3 Weekend Getaways In The American South

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South america trips
South america trips

Weekend getaways are the unsung heroes of vacationers everywhere, giving us brief glimpses of the world outside our offices. After you’ve exhausted all the destinations close to home, however, it’s time to broaden your horizons. And especially when the weather in much of the United States is downright dreary, heading south sounds like an excellent idea.

Most people think of Florida beaches or Bourbon Street in New Orleans when they think of holidays in the southern US, but there are plenty of options beyond the usual suspects that can make for great weekend getaways. There’s gorgeous scenery, fabulous big cities, and quaint country towns that are often overlooked – and that are easy to explore in a long weekend.

Here, then, are 7 great weekend getaways in the South of the United States. To keep things simple, since you may have to fly cross-country just to get to this part of the world, all of these destinations can be reached easily from Atlanta, Georgia – a major city in the South, as well as a huge airline hub.

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Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island, Georgia

Nothing beats island life for a weekend getaway, and Jekyll Island is both beautiful and close enough to become an option.  It takes just around 5 hours to drive to Jekyll Island from Atlanta, and yes, you can actually drive onto the island itself.  If that is a bit too long, then a regional flight to Brunswick with a rental car waiting can save time. Jekyll Island was originally purchased as a resort getaway for the select few Americans that could afford that luxury in the late 1800s, so today, it not only makes for a serene getaway but also a chance to learn a bit about history through visits to the Horton House and the National Historic Landmark District. Of course, there are the stunning beaches that cover 10 miles of the coast to visit.  Two known for special beauty are Driftwood Beach and Glory Beach, the latter coming into fame while being used in the film, “Glory”.  More water-based fun can be had at the Summer Waves Water Park that covers a good 11 acres of Jekyll Island and is perfect for families and the young at heart. Hotels and cottages are a comfortable retreat on Jekyll Island, but the campgrounds are very much full-service to those looking to do a bit of “glamping” instead of roughing it on their weekend getaway.

Dawsonville, GA

Dawsonville, GA
Dawsonville, GA
Dawsonville’s tiny town atmosphere can be discovered just an hour north of Atlanta and about an hour south of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Outdoor adventure lovers can use Dawsonville as a base point when wanting to experience the thrill of river rafting, hang gliding, hiking and fly fishing in the scenic land nearby.  Some points of interest include the Amicalola Falls State Park in the southern section of the Chattahoochee National Forest, and the Tullulah Gorge in the eastern section.  Both are known for excellent places to camp, to enjoy the beauty of natural waterfalls and to take part in outdoor adventure activities. Closer to the town of Dawsonville lies a Kangaroo Conservation Center, which is home to the largest mob of kangaroos outside of Australia.  However, being a conservation area, they have currently closed their visitor access in 2011 as they work on their conservation practice.  Still, it is good to keep this location in mind for when they open again in the future.

Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, AL
Birmingham, AL
When nature isn’t your cup of sweet tea, then a city getaway to Birmingham, the largest in Alabama, should be considered; it’s less than 3 hours away from Atlanta by car.  Birmingham is known as a place of southern hospitality with loads of the good food and shopping (some southern barbecue goodness, anyone?) that great getaways are made of. A trip to the top of the local Red Mountain gives access to the Vulcan Park and Museum, a place that harbors the largest cast iron statue in the world while also providing panoramic views of Birmingham city.  Another, and much different, view of the city can be gathered by having a stop at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for galleries of information involving black and white life throughout the years in Birmingham and the South. Of course, there is always the Birmingham Zoo and the Birmingham Museum of Art to fill out a weekend itinerary, but the real thrill – and no visit to Birmingham should be without them – comes from a stop at the Talladega Superspeedway for some racing action, along with a stop at Dreamland Bar-B-Que for some southern style ribs for dinner.