by Jonathan Baker - 319 Reviews - 185 List
There are plenty of reasons to love Atlanta, and while the ability to take a quick weekend getaway often gets overshadowed, it's one of our favorites. Yes, Hartsfield-Jackson can take you anywhere in the world, but in a half-day drive (or less), you can be relaxing at the Lodge at Sea Island (pictured), cooling off in the mountains or getting away from it all in a quaint college town. So, pack your bag for one or all of our top five Atlanta weekend getaways.
Updated: June 06, 2011
A short drive from Atlanta (just over an hour), Athens is as iconic as any college town in America. A walkable, square-blocked downtown has James Beard-nominated restaurants, independent boutiques, record stores, cozy bars and historic music venues. Go during summer when the school is out and the pace of life slows.
Georgians have traditionally headed to St Simons for beach vacations, and there's no better place to relax than the Lodge at Sea Island. It's a classic holiday spot where guests can ride horses on the beach, hit the spa or play world-class golf. Do note, however, that it also comes with a world-class price tag.
Just a little more than five hours away, Charleston magically combines the beach with culture. History oozes from the cobblestone roads and 1700s-era buildings, while a quick jaunt from downtown leads to sleepy Folly Beach. The three James Beard award-winning restaurants don't hurt either.
The beauty of our northern neighbor, Nashville, is that it's one part college town (Vanderbilt), one part small metropolitan area and one part historic music city. Bar crawl in The District or take the family to the Grand Ole Opry. Regardless, don't miss a show at the Blue Bird Cafe, a legendary spot for singer-songwriters.
Atlantans have been heading to the mountains for years to cool off during the brutal summers. Just two hours north of Atlanta, Highlands, N.C., has hiking, waterfalls, shopping and golf to provide exactly what you need to feel like you're light years from the big city.
Perhaps the most important preparation: coffee. While there are a seemingly endless supply of Starbucks on the way out of Atlanta, our favorite independent java house is San Francisco Coffee. We suggest hitting the original, off North Highland Avenue.
A quick stop at Belly General Store for bagels will delight both you and your traveling companion. The bagels are made with olive oil (read: addictive) and come topped with smears like honey butter or can be ordered sandwich-style with bacon, egg and cheese options. Go early; lines form on the weekends.