10 Georgia gems to visit in 2023
Want to discover some of Georgia’s coolest treasures? The Peach State offers some of the most incredible destinations, from charming cities and small towns to picturesque mountains and beaches. Make 2023 your year of exploration by delving deeply into unique experiences with urban thrills and natural wonders. When you visit the 10 Georgia gems below, get ready for a one-of-a-kind adventure that you truly won’t find anywhere else.
CHECK OUT: One of the world’s top 25 beaches has been named in Georgia
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
A traditional Hindu temple and cultural center, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, opened in 2007. The stunning temple is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan and made of hand-carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone, featuring intricate carvings and designs inspired by Hindu scriptures and architecture. Visitors can go on guided tours, participate in religious services, and view exhibits on Hindu history and culture.
Location: Lilburn, GA - 460 Rockbridge Rd. NW; Website: baps.org/Atlanta; Contact: 678-906-2277
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
In the Georgian mountain town of Blue Ridge, there is a heritage railroad called the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The train travels a picturesque path that passes along the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Toccoa River, providing spectacular views of the North Georgia mountains. With a variety of train ride options to choose from, this memorable train experience is a perfect afternoon getaway for the whole family.
Location: Blue Ridge, GA - 241 Depot St.; Website: brscenic.com; Contact: 877-413-8724
Doll’s Head Trail
If dolls easily give you the creeps, you might want to steer clear of this unusual Georgia gem. At Constitution Lakes Park in Atlanta, there is a special art installation called Doll’s Head Trail. Many colorful sculptures crafted by local artist Joel Slaton using salvaged materials, including doll parts, toys, and household items, can be discovered along the trail. Hikers can enjoy the quirky and imaginative artwork while taking in the wetlands and wildlife of the park’s natural beauty.
Location: Southeast Atlanta - 1305 S River Industrial Blvd. SE
Driftwood Beach (Jekyll Island)
On the north end of Georgia’s Jekyll Island lies Driftwood Beach, which is known for its hauntingly beautiful landscape of gnarled, weathered trees and driftwood that has been sculpted by natural elements over time. This unique area is frequently visited by photographers and nature enthusiasts to capture the area’s distinct charm. Step back in time and explore the nearby Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District, which features restored mansions and historic buildings dating back to the late 19th century.
Location: Jekyll Island, GA; Website: goldenisles.com/driftwood-beach; Contact: 800-933-2627
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site is a 54-acre archaeological site in Cartersville, featuring six earthen mounds. The site was occupied by the Mississippian Culture from around 1000 A.D. to 1550 A.D. and was a major center of political and religious activity in the region. Visitors can explore the mounds and a museum with exhibits about the history and culture of the Etowah civilization.
RELATED: Only in Cartersville: The best small-town weekend getaway in Georgia
Location: Cartersville, GA - 813 Indian Mound Rd. SE; Website: gastateparks.org/EtowahIndianMounds; Contact: 770-387-3747
Located in Buena Vista, Pasaquan is a seven-acre distinctive art environment created by artist Eddie Owens Martin (also known as St. EOM). He began the site in 1957 and continued to work on it for the next 30 years. Martin’s own mythology and spirituality are reflected in the whimsical, vibrant buildings that are adorned with intricate sculptures and painted designs. Visitors can explore the site and learn about Martin’s life and artistic vision through guided tours and exhibits.
Location: Buena Vista, GA - 238 Eddie Martin Rd.; Website: pasaquan.columbusstate.edu; Contact: 706-507-8306
Providence Canyon State Park
Southwest Georgia’s Providence Canyon State Park, commonly referred to as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” is a geological marvel and home to a number of vibrant canyons with steep walls carved out of soft, sandy soil. The canyons were formed by erosion brought on by negligent agricultural methods in the 19th century, and the park today provides hiking trails, camping, and breathtaking scenery. The often pink, orange, and purple canyon walls provide a spectacular backdrop for photos and outdoor adventures.
Location: Lumpkin, GA - 8930 Canyon Rd.; Website: gastateparks.org/ProvidenceCanyon; Contact: 229-838-6202
The historic city of Savannah is a true Georgia gem renowned for its exquisite architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, cobblestone streets and lush public squares. Visitors can explore notable sites like Forsyth Park, Savannah Historic District, and the Bonaventure Cemetery, as well as the city’s booming arts and culinary scenes. Considered one of the most haunted cities in America, don’t forget to try one of their haunted ghost tours. For the kiddos, be sure to check out The Savannah Bananas, known for their wacky uniforms, silly antics and fan engagement.
Location: Savannah, GA; Website: visitsavannah.com
The Rock Garden
An eccentric outdoor art installation with more than 50 miniature rock sculptures, known as The Rock Garden, can be found behind a church in Calhoun. The garden’s miniature replicas are made out of craft supplies, cement, shells and tiny stones, among other items. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the impressive rock formations, winding pathways, and eclectic sculptures constructed from found objects.
Location: Calhoun, GA - 1411 Rome Rd. SW; Website: calhounsda.com/rock-garden; Contact: 706-629-5470
Waffle House Museum
Did you know that there’s a Waffle House Museum? That’s right, the Waffle House Museum is located at the legendary Southern restaurant chain’s original 1955 site in Atlanta. With displays of vintage diner memorabilia, artifacts and photographs, the museum gives visitors an insight into the history and culture of Waffle House. If you get hungry during your visit, guests can step inside the original diner and order a meal from a limited menu of classic Waffle House favorites.
Location: Decatur, GA - 2719 E College Ave.; Website: wafflehouse.com/museum; Contact: 770-326-7086