10. Rock City Gardens
Rock City Gardens is located near Chattanooga, and Google describes it somewhat underwhelmingly as a "walking trail." It is a walking trail, sure, but most walking trails don't include a 90-foot waterfall, a breathtaking footbridge over wooded hills, a trip through caves, or a lookout point with a view that stretches across seven states. The path is less than a mile long, but you could probably spend the better part of a day here. Seasonal attractions include a corn maze in autumn and Christmas Lights in winter, and who doesn't love corn mazes and Christmas lights?
9. Atlanta Botanical Garden
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a beautiful collection of flora, including a 15-acre hardwood forest, the "Southern Seasons Garden," a Japanese garden, and the world's largest public display of orchids. There are also art installations. Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden is an illuminated display made of hundreds of miles of optic fiber, and it makes up several installations across the Botanical Garden.
(image via Atlanta Botanical Garden)
8. Driftwood Beach
The name "Driftwood Beach" might not instill a sense of wonder when you first hear it. Lots of beaches have driftwood. Big deal, right? Driftwood is basically water garbage. But Driftwood Beach isn't named for pieces of debris, it's named for the haunting, skeletal trees that line the shore. However otherworldly the trees may seem, though, this place is bustling with life. In fact, even as new hotels are planned, development is limited to just over a third of the island's land area.
(image via Ingrid Verona Pierre)
7. Savannah Historic District
Downtown Savannah is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the U.S., and there's something for everyone here. There are museums, riverboat cruises that hearken back to the earliest days of the city, and forts from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Of course, it's not all history. There are all kinds of gourmet restaurants, art, theater, and ghost tours, as well, and a cornucopia of posh hotels in the district from which to enjoy it all.
6. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site encompasses his birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was pastor, and his gravesite, all on Auburn Avenue. 501 Auburn is the home where he was born in an upstairs middle room, and down on the corner of Auburn and Jackson is the church where he ministered alongside his father. Across the street is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which continues his work, and east of the church is a memorial park and the marble crypt where he is entombed. Park rangers offer guided tours of the home, but the capacity for tours is limited so you might want to show up as close to the 10:00 a.m. opening as possible.
5. Urban Whitewater Rafting on the Chattahoochee
This man-made stretch of rapids makes up 2.5 miles of the Chattahoochee river, right through Uptown Columbus. You can raft the laid-back Class I "Lazy River," or the challenging Class V "Cutbait" route, or many others in between. There's also a 20-mile Riverwalk for pedestrians and bikes that leads out to an island where you can watch people tackle some of the toughest rapids around.
(image via Columbus GA Whitewater)
4. Ocmulgee National Monument
Ocmulgee is the site of some 17,000 years of continuous habitation by various American Indian groups. There are burial mounds here that date back from 900–1250 CE and an earth lodge that's been carbon dated to the year 1015. There are walking trails and fishing in the wilderness around the mounds, and the museum has 2,000 artifacts on display, some of which are over 10,000 years old.
(image via Ocmulgee NPS)
3. Your Dekalb Farmers Market
The Dekalb Farmers Market started life as a produce stand in the 70s, but it's grown into a global operation, offering fresh fruits and vegetables from around the entire world. But calling it a grocery store doesn't really do it justice. It's a chef's dream, with a planet's worth of obscure sauces, spices, and ethically-sourced sustainable meats. There's also a by-the-pound food court. In short, this is the place that Whole Foods wants to be, without the logistics of running a national chain gumming up their mission.
(image via Your Dekalb Farmers Market)
2. Krog Street Tunnel Graffiti
Krog Street Tunnel is an ever-changing display of graffiti on a massive scale. The tunnel actually had a setback about a year ago when many of the people who made it special whitewashed it in protest of a private event that closed off the tunnel (a main thoroughfare) for 30 hours without the permission of the Neighborhood Planning Unit. Still, the artists have been making it vibrant with just as much vigor as before, and the whitewashing incident drives home the community spirit, as well as the sense that this is meant to be a gift to the city—a free one—first and foremost.
(image via Victor Hernandez)
1. See a Show at the Fox Theatre
The fabulous Fox was originally an ornate movie theater when it opened back in 1929. The motion pictures were an event, and they were set up to feel like one. The architecture is split between Islamic and Egyptian, with an Arabian courtyard and a ballroom inspired by a temple for Ramses II. You can catch Broadway shows, rock concerts, and events like the Mythbusters farewell tour here, but the grandeur and history of the theater itself are as much a part of the appeal as the performers.