Now that you’ve reserved your DriveShare classic, luxury or sports car rental in Atlanta, you’ll need some top-tier destinations to truly enjoy your time behind the wheel. Whether you’re a local resident or a first-time visitor taking a trip to the ATL, we think we’ll be able to find you some new routes throughout Georgia for a great drive in your DriveShare of choice.
To help you enjoy the drive, we’ve assembled some great cruising destinations beyond the city limits for you to hit the road and find some off-the-beaten-path Atlanta attractions. Let’s get driving!
Floor it to a few falls (by way of Bavaria)
Would you believe it if I told you that one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River – taller even than Niagara Falls – was just about a two-hour drive northeast of Atlanta? It’s true, and the drive to Toccoa Falls is almost as impressive as the 186-foot waterfall at the end of the drive, as we’ll be travelling along the Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway.
This 41-mile loop takes you through rolling Appalachian foothills, forests and into the Chattahoochee National Forest past the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River. You’ll also get to take in some very scenic views from Brasswood Bald, the tallest mountain in Georgia, and if you’re up for adding a side hike, the Raven Cliff Falls add an impressive three-tier 100-foot waterfall to the day’s activities.
Once you get to the Toccoa Falls (located on the campus of a local college named for them) you’ll find there’s a miniscule fee to take the small hike to the falls. Once you’re there we think you’ll forget all about that once you can take in the sights and snap a few photos. Time it right and you might catch a wedding party doing a photoshoot (or even a happy couple getting married in front of the falls).
We can conclude this adventure with dinner in nearby Helen, a small town with plenty of Georgia-meets-Germany energy. There’s a fair share of German restaurants here, but how can you pass up a meal at a three-story Bavarian-styled restaurant called Heidelberg that serves sauerbraten, goulash and nine kinds of schnitzel? (Take it easy on the beer though – they’ve got over twenty German beers in bottle and on draft.)
If you’re up for one more drive before heading back downtown, hop on the Georgia Scenic 197 near Helen – not only is there even more Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest scenery to enjoy, but this stretch of pavement was once a moonshine route back in the days of Prohibition.
Get to Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon”
Not only are we going to send you to Providence Canyon a couple hours southwest of Atlanta, but we’re going to do it in style. This route takes you along two scenic byways to see some great Georgia countryside: the South Fulton and the I-185.
Just southwest of metro Atlanta, the South Fulton Scenic Byway is a 29 mile loop that gets drivers off the expressway to wind along country roads and lanes near the path of the Chattahoochee River. Drivers will enjoy a largely isolated roadway with plenty of old barns, historic churches and split-rail fences to enjoy. The byway also takes you past Cochrane Mill Park, a great place to get out and wander miles of trails through fields and past even more waterfalls.
From there, the I-185 Scenic Byway does take you back onto the interstate, but this 38-mile stretch of freeway is perhaps notable for what you don’t see: Billboards. Since its designation as a Scenic Byway, this drive has nothing but nature on either side of the road, letting you enjoy a quick cruise through miles of pine forest.
Once you arrive at the 1,000-acre Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin (near Columbus) you might be surprised to discover that this huge collection of 16 different canyons was actually created just a couple hundred years ago thanks to rainwater runoff from area cotton farms a few hundred years ago. Nowadays there are gullies 150 feet deep that showcase millions of years of geological history and a variety of soil colors (which make for a great photo opp). Consider bringing some extra shoes, too – it’s a bit of a muddy hike down in the canyons.
Presidential boyhood farms and dinner with southern charm
On the way back from Providence Canyon, plan to stop at a famous site for American presidential history. Honestly, can you take a Georgia road trip without stopping by the home of America’s most famous peanut-farming president? Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm is part of the Jimmy Carter National Park in Plains, where you can also visit the historic train depot that served as his campaign headquarters in 1976.
Before heading back into Atlanta, we recommend you grab a leisurely dinner at the Bulloch House restaurant (a short drive north in Warm Springs), famous for a buffet-style Southern menu that changes daily but regularly includes fresh-baked breads and biscuits as well as main dishes like baked ham and fried chicken.
Wind your way through wine country
Let’s head back north of Atlanta to Dahlonega, known as the heart of Georgia’s Wine Country and is a mini-Napa with the highest concentration of vineyards in the state. It’s also a great place to drive through for some amazing vineyard and Blue Ridge mountain views; no tastings required. The Dahlonega Wine Trail takes you nearly 40 miles through some amazing countryside past vintners like Cavender Creek, Wolf Mountain and Montaluce Winery.
From here you can choose from two scenic byways: There’s the 51-mile Ridge and Valley loop which takes you through mountainous ridges in northwest Georgia for great views overlooking valley farmland from Johns Mountain, and then past the Civil War battle site of Jonesborough.
Since you’re returning from wine country, we’d probably recommend the Cohutta- Chattahoochee Scenic Byway – not just because the 54-mile route ends at a similarly impressive overlook at Cohutta Mountain … but because this stretch of blacktop ends in Ellijay, the “Apple Capital” of Georgia, which seems fitting since the day’s destinations started with grapes.
If these routes have inspired you to take a drive but you need a suitably classic car to cruise these highways and byways? Get started at Hagerty DriveShare, then get ready to drop the top and hit the road.