Before you book a train to Atlanta for a getaway, Georgia's smaller towns offer a diverse range of experiences that showcase the state's unique character. Whether you're drawn to the coastal charm of Darien, the historic German architecture of Helen, the maritime heritage of Brunswick, or waterfall exploration in Tallulah Falls, these hidden jewels have the heart and vibrancy of big cities contained in small, tight-knit community towns.
Trickling down from Lake Rabun, the Tallulah River splits the town of Tallulah Falls before joining Tugaloo Lake in its path along the South Carolina border. To witness the state's most scenic waterfalls, you must venture into the 1,000-foot chasm named the Tallulah Gorge. This area is protected as part of the Tallulah Gorge State Park, providing five different cascades along the trails.
Many travelers enjoy hiking and cycling along the tracks to enjoy the numerous vantage points over the many waterfalls. The view here is so stunning that Tallulah Falls was once known to rival the beauty of Niagara Falls! After a day of exploring the wilderness, one can return to the quiet town with the lungs filled with fresh air. Strolling along the streets of downtown Tallulah Falls, The Edge Cafe grants a selection of craft beers often paired with curry chicken salad or a grilled sandwich.
Helen is a mountain town in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia. Modeled as a Bavarian Alpine village, the charming town of Helen is a traditional German culture and architecture stronghold. Helen's road names reflect typical German streets with peculiar cobblestones and dark color schemes. This classical South German style gives Helen a unique Bavarian look.
Besides the particular town appeal, the Blue Ridge Mountains provide plenty of additional attractions. For those seeking an adrenaline-rich adventure, zip lining is available at Nacoochee Adventure over the green scenery and the Cool River, which grants exciting tubing opportunities in its murky waters. Thanks to its German traditions, Helen holds an annual Oktoberfest event from September through October and other events like Christkindlmarkt during Christmas or the Atlantic Balloon Race and Festival in the summer.
Pine Mountain is the gateway to the Callaway Gardens and is surrounded by surreal natural wonders. The Callaway Gardens comprises 2,500-acre gardens at the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and is replete with vibrant azalea blossoms. The sweeping area includes hiking and bike trails, a world-class golf course, and the luxurious Callaway Resort.
The local Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center is another popular attraction inside the Callaway Gardens that houses hundreds of unique and stunning butterfly species. Similarly, the Wild Animal Safari is a 300-acre park that allows for jaw-dropping drive-through views of rare animals such as zebra, wolves, lions, and giraffes. Moreover, the town's namesake, Pine Mountain, provides extensive hiking trails that grant panoramic views of the region.
Brunswick accompanies the Turtle River as it joins the Atlantic Ocean on the southeast coast of Georgia. This port city is laid out in a formal grid with city streets and squares still bearing their colonial names and historic sites, including the Historic Brunswick Courthouse, Old Town Brunswick Historic District, and the Historic Ritz Theatre. The port of Brunswick is composed of countless docks that give a unique look to this seaside settlement. The views of the Atlantic can be enjoyed along the city's many waterside attractions like Mary Ross Waterfront Park. This park provides an outdoor musical playscape, a staged pavilion, picnic areas, an amphitheater, and a farmers market on its sweeping green spaces.
Additionally, the flat morphology of the Brunswick area allows for many walking paths and biking trails that entertain the outdoor enthusiasts visitors. Furthermore, the Fort Frederica National Monument is one of the historical establishments from the 18th century that still stands as a symbol of Brunswick's maritime history. This British fort was originally designed to defend against the Spanish fleet and is now a museum of the grants guided tours detailing battles that took place in the region.
Stepping into Darien feels like stepping back in time to 1736 when it was founded as a Scottish Highlanders settlement, with its incredible and serene scenery. Darien is the second oldest town in Georgia, and it takes full advantage of its coastal location with a wide range of waterside views and activities. For example, one can spend the day unwinding along the waterfront or cycling on one of the many trails. Lying at the mouth of the Altamaha River, Darien also provides peculiar water attractions, such as deep-sea fishing, diving, and more!
This waterside location is known for its delectable seafood. There are dozens of amazing eateries along the boardwalk where you can see the many fishing boats parked with their pastel colors that create a unique atmosphere to enjoy a meal or take a leisurely stroll. Among these restaurants, The Canopy Restaurant stands out for its cozy establishment, where many like to sit down to enjoy muscle soup or pan-seared sea bass.
Lilburn is one, if not "the" most unique suburbs, just north of Atlanta. The town exudes cultural appeal in its unique environments and features great attractions like the Lilburn City Park, Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mountain Park. Lilburn main attraction is undoubtedly the largest Hindu temple in the Southeast, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.
This incredibly unique structure deserves to be mentioned as one of the most beautiful wonders of the World. The white marble stones create a majestic outlook over a green lawn, and its internal design provides a peaceful space amidst masterfully inlaid columns and a shining white floor. Moreover, Lilburn's main street gives a modern atmosphere with a touch of history, lamp posts, tree-lined sidewalks, and historic buildings.
Blairsville's secluded location makes this one of the best-kept secrets in Georgia. Tucked between the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blairsville is one of Georgia's finest and most unique mountain towns. With much focus on landmarks like Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia, it is important not to overlook the expansive natural beauty available in the area. Hikers will find solace in experiencing parts of the Appalachian Trail or walking along the Helton Creek Falls and the Vogel State Park. The Track Rock Archaeological Area is another worthy attraction showcasing rare prehistoric rock pile sites. The nearby Lakes Nottely provides the perfect setting for fishing and boating. Moreover, the many trails and Meeks Park provide a space not only for hiking but also for a hearty meal in a picnic area.
Georgia is a beautiful state where enchanting natural landscapes and fascinating cultural history come together to offer a unique experience to every visitor. From the river town of Brunswick to the largest Hindu temple in Lilburn, these and other unique Georgia towns are truly splendid destinations to discover. With their particular appeal and undeniable beauty, these towns are among the most unique and special to visit in the "Goober State." So wait no longer and come see the best of Georgia!