Leaving Georgia in our rearview mirror was hard! We left with a longer list of things to see than we came with. We hadn’t done a ton of research on Georgia before visiting, and we should have because there was so much more to see and do! As we plan our 2020/2021 trip down the east coast, we are more excited than ever to go back. This blog will definitely be updated soon, but here are some amazing little hidden gems we found! You’ll want to stop and explore this state full of surprising experiences. Below are a few of our favorite places when taking the roads less traveled.
Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area
We had to mention this beautiful area. It may not be a hidden gem, but you really just have to check it out!
The gorgeous Providence Canyon, affectionately known as “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon,” is one of Georgia’s most treasured locations. It’s even been touted as one of the state’s “Seven Natural Wonders,” which is totally weird because the canyon is not only far from “natural,” its creation was more blunder than wonder. Those exquisitely hued sediment walls are a product of inexperienced farmers making a colossal mess of things, and Mother Nature just kind of worked with it from there.
Aside from waterfalls and slot canyons, we love mystery. Abandoned places that were due to some historical events or interesting situations. Or something strange that was just never “figured out”. Well, have you heard of the Georgia Guidestones? In June of 1979, a man going by the pseudonym of R.C. Christian approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Company with the task of building a monument. He said that no one would ever know his true identity or the group he represented. He seemed to have an endless supply of money to fund the project, and by the terms of the legal contract, all plans had to be destroyed after completion, and all information about him was withheld from the public. In 1980, the stones were finished. They carry a tablet in front proclaiming, “Let these be Guidestones to an Age of Reason.” Engraved in the stones are ten guidelines meant to re-establish the planet and society, perhaps after an apocalypse. They are written in eight different languages, English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian. I’ll let you discover what the Guidestones say and whether it’s something you want to go see. Another one of those mysteries about the USA we are intrigued about.
You knew there would be a few waterfalls in this post, right? Did you know the Toccoa waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls? This waterfall is easily reached, and make sure you pack a lunch! Such a beautiful place to just sit and eat your lunch and listen to the power of this waterfall. This waterfall is actually on the campus of Toccoa Falls College. The entrance is through their bookstore. The story behind the falls is quite sad and tragic. Read about it before you go. It might just make you appreciate it even more!
Toccoa River Swinging Bridge
Just a short 1/4 mile hike from the end of a fire service road in northern Georgia is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. They call it a swinging bridge, but they don’t always mention the bouncing. This is a 270-foot hiker’s bridge high up over the Toccoa River. The bridge is supported by simple anchoring at each end, with no towers or other supports in the middle, the weight is borne by the cables sloping down to the middle and back up again. Sure it swings from side to side, but it’s the up and down that makes it fun. Tip for getting there: Access the trail from the end of Fire Service Road 816, just east of Blue Ridge’s town- a short hike to the bridge. Campsites line the water under the bridge, and prime spots go fast. No reservations.
Located in Fayette County – A really fantastic part of history. We love the old mills when we’re able just to wander around. During the mid 19th century, thousands of mills across the eastern United States took advantage of an endless supply of water power. With all the heavy recent rains, the water is flowing pretty good. Be careful!
Anna Ruby Falls
Don’t mistake this for Ruby Falls in Tennessee.
Which is amazing too! These falls are located in Unicoi State Park in White County near Helen, Georgia. Easy, paved half-mile trail. Once you drive through Unicoi Park you will enter forest service property and soon arrive at the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center. Here is where you pay your $3 recreation use fee (per person, 16 and older; free for kids under 16) and access the trailhead. So worth taking time to see this! Spring, summer, or fall, you’ll love this short, easy hike!
Okefenokee Swamp (see our 2022 update below)
When Justin mentioned checking out the Okefenokee Swamp, I thought it was a joke. I kept wondering how I’d heard this very nonsense word before. A movie? Help me out here people! I still don’t know where I’d heard this before. Cartoon? And then I realized it really is a real place. A really cool place!!! So off we went. We enjoyed an hour boat ride down part of the swamp. And learned that if you bring your own kayak, you can launch from right there at the adventure center for $5, or free if you have America the Beautiful pass. We also learned that again, it was a place we will have to come back to. I think sometimes we find these amazing things to explore, and while we are there, learn something else about the place we didn’t allow enough time to do. Yes we make our own schedule but we had already made plans to be in Florida at a certain time, so needless to say, it’s back on our list when we are in Georgia again.
UPDATE! WE WENT BACK!!
We highly recommend this amazing place! It truly is a hidden gem, and if you are into kayaking, please take the time to venture out into the water. Our day of kayaking was amazing!
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We’d love to hear about your favorite places to explore in Georgia. Comment below so we can add some hidden gems to our list!
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