The beautiful town of Helen, Georgia.

7 Most Scenic Small Towns in Georgia

Georgia, the United States’ 24th-largest and 8th-most populous state in the American Southeast stands out for its varied landscapes. Besides being one of the original Thirteen Colonies, this gorgeous state captivates holidayers not only with its rich American heritage and thriving cultures but also its stunning geographical range stretching from the Appalachian Mountains in the north to the Atlantic coast marshes and the Okefenokee Swamp in the south. Although for several years, the state’s larger metropolises including the capital Atlanta, and other populated cities like Columbus, Savannah, Augusta, etc., have received the highest attention from tourists, the innumerable small towns of the Peach State are also waiting for a similar kind of attention from the vacationers. Join us on our journey as we explore some of Georgia’s most scenic small towns.


Dining alfresco on a warm autumn afternoon on the sidewalk in front of Capers, located in the historic public square of Dahlonega, Georgia.
Dining alfresco on a warm autumn afternoon on the sidewalk in front of Capers, located in the historic public square of Dahlonega, Georgia. Editorial credit: Jen Wolf /

Nicknamed “Gold City” for being the site of the United States’ foremost significant Gold Rush in 1829, Dahlonega, the administrative center of Lumpkin County, is situated at the base of the North Georgia Mountains on the extreme northern edge of Georgia State Route 400 - a freeway linking the town with the state capital. Tourists visiting Dahlonega must peruse the uncountable gift shops, unique boutiques, artist studios, entertainment spaces, bed & breakfasts, art galleries, wine-tasting rooms, and eateries that fill the Dahlonega Square. The Old Lumpkin County Courthouse that houses the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site, the Holly Theater, the idyllic Dahlonega campus of the University of North Georgia, and the Achasta Golf Course are noteworthy places of interest. Moreover, the presence of multiple vineyards and award-winning wineries such as Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, Kaya Vineyard & Winery, Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery, Accent Cellars, and Cavender Creek Vineyards & Winery has earned Dahlonega the distinction “the heart of the North Georgia Wine Country.” Various local festivals like Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, Dahlonega Literary Festival, Gold Rush Days, the Fourth of July Festivities, Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival, and an old-fashioned Christmas celebration are held here.

Blue Ridge

Aerial view of downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Aerial view of downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia.

A picturesque alpine town, Blue Ridge, the seat of government of Fannin County is located on a divide between the Tennessee and Alabama River watersheds, roughly 90 miles north of Atlanta via I-575. Blue Ridge is a haven for adventure lovers with more than 100 miles of crystal-clear trout streams, 300 miles of hiking trails, and 867,265 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Downtown Blue Ridge is chock-a-full of antique shops, clothing boutiques, craft breweries, art galleries, wineries, entertainment spaces, breweries, and diners. Enjoy a 26-mile round-trip ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway which begins at the classic Blue Ridge Depot and follows the course of the Toccoa River offering unparalleled views of the surrounding region. Outdoorsy types can engage in boating, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and swimming activities on the clean Lake Blue Ridge. Additionally, do tour the Mercier Orchards - the biggest apple orchard in the Southeast, applaud the town’s lively art scene, witness the alluring waterfalls (Long Creek, Falls Branch, Jack River Falls, and Sea Creek), and play golf at the Old Toccoa Farm.


Aerial view of Madison, Georgia.
Aerial view of Madison, Georgia.

Madison, named after James Madison - the 4th US President, occupies the heart of Morgan County and is a part of Metro Atlanta, the most populous metropolitan statistical area in the state. The town has the most extensive and immaculately preserved downtown historic district, featuring over 100 antebellum houses and other important structures like the Morgan County Courthouse, Carter-Newton House, Joshua Hill House, Bonar Hall, Heritage Hall, Rogers House & Rose Cottage, etc. This alluring weekend getaway also houses a handful of specialty shops, art galleries, vintage stores, museums, coffee shops, bed & breakfasts, and dining venues such as the Town 220 Restaurant, Ricardo’s Kouzzina, and Crowe’s Open-Air Bar-B-Que. Spend some time discovering the different city parks, the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, the Morgan County African-American Museum, and the nearby hiking trails of varying difficulties in the Oconee National Forest.

Tallulah Falls

Tallulah Falls, Georgia, overlooking Tallulah Gorge.
Tallulah Falls, Georgia, overlooking Tallulah Gorge.

