15 Wonderful Winter Day Trips from Atlanta for Families

Step into a Bavarian village without ever having to leave the state when you visit Helen, Georgia. Photo by Bill Leffler
Step into a Bavarian village without ever having to leave the state when you visit Helen, Georgia. Photo by Bill Leffler
1/21/24 - By Rebecca Ruffin Leffler

With the freezing cold weather, it's the perfect time to plan winter day trips from Atlanta! To combat the winter blahs, get your family out of the usual routine. Look at our list and plan a spectacular winter day trip from Atlanta and take advantage of winter break, MLK Day, President’s Day, and other school breaks. Don't forget to pack warm clothing!


For more ideas this chilly season, visit our Atlanta Winter Activities Guide.

1. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Athens, GA

70 miles from Atlanta

Visit Sanford Stadium and stock up on Georgia Bulldogs fan gear at the 762-acre University of Georgia campus. Also check out the Georgia Museum of Art, the state’s official art museum on the eastern side of campus. Leave campus for historic downtown Athens full of shops and restaurants. Visit the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia, with woodland hiking trails, a greenhouse, a playground, and multiple gardens.

RELATED: School Break Camps: Winter and Spring Break Camps Keep Atlanta Kids Busy on Days Off

2. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Blue Ridge, GA

90 miles from Atlanta

What kid doesn’t like train rides? Take the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway along the Toccoa River on a closed or open-air coach. Departing the depot in downtown Blue Ridge, the trip begins with a one-hour, narrated trip to the Tennessee state line. Enjoy a couple of hours for lunch and shopping in the twin towns of McCaysville and Copperhill before boarding the train for the return ride.

It's the Coliseum, only in rock form, located at Calhoun Rock Garden.

3. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Calhoun, GA

70 miles from Atlanta

Enjoy the Roman Coliseum, Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, and Japan’s Himeji Castle...all in miniature rock form! Calhoun Rock Garden, created by DeWitt “Old Dog” Boyd in 2007, features over 50 intricate structures made from pebbles, bits of glass, and shells located behind the Calhoun Seventh Day Adventist Church. Relax in the gazebo, sit on a bench swing, or cross over the creek for several hiking trails.

4. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Andersonville, GA

130 miles from Atlanta

At Andersonville National Historic Site, explore the former Camp Sumter Civil War prison that housed 45,000 Union prisoners. Take a ranger-led tour or walk the grounds on your own. Also, download the FREE audio driving tour that guides you around Andersonville National Cemetery. Families with older kids shouldn’t miss the National Prisoner of War Museum, located inside the visitor center. 

5. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Chattanooga, TN

120 miles from Atlanta

Just two hours from Atlanta, Chattanooga offers multiple family-friendly tourist attractions. The massive Tennessee Aquarium allows in/out privileges so families can take a break for lunch at one of the nearby downtown restaurants. Another popular spot is the award-winning Creative Discovery Museum, offering a fun and playful learning experience with interactive exhibits.

Sweet-smelling Cabbage Patch Kids are born here, at BabyLand General Hospital.

6. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Cleveland, GA

70 miles from Atlanta

Remember Cabbage Patch Kids? They're still around in Cleveland, GA at BabyLand General Hospital. After signing in as a visitor to the "hospital," families can peruse nurseries and watch the "birth" of a new Cabbage Patch Kid at the Magic Crystal Tree. Admission is free but there is a cost if you adopt a doll.

Impress kids with your colorful childhood at the Lunchbox Museum in Columbus, GA.

7. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Columbus, GA

110 miles from Atlanta

Visit the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center, filled with military history, interactive exhibits, and a giant screen theater. Although free, there is a fee to try the combat simulators. Bring a heavy jacket to bike/walk along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, which stretches 15 miles on the banks of the river, with multiple access points and tasty restaurants. And stop by the Lunchbox Museum located in the back of an antique store!

8. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Helen, GA

90 miles from Atlanta

Fun any time of the year, a winter day trip to Helen will transport your family to an Alpine village with German influences everywhere. Kids can ride the Georgia Mountain Coaster, which lets them control their own speed down the slope of a mountain. Also, check out Anna Ruby Falls with a paved trail that leads to the stunning twin falls (closed Tuesdays and Wednesday and after 4pm during winter).

Experience the gold rush at Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site. Photo by Bill Leffler

9. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Dahlonega, GA

65 miles from Atlanta

Did you know the first gold rush in the U.S. occurred in Georgia in the 1830s? Discover this history at the Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site or head to the Consolidated Gold Mine (you can pan for gold after an underground tour). Don’t leave Dahlonega without checking out the cute shops and restaurants in the town square, including the filling, family-style Smith House Restaurant. Parents, there are some great wineries if you get some adult time.

10. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Macon, GA

85 miles from Atlanta

Macon is a sports mecca for avid fans with its 45,000-square-foot Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Dedicated to all amateur and professional sports, families can see Bill Elliott’s NASCAR sports car, shoot hoops, kick a field goal, and more. Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park is a must-see with artifacts, a film about the Indigenous people who inhabited the area since the Ice Age, and the Earth Lodge (used as the council chamber). With over six miles of walking trails, families can walk or drive around the eight Indian mounds, including the Great Temple Mound.

Discover Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion in Milledgeville. Photo by Bill Leffler

11. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Milledgeville, GA

100 miles from Atlanta

Atlanta wasn’t always the capital of Georgia; that honor belonged to Milledgeville from 1839-1868. At Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion, tour guides discuss this period of history and take visitors through the mansion that General Tecumseh Sherman took over during the Civil War. Drive around the Georgia Old Capital and campus of Georgia College & State University to see more classic antebellum architecture.

Callaway Gardens puts on its magical Fantasy in Lights during winter. Photo courtesy Callaway Gardens

12. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Pine Mountain, GA

80 miles from Atlanta

Enjoy over 10 miles of bike trails at Callaway Gardens, featuring 2,500 acres of multiple lakes and native flora. Though the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center is a must-visit in the springtime, for the winter, it's all about the holiday Fantasy in Lights extravaganza! Go on a safari adventure without traveling to Africa —Wild Animal Safari has bison, elk, zebras, and other animals that come right up to your vehicle on the 3.5-mile drive through the park.

RELATED: Everything's Coming Up Roses at These Stunning Atlanta Gardens

Paradise Garden is a whole lot of coolness in Summerville.

13. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Summerville, GA

90 miles from Atlanta

Summerville's Paradise Garden is a quirky home/studio/outdoor museum of renowned folk artist Howard Finster (1916-2001) features repurposed materials to create sculptures, mosaics, and small buildings. Kids love seeing their multiple reflections in the Mirror House. While walking around the Bike Tower and Bottle House, parents may remember the site from the REM video, “Radio Free Europe.”

14. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Toccoa, GA

90 miles from Atlanta

Higher than Niagara Falls, Toccoa Falls is the tallest, free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Dress accordingly and pay $2 per person entrance fee at the Toccoa Falls College Gate Cottage (also houses restrooms and a gift shop). The 186-foot waterfall is located on a short, gravel path behind the building, perfect for little ones who don’t want to hike.

Release your inner Top Gun at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins. Photo by Bill Leffler

15. Winter Day Trips From Atlanta: Warner Robins, GA

100 miles from Atlanta

Warner Robins is home to the Museum of Aviation, with over 80 aircraft at the second largest museum in the U.S. Air Force. Be sure to visit the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. On your way home, stop at 53,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s, famous for brisket sandwiches, glazed nuts, and clean restrooms.

Unless noted, photos by the author.

Places featured in this article:

Andersonville National Historic Site

National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park