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10 easy, non-cliché Spring Break destinations close to Atlanta

Skip the traditional beach trip in favor of these (mostly) outdoor adventures

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Spring Break is just around the corner, and both kids and parents are ready to let loose. However, instead of packing up and heading to the beach, why not try something different this year?

Throughout Georgia, adventure awaits for all interests and ages. Even better, you don’t have to go far to start enjoying some fun and relaxation with the family.

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1. Time to fly

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7201 Scenic Hwy
Rising Fawn, GA 30738
(800) 688-5637
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Skip the airport, and head north to Rising Fawn in far Northwest Georgia, where you can take to the skies in a different way: hang gliding. At Lookout Mountain Flight Park, you can take a tandem hang gliding flight or sign up for lessons to learn how to fly on your own.

The park is near Cloudland Canyon State Park, where you can camp or book a cottage, as well as enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, disc golf, and more. 

2. Fulfill your need for speed 

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1500 Tara Pl
Hampton, GA 30228
(877) 926-7849
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Just south of Atlanta in Hampton, Atlanta Motor Speedway welcomes visitors year-round to attend racing events. But there’s much more to see and do at the race track. As part of the NASCAR Racing Experience, fans can climb in an actual NASCAR race car for three laps around the track, or enroll in driving class to get behind the wheel.

In addition, the track offers tours Monday through Friday that includes a look at the garage area, Victory Lane, and three laps around the track in the tour van. 

3. Hit the rapids 

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When it comes to whitewater rafting, many people head north to the mountains. However, that’s not the state’s only option. Head southeast to Columbus, where you’ll find the world’s longest urban whitewater run: a 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River that runs through the heart of Uptown Columbus.

Choose a trip ranging from a calming lazy river or the most challenging Class V rapids, whichever floats your boat. 

4. Go on an epic hike 

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Don your favorite hiking boots, and set the GPS for Springer Mountain in Fannin County in the North Georgia Mountains. Here you’ll find the trailhead for the Appalachian Trail. Now, of course, no one is expecting you to hike the entire 2,181-mile trail, but, hey, if you hike a few miles of it, you can claim to have hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Plus, there’s no shortage of nearby towns to explore, including Dahlonega and Ellijay, and Amicalola Falls State Park is the perfect spot to make your home away from home. 

5. See the “Little Grand Canyon” 

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8930 Canyon Rd
Lumpkin, GA 31815
(229) 838-6202
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No need to drive to Arizona when you can visit Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” also known as Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area in southwest Georgia. This photogenic destination was inadvertently manmade, thanks to poor farming practices in the 1800s that led to the massive gullies in the park.

In addition to perfecting your photography skills, you also can go hiking, picnicking, and camping. 

6. Take a swamp tour 

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2700 North Suwannee Canal Road
Folkston, GA 31537
(912) 496-7836
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Straddling the Georgia-Florida state line, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most beautiful and natural attractions in the state. Covering more than 400,000 acres, these wetlands serve as the home for migratory birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

To fully explore the swamp, grab a kayak, or book a tour at Stephen C. Foster State Park. The state park also is a great spot for camping or booking a cottage. 

7. Go on safari

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Bk, 1300 Oak Grove Rd
Pine Mountain, GA 31822
(706) 663-8744
Visit Website

Located in Pine Mountain southwest of Atlanta, Wild Animal Safari welcomes you to come drive its 3.5-mile route through the park. Along the way, see such animals as buffalo, giraffes, zebra, elk, and more on 500 acres. In fact, many will even walk up to your vehicle, from which you can feed them.

If you prefer, you can park your car and climb aboard the park’s tour bus for the journey. There’s also a park walkabout–think zoo setting–where you can see more animals, such as peacocks, lemurs, monkeys, and more. 

8. Tour the Hollywood of the South 

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It’s no secret Georgia has become a hot destination for making movies and TV shows. In fact, cities such as Covington, Conyers, and Senoia not only are home to some very popular productions, but they also are home to tours that shine the spotlight on the “behind the scenes” action of those productions.

And, while there are no guarantees, you just might stumble upon filming during your visit, making for a truly memorable vacation. 

9. Visit with cowboys and Indians 

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501 N Museum Dr
Cartersville, GA 30120
(770) 387-1300
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Just 45 minutes northwest of Atlanta, the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville is home to the world’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the museum’s goal is to invite visitors to “See America’s Story,” its land and people, as well as their struggles and dreams.

It does this through extensive collections filled with paintings, sculpture, photography and artifacts. Then, at Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, you can learn about the Native Americans that called this area home. 

10. Hit the beach 

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Because there are those who just cannot forego their beach vacation, Jekyll Island answers the call. From iconic Driftwood Beach to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to a tour of the historic Jekyll Island Club and National Landmark Historic District, there’s so much to see and do on this barrier island off the Georgia coast.

