Beyond the city limits of Atlanta, Georgia is dotted with scenic small towns set in mountains and valleys with vineyards. Escape the city for some authentic cuisine, southern hospitality, and quaint architecture and get easy access to the region’s impressive national parks. Here we give you a roundup of the best small towns near Atlanta where you can hike, taste some wine, and explore historic districts.
Dahlonega rose to prominence during the Georgia Gold Rush in the 1820s and is where M.F Stephenson famously tried to persuade miners not to join the California Gold Rush. These days, wine is the new gold in Dahlonega with tourists flocking to the area’s wineries. The town has a large variety of gift shops and art galleries and we also recommend taking a trip out to Cane Creek Falls just 5 miles northwest. To reach Dahlonega from Atlanta take Highway US-19 north for 65 miles and you’ll be there in about an hour.
You might recognize some of Jackson from the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things”. The town is only 45 minutes away from Atlanta, just south on Interstate 75. There are many options for enjoying the great outdoors just outside the town. High Falls State Park and Indian Springs State Park both provide numerous trails and campsites. You can also enjoy watersports on Jackson’s lake. The charming downtown has a number of delightful eateries and shops.
Cumming is another great destination if you’re looking for a quick hiking escape near Atlanta. The town is only 40 minutes north on Highway US-19 and you can hike on trails in the Sawnee Mountain Preserve. The views from the top are incredible and there are a number of campsites nearby if you want to make a longer stop. While you’re in the area it’s worth taking a closer look at Lake Lanier, known for its beaches and scenic islands.
4. Pine Mountain
Pine Mountain is about a one hour drive from Atlanta on I-85 south. The town is most popular for Callaway Gardens, a 6,500-acre resort featuring walking trails, a butterfly center, a white sand beach, and several golf courses. Lastly, there’s the scenic F.D Roosevelt State Park where you can take the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail through pine forests with access to campsites along the way.
Madison’s main attraction is its beautiful neo-classical mansions such as the famous Barrington Hall. The town is a hot spot for antebellum architecture and has one of the largest historic districts in Georgia. Madison is also home to the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, an important institution for the region that puts on a huge range of performing arts events as well as hosting a Chamber Music Festival.