Are you in the process of planning your next road trip, but haven’t nailed down your destination?
Maybe you’ve already chosen to travel to Georgia, but you just don’t know which places you want to visit. There’s a lot to choose from; Georgia has so many towns worth exploring. Do you visit the mountains, the coast, maybe hit the city scene?
Well, I’m going to tell you about four must-see places in Georgia that’ll help fuel your travel inspiration.
Last year we found ourselves with road tripping on the mind but weren’t decided on where we should go. We knew we wanted to do something with adventure, but also allow ourselves time to relax.
I put in hours of research to find the perfect state and towns to give us exactly what we were looking for. What I found? Georgia. It had just the mix of adventure activities and relaxing fun that we wanted for this trip.
So if you’re road tripping through Georgia soon, keep reading to find out exactly where you need to go to design an itinerary with a little action and a little relaxation.
The first destination on our list that probably already crossed your mind is the bustling state capital, Atlanta. What better place to start? Atlanta is a major airport hub and is home to almost a half-million people.
More people generally means more attractions, restaurants, etc. This city has endless things to do to keep you occupied. Honestly, you could spend your entire trip just in Atlanta and not run out of activities, but that’s not the point of a road trip.
However, Atlanta serves as a great starting and ending point for your travels across Georgia since flights to a major airport are usually more affordable than flying into a remote area.
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
The Storyline: A Tournament to Honor Queen Isabella
The Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament takes you back to an era of chivalry and honor. Here you can dine while you watch the Middle Age tradition of valiant knights competing in tournament.
The occasion for this competition is to celebrate the new Queen Isabella’s appointment to the throne. All the knights competing seek to win her approval and demonstrate their loyalty.
After picking up your ticket, you’re assigned to a knight and given a crown bearing his color. We were subjects of the Red Knight, Castille, and cheered him on as he competed.
The Great Hall, A Place for Mead and Merriment
Once you walk through the castle gates, you’ll find yourself inside The Great Hall. With its cobbled floors and massive fireplace reaching halfway to the castle ceiling, we immediately felt the lively, Medieval atmosphere. The hall is filled with libations, souvenirs, and swords you can peruse before or after your dinner. Or you could warm up and grab a chair by the fireplace.
No matter what you decide, there is plenty to do at Medieval Times before the tournament begins.
I suggest arriving before the show as seating is first-come, first-served. This also gives you time to enjoy all the Great Hall has to offer before heading to your seats for the tournament.
Our Dining Experience: Dragon Hatchlings and No Forks
Staying true to the medieval theme, you’ll be eating like in times of old – with your hands. My husband didn’t believe me when I first told him they wouldn’t give us utensils. However, I think it helps to get you into the Medieval tournament spirit.
For your meal, you have two options: meat or vegetarian, but they do ask if you have any food restrictions or allergies. We chose the meat option, and the amount of food brought out to us was unbelievable!
First comes your appetizer of tomato soup with garlic bread. Yep, no spoon; you have to tip up your bowl. Our main course consisted of corn on the cob, a roasted potato (not a small one), and a half chicken, which they referred to as baby dragons. For dessert, they brought out the ice cream.
As far as drinks go, there’s a metal pint at your place setting for your included beverage. Included beverages are drinks like water, sweet tea, and soft drinks. Make sure to pace yourself throughout your 4-course meal, because servers don’t come around often for refills.
For any alcoholic beverages you may want, they do have servers circulating through the crowd collecting your order. However, this tends to take some time before they get to you. I suggest grabbing a drink in the Great Hall before you find your seat if you’re wanting one to go with your dinner.
The Tournament, a Battle to Become Queen's Champion
Once the tournament begins, there is no shortage of action. Watch knights grip their lances, hoping their aim is true, as their horses race toward their targets. Witness expert falconry during the flight of the royal falcon demonstration. Marvel at the excellent horsemanship of the trainers in the arena as they lead their horses to do stunts.
However, the absolute best part of the Medieval Times Tournament is the jousting and hand-to-hand combat. This is the final stage of the Queen’s Tournament and the knights, at this point, are battling harder to win the title of Queen’s Champion.
The stakes get higher, the knights fight harder, and the crowd jeers louder at this point in the show. Some knights are honorable, some fight dirty. You choose who to route for: stay loyal to your knight or turn against him.
