Situated smack-dab in the middle of the South, Georgia offers plenty in the way of Southern charm. But beyond its mouthwatering comfort food and warm hospitality, the Peach State offers travelers tons of attractions to explore. Spend a trip to this Southern gem visiting a replica Bavarian village, traversing historic battlefields and sampling some of the tastiest hot dogs you can imagine. Read on to discover the top things to do in Georgia. (Note: Some tours and excursions may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions and parking reservation requirements. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)

Cumberland Island

Perhaps best known as the island where John F. Kennedy Jr. wed Carolyn Bessette in a secret ceremony, Cumberland Island boasts more than 17 miles of white sand beaches off the southeastern coast of mainland Georgia. Accessible only by ferry (reservations are recommended), the island offers a range of things to do, from tours of the former Carnegie family home and other deserted mansions to outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, swimming and fishing. Visitors also suggest biking as a good way to see the island. You can rent fat bikes, which are ideal for exploring the island’s sandy paths, from the Cumberland Island Ferry after arriving at the island’s Sea Camp Dock. If you’d like to stay overnight on the island, you can choose between a campsite and a room at the historic Greyfield Inn.

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[See: Top Beach Camping Spots in the U.S.]

Callaway Resort & Gardens

No matter the time of year, there’s something to see at Callaway Gardens. Located about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta in Pine Mountain, this roughly 2,500-acre destination features gardens, hiking and bike trails, a large lake, a butterfly center (a visitor favorite) and more. During winter, locals and travelers alike visit to view the annual Fantasy in Lights display, explore a Christmas village, decorate cookies at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen and enjoy photo-ops with Santa, among other Christmas activities. Spring brings vibrant azalea blooms, while summer offers days at Robin Lake Beach, fireworks displays and fragrant magnolias. With fall comes colorful foliage, blooming chrysanthemums and the Hot Air Balloon Glow festival. Travelers can stay right on the property in the main lodge, a cottage or an upscale villa in the woods, though some past visitors cautioned that the lodge and cottages need an update.

Andersonville National Historic Site

History buffs won’t want to miss the Andersonville National Historic Site. Situated about 125 miles south of Atlanta in Andersonville, the site is home to the most well-known Civil War prison camp. Travelers can listen to an hourlong self-guided audio tour while driving through the property or explore parts of the nearly 27-acre site on foot. While there, take a walk through Andersonville National Cemetery, a final resting place for U.S. soldiers who died in combat dating back to 1864. Reviewers also recommend the National Prisoner of War Museum and say hiring a guide can be helpful if you want to learn more. Nearby lodging options include Best Western and Hampton Inn outposts in the small town of Americus; a wider variety of accommodations can be found about 60 miles northwest in Columbus.

Stone Mountain Park

The most-visited attraction in Georgia, Stone Mountain Park features a literal mountain made of stone engraved with Civil War figures. This 3,200-acre park also offers fun for visitors of all ages, including adventure courses, a laser show, a railroad, two golf courses and a Swiss cable car that takes travelers to the top of the mountain. Recent visitors said they loved the park’s views and history but warned that there are separate fees for entering the park and enjoying its various attractions. There are multiple choices for lodging within the park, including Stone Mountain Inn, the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort and a campground, but since Stone Mountain Park is only about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta, you can also opt to stay in the city and drive to the attraction.

[Read: The Best Camping Gear to Buy for Your Next Adventure.]

Centennial Olympic Park

Host of the 1996 Summer Olympics, Centennial Olympic Park is an iconic destination in downtown Atlanta. Travelers will find playgrounds, tons of green space, Fountain of Rings Plaza and numerous statues and commemorative markers across the park’s 22 acres. Recent visitors said the area is clean and safe, adding that there are plenty of places to sit down and even have a picnic. When you’ve finished exploring the grounds, head to the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Game-X (an entertainment and dining venue) or the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel, all of which are within a half-mile of the park.

[See more of Atlanta: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos.]

