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Top 10 Scenic Drives in Georgia

From Atlanta, where Martin Luther King, Jr was born, to the ultra-Southern charm of Savannah, the state of Georgia has much to delight visitors. To truly get a sense of the character of a region, travelers must conduct a more in-depth examination than a cursory trip to the state capital or reading through a list in a guide book. This place that manages to hold its roots dear while making forward progress is best experienced up close. Here lies the appeal of touring its scenic roads while making time to stop and mingle in places ranging from doll factories to presidential vacation homes. These treats and more await travelers who traverse these most cherished routes:

No. 10 – South Fulton Byway

South Fulton Byway Georgia
Flickr user: Phil Horne

Starting Location: Campbellton, GA
Ending Location: Campbellton, GA
Length: 31 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Although situated on the outskirts of increasingly metropolitan Atlanta, this winding loop guides travelers through a more serene part of the region that is characterized by hills and pastureland with some wooded ridges peppered along the route. In addition to the Cochran Mill Park and Recreation Center, there are several places to stop and stretch tired legs while exploring historic landmarks or buildings.

No. 9 – Gold Rush

Gold Rush Georgia
Flickr user: Thomas Bunton

Starting Location: Dahlonga, GA
Ending Location: Cleveland, GA
Length: 48 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This winding drive explores the site of Georgia’s gold rush in the southern Blue Ridge, and travelers are encouraged to visit the operational mines and informative museum in Dahlonga before setting out. On the opposite end of this route is another proverbial gold mine in that Cleveland’s Babyland General Hospital was the birthplace of the collectible Cabbage Patch dolls. In between, there are ample opportunities to stop and recharge in natural settings, most notably in Vogel State Park.

No. 8 – Ridge Valley Scenic Tour

Ridge Valley Scenic Tour Georgia
Flickr user: D Wright

Starting Location: Armuchee, GA
Ending Location: Armuchee, GA
Length: 76 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This byway covering highways and county roads is ideal for outdoorsy souls with a little time to spare. The route passes through farmlands with rich, fertile soil as well as more mountainous areas with panoramic scenes, such as John's Mountain Overlook. At various points on the way, with Keown Falls Scenic Area being one of the most beloved spots, there are opportunities to pull over to hike or to see if the fish will bite.

No. 7 – Monticello Crossroads

Monticello Crossroads Georgia
Flickr user: Danielle Darling

Starting Location: Mansfield, GA
Ending Location: Madison, GA
Length: 44 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This well-traveled way through the Monticello Crossroads makes for a nice afternoon trip amid rolling hills, and the same route was once used by the Native Americans and Methodist Circuit Riders. Although travelers on this way will go by several small towns with old-time charm, Monticello out-charms them all. There, historic buildings abound and advertisements for long-forgotten products remain painted on the sides of structures.

No. 6 – Merriweather Pike County Loop

Merriweather Pike County Loop Georgia
Flickr user: james

Starting Location: Manchester, GA
Ending Location: Manchester, GA
Length: 66 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This particular route honors former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who spent several stretches of time in Warm Springs in what is now called The Little White House while recovering from polio. Travelers are encouraged to stop there and view the home as well as browse the many antique shops in this rural town. The drive also passes through the Big Red Oak Covered Bridge and the old Jones Mill, which are landmarks on the journey the former President undoubtedly once enjoyed.

No. 5 – Altamaha Scenic Byway

Altamaha Scenic Byway Georgia
Flickr user: Mark

Starting Location: Meridian, GA
Ending Location: Brunswick, GA
Length: 24 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This short, easy drive isn’t short on sights to see. In the 24 miles between Meridian and Brunswick, travelers can take in Fort King George, Butler Island, the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, and plenty of moss-laden oaks thriving near marshlands. For those more interested in local flora and fauna than history, a stop at 5,618-acre Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge should bring them closer to Mother Nature.

No. 4 – Cohutta Chattahoochee Scenic Byway

Cohutta Chattahoochee Scenic Byway Georgia
Flickr user: UGA College of Ag & Env

Starting Location: Cohutta, GA
Ending Location: Ellijay, GA
Length: 49 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This particular drive appeals highly to history buffs wanting to brush up on Native American and Civil War history, but everyone can enjoy the views the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests provide on the trip. Gain a glimpse into the past of the Cherokee Indians at places like Chief Vann House Historic Site near Chatsworth, or take in some of the numerous Civil War sites such as Dug Gap Battle Park and the Dalton Confederate Cemetery. When the route ends in Ellijay, drivers are encouraged to try an apple there at the “Apple Capital” of Georgia.

No. 3 – Enduring Farmlands Scenic Byway

Enduring Farmlands Scenic Byway Georgia
Flickr user: Neal Wellons

Starting Location: Hawkinsville, GA
Ending Location: Hawkinsville, GA
Length: 65 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

As the name of this route suggests, travelers following it can expect to see a fair share of farmland, including vintage structures and expansive cotton fields, on this relatively leisurely drive. Beginning and ending in Hawkinsville, home of a historic opera house, it winds through several small towns with quaint buildings, antique shops, and unusual events, such as the Ocmulgee Wild Hog Festival in springtime. Travelers wanting to lengthen the trip can detour to the “Watermelon Capital of the World” in Cordele or see the “World’s Largest Peanut” in Ashburn.

No. 2 – Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway

Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway Georgia
Flickr user: Kostya Kartavenka

Starting Location: Helen, GA
Ending Location: Helen, GA
Length: 121 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

Only a short ways from the North Carolina Border, this scenic byway takes travelers through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, which is full of dense forest growth, canyons, creeks, and waterfalls. Here, we describe the loop as beginning and ending in Helen, a Bavarian alpine village with cobblestone streets, but it can really start and end at any point along the way. Places to stop and enjoy nature are bountiful, but a must-see is Brasstown Bald Mountain, which is the tallest peak in Georgia and affords panoramic views of the surrounding country.

No. 1 – Historic Piedmont Scenic Byway

Historic Piedmont Scenic Byway Georgia
Flickr user: denisbin

Starting Location: Willard, GA
Ending Location: Sparta, GA
Length: 95 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Travelers will want to take their time on this scenic byway to savor the beauty of the outdoors, which is at its prime during the changing of the leaves in fall. This twice back-tracking route passes through the Oconee National Forest and crosses both the Oconee and Ogeechee Rivers, which are reputed to be superior fishing grounds. Along the way, history buffs may enjoy stopping at Rock Hawk Effigy, which was built thousands of years ago by Native Americans, or something slightly closer to the present, such as the Glen Mary Plantation and its sweeping grounds.

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