Soon after Atlanta was founded, it quickly became a hub of transportation. Railroads linked Atlanta to the port city of Savannah, and helped distribute goods to Chattanooga and points west. Today, Atlanta’s relatively central location within the state provides easy access for travelers or city-dwellers looking to schedule day trips to the northern Appalachian Mountains, or to the picturesque coastal towns to the south and east.
Many coastal destinations can be reached from Atlanta by car on one tank of gas. Here are a few spots that many Atlantans frequent when they’re in search of a convenient day trip and a break from city living.
Travel time from Atlanta: Four hours
The Atlantic coast lies only a few hours by freeway from the Georgia’s capital. Prior to Atlanta’s founding, Savannah was the capital of the state. Today, Savannah is still home to Georgia’s earliest history and stately southern mansions, but also offers eclectic shopping, fine dining and colorful nightlife. Discover local furniture and fashion designers along Broughton Street, or unique gifts for friends and family at the Savannah Bee Company or The Paris Market. Dining options range from casual comfort food to upscale cuisine options like Local 11 Ten Food & Wine with its chic rooftop lounge. Top off your night in Savannah with a walk along River Street or enjoy a live rock band and the city’s best vodka gimlet at The Jinx.
If you’re visiting Savannah for more than a night, cross the bridge to Tybee Island for a closer coastal experience. Enjoy a jog on the beach, try out a new water sport, or relax and explore the beach shops and boardwalk. Many local restaurants serve fresh fish, and be sure to keep an eye out for Gerald’s Pig and Shrimp – a funky food truck that serves homemade limeade and the tastiest lunch on the island!
Travel time from Atlanta: Five hours
Drive north of Atlanta to explore another coastal town along the Atlantic – Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston played a major role in American history, but it’s also a sought-after destination for art and architecture enthusiasts. Named America’s most mannerly city, Charleston welcomes its visitors with friendly locals and a leisurely atmosphere.
Discover the city in style with a carriage tour, find out about Charleston’s connection to pirates on a walking tour, or head straight for its pristine beaches. Stay the night at one of Charleston’s charming bed and breakfasts, or head another 20 miles to the Kiawah Island Resort for a truly luxurious coastal experience. Whether spending time in Charleston or on Kiawah, visitors can relax on the beaches or enjoy a variety of water sports.
Set among Charleston’s beautifully-preserved Victorian architecture are art galleries and award-winning dining options. At McCrady’s, Chef Sean Brock serves the best new southern cuisine in the Southeast, yet the restaurant’s location at a registered historic landmark and the pre-prohibition cocktail menu proves that this evolving city is right at home with its past.
Travel time from Atlanta: Six hours
From Atlanta, a day trip to Destin, Florida will bring visitors to entirely new coastline – the Gulf of Mexico. Also known as the Emerald Coast, this area is home to sparkling white beaches, challenging golf courses, and world-famous fishing. Make the most of your time on the coast with parasailing, dolphin-watching, or a stand up paddle board lesson.
Destin is also a popular destination for weddings and romantic weekends. Contrasted with the popular spring break mecca of Panama City just an hour away, Destin’s pace is slower and more relaxing. Travel to Destin to enjoy all of the natural beauty that the Gulf Coast offers, with the bonus of “creature comforts” like spas and fine dining nearby.
Traveling from Atlanta to the coast is fast and easy, and takes less than a day to find yourself a world away!
Photo credit: iStockphoto/Ron_Thomas