Often referred to as the Garden City of the south, Augusta, Georgia is one of the state’s oldest and largest cities that still provides that sense of small-town charm and southern hospitality – not to mention some delicious soul food!
There’s also plenty of natural beauty and history near the city, so whether you’re an Augusta native or just passing through Georgia, you should definitely take the time to see some of the nearby attractions while you’re in the area.
Read on for a list of the 15 best day trips from Augusta, Georgia that’ll help you plan your trip and discover all that the nearby area has to offer.
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1. Rock City
Although a bit far from Augusta, Rock City makes for a great day trip if you have the time. “Mountain City” might be a more accurate name for this massive structure, as it is located about 1,700 feet above sea level.
This allows for incredible panoramic views, and you’ll get a birds-eye view of seven different states. As if that wasn’t reason enough for a visit to Lookout Mountain, there are also a wide variety of native plants atop the rock (around 400 different species), and a beautiful waterfall that cascades down the mountainside.
Those worried about the idea of climbing up this large rock need not worry; you’ll be able to drive up most of the way. There is a short trail leading to the lookout with a few steps here and there, but you’ll likely be too busy looking at all the greenery along the way to be too perturbed by this easy trek.
Pack a picnic to enjoy a lunch with a view, or snag a spot on Cafe 7’s terrace and let the restaurant serve you.
If you’re searching for a day trip from Augusta that’s a little closer, the city of Thomson is just 30 minutes away.
This small town has that quintessential southern charm, with stately old buildings lining the streets and popular festivals during every season. Spend the day \hunting for obsolete treasures at Aunt Tique’s and Uncle Junk’s eclectic shop or pop into some of the other boutiques in the downtown area.
Another fun experience in Thomson is the White Hills Herb Farm. This refurbished 1890’s farmhouse offers tours, cooking classes, and some more shopping opportunities. You can also take a walk through the fragrant lavender fields that surround the estate.
History buffs won’t want to miss Hickory Hill, a historic house museum, or Rock House, which is the oldest stone residence in Georgia.
Those looking to spend some time outdoors can also paddle along the Little River Water Trail, or drop a line and reel in some dinner at the McDuffie Public Fishing Area.
3. Tallulah Gorge State Park
A true day in nature can be found on a day trip to Tallulah Falls State Park, about three hours away from Augusta. This area is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of Georgia, thanks to the beautiful falls and spectacular views.
The park is even more captivating in autumn when the leaves begin to change colors, but no matter what time of year you’re visiting you’ll find a plethora of picture-perfect scenery. There are also over 20 miles of trails, one of which will lead you across a suspension bridge over the scenic gorge.
Those who feel like extending their day in nature can book a campground and stay overnight.
The city of Athens is under two hours away from Augusta, making it a great place to spend the day. Known for its antebellum architecture and historic past, you’ll find plenty to do and see during your time here.
Athens is located at the start of Georgia’s Antebellum Trail of historic Civil War towns, so don’t miss your chance to see some iconic structures. A great place to start is at the T.R.R. Cobb House, an old mansion that is bedecked in period furniture and has some exhibits on Southern history. You may also want to check out the Taylor Grady House and the Church-Waddel-Brumby House.
Athens is also home to one of the state’s best cultural scenes, so you’ll be guaranteed a great dining and entertainment experience while you’re in town. You can spend your day relaxing in a beer garden, ambling around the music walk of fame, or catching dinner and a show at the iconic Hendershot’s venue.
5. Chattahoochee National Forest
Another option for a nature-filled day trip from Augusta can be found in the Chattahoochee National Forest, located about 2.5 hours to the north. There are over 750,000 acres to explore in this massive expanse, offering plenty of opportunities to relax and reset in a natural setting.
Breath in the clean, fresh air as you hike, bike, and take in beautiful views. There are also many waterways throughout the forest, so bring your bathing suit if you want to swim, canoe, or kayak.
There are many picnicking spots to choose from, and if you don’t feel like making the trek back to Augusta you can always rent a campsite for the night.
Head south to enjoy a day in one of the most iconic cities in the country. This city offers a little something for everyone. Spend your day admiring the historic architecture, indulging in some soul food, or soaking up some sun on the beach.
Tybee Island is one of the most scenic coastlines in the lower 48, and once you’ve had enough fun in the sun, the beach is lined with alfresco bars and restaurants.
Ambling around the historic district is also a great pastime, and you’ll find plenty of boutique shops, outdoor markets, and well-preserved buildings from bygone eras.
