights Institute and the Mount Zion Baptist Church. The Albany Civil Rights Institute features exhibits and artifacts that highlight the Albany Movement, which was one of the most successful Civil Rights Movement campaigns in the state. The Mount Zion Baptist Church served as a meeting place for Civil Rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In Atlanta, visitors can explore the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, which includes the King Center, the birthplace of Dr. King, and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he preached. The King Center features exhibits that highlight Dr. King’s life and legacy, while the Ebenezer Baptist Church played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement and served as a meeting place for leaders such as Dr. King and Ralph Abernathy.
In Midway, visitors can explore the Midway Congregational Church and Cemetery, which played a significant role in the struggle for Civil Rights in Georgia. The church was founded in 1792 by African Americans, and its cemetery is the final resting place of many notable figures in Georgia’s history, including several Civil Rights leaders.
Visiting these U.S. Civil Rights Trail sites in Albany, Atlanta, and Midway offers visitors a chance to learn about the struggles and triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia and the United States as a whole. From historic churches and meeting places to museums and exhibits, these sites offer a comprehensive look at the fight for equality and justice in America.
The City in the Forest
Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia, is known for its bustling urban atmosphere, but it also boasts several stunning green spaces that offer a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. Three of the most notable urban greenspaces in Atlanta are the BeltLine, Piedmont Park, and Atlanta Botanical Garden.
The BeltLine is a former railway corridor that has been transformed into a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, parks, and public spaces. The project aims to connect 45 neighbourhoods in Atlanta and create a sustainable, accessible public space for residents and visitors alike. Visitors can walk, jog, bike, or skate along the trails and take in art installations, public performances, and local food vendors.
Piedmont Park is a sprawling urban oasis located in the heart of Atlanta. Spanning over 200 acres, the park features walking trails, athletic fields, playgrounds, and picnic areas. The park also hosts several annual events, including the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the Atlanta Dogwood Festival.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a stunning 30-acre oasis located in midtown Atlanta. The garden features a variety of themed gardens, including the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Edible Garden. The garden also hosts several events throughout the year, including the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights display during the holiday season.
The Hostess City
Georgia offers a unique blend of old and historic attractions alongside new and modern developments. From the Olde Pink House and the historic section of River Street to the Plant Riverside District and Starland Yard, visitors can experience the best of both worlds.
The Olde Pink House is a historic landmark located in Savannah that dates back to the 18th century. The house features a distinctive pink color and offers visitors a chance to dine in one of the city’s most historic and beautiful settings. The house features multiple dining rooms, each with its unique charm and atmosphere.
The historic section of River Street is a cobblestone street that runs along the Savannah River and is lined with historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. Visitors can explore the area’s unique architecture and take in stunning views of the river.
Bonaventure Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in Savannah that dates back to the 19th century. The cemetery features beautiful statues, monuments, and mausoleums and is the final resting place of several notable figures in Georgia’s history.
The Telfair Academy is a historic mansion located in Savannah that now serves as an art museum. The museum features a collection of American and European art, including works by renowned artists such as Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and Rembrandt Peale.
SCAD, or the Savannah College of Art and Design, is a modern university that has played a significant role in the revitalization of Savannah’s historic district. The university features several campuses throughout the city and offers programs in art, design, fashion, and more.
The Plant Riverside District is a new development located along the Savannah River that features hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The district offers visitors a chance to experience modern amenities in a historic setting and features unique attractions such as a rooftop bar and a live music venue.
Starland Yard is a new development located in Savannah’s Starland District that features a courtyard with several food and drink vendors. The development offers visitors a chance to experience the city’s vibrant food and drink scene in a relaxed outdoor setting.
The new section of River Street features modern shops and restaurants that offer visitors a chance to experience Savannah’s vibrant culture and cuisine. The area features unique shops and eateries that cater to a modern, diverse audience.
Small Town Charm
Georgia is home to several charming small towns that offer visitors a chance to experience the state’s unique history and culture. From the mountain town of Blue Ridge to the antebellum city of Milledgeville and the Victorian-era town of Thomasville, these small towns offer a glimpse into Georgia’s past and present.
Blue Ridge is a mountain town located in the north Georgia mountains. The town features a charming downtown area with several shops, restaurants, and galleries. Visitors can also explore the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and countryside.
Milledgeville is a historic city located in central Georgia that served as the state’s capital during the Civil War. The city features several historic landmarks, including the Old Governor’s Mansion and the Central State Hospital, which was once the largest mental institution in the country. Visitors can also explore downtown Milledgeville, which features several shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Thomasville is a charming town located in southern Georgia that dates back to the Victorian era. The town features several historic homes and buildings, including the Thomasville Rose Garden and the Big Oak, a 330-year-old oak tree located in the heart of downtown. Visitors can also explore the town’s charming downtown area, which features several shops, restaurants, and galleries.
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