First established in 1732, Georgia was one of America’s original 13 colonies. It still retains much of its history throughout the state, despite having some of the most modern cities and prominent cultural hubs in the United States. From breathtaking mountain scenery to relaxing beaches, Georgia offers the perfect escape. Here are 10 of the most beautiful towns in the state which show the best of colonial USA and the south.
One of the fastest growing cities in the seat of Cherokee County, Canton lies in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the heart of what used to be the Cherokee nation. The Historical Downtown District is home to a number of attractions for visitors who are intrigued by the country’s past, most notably the Cherokee County Historical Society and the Cherokee Arts Center. Its growth over the past 10 years has been bolstered by its thriving social and cultural scene as well as its high standards of living. You’ll find Heritage Trails and nature hikes which enable easy-to-access outdoor activities and stunning natural vistas.
One of the coolest towns in the States, Athens has one of the most lively college music scenes in the country. It is bolstered by being home to bands including R.E.M., the B-52s, Kishi Bashi, Of Montreal, and Reptar. Its current prominence as a college town is combined with its historical traditions, with its main attractions including a double-barreled cannon dating from the civil war, buildings within the historic downtown region, and several 19th century University of Georgia buildings. The Antebellum architecture makes it a perfect destination for weddings, and its close proximity to Atlanta means that it draws in crowds of tourists looking for a more picturesque weekend away. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains also makes the town a convenient stopping point for nature lovers.
Trackrock Campground in Blairsville, GA @ Alexander Lake/Flickr
A retreat for those who like to be surrounded by nature, Blairsville is nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest and North Georgia Blue Ridge mountains. Exuding natural beauty, old world charm, and a thriving cultural scene, it hosts several yearly festivals which celebrates the mountain culture and history. For the rest of the year visitors can explore the State Park and Track Rock Archaeological Area in order to get a glimpse of the area’s extensive past. The small town is the gateway to Brasstown Bald, the highest natural point in the state, and the Appalachian Trail. It is also located in close proximity to Lakes Nottely and Trahylta, each of which offers water activities that, along with the various hike, bike and horse trails, give visitors plenty of opportunities for adventure.
You will be sure to find a fair share of tourists in Dahlonega as it offers an authentic mountain getaway only an hour away from Atlanta. Its main claim to fame is being the site of the first major gold rush in the United States; it was built upon the success of those pioneering days. There are still a number of gold-related attractions that are a major draw for visitors all year round, with the original architecture providing some prime examples of 19th century American buildings and giving a real glimpse into the town’s affluent past. More recently the town has been a draw for wine lovers, recognized as being part of the ‘heart of the North Georgia wine country’. California, eat your heart out.
Deen Day Sanders' Garden in Duluth, Georgia @ Carol Norquist/Flickr
Another of the far-reaching Atlanta suburbs, Duluth is regarded as one of the best places in the country to live and one of the towns that best represents American values. The town prides itself on capturing the ‘spirit of good living’, with various concerts and festivals throughout the year which bring the community together to celebrate the town’s arts and talents. The most notable attractions come in the form of the Gwinnett Center, the Hudgens Center for the Arts and the Southeastern Railway Museum, which celebrates the town’s railroad era. Visit the restored Downtown area to best appreciate Duluth’s small-town feel, which, combined with the big-city amenities, have made it one of the fastest growing areas in the state.
Named for a Revolutionary War hero, Fayetteville will take you back to the civil war heyday and may be more recognizable than you first expect. In 1996, it received designation as a Main Street City and since this time, the Downtown region has undergone some transformation to revitalize it to its glory days and encapsulate a historic, unified feel in terms of the area’s architecture. It also has a number of well-manicured city gardens and a nearby lake which adds to the picture postcard-feel of the town. The town is also said to have provided inspiration for Gone With The Windafter Margaret Mitchell’s made frequent visits here.
An Alpine town in Georgia’s Blue Ridge mountains, Helen may fool you into thinking that you are in Germany with its old world towers, colorfully painted wooden houses and cobblestone alleys that are modeled on the original European mountain towns. Mandated zoning that was introduced in the 60s means that the classic south German style is present on every building, even chain stores. Once you have fully taken in this Georgia town, you can try out a range of mountain activities in the area, giving you a chance to take in the impressive views across the mountains, forests and waterfalls. For full German impact, visit during Oktoberfest.
Morgan County Courthouse in Madison, Georgia @ Chris Yunker/Flickr
A number of accolades have been presented to Madison over the past few years, and it continues to live up to its word and draw in visitors all year round. The Prettiest Small Town in America, and one of the Top 16 Most Picturesque Villages in the World are just some of the honors bestowed upon this town. Madison is an authentic Southern town, which is designated as part of the Historic Heartland on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail. Its historic district is one of Georgia’s largest; having been carefully restored, many of its buildings exemplify the town’s boom years in the mid-19th century. Grand style homes and Antebellum buildings are the name of the game, and you will be hard pressed to not be won over by the town’s commitment to preserving its history.
First explored in the 16th century, St. Marys is one of the earliest areas in the current-day United States which was set foot upon by Europeans during their voyages of discovery. Today there are still plenty of places in the town which celebrate its history, with museums, historic churches, and a history tram tour all showcasing the town’s rich past. There is also the Oak Grove Cemetery, which includes a tomb stone dating back to 1801. The nearby birding trail, woodlands and Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge provide plenty for outdoor lovers to while away their days. It also gets plenty of visitors as the gateway to Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest barrier island and a spectacular natural conservation area.
First conceived as a tourist town in the 1880s, Tallulah Falls continues to bring in plenty of intrepid travelers who are looking to explore the eponymous falls and areas of outstanding beauty within the region. It is the home of the Tallulah Gorge State Park, with the gorge itself being a 1000 foot chasm, and the falls being a series of six different waterfalls deluging through the gorge and Tallulah River. At the beginning of the 20th century, the town rivaled Niagara Falls in terms of tourism, and it has been used as a filming location for movies such as ‘Deliverance’. A must for lovers of the outdoors, this is an area of unmissable natural wonderment.