The Peach State is home to some of the most scenic driving routes in the country, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who simply wants a break from Atlanta’s dangerous roads. Let’s delve firsthand into five of Georgia’s most scenic driving routes.
The Georgia Coast
Renowned for its picturesque beaches, charming seaside towns, and well-protected marshlands, the Georgia coast is a particularly scenic route. Driving along the miles of magnificent Atlantic Ocean is an experience in itself.
Drivers pursuing the coast will want to focus on Coastal Highway 17. This route spans a total of 110 miles and takes you through a myriad of Georgia’s historic towns and nature reserves. The 17 is surely the most relaxing way to travel to the neighboring states of Florida and South Carolina, with a variety of islands to spice up the trip.
The Golden Isles is another highlight of the coastal drive, featuring a range of wildlife and a niche little gift shop.
The Northeast Georgia Mountains
The gentle peaks and rushing waters of the Northeast Georgia Mountains make the region a national favorite for tourists. Driving through the mountains is an unforgettable experience, with winding roads, lush forests, and awe-inspiring vistas. Drivers on the road will want to look for Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway; a circular route spanning a total of 23 miles and taking you through the Chattahoochee National Forest.
While visiting this forest you can stop and explore some other popular landmarks in the state, including the Toccoa River and its famous swinging bridge as well as Vogel State Park. Actually, you may as well spend the night: immerse yourself in a more traditional sense by renting a cabin in the mountain towns of Blairsville or Helen.
The Antebellum Trail
The Antebellum Trail is a must-see destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. This roughly 100-mile route takes you through seven historic towns in Georgia, including the architectural cornucopia of Macon. The trail begins in Athens, a thriving college town known for its vibrant arts scene.
Bring a camera for the historic mansions, museums, and churches you’ll see along the way. Contrary modernists can add their personal touch to the route by visiting trendy restaurants, shops, and galleries. Either way, Georgia’s Antebellum Trail will surely scratch an itch for quiet countryside living.
The Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway
The state of Georgia boasts some of the most verdant and fecund farmland in the Southern United States, and you can personally experience this leafy abundance on the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway. This route will take you on a mesmerizing journey featuring charming 19th-century farmhouses among huge mountain backdrops.
John’s Mountain Overlook is a personal favorite spot of mine. Although the lookout was previously closed due to vandalism, the hiking spot has made a full recovery. At just under 4 miles long it’s the perfect light exercise. Just be sure not to go during the winter months since the road is closed at that time!
To get there, buckle up and take Interstate 75 North to Exit 306, and then proceed west on State Route 140. Afterward, continue along the highway north until you reach State Route 156, where the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway awaits.
Meriwether-Pike Scenic Byway
The Meriwether-Pike Scenic Byway is a road that takes its name from the two counties it traverses. This route showcases an area known as the Cove, which has a fascinating astronomical history.
Starting from Warm Springs, where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Little White House is located, the scenic byway stretches for 55 miles. It goes north through Gay, south to Molena and Manchester, before returning to Warm Springs.
Travelers in Woodbury can stop at the western end of the Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge. This 391-foot-long pass is still in use today by light traffic, and it’s noteworthy as Georgia’s oldest surviving bridge, having been constructed in the 1840s.
A scenic drive is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Georgia. Whether winding through the Northeast Mountains or cruising along the coastal 17, a driving adventure is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the state’s breathtaking landscapes. So pack up your car, hit the road, and let Georgia’s scenic routes take you on a memorable journey.