Georgia has a rich and fascinating history, awe-inspiring coastline, and some spectacular countryside. Thus it is only natural that the Peach State is home to several of America’s great scenic drives. The coastal route from Savannah to St. Mary’s is a stunner, especially the stretch from Meridian to Brunswick. But there are several scenic drives closer to Atlanta as well. If you’re looking for a scenic drive to take this summer that won’t require you to spend the night anywhere, consider one of these exhilarating drives less than two hours from the Georgia capital.
Appalachian Foothills Parkway
This scenic drive begins in Canton, where I-575 ends and I-515 begins. Along the 60-mile drive, you’ll see Amicalola Falls, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Chattahoochee-Ocono National Forest. You’ll also pass several operational vineyards. While refreshing in summer, this drive is exceptionally stunning in spring and great for admiring fall foliage. The start is a 40-minute-drive from the Alpharetta apartments at AMLI North Point.
Just two hours from AMLI Parkside, Hawkinsville is home to a historic opera house and a large horse racing facility. It’s also the start and end point for this scenic farmland drive. Highlights include rolling hills, seemingly never-ending cotton fields, and vintage farm structures. The leisurely 65-mile drive should take less than an hour and a half, not including stops.
Road to Tara Museum and Gone with the Wind Driving Tour
I-75 connects Jonesboro to Macon, but Highway 41 offers a more romantic route and only adds 20 or 30 minutes to the trip. This scenic drive starts at the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro’s historic train depot. The museum, containing Gone with the Wind memorabilia and displays detailing the Civil War’s Atlanta campaign, was built in the style of antebellum homes around it. Continue on through rolling hills and the historic town of Forsyth before ending in Macon, also rich in antebellum architecture. The Road to Tara museum is a 30-minute drive south of AMLI Parkside’s Intown lofts.
Another historic and scenic drive located within an hour’s drive of Atlanta is known as Monticello Crossroads. On this 44-mile drive, you can delight in the charm of several small Georgia towns. Either historic buildings or rolling hills are in one line’s of vision the entire drive, with the town of Monticello standing out as the highlight for many. The drive starts in Mansfield, an hour east of downtown Atlanta.
Appearing on virtually every list of picturesque drives in Georgia, Piedmont Scenic Byway is a 95-mile drive stretching from Willard to Sparta. Route highlights include architectural and natural treasures. The byway meanders across the Oconee and Ogeechee Rivers, and passes through the Oconee National Forest. The Glen Mary Plantation is a manmade highlight, as is Rock Hawk Effigy. The Piedmont Scenic Byway is especially picturesque in autumn.
Ridge Valley Scenic Byway
This 76-mile loop from Armuchee is a beautiful drive to take during any season. Many of the hikes and fishing spots that can be accessed from the byway are especially enjoyable on summer days. If young kids or elder parents make the drive with you, the Keown Falls Scenic Area is known for its accessible hiking opportunities and breathtaking beauty. Much of the drive covers mountain ridge terrain, but farmland and low-lying forest make up some of the scenery as well. Armuchee is less than 90 minutes’ drive from AMLI’s Old Fourth Ward apartments.
Another scenic drive through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, this byway reaches heights that are cool even in the summertime. The 121-mile loop, which passes several waterfalls, canyons, and creeks, starts and ends in Helen..
If you’re looking to squeeze a scenic drive into a half-day or less, check out this 30-mile loop that starts and ends a half-hour’s drive from Atlanta in Campbellton. The drive itself is just 31 miles, and is characterized by rolling pastureland and wooded ridges. Without stopping, you can drive the South Fulton Scenic Byway in 45 minutes. But if you have more than two hours for round trip journey to Campbellton and the loop, there’s plenty to see along the way. Highlights include Cochran Mill Park and Nature Center.
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