While Georgia might not be your first choice when it comes to planning your holiday, this underrated state has a lot to offer. To prove it, here are 6 beautiful things to do in Georgia:
1. Rock City on Lookout Mountain
At the border between Georgia and Tennessee, Lookout Mountain was the scene of a Civil War battle but is best known today for the nature park along its rocky ridge. Begun in 1932 and made famous by more than 900 barn signs in 19 states, the park features trails through a series of rock formations and across a swinging bridge to Lookout Point.
On clear days, points in seven states are visible from the top of the sheer cliff. Alongside the winding trail through the formations are gardens, stone bridges, narrow passages between massive rock faces, art installations, a mushroom-shaped balancing rock, and other features.
2. Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world. In ten million gallons of water, you will see unique displays of whale sharks, beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, and manta rays with a thirteen-foot wingspan. Opened in 2005, the aquarium is a newcomer on the Atlanta tourist scene, but millions visit it annually.
The dolphin stadium holds 20-30 minute dolphin shows that are unrivaled anywhere. Its collection of mostly mammalian animals such as sea otters, beluga whales, and African penguins is the centerpiece of the fabulous aquarium. There are also dynamic displays of tropical fish from the South Pacific Ocean and a North American fish tank that visitors can walk under and get a unique view of familiar fish from below.
3. Savannah Historic District
The Savannah Historic District corresponds with the city limits at the time, just before the American Civil War. Laid out in 1733 by General James E. Oglethorpe, the founder of the British Colony of Georgia, the original town was divided into wards, which were sections of land that each contained a central square, four civic buildings, and ten residences.
Millions of visitors come to admire the architecture, tour the homes, and walk the broad, live oak-lined streets with their curtains of Spanish moss. In addition, visitors can view historic homes, churches, synagogues, cemeteries, and a railroad roundhouse, all of which have been lovingly preserved. A trolley tour is a great way to orient yourself to the historic district’s layout; walking the cobblestone streets, dining in fine restaurants, and relaxing in the shade of the central squares is a wonderful way to spend a day, a week, or an entire vacation.
4. Center for Civil and Human Rights
Dedicated to the civil rights movement in the United States and more broadly to the struggle for human rights worldwide, the Center for Civil and Human Rights is a dynamic and powerful experience that brings visitors face to face with one of the greatest social initiatives of recent history. The Civil Rights Movement gallery portrays the fight for equality in the 1950s and 1960s, immersing visitors in the sights and sounds through interactive displays that bring to life the individuals who worked to overcome the Jim Crow laws and secure equal rights for all.
The Freedom Riders exhibit recreates the 1950s bus, with oral histories and a film made inside the bus. The Lunch Counter exhibit is perhaps the most moving, as visitors sit at a replica counter encountering the angry faces and listening with earphones to voices of tormentors, who threatened those who tried to eat at public lunch counters. Multimedia displays bring the March on Washington alive through songs and speeches. Martyrs who lost their lives in the struggle for equal rights are honored with their photos and stories.
Finally, the Human Rights Movement gallery connects the struggles for human rights throughout the world through interactive technology, exploring fundamental rights, and encouraging visitors to engage in the discussion.
5. Stone Mountain Park
The 863-foot-high granite outcrop of Stone Mountain is almost completely bare of trees or plant life, its bald dome standing out prominently from the surrounding land. Into the sheer eastern side, a large relief of three Confederate leaders was carved between 1923 and 1970, a memorial that has caused considerable controversy. A cable car ascends to the summit for sweeping views of the Atlanta skyline, only about 15 miles away. You can also climb to the top or follow one of the endurance courses through the treetops on suspended rope walks.
A 1940s locomotive carries passengers on a five-mile track around the park, and a land-and-water tour on a 1940s Army DUKW features local history. Other things to do include a restored antebellum plantation and a museum with Native American artifacts. Families like the petting zoo and the dinosaur park of 20 life-size prehistoric creatures that move and roar.
6. Consolidated Gold Mine
In 1828, a deer hunter named Benjamin Parks tripped over a large boulder and discovered a rich vein of gold running through it, and so the gold rush came to Georgia and the town of Dahlonega. By 1800, all the rocks, streams, and lakes in the area had been emptied of gold, and a group of investors bought 7,000 acres and drilled down to find more. The mine closed in 1906 when the underground tunnels began to flood, but today safety measures have been taken, and tourists can go 200 feet underground to the inner workings of the upper mine.
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