That is, provided you want to do something beyond making sand castles and splashing in the surf. 

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1. Time to fly

7201 Scenic Hwy, Rising Fawn, GA 30738

Skip the airport, and head north to Rising Fawn in far Northwest Georgia, where you can take to the skies in a different way: hang gliding. At Lookout Mountain Flight Park, you can take a tandem hang gliding flight or sign up for lessons to learn how to fly on your own.

The park is near Cloudland Canyon State Park, where you can camp or book a cottage, as well as enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, disc golf, and more. 

7201 Scenic Hwy
Rising Fawn, GA 30738

2. Fulfill your need for speed 

1500 Tara Pl, Hampton, GA 30228

Just south of Atlanta in Hampton, Atlanta Motor Speedway welcomes visitors year-round to attend racing events. But there’s much more to see and do at the race track. As part of the NASCAR Racing Experience, fans can climb in an actual NASCAR race car for three laps around the track, or enroll in driving class to get behind the wheel.

In addition, the track offers tours Monday through Friday that includes a look at the garage area, Victory Lane, and three laps around the track in the tour van. 

1500 Tara Pl
Hampton, GA 30228

3. Hit the rapids 

Columbus, GA

When it comes to whitewater rafting, many people head north to the mountains. However, that’s not the state’s only option. Head southeast to Columbus, where you’ll find the world’s longest urban whitewater run: a 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River that runs through the heart of Uptown Columbus.

Choose a trip ranging from a calming lazy river or the most challenging Class V rapids, whichever floats your boat. 

4. Go on an epic hike 

Springer Mountain, Georgia 30513

Don your favorite hiking boots, and set the GPS for Springer Mountain in Fannin County in the North Georgia Mountains. Here you’ll find the trailhead for the Appalachian Trail. Now, of course, no one is expecting you to hike the entire 2,181-mile trail, but, hey, if you hike a few miles of it, you can claim to have hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Plus, there’s no shortage of nearby towns to explore, including Dahlonega and Ellijay, and Amicalola Falls State Park is the perfect spot to make your home away from home. 

5. See the “Little Grand Canyon” 

8930 Canyon Rd, Lumpkin, GA 31815

No need to drive to Arizona when you can visit Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” also known as Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area in southwest Georgia. This photogenic destination was inadvertently manmade, thanks to poor farming practices in the 1800s that led to the massive gullies in the park.

In addition to perfecting your photography skills, you also can go hiking, picnicking, and camping. 

8930 Canyon Rd
Lumpkin, GA 31815

6. Take a swamp tour 

2700 North Suwannee Canal Road, Folkston, GA 31537

Straddling the Georgia-Florida state line, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most beautiful and natural attractions in the state. Covering more than 400,000 acres, these wetlands serve as the home for migratory birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

To fully explore the swamp, grab a kayak, or book a tour at Stephen C. Foster State Park. The state park also is a great spot for camping or booking a cottage. 

2700 North Suwannee Canal Road
Folkston, GA 31537

7. Go on safari

Bk, 1300 Oak Grove Rd, Pine Mountain, GA 31822

Located in Pine Mountain southwest of Atlanta, Wild Animal Safari welcomes you to come drive its 3.5-mile route through the park. Along the way, see such animals as buffalo, giraffes, zebra, elk, and more on 500 acres. In fact, many will even walk up to your vehicle, from which you can feed them.

If you prefer, you can park your car and climb aboard the park’s tour bus for the journey. There’s also a park walkabout–think zoo setting–where you can see more animals, such as peacocks, lemurs, monkeys, and more. 

Bk, 1300 Oak Grove Rd
Pine Mountain, GA 31822

8. Tour the Hollywood of the South 

Covington, GA

It’s no secret Georgia has become a hot destination for making movies and TV shows. In fact, cities such as Covington, Conyers, and Senoia not only are home to some very popular productions, but they also are home to tours that shine the spotlight on the “behind the scenes” action of those productions.

And, while there are no guarantees, you just might stumble upon filming during your visit, making for a truly memorable vacation. 

9. Visit with cowboys and Indians 

501 N Museum Dr, Cartersville, GA 30120

Just 45 minutes northwest of Atlanta, the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville is home to the world’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the museum’s goal is to invite visitors to “See America’s Story,” its land and people, as well as their struggles and dreams.

It does this through extensive collections filled with paintings, sculpture, photography and artifacts. Then, at Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, you can learn about the Native Americans that called this area home. 

501 N Museum Dr
Cartersville, GA 30120

10. Hit the beach 

Jekyll Island, Georgia 31527

Because there are those who just cannot forego their beach vacation, Jekyll Island answers the call. From iconic Driftwood Beach to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to a tour of the historic Jekyll Island Club and National Landmark Historic District, there’s so much to see and do on this barrier island off the Georgia coast.

That is, provided you want to do something beyond making sand castles and splashing in the surf.