Sparks fly as swords, maces, and axes collide in the final round of battle. One by one knights are eliminated from the tournament as they lose until you are left with the Queen’s Champion.
What is iFly Atlanta?
If an adrenaline-pumping indoor skydiving experience is what you’re looking for, then iFly Atlanta has got you covered! This vertical wind tunnel gives you the sensation of skydiving without the expense (or fear of heights, if you’re like me).
There are many packages to choose from depending on how many flights in the wind tunnel you want. However, all packages include flight gear rental, pre-flight training, one-on-one flight instruction, and a personalized flight certificate. To check out the packages currently available at iFly Atlanta, click here.
Our First Time Indoor Skydiving
We selected the four flights per person package to maximize our experience in the tunnel since this was our first time indoor skydiving.
When we arrived, our flight instructor gave us the option to keep our four 1-minute flights or do three 1:20-minute flights. He recommended the three longer flights since that let us have more time once we got out into the wind tunnel.
We opted for the three longer flights, and, if suggested to you, I highly recommend it. It takes time to orient yourself once you enter the tunnel and to get to the exit, especially if it’s your first time in a wind tunnel.
Having more air time inside the tunnel during the flight gave us a better experience and more time to get a feel for flying.
If you’ve never been indoor skydiving, a 1:20-minute flight might not sound like much time. However, to a newbie flyer, it feels a lot longer inside the tunnel.
More muscle control than you’d think is needed to keep your body in the right position as the wind flies past you trying to pull your arms and legs back. Most flight sessions are only a minute to keep fliers from getting too physically exhausted, especially if it’s an activity they don’t often do.
Don't Skip the High Flight
Another option we were given when we checked in for our flights at the front desk was to pay an extra $10/person to do the high flight at the end of our last flight in the tunnel.
This means the instructor takes you up to the top of the wind tunnel at the very end of your final flight. This was amazing!!! They get you in a slow spin and take you up and down inside the tunnel several times. This is more than worth the $10 extra per person.
There is more to indoor skydiving than just trying to hold your posture straight while you float. The more quickly you take to it and the better you do, the more the instructor will show you. Once we mastered the basics of posture, he showed us how to turn left and right on our own and how to go forward and backward.
We expected indoor skydiving to be a lot of fun, but it was way more exciting than we anticipated. Having the wind rush past you as you’re flying, trying to direct your body to move across the tunnel or higher up was an awesome experience.
Home to the University of Georgia this quaint college town has a lot to offer without the large crowd you’d find in Atlanta. From breweries to brunch spots, be prepared for some relaxing fun.
One thing’s for sure, Athens has no shortage of amazing brunch spots that come highly recommended. From Mama’s Boy to J. Christopher’s and The Grit to Five and Ten, there are countless delicious spots.
My advice is to skip brunch on a Sunday. Sunday brunch is a popular meal to dine out and many of these brunch hotspots are close to the University of Georgia campus.
We attempted to go to the downtown location of Mama’s Boy Southern Fun Dining near the university. A crowd of college kids lined the outside of the building waiting for a table.
After driving to their other location, hoping it’d be better further from campus, the wait was an hour and a half. We made one last attempt at a Sunday brunch and drove to J. Christopher only to find the area packed with no parking available.
We abandoned our brunch plans as our hungry tummies wouldn’t allow us to drive around any longer.
Even though we didn’t get brunch in Athens, it was obvious by our difficulty finding availability that the brunch scene in Athens is delicious and desirable.
There are many popular restaurants with great atmosphere for a leisurely brunch that could add some relaxation and decadence to your morning. Maybe just don’t choose to do this on a Sunday so you don’t have to fight the crowds.
Creature Comforts Brewery
If you enjoy trying new craft beers and want a place to spend a laid-back hour or two, stop by the Creature Comforts Brewery in downtown Athens.
Creature Comforts, which was once an old tire company, is now a large open-space warehouse-style brewery. It’s many windows along the front of the building span floor to ceiling. They flood the room with light and lend a relaxed vibe since they’re perfect for letting you people-watch.