Those looking for a unique experience can tour the six most haunted places in Savannah, though this experience is only recommended for the bravest of visitors!
7. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
One of the closest day trips from Augusta can be found just 15 minutes away. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park offers a relaxing and scenic experience without a long drive.
The park offers wide stretches of boardwalks through wetlands and woodlands, giving you the perfect way to see some of the area’s flora and fauna. Bird watching is especially common here; keep your eyes peeled for great blue herons, red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles, and soras.
Other full-time residents of the park include alligators, frogs, toads, and snakes – but you’ll be safe enough from these creatures enough as long as you stick to the trails.
8. World of Coca-Cola
If you’re a lover of the golden-brown fizzy drink that is Coke, then a visit to the World of Coca-Cola should be at the top of your list for day trips from Augusta. Located in the Atlanta area, you could spend the whole day exploring this massive museum.
You’ll also be able to sample your fair share of the soft drink. The tasting area has hundreds of different flavors from all over the world – and you can even create your own! There’s also a gallery, theatre, and hundreds of artifacts all relating to Coca-Cola.
Unfortunately, you won’t leave with the secret formula – but you’ll likely have a better knowledge of the world-famous company and product.
9. Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium is also located in Atlanta, and is one of the largest in the whole world – making it a great place for a day trip from Augusta.
The aquarium is home to over 80,000 creatures, and kids of all ages (and adults!) will find it hard not to become giddy in this spectacular place. You’ll be able to see beluga whales, sea otters, and giant octopi and more as you wander through the exhibits.
There are also various events, interactive exhibits, and tours if you want to get a look at how the aquarium runs behind the scenes. Be sure to check the official website for updates and programs before your visit.
If you decide you’d like to explore more of Atlanta on your day trip from Augusta, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy – so much that you may consider staying for a night or two.
Georgia’s capital city offers up a wide array of activities, historic sites, and incredible bars and restaurants. For an experience that has a bit of all three, head to the Ponce City Market. Located in the fourth ward in the southeast’s largest brick building, the marketplace offers artisanal restaurants, rooftop bars, cafes, eclectic shops, and even a carnivalesque-style boardwalk complete with old-school games.
Atlanta is also full of verdant parks, beautiful architecture, and a massive amount of museums. However you decide to spend your day here, you definitely won’t be lacking things to do.
11. Ocmulgee National Monument
Although this part of the country is famous for its Civil War history, the Ocmulgee National Monument offers a look even further back in time to ancient Native American Culture.
The mound is actually a ceremonial and burial ground dating back over 10,000 years. There are also thousands of artifacts that were recovered during the largest archaeological dig in American history that’ll give you a better idea of what life was like in ancient times.
The monument is located inside of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, so you can also spend some time hiking, bird watching, or catching one of the events hosted here throughout the year.
Families with youngsters visiting the Augusta area would be hard-pressed to find a better day trip than the city of Monroe. Although the town might not seem like much to look at, it is home to a hidden gem that is worth the two-hour trek.
The Story Shop is a self-proclaimed whimsical bookstore for the children in all of us, and it truly is so much more than just a book shop – though there is an impressive collection of books, too.
The shop boasts magical story times, authors who come to visit, and regular special events throughout the year.
13. Stone Mountain Park
The massive Stone Mountain Park is quite a popular day trip from Augusta, bringing in over four million visitors every year!
There are lots of hiking trails, but you don’t need to worry about climbing all the way to the top – just take a ride in the cable car! You’ll be treated to panoramic views the whole way up along with some scenic lookouts once you’re up there.
Although the view from the top is incredible, it’s not the only reason to visit. There are a ton of fun activities here, including golf courses, historic homes, an adventure course, and a 1940’s railroad.
Foodies looking for a day trip from Augusta can head straight to Madison, located about an hour and a half to the west.
You’ll have your pick of local flavors, from barbecue to catfish and everything in between. You can dine in at one of the delectable restaurants, or head to Madison Produce and get all the supplies for a picnic.
There are plenty of scenic spots around town where you can hunker down, and after you finish eating, you can explore this historic place via bicycle or on your own two feet.
15. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Experience some history first hand and take some time to walk along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that commemorates the march of over 15,000 Cherokee Native Americans who were forced to walk countless miles in devastating conditions. Nearly one-third of all who started the journey did not live to the end of it.
Walking the trail is no doubt an emotional experience, but it gives you the opportunity to learn a bit more about this part of American History – and literally walk in the footsteps of the ones who were forced to make this brutal journey.