Spread across Georgia’s Habersham and Rabun counties, this teeny town of less than 200 residents is situated near the Tallulah River, just two hours northeast of the state capital along the boundary with South Carolina. Besides being a gateway to the Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls is esteemed for its enchanting attractions including the river gorge and a series of waterfalls cascading down through the gorge (Hurricane Falls, Tempesta Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Oceana Falls, and the L’Eau d’Or Falls). One of the ideal ways to witness the Tallulah River Gorge and soak in the scenic beauty of the encircling landscape is to hike the Tallulah Gorge Rim Trail or cross the swinging suspension bridge around 80ft high above the rugged bottom. Do not forget to shop for a souvenir at The General Store, savor some lip-smacking cuisines at The Main Street Grill & BBQ, and visit the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center to learn about the area’s glorious past and the delicate ecosystem of the State Park.


Street view in Helen, Georgia
Street view in Helen, Georgia, via PQK /

Platted in 1912, this former logging town labeled after a lumber official’s daughter is situated in White County of Northeastern Georgia on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Recreated as a Bavarian alpine town, Helen welcomes holidaymakers to participate in numerous outdoor recreational activities like floating down the Chattahoochee River; zip lining, mountain biking, birding, and fishing at Unicoi State Park & Lodge; riding the Georgia mountain coaster and taking a horse-drawn carriage ride around Downtown Helen; surveying the neighboring Hardman Farm State Historic Site and accessing the Anna Ruby Falls through the Unicoi State Park; and playing mini-golf at the Alpine Mini Golf. Every year, many fun-filled events like Oktoberfest, Helen to Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival, the downtown Christmas Parade, and Winterfest Art Tour are held in the town.


July 4th celebration in Covington, Georgia, USA, with festive events and activities.
July 4th celebration in Covington, Georgia, with festive events and activities. Editorial credit: Georges_Creations /

Covington, christened in honor of Leonard Covington - a Brigadier General in the War of 1812, is located in the north-central part of the state about 35 miles southeast of Atlanta via Interstate 20. Dubbed the “Hollywood of the South,” the flourishing downtown of this administrative center of Newton County, has been a magnificent backdrop for over 140 movies and television shows such as “Vampire Diaries,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Dukes Hazard,” etc. Furthermore, the town has a plethora of old structures like the Newton County Courthouse, National Register-listed sites including the Covington Mill Village, Salem campground, and North Covington Historic District, aside from the scores of independent antique stores, boutiques, and eating joints like Town House Café, Bread & Butter Bakery, and Mystic Grill Restaurant. Take a self-guided tour of the area’s stunning historic homes, hop aboard the Main Street Trolleys for a two-hour-long tour of the popular filming locations in the town, and watch a free concert with your family at Legion Field.


Waterfront Park in Darien, Georgia
Waterfront Park in Darien, Georgia, By Jud McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

McIntosh County’s seat, Darien, the state’s second-oldest planned settlement, is situated on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Georgia, close to the Altamaha River’s mouth, around 17 miles north of Brunswick and 62 miles south of Savannah. Established in January 1736 by Scottish Highlanders recruited by the British General James Edward Oglethorpe and called ‘New Inverness,’ the town was later named Darien after an erstwhile Scottish colony in Panama. Darien is widely known for housing the Fort King George State Historic Site, Old City Jail Art Center, the two historic districts: the West Darien Historic District and the Vernon Square-Columbus Square Historic District, the Butler Island Rice Plantation, and the Ashantilly Center. Tourists must take a leisurely walk through the town’s wonderful Waterfront Park and the newly restored downtown having a large number of landmark buildings, theaters, hotels, a small outlet mall, gas stations, and chain restaurants. The yearly Fourth of July celebrations, Blessing of the Fleet, and the Darien Fall Fest also attract thousands of merrymakers.

From the "Gold City" of Dahlonega to the coastal splendor of Darien, there is no shortage of pretty towns in the “Empire State of the South.” Each of these tight-knit communities proudly exhibits the state’s natural beauty, ample memorable sights, a wealth of outdoor recreations, colorful festivals, and authentic Southern Americana. These incredible small towns should be at the top of your lists when you are searching for charming locales to unwind on your next trip to the Peach State.

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