For those looking to get away from Athens for a day, northeast Georgia has a lot to offer. From gold mines to museums to scenic hikes, these three towns are worth the trip without hurting your wallet.
This quaint little town nestles into the mountainside of the Appalachian Trail has more to offer than meets the eye. The Dahlonega Gold Museum commemorates the town’s title as the first American gold rush, and the Consolidated Gold Mine offers both mine tours and gold panning for $18. Take a tour of Dahlonega’s haunted past for $20 with a 1.3-mile Ghost Walk that is based on both historical facts and local paranormal sightings. End the day with a sweet note at Paul Thomas Chocolates in the center of town and purchase some handmade candy for the ride back to Athens.
Home to Mercer University, this underrated town with southern charm is a great place for history buffs and antique-lovers alike. With multiple museums and small-town shops, Macon is a wonderful option for a quiet summer day. Be sure to visit the Tubman Museum, the Southeast’s largest museum of African American culture, art and history, as well as the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park, a prehistoric American Indian site and museum with thousands of artifacts dating back hundreds of years. The Tubman Museum is $10 to visit and the Ocmulgee National Park is free to the public.
Known for its Bavarian-style architecture, Helen is a culture-filled gem in the northeast Georgia countryside. Browse local art at the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia and support local artists at Skylake Galleries. Embrace the summer weather with a hike through the nearby Unicoi State Park or Raven Cliff Falls. Before you leave, pick up some handmade fudge at Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen and snap a photo at Steve’s Old Time Photo on Main Street for a “vintage” souvenir.