They have many beers to try on tap including their Classic City Lager (a local favorite), Reclaimed Rye, and The Tree That Owns Itself which is named after a local legend. Obviously there are many more beers on tap and Creature Comforts is adding new ones as they create. To see the craft beers currently available in their tasting room, click the link here.
Pick one to try or order their beer flight for four 5-oz. pours to test out many flavors. We opted for the beer flight and spent two hours sipping and people watching at the high-top bar that runs along the windowed wall. It was the making of a perfectly lazy Georgia afternoon.
Explore Downtown Athens
For a relaxing and enjoyable evening, head to downtown Athens for a little shopping, strolling, and dining out.
From cute boutiques to music stores, there are so many places to pop into and browse as you walk around downtown.
Looking for some food and fun? Head to The Rook & Pawn, a board game cafe offering food, coffee, and alcoholic beverages, where you can beat your friends at your favorite game. Maybe you’re in the mood for something sweet and you stop by the Bear Hug Honey Company.
There are also vintage stores, clothing boutiques, art galleries, and more for you to explore.
Once you’re all shopped out, stop for dinner at one of the many restaurants or bars in this popular area of town. Dine on a rooftop bar or sit outside and people watch as you enjoy your dinner.
Visit South Kitchen + Bar for creative southern cuisine. Or if you’re feeling something more international, check out one of the many Italian or sushi restaurants downtown, like DePalma’s Italian Cafe or Shokitini.
If you still aren’t ready to call it a night after dinner, downtown Athens is home to a thriving nightlife scene. There are many venues like Livewire Athens, The Foundry, and The 40 Watt Club where you can listen to the latest new band or attend a comedy show.
This small town in rural northwest Georgia holds some of the best outdoor adventure and beauty we experienced on our trip. With a population of close to 600 people, there is no doubt you’ll have plenty of room to explore and experience nature.
Historic Banning Mills Adventure Resort
What Sets Banning Mills Apart
If you think you know what it means to zipline, think again.
Historic Banning Mills Adventure Resort holds the Guinness World Record for having the longest and largest zipline canopy tour in the world! It takes two days of at least eight hours on the course each day for you to be able to experience every zip line they offer.
Banning Mills hosts various zipline adventure tours from the Level 1 (1-1.5 hour tour) to the Two Day Rush tour (two consecutive 8-hour days). If this brief description has already got you hooked, check out all their zipline canopy tours here.
Stay tuned for my in-depth post about Historic Banning Mills that I’ll be posting soon!
Adrenaline-Packed All Day Rush Canopy Tour
Our group selected the All Day Rush (ADR) tour, which is a one-day 8-hour tour. Before starting the course, we met with our guides to get all our gear and the needed safety tips.
The All Day Rush Tour includes all the smaller zip lines from the Levels 1-4 zipline tours (see what those are here). On top of that, you also get to do Terminator, Traverse, Big Daddy, Screaming Eagle, the Power Free Fall, and Flight of the Falcon lines.
Even if you aren’t up for an 8-hour zip lining adventure, levels 1-4 have a lot of gorgeous views of the gorge and are packed with thrills as well. Beginning at Level 2, you’ll still get to experience 900-1,000 foot zip lines that are 200 feet above Snake Creek Gorge.
Caleb and Richard, our tour guides, were fantastic! They didn’t rush us along the course and made sure we had an amazing time. They considered the things we preferred to do, zipline vs. aerial adventure ropes course, to maximize our fun since we literally couldn’t experience everything the resort had in one 8-hour day.
After warming up on a few of the lower level ziplines, we headed to Traverse, a series of suspension bridges above Snake Creek Gorge. This part of the course had some of the best views and held more excitement than we expected. The longest bridge stood 600 feet long and 100 feet above the gorge!
Kicking it up a notch after Traverse, our guides led us to Big Daddy, one of the first high-speed zip lines of the day. The Big Daddy zip line is 1,500 feet long and gets you going up to 60 mph once you jump off the tower. Now that is what I’m talking about!
Feast at the Lodge
When I think of lunch included on a tour, visions of a turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, and maybe a can of Coke, if I’m lucky, come to mind. That’s just the type of bagged lunch we were expecting.
Banning Mills delivered SO much more! For our one-hour lunch break we went back to the main lodge where the chef on site had an extensive buffet prepared. The spread included grilled chicken, a baked potato bar, salad, dinner rolls, grilled veggies, and multiple desserts.