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium sits across from Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. Visit to marvel at penguins, whale sharks, manta rays and other aquatic animals. Travelers can even get up close and personal with beluga whales for a unique photo-op. The aquarium has seven permanent galleries and a 4D theater that plays films about the ocean’s magnificent creatures. Previous visitors raved about this attraction and advised buying your tickets online in advance, reserving your place at its various shows when you arrive and allowing plenty of time for parking. To save some coin on this attraction, purchase an Atlanta CityPASS, which grants admission to five area attractions for one set price. Additionally, several hotels offer packages that include tickets to the aquarium, including Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park, Hilton Atlanta, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Savannah

Savannah is guaranteed to charm visitors with its quaint historic district (where you’ll find 30-acre Forsyth Park), mouthwatering restaurants, open-air City Market, 19th-century homes on cobblestone streets and Victorian-era Bonaventure Cemetery. Consider staying at Andaz Savannah in bustling Ellis Square or The Cotton Sail Hotel Savannah, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (a former cotton warehouse from the 1800s). Or, for a spookier experience, book a room at The Marshall House, a reportedly haunted Civil War hospital turned historic inn. Past visitors liked the property’s haunted atmosphere, adding that it’s not uncommon to see the lights turn on and off on their own.

[See more of Savannah: Things to Do | Tours | Hotels | When to Visit | Photos.]

World of Coca-Cola

Learn the history behind one of the world’s most beloved drinks at World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta. Inside, you’ll see the Coca-Cola bottling process and the vault where the secret drink recipe is stored. You can also taste Coca-Cola beverages from around the world – a perpetual visitor favorite – and buy soda-themed souvenirs in the gift shop. The attraction is located right next to the Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Olympic Park, and visitors are required to purchase tickets in advance. A couple of noteworthy hotels located within walking distance of the attraction include the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Downtown and the Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown.

Explore the village of Helen

If you’re seeking a Georgia getaway that features lots of charm, look no further than the replica Bavarian village of Helen. In addition to its cobblestone streets and quaint shops, Helen offers plenty of spots to explore. Sip wine at Habersham Vineyards & Winery (one of the oldest and largest wineries in the state), hike through Unicoi State Park & Lodge, swim in the Chattahoochee River and savor German food at local restaurants. The town also hosts Oktoberfest every year in September and October; weekdays tend to be more family-friendly, while weekends play host to college students and tour groups. Sundays during Oktoberfest offer free admission for everyone. Be sure to book your accommodations, which range from cozy cabins to quaint inns to chain hotels, early, as they do fill up. The Valhalla Resort Hotel and the pet-friendly Biscuit Inn are two traveler favorites.

[Read: The Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA.]

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Gallery: 27 Top Lake Vacations in the U.S. (US News & World Report – Travel)

  • Slide 1 of 30: With all of the noteworthy landmarks and landscapes the U.S. has to offer, including its world-famous beaches, mountains and metropolises, the country's variety of lake destinations have a habit of fading into the background. But they shouldn't. The U.S. is home to hundreds of remarkable lakes both big and small. U.S. News rounded up 27 lakes that deserve a spot on your bucket list – or, at the very least, a considerable amount of time on your next vacation itinerary. From miles-long natural swimming pools to remote wilderness getaways, these are the top lake vacations in the U.S. (Note: Some of these destinations may be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. New policies may be in place, including testing or vaccine requirements for visiting. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)

  • Slide 2 of 30: There are many reasons why Lake Tahoe stands out as a lake vacation. The first is its sheer size. Lake Tahoe is so big (22 miles long and 12 miles wide) that it straddles two states (California and Nevada). The second is its remarkable clarity, which is due to precipitation falling directly onto the lake rather than draining into it from the adjacent land. The third is its striking surrounding mountains, which yield outstanding hiking and skiing trails, especially at the area's top resorts like Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Northstar California. As for where to stay, know that you are spoiled for choice thanks to a variety of hotels, including the highly rated Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, and campgrounds, such as those found at scenic D.L. Bliss State Park.

  • Slide 3 of 30: Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is home to America's deepest lake at 1,943 feet. Like Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake's water gets its vibrant color and clarity from rain and snow falling directly into the lake. You can take in the grandeur of this amazing natural wonder in a handful of ways. Drive around the 33-mile-long Rim Road, which features multiple scenic viewpoints, hike along one or more of the park's 90 miles of trails, or sign up for a boat tour of the lake. If you're visiting in summer, you can swim in the lake via the Cleetwood Cove Trail. Inside the park, you'll find accommodation options like Crater Lake Lodge and The Cabins at Mazama Village, as well as two campgrounds with 214 campsites for tents and recreational vehicles.

