Georgia is delightfully diverse, mixing shiny skyscrapers and antebellum architecture, forested mountains and low-lying swamps, with no end of irresistible Southern charm.
In the booming city of Atlanta (known as “The City in a Forest”), magnolia and dogwood trees surround handsome Georgian-style homes, yet only blocks away, dazzling contemporary buildings add to the city’s ever-growing skyline. The glitzy Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola (sugar overload alert) are visitor magnets, while locals bike the Eastside Trail and refuel at Ponce City Market’s cosmopolitan eateries.
Small-town Georgia shows its stuff on the Antebellum Trail, winding through over 160km (100 miles) of sprawling plantation estates, colonnaded antebellum homes and beautifully preserved inns dishing up Southern soul food of grits and fried chicken.
Hundreds of hardcore thru-hikers start the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain every spring, but if you don’t have a spare six months to trek all 3,510km (2,181 miles) to Maine, fear not. Hikes to Blood Mountain, the trail’s highest point in Georgia, or Long Creek Falls, are both doable in a day.
Canoeists gently tease their paddles through the Okefenokee Swamp’s black water to avoid too-close-for-comfort encounters with the 20,000 alligators living in this peaty bog. Black bears, blue herons and white-tailed deer are all keeping an eye on you too.
To the east, wild horses roam on Cumberland Island, a plantation turned Carnegie family retreat, and now a place to camp, flop on undeveloped beaches and hike through untouched coastal forest.
History buffs can visit Civil War battlefields and sites across the state, including Old Fort Jackson on the Savannah River, Georgia’s oldest intact brick fortification, with ear-splitting daily cannon firings. And movie aficionados may recognise a few spots from The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead. Fortunately, you’re unlikely to meet any zombies.