They Saved the Most Intense Ziplines for Last
After lunch, we hit the longest, fastest, and most intense zip lines that Banning Mills has to offer. We only thought our morning session was action-packed until we experienced some of the resort’s most famous lines in the afternoon.
We wanted some action and adventure; Screaming Eagle delivered. After climbing to the top of the 100-foot tower, we clipped onto the line and prepared for the most significant zip line thus far. Screaming Eagle is one of the fastest zip lines at Banning Mills. On this 2,500-foot long zip line, you can reach speeds up to 75 mph. Not to mention, at our highest point, we were 200 feet above Snake Creek Gorge!
Flight of the Falcon, the Grand Finale
Our tour was drawing to a close, and that means it’s time for the grand finale, Flight of the Falcon. If you travel to Banning Mills and skip Flight of the Falcon, you are seriously missing out.
Our guides strapped us into our full-body harnesses, and we began the climb to the top of the 200-foot tower. The Flight of the Falcon is Banning Mills’ most renowned zip line. This 3,400-foot long line will have you feeling a rush of adrenaline as you barrel Superman-style, headfirst above Snake Creek Gorge.
By the end of our All Day Rush Tour, we were out on the course from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., including the 1-hour break around lunchtime for us to eat. Banning Mills by far was the absolute best and most exhilarating zip lining experience any of us had ever had.
Relax in the Georgia Countryside
Don’t forget to take some time to relax while you’re traveling.
Maybe this seems obvious to you because your natural travel style is relaxation. When your style is “go-go-go!”, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind.
What better place is there to relax than in the beautiful Georgia countryside? We chose our relaxation day to fall after the 8-hour zip line tour we did at Historic Banning Mills. We spent the day in Carrollton, a small town just outside of Whitesburg.
However, depending on your itinerary, you may want to take a breather another time. A few other rural towns that would be great for a relaxation day are Covington, Milledgeville, or Blue Ridge.
Whenever you plan to take it easy, I suggest picking a day when you can enjoy the mild temperatures of Georgia in the fall. If you’re lucky (or you planned ahead), your accommodations will have a balcony or porch where you can watch the sunset or read a good book and melt your stresses away.
The mountain town of Helen, Georgia, is an outdoor paradise for nature lovers. With Unicoi State Park to the north and Smithgall Woods State Park to the west, there is no shortage of things to do.
Even if you aren’t looking to visit any state parks, this Bavarian-style town has many unique activities to keep you occupied during your stay. Helen is proud of their German influences, and it permeates the culture there.
We weren’t sure what to expect from Helen’s Oktoberfest before arriving. Some of my research said Oktoberfest was this big festival with booths and activities set up throughout downtown. While other sources stated, it’s confined to the Festhalle, a large open-air venue along the Chattahoochee River.
Although the downtown architecture looks like a small German village, there aren’t booths and food carts set up there, except for one where you can grab a drink. The Oktoberfest festivities take place in the Festhalle unless you attend the opening day Oktoberfest Parade that marches through downtown.
Each year, the Festhalle fills with polka, singing, and the smell of bratwurst for several weeks.
The venue itself is filled with long, banquet-style tables for guests to sit while they listen to the night’s polka band. If you arrive early enough, you may be able to grab a seat overlooking the river.
Once we got our tickets and over-21 wristbands, we found all sorts of German-themed festival foods that we couldn’t wait to try. At one end of the Festhalle is the bratwurst stand where you can try any of six different types of wurst to go on your pretzel bun. That’s where we chose to start.
At the opposite end of the Festhall, was the beer and snack stands. Here they had numerous German beers on tap from which to choose. You could even buy a commemorative Oktoberfest beer stein for your drink. In this area, we also found giant pretzels with beer cheese, churros, beer nuts, and more. We spent our evening trying all of it!
Although the Oktoberfest wasn’t as expansive as I had hoped, it was a relaxed atmosphere to eat some German festival food while we drank a few beers and listened to music we don’t often hear.
Just a few minutes drive from downtown Helen you can find the Historic Nacoochee Village. If you like coffee, shopping, and wine, this is an area you’ll want to visit.