  • Slide 4 of 30: Lake Havasu offers visitors the unique opportunity to cool off in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Situated along the California-Arizona border, Lake Havasu features plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun (the city experiences more than 300 days of sunshine per year). The most popular things to do here are boating, hiking and swimming (the region boasts 400 miles of shoreline), with popular spots including Lake Havasu State Park, Rotary Community Park and the shores along the Bridgewater Channel. Lodging options can accommodate all types of budgets thanks to a variety of hotels, motels, RV parks, campgrounds and more. Keep in mind, Lake Havasu is a popular spring break destination, so visit outside of March and April if you want to avoid crowds.

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  • Slide 5 of 30: While spring breakers are drawn to Lake Havasu for a good time, travelers make the trek to this lake to see its spellbinding scenery. And there's a lot of it. Lake Powell is longer than the West Coast of the United States. The best way to experience the lake is by spending time both on the water and the surrounding land. Popular natural wonders, such as Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, can be found in the area. Boat tours are another popular activity, with some operators taking visitors to scenic spots like Rainbow Bridge National Monument and Navajo Canyon. When thinking about where to bed down, consider that the majority of Lake Powell's hotels are located in Arizona, while the Utah side offers more campgrounds.

  • Slide 6 of 30: This alpine gem is a playground for adventure travelers. Located about 40 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park, Mammoth is home to more than a dozen lakes, all of which are surrounded by scenic Eastern Sierra mountain wilderness. This means you'll have plenty to do both on land and on the water. The lakes allow for swimming, fishing and boating, including kayaking and paddleboarding. During winter, Mammoth Mountain is popular among skiers and snowboarders. The Mammoth Lakes Basin also boasts more than 50 miles of hiking trails, with part of the famous John Muir Trail running through the area. Five campgrounds are available in the basin area, and several hotels can be found in the adjacent town of Mammoth Lakes.

  • Slide 7 of 30: Traverse City is a superb home base if you want to explore northern Lake Michigan. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which is home to some of the world's last perched dunes, is within driving distance of downtown. After exploring the protected area's 35 miles of sky-high sand dunes, make a trip to the state's wine country, which can be found on the scenic Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas. Once you've taken in the sights on land, hop on a boat tour. Outing options range from kayak rentals to a guided excursion atop an old-fashioned schooner. Plus, there are a variety of accommodations here, including hotels, resorts and beachside condos.

  • Slide 8 of 30: Caddo Lake's romantic scenery will make you do a double take. The kind of idyllic setting you'd imagine as the backdrop of a romance novel or movie, this state park along the Texas-Louisiana border is dotted with stately baldcypress trees that drip with Spanish moss. The first thing visitors should do here is rent a canoe or kayak to get closer to these natural wonders. The park features more than 50 miles of paddling trails through its sloughs, bayous and ponds, providing plenty of opportunities to soak up the captivating scenery. Other activities include fishing (there are more than 70 species of fish here) and short hikes through the lake's surrounding forest. Lodging options within the park are limited, with the exception of cabins and campsites.

  • Slide 9 of 30: Get a taste of the Pacific Northwest's revered scenery at this Washington lake. Located between Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan offers plenty to see and do thanks to its massive size (it measures more than 50 miles long). The lake is the ideal setting for kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding, as well as snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing and wakeboarding. Back on land, there are 250 miles of trails, more than 60 of which can accommodate mountain bikers, horseback riders and motorcyclists, in addition to hikers. Accommodations range from resorts and hotels to cabins and campsites, so you have a lot of options to choose from.

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  • Slide 10 of 30: Michigan's Mackinac Island offers a unique type of vacation for visitors. This small island (it measures less than 4 square miles) located on Lake Huron has no cars or chain hotels and features old-world charm not often found in island getaways. Mackinac Island is awash with beautiful Victorian architecture, horse-drawn carriages and lots of activities. Unwind at a spa or golf course, learn about the island's storied past at its two military forts and other historical sites, and admire its natural attractions (80% of the island is a state park). For such a small island, there are a lot of places to stay, from palatial resorts (see the impressive Grand Hotel) to bed-and-breakfast accommodations to condo rentals.

  • Slide 11 of 30: Central Missouri's most popular lake destination is awash with activities that will entertain travelers young and old. Families will enjoy the lake's many boating and swimming opportunities, as well as popular attractions like Big Surf Waterpark. Meanwhile, the area's golf courses, spa scene and collection of wineries along the Lake of the Ozarks Wine Trail will appeal to couples. What's more, Lake of the Ozarks offers a diverse range of accommodations. Rent a cabin, park yourself at an RV campground, or book a stay at a resort or palatial vacation rental for a more luxurious stay.

