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  • Admiring interpretive exhibits at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site
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    Atlanta: An Attraction-Filled, Cosmopolitan Hot Spot

  • The intricate soundboards of Historic Studio A at Capricorn Sound Studios, where Southern rock artists such Charlie Daniels and The Allman Brothers Band recorded their hits
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    Macon: Central Georgia’s Music Hot Spot

  • Night falls over the Plant Riverside District, a lively entertainment hub in Savannah
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    Savannah: A Cultural and Historic Haven

  • A serene scene on Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach
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    Gems of Jekyll Island

  • Storied live oak trees line a path to the beach on Cumberland Island
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    Cumberland Island: Remote Beachfront Bliss

The sun sets over the Beltline in Atlanta, Georgia
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Journey through Georgia on a Southern Road Trip

By Sarah Etinas

  • Route distance:
    620 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Explore scenic towns, beaches and cultural gems from Atlanta to Cumberland Island on this week-long road trip in Georgia.

Buckle up for a captivating Georgia road trip that weaves through vibrant cities, storied communities and sun-soaked beaches. Whether you're tracing Macon's rich musical heritage or indulging in Savannah's flavors, this adventure is all about embracing unforgettable moments. Fly into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and set your sights on the adventures ahead: Georgia offers a wide variety of experiences just waiting to be discovered.

01
Admiring interpretive exhibits at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site
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Explore Georgia

Atlanta: An Attraction-Filled, Cosmopolitan Hot Spot

Begin your Georgia road trip in the largest city in the Peach State. With its world-class attractions, professional sports teams, premier shopping and honored history, Atlanta’s big city atmosphere ensures you’ll start your road trip off strong.

First up: Fun for the whole family. Make the 20-minute drive from the airport to downtown Atlanta where a whole slew of kid-friendly activities await. Say hello to new marine animal friends at the Georgia Aquarium, including whale sharks, beluga whales, penguins and sea lions. The most avid animal lovers may want to splurge on a behind-the-scenes tour or an up-close animal encounter. From the aquarium, make the two-minute walk to the World of Coca-Cola to learn all about this international brand’s history, bottling process, and flavors – complete with an opportunity to taste Coca-Cola products from around the world. Once you’ve tried as many flavors as your heart desires, cross the street to Centennial Olympic Park, a community greenspace filled with gorgeous gardens, fountains and sculptures galore.

While aquariums and soda samples are a big part of what makes Atlanta so special, the city’s fascinating historical attractions are not to be missed. Near Centennial Olympic Park you’ll find the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. There, rotating galleries of multimedia exhibits bring awareness to civil and human rights movements past and present. Famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in the city and certainly left his mark. At the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in the nearby neighborhood of Sweet Auburn, discover the life and legacy of this civil rights icon. Start by popping into the Visitor Center for a short film introduction, then wind your way to the other impactful sites in the park, like the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the International World Peace Rose Garden, and The King Center.

135 km
1.5 hour by car
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The intricate soundboards of Historic Studio A at Capricorn Sound Studios, where Southern rock artists such Charlie Daniels and The Allman Brothers Band recorded their hits
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Explore Georgia

Macon: Central Georgia’s Music Hot Spot

From Atlanta, cruise southeast until you hit Macon. Often called “The Heart of Georgia,” this charming town has strong ties to musical legends – like Otis Redding, Little Richard, The Allman Brothers Band and The Marshall Tucker Band – and is home to the legendary Capricorn Sound Studios and Museum. Over the years, many rock and soul legends have recorded hits in this still-active studio. What’s more, the studio has preserved artifacts from their hit-making sessions, creating a now-extensive collection of music memorabilia you can admire.

Continue your musical journey at the Otis Redding Museum, just a ten-minute walk away. Dubbed the “King of Soul,” Redding spent a good chunk of his early life in Macon – and his namesake museum explores his life and impact. From there, it’s a five-minute drive to The Little Richard House, where you can see the childhood home of this rock and roll pioneer. Rock icons The Allman Brothers Band have their dedicated museum – named The Big House Museum – two minutes away, filled with even more captivating rock history. Set off on a self-guided tour of these sites with the free Macon Music Trail Mobile App.

