Much of Georgia’s outdoor offerings are intricately tied to the fact that the starting point of the Appalachian Trail (AT) resides in Georgia. While this does make it a hotspot for those looking to embark on a long trail excursion, there’s plenty to do in the Peach State for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Camping in Georgia takes place mainly in its national forests and robust state park system. With a wealth of trails spread throughout the state, you’ll never be far from a hike when you unzip your tent in the morning!
What’s the Best Time of Year to Go Camping in Georgia?
Like the rest of the Southeast, summers in Georgia feature oppressive humidity and warm temperatures. While that may not deter those who are used to humid climates, desert-based travelers might want to wait until the weather cools down.
For most travelers, fall and spring are the ideal times for hiking and camping in Georgia. While winters are relatively mild, you’ll see lows get towards freezing in some regions of the state. Most campers will want to aim for March to May and September to November when planning a trip to Georgia.
What Are the Top Outdoor Activities in Georgia?
As it holds the start of the AT, Georgia has plenty to offer for hiking fans. For those traveling south, Georgia has beautiful beaches perfect for relaxing days in the sand. There are beautiful waterfalls to hike to, and lakefronts await those looking to kayak, canoe, or just float.
What Are the National Parks in Georgia?
There aren’t any true national parks in Georgia. That being said, the state doesn’t lack hiking opportunities. Hiking, backpacking, and camping in Georgia hold up to any of its competitor states along the AT.
The crown jewel of Georgia hiking is the start of the AT, Springer Mountain, in Fannin County. You don’t have to commit to hiking the entire thing to step foot on the trail, we promise. Spending even just a night or two on the trail is a great way to experience the energy of this thru-hike without quitting your day job.
Cumberland Island National Seashore provides some of the best camping in Georgia. Photographers and nature lovers alike will be thrilled with the camping accommodations here. Set your tent up among the trees and under the Spanish moss. You’ll have plenty of island-exploring to do when you stop here. This is, hands down, one of the best overall outdoor spots, as well as one of the best spots for camping in Georgia.
Yep, like the Alan Jackson song. Though, in fairness, that was about the Chattahoochee River, but the concept still stands. While often combined with the Oconee National Forest, they’re technically two separate entities and should be explored as such. If you want to spend your days on the river, Georgia’s national forests offer thousands of miles of beautiful running water to enjoy.
The Oconee National Forest offers all the same perks as the Chattahoochee but gives you more room to explore! If you have the time, a weekend trip is the perfect way to enjoy both the Chattahoochee and Oconee sections of this nearly 900,000-acre national forest land, offering the best national forest camping in Georgia.
What Are Some of the Most Popular State Parks in Georgia?
It’s not the Grand Canyon, but it is one of the most fascinating canyons you’ll find in the eastern part of the United States. The gorge is about two miles long, and the associated hike is only a three-mile round trip—well worth the time if you’re stopping into the park. Tallulah Gorge has several overlook points to view the canyon from, depending on where you start and how much you want to hike.
Cloudland Canyon State Park holds some of the best waterfalls and best camping in Georgia. While you can make Cloudland Canyon a day trip, your best experience is going to come from spending the night there and hiking the falls first thing in the morning. If you want the full experience, reserve one of the 13 backcountry campsites offered in this Georgia state park.
Fort Yargo won’t be too far of a drive for those visiting Georgia's metro areas. About halfway between Athens and Atlanta, Fort Yargo State Park is one of the more unique spots in the Georgia state park system. Fort Yargo also offers some of the best luxury camping in Georgia, with plenty of glamping options in the 1,800-acre historic park.
If you thought Fort Yargo was close, you’ll love Sweetwater Creek State Park. Literally minutes from Atlanta, this 2,500-acre state park exists at the intersection of Georgia’s history and outdoor scene. Trails here pass the remains of 19th-century buildings and offer a glimpse into the history of manufacturing in the state. When the weather is good, Sweetwater Creek rents out boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and other water sports equipment.
What Are the Top Attractions in Georgia?
Atlanta may be a concrete jungle, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t green areas to enjoy. The Botanical Garden offers exhibits and education, with options for a wide range of visitors. Parents traveling with children will love the children’s exhibit area that offers songs and stories to help younger visitors appreciate the garden as well.
The Historic District in Savannah features 19th-century architecture and is a direct representation of pre-Civil War-era Savannah history. The district caters to tourists with tours, riverboat cruises, and all manner of activities to choose from when you stop by.
If you want to make a weekend of it, there are plenty of historic hotels to stay in. Plus, if you’re there in October, it’s said that Savannah is the most haunted city in the U.S. Ghost hunters, do with that what you will.
While much of this area is state park land, there’s a family-friendly amusement park at the center of the action. Stone Mountain Park offers plenty of activities, exhibits, and tours that cater to families with younger children, though the nearby hiking is perfect for all outdoor lovers.
Like Stone Mountain Park, Jekyll Island is surrounded by state park land but has a swath of comfortable amenities for visitors who aren’t looking to rough it. From golf courses and hiking to restaurants and shopping, Jekyll Island is a great choice if you’re short on time and don’t want to spend hours driving through the state.
Where’s Some of the Best Food in Georgia?
Routinely rated as one of Atlanta’s favorite restaurants, Bones is a fine dining experience any steak lover will want to throw on their bucket list. Expect a comparable dress code and experience. While it’s not the upper end of the fine dining spectrum, business casual is the minimum requirement.
Spring is upscale farm-to-table meets Southern classics. If you want to dive into the cuisine of Georgia but enjoy a good twist, Spring Restaurant is perfect for you. The New American cuisine menu is revamped with the seasons to bring you the freshest offerings. This neighborhood spot is on the pricier side, so it may best be reserved for a nice dinner out.
Want un-fussy, good Southern food? You’re in the right place. Southern Soul was a gas station before it became one of the area’s premiere barbecue joints and keeps things simple and approachable. Don’t miss the oak-smoked, fall-off-the-bone-good offerings if you’re passing by Saint Simmons Island.
This historic restaurant has been around since roughly 1910 and keeps that original charm. This family-style restaurant offers Southern comfort food, so take your time here and get comfortable. If you want to make an event of it, stay at the accompanying inn!
Georgia is steeped in Southern hospitality and is always a welcoming place to visit. While many travelers come for the historic architecture and tourist hotspots, the outdoors really sets it apart. Hiking and camping in Georgia offer options you don’t get in many sections of the Southeastern United States, so make sure to take advantage of them!