  • Slide 12 of 30: This remote lake vacation will require some time and effort to get to, but its incredible scenery and peaceful atmosphere will be more than worth the journey. Composed of 21 of the 22 islands that are part of the Apostle Islands archipelago, this protected area can be found in Lake Superior, just off the coast of Wisconsin's northernmost point, and is only accessible by boat. The islands stand out for their colorful, uniquely carved sandstone cliffs and sea caves, which are a result of erosion. Book a boat cruise or a kayak tour to enjoy an up-close view of these natural wonders. You can also hike, visit remote beaches, fish and even scuba dive. Because of the lakeshore's location, campsites are the only lodging option available. If you're looking for more traditional accommodations like hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments, consider bedding down in Bayfield, Wisconsin, which is considered the gateway to the Apostle Islands.

  • Slide 13 of 30: Travelers seeking a lake vacation with lots of adventure should turn to Lake George. Part of the verdant Adirondacks region, Lake George is so vast that it encompasses more than 170 small islands within its borders. Take in the splendor of Lake George from above by hiking up Prospect Mountain or Sleeping Beauty Mountain. You can also get your heart pumping by cycling along the leafy Warren County Bikeway, renting water sports equipment (including kayaks, paddleboards and canoes) or testing your inner daredevil at the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, which offers everything from obstacles and rope swings to zip lines and rock climbing walls. Lodging options are plentiful, though if you're hoping to save money, booking a cabin or cottage is the way to go.

  • Slide 14 of 30: Southern Alaska's Cooper Landing is an excellent home base to explore several nearby bodies of water, including Kenai Lake, Skilak Lake and Tustumena Lake. Plus, all of these lakes are accessible via the Sterling Highway, which connects directly to Anchorage (only 20% of Alaska can be reached by road). These lake landscapes feature vibrant blue waters, snowcapped peaks and plenty of wildlife, as well as ample opportunities for fishing. Due to the climate and water conditions, these lakes are best for admiring, not swimming. If you've explored the lakes to your desire and have more time, know that Kenai Fjords National Park and Kachemak Bay State Park are both located on the same peninsula.

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  • Slide 15 of 30: The Finger Lakes is not your average lake destination. This region in central New York offers a diverse range of activities that could fill a weeklong itinerary. Here, visitors are treated to the Finger Lakes' American Viticultural Area and enjoy access to three state parks, including Watkins Glen State Park, which is known for its many picturesque waterfalls and trails. You'll also find top-notch skiing during the winter months, as well as cultural diversions like the impressive Corning Museum of Glass and the world's oldest photography museum. There are plenty of accommodations in the region, though you should consider splurging on one of the Finger Lakes' beautiful lakefront hotels, including Geneva On The Lake, Aurora Inn and Mirbeau Inn & Spa Skaneateles.

  • Slide 16 of 30: Travelers looking for a low-key lake vacation with serene beaches and pretty sunsets will enjoy Saugatuck. Situated along the shores of Lake Michigan, about 40 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, Saugatuck is a charming small town that boasts a population of just 850 year-round residents. The town welcomes as many as 2 million visitors annually, and it's easy to see why. In addition to picturesque streets, Saugatuck is home to a lovely shoreline. Kick back and unwind at Oval Beach and Saugatuck Dunes State Park, or admire the spectacular views at Mount Baldhead Park. For an added dose of adventure, consider a ride with Saugatuck Dune Rides, which offers group tours of sand dunes via open-top dune buggies. As for where to stay, accommodation options here include hotels, resorts, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, inns and vacation rentals.

  • Slide 17 of 30: Resting along the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just miles from the Appalachian Trail, lies serene Lake Santeetlah. This North Carolina lake and its striking leafy surroundings are refreshingly peaceful and ripe for exploration. The lake features 76 miles of shoreline and boasts more than 200 miles of trails in the adjacent Cheoah District. Visitors can also unwind and take a dip at Cheoah Point Beach, go boating (there are boat launches and marinas available) or spend the day fishing (the lake is home to nine different types of fish). Because of its remote location, there are only primitive campsites (no water or bathrooms) available at Lake Santeetlah.

