You might know my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, USA from the 1996 Olympic Games that we hosted. That’s the same games where there was a bombing and gymnast Kerri Strug famously injured her ankle during a vault routine. Atlanta is also home to many famous hip-hop stars and major league teams such as Falcons, Braves, and Hawks.
Downtown Atlanta is so full of touristy things that sometimes you want to branch out. Whether you’re from the area or just cruising through for a few days, here’s some less congested things to see that are a short drive from Georgia’s capital.
These are admittedly bizarre, which might be why I had to put them on the list. As a native of the state, I hadn’t heard of them until I moved out. So, naturally, I figure there might be others that could be interested in them. What are they, exactly? Huge granite slabs with “guidelines” on how to obtain the perfect balance of civilization on earth. Some are common sense, some are ridiculous. You be the judge. Most interestingly, the whole thing is shrouded in mystery as no one knows the real identities of those who erected the guidestones out in the middle of nowhere.
In case you missed the writing dedicated to the covered bridges around ATL, you can read about it here. From what I’ve discovered, not too many people have experienced these unique bridges so they are quite enjoyable to check out. Most of them are from a bygone era, many dating over 100 years old. These are sprinkled around the metro so it would be an easy trip to 1 or more in a day.
Museum of Aviation
About an hour and a half south of Atlanta is an extensive walk through aviation, which is next door to Robins Air Force Base. There’s 4 buildings that vary greatly by history and aircraft. There’s a section dedicated to women in aviation that was exceedingly interesting. I also enjoyed checking out the various planes on display and even getting into a couple! You really could spend all day walking around and there’s volunteers who you can ask all the questions to. To check out the plethora of photos I took as a virtual walk through, click here.
Cost: $20/car to park, + more for attractions
This is the least budget friendly option but it is a unique one. The park is known for the enormous image carved onto the mountain side. It’s an American Civil War image that causes controversy in modern times due to the fact that the men depicted were southern leaders during the years long conflict with the north. Even though it’s questionable why they were revered enough for this type of memorial, the fact that so much went into it still makes it impressive to look at. There’s a movie you can watch on the making of in the main hall where the lawn is for free. Speaking of free, there’s very little of that here so I’ve got a few ways to take advantage!
Once you park, you can walk up to the building and can stay on the lawn to watch the laser show throughout the summer and through October. You’re also able to walk up the mountain, if you so choose. You have to pay to walk in the little town between the parking lot and the lawn (you can walk around it if you don’t want to pay). In the town are gift shops, all sorts of food and sweet treat shops, stuff for kids, and where you board the train that goes around the mountain. At the top of the hill by the lawn, there’s also a skyride to the top. You can pay to ride to the top and back down or pay for a 1 way trip then walk down or vice versa. If you want to go check out the covered bridge (see here) you can just pay for parking and then drive through the park and sit by the lake with a picnic and take the walking trail. If you live locally, or plan to come back a few times, I’d suggest an annual parking pass which is $40.
This mountainous city in north Georgia is about an hour and a half away from downtown. Helen, Georgia, also known as Alpine Helen, is a German town that is adorable to walk through and is a bit touristy but not too congested. If you want a taste of Europe, there’s restaurants and trinket shops along the strip and you can even dine by the river. There’s several hotels in case you want to stay a while. You can take a short drive from there to Unicoi State Park for some waterfall and hiking or stay in town and try some tubing starting in spring through summer. Also close by? BabyLand General Hospital, the birthplace of the Cabbage Patch Kids – another free.