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The Peach State is the largest state in the southeast, and travelers are sure to encounter warm and friendly locals as we cruise through her towns and down her highways. Georgia is rich in U.S. history, like General William T. Sherman’s infamous burning of Atlanta during the Civil War. In the 21st century, Georgia serves as the nation’s leader in paper production, as well as being the communications and transportation center for the entire Southeast.
Blairsville makes for a perfect starting point for our trip through Georgia. Positioned in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blairsville is embraced by beautiful green valleys, crystal clear lakes, dazzling waterfalls, and majestic mountains.
Plentiful recreation areas offer opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking, and you can even pan for gold! Various Native American ruins have been uncovered by archaeological teams, and are available for tours and limited exploration. Blairsville’s leisurely pace makes it a great place to stop and smell the roses, and get our road trip off to a relaxing start.
It’s only a fifteen-mile north-easterly drive on the US-76 to the town of Hiawassee, in Towns County. Brasstown Bald Mountain is the tallest mountain in Georgia, at nearly 4,800 feet in height; on clear days we can see Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee from its peak. Hiawassee also offers boating, fishing and rafting, along with plentiful places to hike or ride horses. If you care to put your golfing skills to the test, some of the most challenging courses in Georgia are to be found here in Towns County, so grab your clubs and see how you fare on these low-par links. After that, seek out local vintners and sample some of the best wines to be found in all of Georgia.
Each year, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds play host to a series of popular events, one of which is summertime’s Georgia Mountain Fair. The fairgrounds themselves are located on the shores of majestic Lake Chatuge, and the fair provides plenty of excitement and nostalgia to thousands of visitors each year. In addition to electrifying thrill rides, one-of-a-kind attractions, and plenty of tasty concoctions to please the palate, the Georgia Mountain Fair hosts performances by such A-list musical talent as the Bellamy Brothers, Sammy Kershaw, and Pam Tillis. If you’re in the area in July, make a point of seeing this fun-filled and extremely popular event.
Continuing south on the US-76, we merge with the GA-75/Unicoi Turnpike and soon arrive in the city of Helen. This is a town whose very creation centered around the outdoors, and the outdoor life remains a centerpiece of modern living. It’s interesting to note that the town of Helen is an authentic recreation of a Bavarian village, complete with cobblestone roads and old world-style towers. The Bavarian Nights of Summer runs from June to August and features live polka music along with some of the best Bavarian fare available. Admission is free, so be sure to eat, drink and be merry!
Hiking trails take us down to the magnificent beauty of Unicoi Lake, as well as to the gorgeous Anna Ruby Falls; you may need to rent a 4x4 to access the Falls, however – the roads are steep and the terrain is rough, but the visual experience of these enticing falls is well worth the effort. The Chattahoochee River runs through the city of Helen and provides several recreational opportunities such as fishing, kayaking and tubing.
If you’re in the area in the fall, Helen’s Oktoberfest is a six-week extravaganza that runs from mid-September to early November, and is the longest such party in the South. Daytime activities include browsing through the town’s many shops or lounging in the beer-garden and sampling as many of the large variety of German beers as you can handle. At night, the place to be is in the Festhalle, where we can enjoy all kinds of authentic German bands, stuffing ourselves with bratwursts, and having all kinds of fun, dancing the polka until we drop.
When we’re ready, we get back on the road for a ninety-mile drive southwest to Atlanta. It’s a relatively smooth trip, with a southwest cruise a few miles down the GA-75, where we catch the US-129-S for about twenty miles then merge with the I-985-S. Just over twenty miles later, this highway becomes the I-85-S, and a thirty mile drive brings us to our ultimate destination city of Atlanta.
Atlanta’s a city with a prominent history, which is evident everywhere you look. Prominent moments in the Civil War, the founding of Coca-Cola, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the city where Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record; all of it occurred in Atlanta. The city is chock full of things for a traveler to see and do; so much so, it’s difficult to narrow them down to a manageable number for one visit, but we’ll give it our best shot.
Stone Mountain Park is a 3,200-acre theme park, geared towards family fun. Some of the park’s highlights include a skyride to the top of Stone Mountain itself, a paddleboat cruise on Stone Mountain Lake, and a spectacular end-of-the-day laser light show, followed by a bombastic fireworks finale. For a full list of activities, check out their website at
Located in Downtown, Underground Atlanta is thusly named because of a viaduct construction project in the 1920s, which elevated the streets one level higher so as to permit easier traffic flow. Local shop owners moved their operations to the new street level, leaving the old storefronts behind for storage and service. In the late 60s, the area was declared a historic site and was turned into a retail and entertainment district. In the late 80s, the area was refurbished and reopened, offering a unique mix of family shops and entertainment. It’s definitely a fascinating place to visit while we’re in town.
The Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest such facility, with more marine life than we’ve ever seen in one place, swimming in over eight million gallons of fresh and salt water. One of the aquarium’s distinctions is that the grounds possess a state-of-the-aft aquatic veterinary facility, designed by veterinarians and conservation organizations. The aquarium is well worth a day’s visit.
Another not-to-be-missed spot is Six Flags Over Georgia, one of the jewels in the Six Flags crown. The park features over 30 rides, ranging from the mild ones found in Bugs Bunny World, to the way-cool Superman: Ultimate Flight roller coaster. Superman: Ultimate Flight is one of the fastest coasters in the world, as riders are suspended beneath the track in a head-first flying position as they shoot at 60 mph along the nearly 300-foot track. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to being able to fly if you’re not from Krypton.
The Peach State offers so many unique opportunities for all kinds of entertainment you’ll want to spend several days and many return trips to explore them all.
Other Area Sponsors in Georgia:
Allatoona Landing Marine Resort & Campground
Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites
Stone Mountain Family Campground