  • Slide 18 of 30: New England's second-largest lake stands out because, like its name suggests, the lake is populated with moose, so much so that moose outnumber people three to one. If you're interested in getting an eyeful of the lake's namesake residents, you can join a moose safari. The lake is also known for its fishing. You can catch salmon and trout, and during winter, ice shacks can be found on the lake for ice fishing. Aside from its wildlife, this lake region provides the ideal setting for swimming, boating, Jet Skiing and even whitewater rafting. Lodging options range from bed-and-breakfast accommodations to campgrounds and sporting camps, the latter of which offer a place to stay and outdoor recreation experiences as part of your rate.

  • Slide 19 of 30: Montana's striking mountain scenery is illuminated next to the glass-like waters of Flathead Lake. Situated in northwestern Montana about 40 miles southwest of Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake features 185 miles of shoreline, making it the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. There are six state parks that border this beautiful lake, so you'll find plenty of campsites to bed down at. Available activities include swimming, boating, water skiing and hiking along scenic trails by the lake and through neighboring Flathead National Forest. If you aren't up for roughing it, know that nearby towns, including Kalispell, Bigfork and Polson, offer more traditional accommodation options and amenities.

  • Slide 20 of 30: You're truly spoiled for choice with a vacation in Oconee County. This South Carolina county, which is located about 45 miles southwest of Greenville, is home to four lakes, including Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee, Lake Hartwell and Lake Tugaloo. Lake Jocassee and Lake Tugaloo are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and feature waterfalls that feed into the lakes, while Lake Hartwell is often referred to as "the Great Lake of the South" due to its size (962 miles of shoreline). All of the lakes offer similar activities, including swimming and boating, though Lake Keowee is best for water skiing. As for where to stay, Oconee County boasts plenty of campsites and vacation rentals in the lake areas, as well as traditional hotels in Seneca.

  • Slide 21 of 30: There are few places in the U.S. where you can island hop via car. The Lake Champlain Islands in Vermont is one of those places. These five islands, which sit on 120-mile-long Lake Champlain, are all connected via U.S. Route 2 (also known as the Roosevelt Highway). The islands are home to beaches like Alburgh Dunes State Park and White's Beach, farms (including Snow Farm Vineyard and Hackett's Orchard) and plenty of lovely trails. The bike-friendly Island Line Trail is a particularly scenic pathway that crosses the lake from Causeway Park on mainland Vermont to South Hero Island. There are some hotels on the islands, and camping is available at Grand Isle State Park. Plus, since Burlington is less than 24 miles southeast of South Hero Island, you can always book accommodations there.

  • Slide 22 of 30: With a name like Thousand Islands, you can only imagine the plethora of things to do here. This region is home to 1,864 islands and stretches across both New York and Ontario. On the New York side, you'll find 15 state parks that offer year-round hiking trails. The region, which includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, also allows scuba diving, fishing and plenty of opportunities for boating big and small, fast and slow. All first-time visitors should book a boat tour to take in the splendor of this unique region and admire the castles that are dotted throughout the Thousand Islands. Lodging is also aplenty here, with options ranging from hotels to vacation rentals to campgrounds.

  • Slide 23 of 30: This remote national park offers an ideal setting for intrepid travelers. The isolated island of Isle Royale, which the national park completely covers, sits in the middle of Lake Superior – along Michigan's border with Canada – and is only accessible by ferry or seaplane. Along with unreliable cellphone service, the island does not allow vehicles and advises exploring via your own two feet or by boat. The park boasts 165 miles of hiking trails that take you through its dense forested land and up along its craggy coastline. You can also scuba dive, fish, kayak and canoe. Despite its remote location, the island does shelter two lodges, plus 36 campgrounds.

  • Slide 24 of 30: If you're looking for a lake vacation devoid of visitors, consider Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. This protected area is one of the least-visited national parks in the country due to its remote location in southwestern Alaska (the only way to get here is by plane or boat). The long trek will quickly be worth the effort once you lay your eyes on the park's evergreen scenery, turquoise waters and snowcapped peaks. First-time visitors should go hiking, book a boat tour and seek out opportunities to spot brown bears with a local guide. Although the park does have campgrounds, it's best to book a lodge or bed-and-breakfast that will provide meals. If you camp or rent a cabin, know that you'll have to bring your own food with you into the park.

  • Slide 25 of 30: Dubbed the "family-friendly Las Vegas," Branson is the lake vacation of choice for travelers with kids. Parents will be able to keep little ones entertained for hours with fun attractions, such as White Water Branson, the Promised Land Zoo and Silver Dollar City. There are also the Branson Scenic Railway, Adventure Ziplines of Branson tours and the area's caves and caverns for more adventurous groups. On Table Rock Lake, visitors can take a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle or go swimming in multiple locations along its 800 miles of shoreline. As for accommodations, there are plenty of hotels, including the Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center, as well as outposts from Hilton and Radisson.