As far as shopping goes, there are three places I recommend you see: Jumpin’ Goat Coffee Roasters, Nora Mill Granary, and the Nacoochee Village Antique Mall.
Jumpin' Goat Coffee Roasters
Jumpin’ Goat has all different kinds of flavored coffee for you to explore. They have more traditional flavors like caramel delight or chocolate mint, but you can also find some unique infusions as well. Try their bourbon or wine-infused coffees for something a little out of the norm.
You don’t have to wait to get back to your Airbnb or hotel before you try it out, either. They have brewed coffee you can sample, or you can buy a cup; however, the flavors are limited since only a small part of the store is a coffee shop.
If you go, make sure to snag a picture with the giant stuffed animal goat they have standing at the entrance.
Nora Mill Granary
After we had our fill of coffee, we walked next door to Nora Mill Granary. It’s an old grist mill and country store established in 1876.
Part of what makes Nora Mill so interesting is all the grits, pancake mixes, flour, etc. they sell is made on site. You can also find kitchenware as well as locally made soaps, lotions, jams, jellies, butter, seasonings, and sauces. The country store is pretty expansive and there’s no lack of things to look through.
Once we finished checking out all their store had to offer, we stepped outside onto their deck that overlooks the Chattahoochee River. You can see the dam that was built to divert water that used to power the grit mill while you watch the ducks play in the river.
Nacoochee Village Antique Mall
Across the street from Nora Mill Granary, you’ll find the Nacoochee Village Antique Mall, a large 3-story old house filled to the brim with more antiques than you could imagine.
We spent about half an hour walking through the house looking at anything that caught our eye. However, if you really like checking out antiques, you could easily get lost for two hours in here.
Next door to the antique mall you’ll find Habersham Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries.
If you’re in the mood for a wine tasting at their bar area, it’s only $7.50/person! We like trying out local wineries and such when we travel so this was a lot of fun.
We picked out the five local wines we wanted for the tasting. Our bartender gave us a generous pour and told us all about the history of the wine and it’s taste profile as well as the foods that pair well with it.
Love one of the wines you tasted? Pick up a bottle at their store on your way out!
Discover Downtown Helen
Downtown Helen, made to look like a Bavarian village, is filled with stores you can spend an afternoon strolling through. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, home decor, the perfect restaurant for dinner, or something chocolatey for dessert, you can find it in downtown Helen.
I’m not much of a buyer when I shop on vacation, but I do like looking around at different shops. I just rarely find something I have to have.
After spending some time in a few home decor shops, we went on a mission to find the best candy apple. It had been a while since I’ve had one and I was craving it!
Hansel and Gretel’s Candy Kitchen had my back. This candy store by far had the largest selection of every kind of candy imaginable. And they had 15 different kinds of candy apples!
At the end of our downtown adventures, we stopped at Betty’s Country Store. This ended up being our favorite aspect of downtown Helen.
Betty’s had an outdoor bar where you could purchase local wine and beer. Sip while you shop or enjoy a game of corn hole while you finish off a cold one. Betty’s is definitely the place to go for high-quality ingredients if you plan to cook a lot of your own meals while you’re in Helen.
Hike the Nature Trails
When we booked our cabin for Helen, we had no idea we were booking a Nacoochee Village cabin. This ended up affording us several perks we hadn’t expected.
Not only were we given discounts for some Nacoochee Village activities, but we had free access to the village’s nature trails. The trails began right outside our cabin and you could follow them into downtown Helen or go the other direction to visit Nacoochee Village and Habersham Winery.
Along the trails, you can find an old gold mine. It’s mostly closed, but you can venture in a little. Or if closed spaces aren’t your thing, check out the old moonshine still.
Keep in mind these aren’t clearly marked by trail signs so you have to really know where to look to find them. If you’re having trouble, just ask a guide as they pass by on a tour. They were happy to help direct us towards these landmarks. We had been looking for a while, and I don’t think we could have found them on our own.
Got your Georgia road trip itinerary ironed out now?
If you’re planning a trip to Georgia soon, hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration to fuel your planning and travel daydreams.
To make sure you don’t leave anything behind that you’ll need on the road, snag my Ultimate Road Trip Packing List for free right now!
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