The state of Georgia is known for its southern charm and has a variety of locations and experiences for every visitor, from coastal and mountain enclaves to towns surrounded by farmlands. Venturing outside of larger cities like Atlanta and Savannah allows travelers to sample a slower pace of life, complete with the comfort food and friendly residents the region is known for. The Peach State is also filled with natural wonders, such as scenic routes and waterfalls. Drivers can stop by Georgia's famous roadside stands to pick up some boiled peanuts or fresh peaches and get acquainted with the inviting culture the state offers in some of the top-rated small towns.
Blue Ridge began as a railroad stop in the 1800s. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the scenic railway, visitors can experience natural attractions while hiking to lakes and waterfalls. If apple picking sparks an interest, Mercier Orchards provides the chance to get involved in the picking while enjoying some apple cider. The culinary scene in town includes a variety of eateries, including the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, where guests can dine overlooking the river. Blue Ridge also features seasonal events, including the Blue Ridge Trout and Outdoor Adventures Festival and the Blues and BBQ Music Festival.
There are several local lodging options as well. Built in 1890, the Blue Ridge Inn B&B is like a home away from home with individually decorated rooms. Located close to downtown shops and restaurants, it also includes a coffee lounge and a unique, curated onsite gift shop featuring antiques and vintage items.
Located between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, this coastal gem's historic downtown is lined with palm trees and local shops. Dining options range from seafood and country cooking to pizza and sushi. The town's proximity to the coast provides opportunities for outdoor activities that spark a sense of adventure. At Mary Ross Waterfront Park and the Marshes of Glynn, visitors can take in the natural beauty of area landscape. The nearby coast also invites activities such as swimming, sailing, and kayaking.
For accommodations, Brunswick Manor is in the downtown area and has been featured on the Discovery Channel and Good Morning America. Its Victorian charm includes unique features, such as an orchid conservatory and koi pond.
Named after a natural limestone cave with a mineral spring that has been a local drinking water source for decades, Cave Spring is a small town just outside Rome, Georgia. One main area feature is a spring-fed swimming hole known as Rolater Lake, open on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Swimmers and visitors can also enjoy the grassy lawn surrounding the lake. Another attraction unique to the area is the Vann Cherokee Cabin, which dates from 1810. It was built by a Scottish trader named Avery Vann, Jr, after whom Vann’s Valley was named. The downtown features the Cave Spring General Store and an array of local restaurants to entice tourists.
The Hearn Inn is a restored property that once served as a dormitory for the local Hearn Academy. Located a walkable distance from downtown Cave Spring shops and restaurants, it is a home-like space furnished with antiques.
About an hour's drive north of Atlanta, Dahlonega offers another escape in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located in the foothills, it provides an authentic small-town experience, including a historic downtown that hosts year-round live music events and festivals, such as the Dahlonega Literary Festival and the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, celebrating Appalachian heritage and culture. Visitors can hike to waterfalls in the Chattahoochee National Forest and visit local wildlife preserves. Just east of Dahlonega marks the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail footpath which reaches up the Maine.
Guests at the Dahlonega Square Hotel can enjoy quick access to historic Dahlonega Square. The lobby is home to a tasting room featuring local Kaya Vineyard and Winery wines. The property also offers individual villas for rent.
Located east of Atlanta on the way to Augusta, Madison, Georgia, is named after the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. Local historical attractions include the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, consisting of art galleries, a museum, and a theater, and the Morgan County African American Museum, housed in a historic building. The downtown area hosts seasonal events, such as Caroling by Candlelight every December, and features antique stores and restaurants like the Madison Drug Co. Grill with its old-fashioned soda fountain vibe.
The James Madison Inn, located in picturesque downtown Madison, is a boutique hotel that exudes the elegance of a bygone era. The 19th-century structure also has the capacity to host events and conferences.
During the Civil War, Milledgeville, Georgia, served as the state capital, and today it is home to Georgia College and State University and Georgia Military College. Founded in 1803, it was also the home of American author Flannery O'Connor. Dubbed "Milly" by the locals, the town and Georgia College draw visitors to Jazzfest, where live music can be heard at the eclectic mix of downtown restaurants. During the fall season, Milledgeville’s largest event takes place. The Deep Roots Festival includes an antique car show, live entertainment, and a BBQ cook-off. Nearby 15,300-acre Lake Sinclair is also an excellent way to relax or enjoy water sports.
For a place to stay in Milledgeville, The Rockwell House is a stately historic home dating from 1838. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it recently underwent a full restoration in compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation.
This small southern Georgia town near the Florida border is home to Flowers Bakery Store, bakers of Sunbeam, and Nature’s Own bread. At certain times of day, the scent of freshly baked bread is detectable to anyone outdoors in the downtown area. Thomasville is also Georgia's Rose City, and Thomasville Rose Garden features 1,500 blooms, celebrating them every spring during the Rose Show and Festival. The festival has been a southwest Georgia tradition since 1922. The town also puts an emphasis on local shopping. One example is Sweetgrass Dairy, a family-run company with a downtown shop and restaurant.
The Courtyard by Marriott is an option for lodging and is downtown, close to the many charming boutiques, antique stores, and restaurants.
Like other towns in Georgia, Woodstock also boasts a historic downtown with locally owned shops, restaurants, and breweries like the Reformation Brewery and Jekyll Brewing. One popular shop is The Gifted Ferret, a bouquet carrying wine, gourmet products, and home decor items. It also hosts frequent tastings and events. Only 30 minutes north of Atlanta, Woodstock is also located near the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona. Boating, swimming, and fishing are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed at the lake. Woodstock's parks also feature walking and biking trails. Olde Rope Mill Park has 23 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails.
The highest-rated hotel in the area is the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, which has easy access to Woodstock’s walkable downtown streets.
Visitors will be treated like a member of the family in these welcoming Georgia towns. With traditions rich in southern culture, the small towns in this state have a lot to offer. Community residents take pride in their establishments and are happy to share them with others. The natural wonders and variety of landscapes also make these towns enticing to visitors. Guests in these top-rated small towns in Georgia can find beaches, lakes, mountains, farms, and more within their reach.