  • Slide 26 of 30: Come to this central Florida park for its abundance of wildlife and its peaceful, verdant lakeside setting. Florida's third-largest lake is home to more than 200 species of birds, including bald eagles, cranes and turkeys, as well as a variety of other animals, such as white-tailed deer, bobcats and gray foxes. You don't have to search too far to find these animals, especially if you bed down at available campsites or wander along the park's 20 miles of hiking trails. On-the-water activities include fishing and boating; kayaking, in particular, is a popular means of taking in Lake Kissimmee State Park's waterways. If you're not up for camping, you'll find hotels in the towns that line U.S. Route 27, including Lake Wales and Winter Haven, where Legoland Florida Resort is located.

  • Slide 27 of 30: Lake Geneva is a solid option for travelers who want a little dose of luxury during their lake vacation. This lake, found less than 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee, is home to a handful of waterfront resorts, as well as spas, shops and golf courses. You'll also enjoy unique outdoor activities here, including zip lining, scooter tours, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding and drives through an animal safari park that's perfect for the kiddos. You can also partake in more traditional lake activities, such as taking a boat tour of the region and swimming at beaches like Riviera Beach and Big Foot Beach State Park. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to pencil in time for a stroll along the 26-mile-long Lake Geneva Shore Path, which weaves around the lake and looks particularly scenic come sunset.

  • Slide 28 of 30: One of Lake Oconee's most enticing features is its proximity to Atlanta. Unlike some other lake destinations that tend to be more remote, Lake Oconee is just 84 miles (less than a 90-minute drive) southeast of Atlanta and its large international airport. Hours wasted in the car or catching a connecting flight can be spent soaking up some sun on one of the lake's beaches or on a boat, leaping feet first into the water at the popular Jumping Rock, or playing a round of golf or tennis at Reynolds Lake Oconee. Accommodations vary from a luxurious Ritz-Carlton to rustic campgrounds.

  • Slide 29 of 30: Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaCrater Lake National Park, OregonLake Havasu, ArizonaLake Powell, Arizona and UtahTraverse City, Michigan Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin Lake George, New York Finger Lakes, New York Caddo Lake State Park, Texas

  • Slide 30 of 30: The Best Camping Gear to Buy for Your Next AdventureTop Family Camping Trips, Ideas and CampgroundsThe Best Family Vacations in the USAThe Best U.S. National ParksThe Best Summer Vacations

Spend your next vacation at one of these beautiful lake destinations.

Lake Tahoe, California

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Powell, Arizona and Utah

Mammoth Lakes Basin, California

Traverse City, Michigan

Caddo Lake State Park, Texas

Lake Chelan, Washington

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Lake George, New York

Cooper Landing, Alaska

Finger Lakes, New York

Saugatuck, Michigan

Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina

Moosehead Lake, Maine

Flathead Lake, Montana

Oconee County, South Carolina

Lake Champlain Islands, Vermont

Thousand Islands, New York

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Branson, Missouri

Lake Kissimmee State Park, Florida

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Oconee, Georgia

The Top Lake Vacations in the U.S.

  • Lake Tahoe, California
  • Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  • Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • Lake Powell, Arizona and Utah
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
  • Lake George, New York
  • Finger Lakes, New York
  • Caddo Lake State Park, Texas

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  • The Best Family Vacations in the USA
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  • The Best Summer Vacations

Visit MLK’s birthplace and childhood home at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in downtown Atlanta. During your visit to the park, which does not charge an entrance fee, you can see the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church – the location of King’s baptism, ordainment and funeral – as well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden. What’s more, the park includes Fire Station No. 6, built in 1894, where you can learn about the desegregation of the Atlanta Fire Department and see a 1927 fire engine. According to previous visitors, the park offers a “tranquil” and “thought-inspiring” atmosphere, especially in its rose garden and by its reflecting pool, where the crypts of King and his wife, Coretta, are located. The best options for accommodations close to this historical park are in central Atlanta; consider bedding down at Sugar Magnolia Bed & Breakfast or the Home2 Suites by Hilton Atlanta Downtown.

