Traditional Bavarian-style building on Main Street in Helen, Georgia, USA. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

7 of the Quirkiest Towns in Georgia

Old-fashioned and quirky, the Southern belle of Georgia is into aviation, pro-environmental, and loves onions. Just check out some of its most unique towns. From Irish vibes in Dublin to the German feel of Helen, one of the US's original 13 colonies, the Peach State is a wonderful place for travelers seeking cultural enrichment. This includes exploring Peachtree City, where golf carts are a popular mode of transportation when not hiking or biking, and which has served as a location for some of America's best Southern blockbusters.

Speaking of hiking, Helen, the Bavarian beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a gateway to Unicoi State Park and Unicoi Lake for your summertime pleasures. Meanwhile, the sweet onion-loving town of Vidalia is a hop from Santa Claus, a small town full of ho-ho-ho in every season. For a summer getaway, consider Jekyll Island, with its 5,500 acres and ten pristine miles of shore that the crazy rich Rockefellers and the like used to roam back in the day.


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

The quirk of this scenic southern town, just 50 miles from Savannah, is its serene coastal charm that even the Gullah-Geechee people, whose culture is alive today, found appealing before Darien's founding in 1736. Offering an easy city escape, you could be at the Waffle House for breakfast on a weekend getaway of boating and fishing, the town's favorite pursuits. Don't miss B & J's Steaks & Seafood to see what they can whip up, or enjoy a whole seafood feast with your friends and family, while Skippers’ Fish Camp has a cool, rustic vibe and an outdoor area overlooking the river by a pier.

Once an undefended town of 500 on the Altamaha River during the Civil War, visitors can enjoy the gorgeous river views and other natural wonders while bird-watching and sightseeing at iconic attractions. The Fort King George site from 1721, near the creek to the west, is the oldest coastal fort in Georgia, with tours, a museum, and nearby nature trails. From the Old City Jail Art Center to the Ashantilly Center, it's fun to experience the town’s rich heritage and modern-day coastal culture through interactive experiences for every age. Vernon Square, central to the old town, is atmospheric for a stroll between its old churches, fountains, and a serene park.


Dublin City Hall, Dublin, Georgia.
Dublin City Hall, Dublin, Georgia. Image credit Michael Rivera CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Boasting two nationally designated historic districts, you might have guessed the town's deep connection with its Irish roots. Awash with old architecture like the 1912 First National Bank Building, Dublin inspires a time warp. For a blast from the past, tour the neoclassical Carnegie Library on a stroll through the historic commercial district, while the old homes and mansions in the Stubbs Park-Stonewall Street Historic District exude the essence of Southern Americana. March is an interesting time to plan a getaway to Dublin during its traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which transports you straight to Ireland.

History fans are tickled to visit the First African Baptist Church, where, on April 17, 1944, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his first-ever speech, a stepping stone into his revolutionary political career that would last over two decades and have an immortal legacy. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument Park is lovely for a stroll in the fresh air of historical significance, being an important slice of civil rights history. From Southern Pines Regional Park, an aqua park, to the garden-like Fairview Park, as well as some lovely antique stores and cool Southern barbecue joints, don't miss the local theater to cap off the evening over a brilliant performance, if not at one of the Irish pubs.


Main Street on Helen, Georgia, with Christmas decorations.
Main Street on Helen, Georgia, with Christmas decorations.

Dubbed "Georgia's Alpine Village," Helen, a gateway to the mountains, is a real playground for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and sightseers. As one of the state's most underrated Southern towns, there's plenty of art and unique German experiences to enjoy. Join the beer fans at the upcoming Bavarian Fest on May 25th for the live oompah band and German food galore. The artsy town hosts annual festivals throughout the year with the help of the Helen Arts and Heritage Center, like the popular Summerfest Arts and Fine Crafts Festival in July and, in the fall, the Art-Oberfest Arts and Fine Crafts Festival alongside its longest-running Oktoberfest in the country!

Nestled along the Chattahoochee River, this small town, one of the South's most eventful, celebrates its natural bounty at the annual Helen Trout Tournament, attracting anglers. The Chattahoochee National Forest is a nationwide destination. The foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains are fun to explore for every level of activity, like the single-mile Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail, winding through native plants and along Bavarian influences. For hiking and biking, look no further than Unicoi State Park, minutes from downtown, while the adjacent Unicoi Lake features pretty waters rushing over a dam and a beach area at the northern edge.

Jekyll Island

Tourists ride a trolley past Jekyll Island Croquet Club members during a leisurely match on the Greensward in front of historic resort Jekyll Island Club
Tourists ride a trolley past Jekyll Island Croquet Club members during a leisurely match on the Greensward in front of historic resort Jekyll Island Club. Editorial credit: Ken Schulze /

Jekyll Island, a unique escape in the state, is anything but a typical island in Georgia, with 10 miles of pristine shoreline. Home to beachfront mansions, the southernmost of Georgia's Golden Isles takes you back to the Golden Era, when affluent families would summer and host vibrant parties over its 5,500-acre sprawl just off the coast of Georgia. From the iconic Driftwood Beach to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the state's only rehabilitation center for sick and injured turtles, there's also a miniature golf course. Being the most accessible of the state's four barrier islands, you can escape the urbanity along its miles of beaches or on the walking and biking trails with coastal scenery and unique wildlife.

