The Peach State is home to everything from, well, peaches, to mountains and plains, state parks full of natural grandeur and some of the friendliest folks you could chance to meet. But before you go thinking that Georgia is just another one of those southern states and nothing more, check out these unique attractions that you’ll only find in Georgia—some that boast multiple attractions within an attraction. We bet you’ll be packing your bags with Georgia on your mind in no time!
Gone With the Wind Inspiration – Jonesboro, GA
Margaret Mitchell—author of Gone With the Wind—grew up in Clayton County, Georgia. It was there that she found the inspiration for her novel, which would become one of the most famous and loved films in the history of motion pictures. In celebration of the heritage that so deeply inspired Mitchell, the city of Jonesboro, Georgia, offers visitors the chance to relive a bit of the past. The Stately Oaks plantation was built in 1839 and is reminiscent of the time period in the novel. Though Stately Oaks is not the plantation in the film, it is a great representation of the plantations that stood during that time, like Scarlett O’Hara’s beloved “Tara.” Built in 1867, the historic train depot houses the Road to Tara Museum which boasts items from the 1939 premiere, as well as reproductions of costumes worn in the film and authentic artifacts from the Civil War.
Tickets for the museum are $7 for adults and $6 for seniors and kids ages 6 to 12. The Road to Tara Museum is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Bus tours of the area are also available Monday through Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The tour includes the Cleburne Memorial Confederate Cemetery, the Warren House, the intersection of Rhett Butler Drive and Scarlett Drive, the Ashley Oaks Mansion, the Stately Oaks Plantation and the Road to Tara Museum. Ticket prices for the bus tour are around $14 for kids, $22 for seniors and $26 for adults, depending on the day and date on which you choose to enjoy the experience. For more information about this beautiful historic area, please visit www.atlantastruesouth.com.
The Center for Puppetry Arts – Atlanta, GA
The Center for Puppetry Arts is located in Midtown, Atlanta’s arts district. It’s open to the public Tuesday through Sunday each week. It was founded in 1978 by Vincent Anthony and is the largest organization dedicated to the art form of puppetry. There are three main areas at the center—the performance area, the education area and the Worlds of Puppetry Museum. The museum includes the Jim Henson Collection where guests can learn about Henson’s Muppets and even say hello to Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. The Global Collection celebrates puppetry traditions in cultures from all over the globe. Museum tours are offered daily. Family Series tickets are available and include a show, create-a-puppet workshop and admission to the museum. Tickets for non-members are $19.50 and members pay $9.75. Group pricing is available for groups of 10 or more. For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.puppet.org.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – Lilburn, GA
This beautifully ornate Hindu mandir, or place of worship, is an architectural marvel. It is the largest mandir of its kind outside of India and the largest in the United States. It was built using 34,450 pieces of hand-carved Italian Carrara marble, Turkish limestone, and Indian Pink Sandstone. The mandir was constructed as if with Legos or building bricks and was completed after only 17 months by an expansive group of volunteers who, as a whole, donated 1.3 million work hours toward the project. The temple has 5 tall pinnacles—the tallest one of which reaches 75 feet into the sky and is the tallest structure in the city of Lilburn. It also boasts 86 decorative ceilings, 116 archways, and 340 columns.
The mandir is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day and welcomes people of all faiths to enjoy the beauty of this impressive structure. Admission is free. For more information, please visit www.baps.org/atlanta.
Jekyll Island – Glynn County, GA
One of the Golden Isles of Georgia’s barrier islands in Glynn County, Jekyll Island is located in southeastern Georgia and is home to several gorgeous beaches and numerous activities for families to enjoy. The island was bought in 1886 by a group of wealthy families to be used as a private retreat where they could spend lazy summer days and enjoy golfing and hunting. By 1900, the Jekyll Island Club had among its membership the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Goodyears. The club closed its doors in 1942, and the island was purchased by the state of Georgia in 1947.
Jekyll Island is a Georgia state park and boasts 8 miles of pristine white sandy beaches. Driftwood Beach has been voted one of the ten most romantic beaches in America. Great Dunes Beach is most popular among families. The 20-acre beachfront park has play areas, picnic pavilions, and bocce ball and volleyball courts. Gorgeous white sand dunes line the shore at Glory Beach on the south end of Jekyll Island. St. Andrews is just a short walk from Jekyll Point on the southern-most tip of the island. Jekyll Island offers fishing, swimming, marinas, nature trails and more.
One of the most visited locations on the island is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. The center is a functioning hospital and rehabilitation center for sick and injured sea turtles and is the only center of its kind in Georgia. The interactive exhibit gallery and rehab pavilion are open to the public. There are also research and education programs that seek to raise awareness about sea turtles, their environment and how people can help keep these creatures safe.
Faith Chapel is a historic chapel on Jekyll Island built in 1904. It was once used as a place of worship, but today, it can be rented for weddings. The hardwood floors and huge Tiffany stained-glass windows are breathtaking and make the chapel the perfect setting for any wedding or vow renewal ceremony.
To learn more about Jekyll Island and all that it has to offer, please visit www.explorejekyllisland.com.
Stone Mountain Park – Stone Mountain, GA
Stone Mountain Park is located 15 miles east of Atlanta in the city of Stone Mountain, Georgia. The park is centered around Stone Mountain, which showcases a huge Confederate memorial carving of three prominent Confederate figures—Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. But the park is also chock full of attractions and activities outside of the carving. Snow Mountain is a 400-foot-high snow-covered tubing hill and snowy play area. Visitors can enjoy attractions like Tube Runners, Avalanche Alley, SnowZone and Penguin Run.
The Summit Skyride is a Swiss cable car that takes visitors 825 feet up to the top of Stone Mountain. Once on top of the mountain, visitors can enjoy views of the Confederate memorial carving, the Atlanta skyline and the Appalachian Mountains 60 miles off in the distance.
At the Dinotorium, families can enjoy four levels of fun and games centered around the research of, and education about, dinosaurs. There are super slides, trampoline floors and more than 60 interactive games for families with kids.
Visitors can also enjoy the Stone Mountain Museum and meet some very intelligent trained goats at the Stone Mountain Farmyard. In addition to these attractions, visitors can enjoy kayaking, golfing, biking and hiking. For more information about Stone Mountain and ticket pricing, please visit www.stonemountainpark.com.