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On the road in Atlanta

With historical sights, eye-opening museums and delicious dining, Atlanta has everything you need from a city break. But within a short drive of the concrete jungle, there’s plenty more to discover. Swap parks for mountains with a trip to the ‘Great Smokies’, touch the heart of college football in Athens, or receive a musical education in Nashville. Whether it’s for a couple of days or a few hours, make time to uncover some of our favourite road trip destinations from the Georgia capital.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park in America, and for good reason. Attracting even more people than the Grand Canyon, it provides a welcome respite from the hustle-and-bustle of city life. Hike through ridges of forest, spot wildlife in the Cades Cove, and seek out attractions such as the Rainbow Falls and the Fontana Dam. Just keep your eyes peeled for black bears…

Beyond Atlanta: Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Athens

Athens (not to be confused with the Greek capital) is a famous college town with a whole lot more to offer than education. It’s the home of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, so the first stop should be a football game, followed by a pint of beer from one of the town’s many microbreweries. Besides the university, local city landmarks include the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Georgia Theatre, an iconic venue where international superstars and Athens natives like R.E.M. have played.

Atlanta day trips: A guide to Athens

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Lake Lanier

A popular retreat for water babies and adventure sports fanatics, Lake Lanier is just 45-minutes outside of Atlanta, and offers plenty of outdoor opportunities. From fishing for bass to an energising swim, water-skiing to kayaking, there’s plenty to do. Those who’d rather stay on dry land are also spoilt for choice with almost 700 miles of beachy shoreline to explore.

The best things to do on Lake Lanier

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Just 30 minutes east of Atlanta is the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Another world compared to the concrete jungle of the city, it’s home to the Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve and a rolling landscape of wetlands and thick forests. The Arabia Mountain is an adventure playground for keen hikers, with several trails offering amazing views and fitness challenges.

Exploring Atlanta’s Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Nashville

For a real country experience, head to the American home of country music…Nashville. Just a four-hour drive from Atlanta, rhythm runs through the veins of this so-called ‘Music City’ in Tennessee. For a memorable night out, take in a show at one of the iconic music venues or tour the city’s best ‘honky-tonks’ and enjoy a lively musical experience like no-other.

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Image credits: Arabia Diamorpha © Virgin Atlantic, all other imagery © iStock