Whether you're in for the 33 historic structures and the club resort in Millionaire's Village, the historic district, or the cooling Summer Waves Water Park, Driftwood Beach inspires an otherworldly feel, while nature reigns supreme through salt marshes and along a scenic pier on a sunset stroll. Just off the Florida-Georgia border, this history-packed town was a playground for nobility like the Rockefellers, Goodyears, and Vanderbilts—crazy rich things you can only wonder about. Some 90 miles south of Savannah, its exclusive feel, where Joseph Pulitzer liked to spend winter days, is accessible to all with trolley tours through its 240-acre historic district.


Madison, Georgia, antebellum homes district
Madison, Georgia, antebellum homes district

Hailed as one of the prettiest quirky towns in Georgia, the US, and the world, Madison promises a lot. Attracting history buffs, art lovers, zen-seekers, and the outdoorsy just an hour east of Atlanta, the odds are that its picturesqueness will sweep you off your feet as well. Reserve a weekend escape for this small town with historic architecture and charming storefronts that alone capture the essence of southern charm in the immaculately preserved historic downtown. From the Madison Flea Market at the heart to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Fairview Market just south, there's something exciting in every season, like Christmas on Dixie just north.

The eclectic mix of independent shops and restaurants, many concerts, festivals, galleries, and friendly locals all celebrate community, conservation, and life’s simple pleasures, while the Relax Inn lives up to its promise. The Bonar Hall, the Morgan County Courthouse, and the Carter-Newton House are must-see, celebrated, award-winning buildings, while the Heritage Hall and Madison Morgan Cultural Center offer a hearty dose of culture for a day trip from the city. As for the great outdoors, flaunting the country's first certified Forest Therapy Trail, Madison offers Japanese-inspired forest bathing, a local pastime and a tourist attraction as popular as its boutiques, restaurants, and spa visits.

Peachtree City

A beautiful scene in Peachtree City, Georgia
A beautiful scene in Peachtree City, Georgia. Image credit: PTCdude via Wikimedia Commons.

As a filming location for the best Southern films and TV shows, there are many ways to experience Peachtree City, such as on a Southern Hollywood Film Tour or the local way—in a golf cart! With maps available at the Peachtree City Convention & Visitors Bureau, it's easy to get around the roughly 100 miles of paved cart paths and tree-lined streets between all the small town's big attractions in this signature vehicle. The scenic views encourage you to keep exploring, wondering if the next overlook can beat the last in prettiness for a picnic to unwind and relax. Also perfect for holiday shopping, the pleasant Southern winters—no car heater required—mean you can browse the countless colorful cafés, local shops, and restaurants for diverse cuisine, with easy parking and perks like super discounts for being environmentally friendly, as well as the special Holiday Shopping Package.

Film buffs can pave a fun path to hit notable locations from blockbusters like "Sweet Home Alabama," "Fried Green Tomatoes," and "Spider-Man: Homecoming." A mere 26 miles south of Atlanta, it's easy to escape the hustle into the quirky Southern mentality of this town, and Peachtree City's local hospitality-meets-resort style of living will prove to you that life is great at 15 mph! This lovely Georgian town is surrounded by natural lakes and, of course, golf courses with pretty views that pretty much sum up the laid-back way of life—both addictive and recharging, as you stroll through nature, hike, or bike, to return full of strength and inspiration. Speaking of, the Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing is a museum with something for all ages, like tours, planes, and WWII history.


Vidalia Municipal Building
Vidalia Municipal Building, By Michael Rivera - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The "Sweet Onion City" of Vidalia, which aspires to grow the sweetest onions in the world, is also into the art of flight with a history in aviation, celebrating both during the annual Vidalia Onion Festival and Air Show. Taking place in spring over four days with an abundance of family-oriented events like recipe contests, carnivals, concerts, and onion runs, there’s also the Vidalia Onion Museum for other seasons to get the gist of the city’s culinary history. Offering plenty to see and do in the historic downtown, this pretty, thriving, and officially Main Street town features quirky retailers with new additions each year, interspersed among old architecture.

From Treasures from the Attic to January’s Boholic Boutique and Buddy's Home Furnishings, don’t miss Brice Square for lots of little shops and Belk, the local department store. The friendly city encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and the serious-city state of mind, whether celebrating the humble vegetable, browsing a local farmers market, trying a local recipe at Chatters, or looking for a quirky gift. With the Altamaha River banks half an hour south for all your summertime fun, Santa Claus, a small town just a hand's reach away, offers a hearty dose of ho-ho-ho to get into the spirit and stock up on the most unique stamps for your Christmas cards.

From big cities like Savannah to the capital of Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., Georgia is also home to another special place, Dublin, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his first-ever speech at the First African Baptist Church in 1944, a stepping stone into his revolutionary political career that would leave an immortal legacy. Take a break from the everyday just off the coast on Jekyll Island, Rockefeller-style along miles of pristine beaches and elegant mansions.

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