While much of Macon’s history is tied to catchy choruses, there are plenty more stories to discover here. The site now known as Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park has been inhabited by humans for over 17,000 years: Now, it’s your turn to encounter Native American history by climbing atop Great Temple Mound, strolling the boardwalk and taking part in cultural celebrations. Then, cross the Ocmulgee River to discover oft-untold stories of Black Americans at the Tubman Museum, the largest museum in the Southeast dedicated to preserving Black history, culture and art.

260 km
2.5 hours by car
03
Night falls over the Plant Riverside District, a lively entertainment hub in Savannah
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Savannah: A Cultural and Historic Haven

Following Interstate 16 from Macon to the coast, you’ll soon hit the oldest city in Georgia. There’s no better place to start exploring the city’s deep historical roots than the Savannah Historic District, whose 22 iconic squares, cobblestone streets, manicured gardens and Spanish moss-laden trees create a romantic setting. When night sets, the atmosphere is prime for Savannah’s famous ghost tours.

As you wander around downtown, you’ll encounter a distinctly artsy vibe. Peruse nearly 5,000 contemporary pieces at The SCAD Museum of Art, take a class at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center and admire artwork from another continent at the Savannah African Art Museum. Pop by the Jepson Center & Telfair Children's Art Museum to admire the artwork and interactive exhibits for all ages, and keep an eye out for museum mascot Cammy the Chameleon. Be sure to give him a wave if you spot him – his reaction may surprise you!

Soon enough, it’ll be time for a meal. Luckily, Savannah has no shortage of excellent restaurants and eateries: Savor modern Southern cuisine at The Grey, dine at a historic landmark at The Olde Pink House or opt for a hearty meal of Southern classics at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. For dessert, grab a scoop of butter pecan ice cream from Leopold’s Ice Cream. Wrap up your evening in the neighboring Plant Riverside District with rousing live music or a lovely stroll along the Savannah River.

If you want to explore more of the Savannah area, never fear: Stick around for another day and enjoy a jaunt to Tybee Island. This charming beach town makes the perfect backdrop for dolphin tours, fishing charters and paddling adventures on your memorable day trip.

150 km
1.5 hour by car
04
A serene scene on Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach
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Gems of Jekyll Island

Jump back on the road and make the one-and-a-half-hour drive along the coast to Jekyll Island. Known for beaches, history and nature, this quaint barrier island has a little bit of something for everyone. Kick off your time on the island with a trip to Jekyll Island’s famous beaches. With over 16 kilometers of shoreline, many of which are wheelchair accessible, the island offers plenty of incredible choices for soaking up the sunshine and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. Driftwood Beach is perhaps the most well-known – it’s been named among TripAdvisor’s Best of the Best Beaches in the world.

By mid-day, you’ll be ready to indulge in Jekyll Island’s sea-to-table dining scene. Chow down on fresh local oysters, wild Georgia shrimp and Atlantic fish at waterfront restaurant The Wharf. When the afternoon rolls around, head to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, an education and rehab facility for sick and injured turtles. There, you can learn all about these beloved reptiles and even take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn how Georgia scientists are leading the charge in protecting turtles and their natural environments. Once you’ve learned a few new facts about turtles, take a three-minute walk to catch a Landmark Trolley Tour. Depart from Mosaic, the Jekyll Island Museum for a guided look at the island’s Historic District – including opulent homes of Gilded Age industrialists who summered on the island – while enjoying a ride on the cutest transportation method around.

75 km
1 hour by car
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Storied live oak trees line a path to the beach on Cumberland Island
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Cumberland Island: Remote Beachfront Bliss

There’s even more beachfront bliss to be found on Cumberland Island, the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia. An hour south of Jekyll Island, this relatively undeveloped area offers an incredible blend of nature and history.

The town of St. Marys serves as the gateway to Cumberland Island. It’s where you’ll hop on a 45-minute ferry – leaving your car behind – and sail towards the stunning Cumberland Island National Seashore. Spend your day lounging on the 30 kilometers of beach, trekking the many hiking trails and spotting sea turtle nests and wild horses. History buffs can’t miss a ranger-led tour of the island’s historic sites, including the Dungeness Historic area, where the ruins of industrialist Thomas Carnegie’s lavish home still stand.

To head home, take the ferry back to the mainland and make the 30-minute drive to Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) just over the state line in Florida. Your Georgia road trip may come to a close, but the memories you’ve made in these Southern gem cities will last a lifetime.

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