Margaret Mitchell House

Take a look inside the life of Margaret Mitchell, author of the classic novel “Gone With the Wind,” at the Margaret Mitchell House. Located in midtown Atlanta, this Tudor Revival mansion – which is one of several Atlanta History Center attractions – is home to the small apartment where Mitchell wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. The building is now a museum where you can see various exhibits about the author and her famous novel. The property is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors praise the Margaret Mitchell House’s tour guides, saying they’re both well informed and entertaining. Nearby hotels include the Hyatt Centric Midtown Atlanta and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta Midtown, GA.

Eat hot dogs at The Varsity

While vacationing in Atlanta, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a delicious hot dog and an order of onion rings at The Varsity. This local institution opened in 1928 and is considered the world’s largest drive-in restaurant. Be sure to come prepared: You’ll need to know the right lingo – like “heavy weight” (a hot dog with extra chili), “walk a dog” (a hot dog to go) and “naked dog” (a plain hot dog) – before you order. Throw in a signature Varsity Orange drink, and you’re all set. While there are now five Varsity locations, including one at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, head to the original restaurant at 61 North Avenue for the authentic experience. Past visitors said this is an absolute must when in Atlanta and rave about the onion rings and the Varsity Orange drink.

[Read: What to Eat in Atlanta.]

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Get out and discover Georgia’s great outdoors at one of its many state parks. Scenic Cloudland Canyon, which sits on the western side of Lookout Mountain in the northwest part of the state, is a prime spot to hike through gorges and take in magnificent waterfall and canyon views. Plus, it offers cottages, campsites and even yurts for overnight stays. Recent visitors recommend arriving early or coming on a weekday, as parking can fill up quickly. You’ll find the park about 25 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and approximately 120 miles northwest of Atlanta.

Six Flags Over Georgia

Georgia has its share of amusement parks, but Six Flags Over Georgia may top the list. Situated about 10 miles northwest of Atlanta, this Six Flags location features a variety of rides with themes based on DC Comics superheroes like Batman and Catwoman. Patrons who want to get their blood pumping should hop on the Great American Scream Machine, a classic wooden roller coaster built in 1973, or The Riddler Mindbender, a steel roller coaster with three exhilarating loops. Six Flags Over Georgia also has a water park with a wave pool and waterslides, plus attractions that are suitable for young kids. While you can buy tickets at the gate, you’ll save money and time by buying them online ahead of time. Reviewers say the park is clean and the rides are great but warn that lines for food can be long. Hotels like the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta West/Lithia Springs, the Hampton Inn & Suites ATL-Six Flags and the Comfort Inn Douglasville may offer packages with discounted park tickets.

[Read: The Best Family Vacations in the USA.]

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Journey about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta to visit Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, where Gen. William T. Sherman, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and more than 160,000 soldiers battled during the Civil War. The park has 17-plus miles of trails with war paraphernalia and a fantastic view of the Atlanta skyline. Visitors say it’s a great place to hike. For an easier trek, take the shuttle bus to the top of the mountain and then hike back down. Hotel options in the nearby city of Marietta include the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta, the Hampton Inn and Suites Atlanta/Marietta and the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel & Conference Center.

Get artsy at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden

For an off-the-beaten-path adventure, visit Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, a town in northwest Georgia that sits less than 20 miles east of the Alabama-Georgia border. This quirky attraction – which features a kitschy display of sculptures, paintings and objects developed by its namesake, folk artist Howard Finster – is considered one of the state’s top art attractions. Travelers describe it as “fascinating,” “inspiring” and “a must-do” and recommend wearing comfortable shoes when you visit. If you’d like to take the experience to the next level, book a stay at the on-site Airbnb cottage.

[Read: Vacation Rentals: The Best Vacation Rental Sites for Every Type of Traveler]

Historic Oakland Cemetery

Atlanta’s oldest public park, Historic Oakland Cemetery is where many of the city’s most well-known residents – including author Margaret Mitchell, golfer Bobby Jones and Bishop Wesley John Gaines, who founded Morris Brown College – are laid to rest. You’ll also find a Confederate cemetery where roughly 7,000 Confederate soldiers are buried, plus historic African American burial grounds. Close to downtown, this cemetery spans 48 acres and also houses gardens with sculptures and majestic oak trees and magnolias. Past visitors highly recommend a visit, noting the interesting tombstones and vast history.

Roosevelt’s Little White House State Historic Site

Located in Warm Springs, the Little White House was built by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, as he sought a cure for his polio in the town’s spring waters. Today, the house serves as a museum filled with the late president’s memorabilia, including his 1938 Ford convertible, his stagecoach and an unfinished portrait that he was posing for when he suffered a deadly stroke. Visitors say the guides and museum curators are exceptionally knowledgeable. After exploring the historic property, check out the shops and eateries lining Warm Springs’ Main Street before bedding down at The Aiden by Best Western Warm Springs Hotel and Event Center.

Sip vino in North Georgia’s wine country

Did you know that Georgia has its own wine region? The northern part of the Peach State is home to acclaimed wineries like Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery and Tiger Mountain Vineyards, which are known for their varietals like malbec, chardonnay and merlot. After a day of sipping and savoring, settle into your cozy abode at Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant, located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or Chateau Elan Winery & Resort, which features golf and tennis clubs, a spa and other top-notch amenities. Visitors describe the latter as a “hidden treasure” with top-notch food and lodging.

View the highly regarded Cyclorama

Cycloramas are large paintings popular in the 1800s that visually tell the story of an event and served as a form of entertainment in their time. Atlanta’s Cyclorama displays a more than 130-year-old painting of the 1864 Battle of Atlanta that is longer than a football field and stands almost 50 feet tall. Created in 1886, it is one of only two cycloramas in the U.S. – the other can be found in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – and has been on display in Atlanta for more than 120 years. Past visitors loved seeing the massive painting, using adjectives like “astounding” and “amazing” to describe it. You can now view the Cyclorama at the Atlanta History Center.

Providence Canyon State Park

Known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon is filled with colorful pink, orange and red cliffs caused by soil farming practices in the 1800s. Popular for both hiking and camping, the park has nine campsites and more than 10 miles of trails, including the 2.5-mile Canyon Loop Trail. The most popular of the nine canyons are Nos. 4 and 5. Providence Canyon comes alive in July and August when its plumleaf azaleas (a species that only grows in this region) are in full bloom. Keep in mind, though, that the park’s daytime temperatures often climb into the mid-90s in the summer months. Providence Canyon State Park is located about 40 miles south of Columbus on the western side of the state.

[See: The Best Places for National Park Camping.]

St. Simons Island

Part of the Golden Isles, St. Simons Island is the largest of several barrier islands that sit off of Georgia’s east coast. A classic Southern landscape with moss-draped live oak trees, this island boasts charming shops, untouched beaches, top-notch fishing and multiple golf courses. Visitors also recommend wandering the grounds and cemetery at Christ Church, Frederica (one of the oldest churches in Georgia), which is even more beautiful in spring when the azaleas bloom. Choose The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort for a luxurious stay, or save some coin with a more affordable option, such as the Hampton Inn St. Simons Island, the Holiday Inn Express Saint Simons Island or the Home2 Suites by Hilton St. Simons Island.

[Read: The Best Beaches in the U.S.]

Lake Lanier

One of Georgia’s most popular lakes – and the largest one available in the state – Lake Lanier has more than 70 recreational areas and spans almost 700 miles of shoreline. Located about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, the lake boasts shores that are home to Don Carter State Park, a 1,316-acre state park with beautiful hiking trails and well-maintained campsites, according to previous visitors. Plus, the lake is where you’ll find Lanier Islands, a lakefront resort complex that features a water park, a spa and even snow tubing during the winter months. When it comes to lodging, stay at one of the area’s abundant campsites or Margaritaville RV Resort, which offers both cabins and sites for recreational vehicles. If you’re looking for a traditional hotel room, consider reserving one of Legacy Lodge’s 214 accommodations.

[See: Top Lake Vacations in the U.S.]

Strike it rich at Dahlonega

The town of Dahlonega sits on one of the largest gold deposits east of the Mississippi River. In fact, the site was once so rich in the valuable metal that it caused a gold rush in the early 1800s. In present-day Dahlonega, you can tour a gold mine, pan for gold in the area’s creeks and rivers, and visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site. While the latter is a small museum, most previous visitors appreciated the informative displays and suggest watching the short film. For accommodations, consider the Dahlonega Resort and Vineyard, a relaxation-focused property with a wine garden and a spa, or the Hall House Hotel, which dates back to 1881.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Best Places to Visit in Georgia
  • The Best Weekend Getaways in the South
  • Top All-Inclusive Family Resorts in the U.S.
  • The Best Relaxing Getaways in the USA
  • The Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA

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