Have you bitten into a juicy summer peach at Pearson Farm? Camped among grunting gators at Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge? Cheered a touchdown between the hedges at University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium? In compiling this list (presented in no particular order), we set out to define the essential experiences that offer a survey of the state’s unique character, from the golden isles to the Appalachian foothills, from the kitschy to the jaw-dropping. Whether you’re a fourth-generation native or a brand-new transplant, it’s time to start traversing Georgia’s clay. Here’s your guide:

Turtles on Jekyll Island

Watch hatchling turtles make their way to the ocean at dawn

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Every year from around mid-May to the end of July, loggerhead sea turtles amble up Georgia beaches in the middle of the night to lay their nests. Around two months later, the tiny hatchlings emerge, making their way to the ocean guided by the reflection of moonlight.
Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island

String up a hammock between fallen trees on Driftwood Beach

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
At the end of an unassuming palmetto-lined path on Jekyll Island, you’ll find Driftwood Beach, a surreal natural sculpture garden of fallen trees.
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Peer into a blue grotto at Radium Springs Gardens

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The water’s searing blue hue is a result of trace amounts of radium, which was once believed to have healing powers.
Boiled Peanuts

Brake for boiled peanuts

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
In the South, you’ll spot hand-scrawled signs for boiled peanuts across the state’s back roads, but our favorite is Fred’s Famous Peanuts, outside Helen.
Little White House

See Georgia through FDR’s eyes

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
An hour and a half south of Atlanta, you’ll find Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vacation cottage, the Little White House, and the warm springs where he swam for polio therapy.
Dixie Speedway

Watch a dirt track race at the Dixie Speedway

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Bring the kids, the grill, and a case of beer to get the full Saturday night tailgating experience at this authentic red clay racetrack in Woodstock.
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Get lost in a story at Flannery O’Connor’s farm

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Pay homage to the eccentric Southern writer at her circa-1860 Plantation-style home in Milledgeville.
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Dig back 17,000 years at the Ocmulgee National Monument

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
In the 1930s the country’s then-largest archaeological dig ever revealed hundreds of burial sites and excavated 2.5 million artifacts from more than 10,000 years of Southeastern Indian culture.
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Admire the antebellum and contemporary at SCAD Museum of Art

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Cool, contemporary artwork isn’t the only draw at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah. The building that houses it is itself destination-worthy.
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Light a candle at the largest Hindu temple outside of India

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
With its pristine white exterior, intricately carved pillars, and towering spires, the sprawling 27,000-square-foot BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir stands out like the Taj Mahal next door to a Lilburn Walgreens.
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Browse the Allman Brothers Band’s treasures

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Hippies use front door! From 1969 to 1973, members of the Allman Brothers Band lived—and jammed—in a circa-1900 Tudor-style Macon home.
Peachtree Road Race

Don your patriotic best for the Peachtree Road Race

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
A simple stars-and-stripes headband works, but don’t be surprised if the runner next to you sports a flag cape or Uncle Sam top hat.
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Volunteer on the MLK Day of Service

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
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Make a presidential pilgrimage to Plains

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
In the dusty heart of South Georgia farmland, find Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign headquarters, a tiny wooden depot that now serves as a museum.
Cabbage Patch Kids

Adopt a Cabbage Patch Kid at Babyland General Hospital

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The conceit behind Cabbage Patch Kids is that they spring from cabbage plants in a “hospital” in Cleveland, the tiny northeast Georgia town where they were invented.
Silver Comet Trail

Bike all the way to ’Bama—or just a mile—on the Silver Comet Trail

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
This paved former railway cuts a 61.5-mile path from Smyrna to Alabama, passing junk-filled backyards and bucolic pine groves.
UGA game

Attend a revival between the hedges at Sanford Stadium

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
If college football is a religion, then stadiums are its shrines, and one can argue that no spot deserves reverence more than UGA’s Sanford Stadium.
Forest Hostel

Commune with nature at the Hostel in a Forest

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Down a dirt rut off Highway 82 near Brunswick, you can bunk up in a screened-in tree house (one of nine) among 133 acres of wetland woods with nothing but a simple bed, candles, and a tattered novel.
Providence Canyon

See every shade of Georgia clay at Providence Canyon

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The “Little Grand Canyon” may look like a natural phenomenon, but it’s actually the result of human tampering.
40 Watt Club

Party with legends at the 40 Watt Club

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Since its start as a rehearsal space for pioneering alt-rock band Pylon nearly 40 years ago, the 40 Watt Club in Athens has launched world-renowned local acts like R.E.M., the B-52s, Of Montreal, and Drive-by-Truckers, and hosted headliners from Snoop Dogg to Nirvana.
Sea Island

Splurge on a trip to Sea Island

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Short of an invitation, the only way to visit the private Sea Island is to book a room at its resort, the Cloister.
Gibbs Gardens

Tiptoe through the daffodils at Gibbs Gardens

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Jim Gibbs of Gibbs Landscape Company spent decades turning his 300 acres near Big Canoe into a public garden.
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Pretend to be a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Even if—like most folks—you’re not inclined to hike the AT all the way to Maine, you can still get a taste of the glory at the trail’s southern terminus at the top of Georgia’s Springer Mountain.
Staplehouse

Try to book dinner at America’s best new restaurant, Staplehouse

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Reservations at the 40-seat Staplehouse, a modern Southern restaurant in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, have been hard to come by since it was named America’s Best New Restaurant by Bon Appétit last September.
Rock City

See Rock City, the original Disneyland

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Part natural treasure and part retro amusement park, Rock City offers breathtaking views, ancient rock formations, and bizarre exhibits of European folklore that glow in the caves under black lights.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Gaze at gators in America’s largest blackwater swamp

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Paddle South Georgia’s otherworldly Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, where lily pads dapple mirror-like water, alligators bask in the sun, and ancient, Spanish moss–draped cypress trees provide shade.
Savannah River

Hoist a (legal) cocktail to the Savannah River’s marine traffic

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Duck into the world’s smallest liquor store—the closet-sized River Street Liquor—and emerge with a cup of beer, a cocktail, or even a shot, all totally legal in Savannah’s open container–friendly historic district.
Paradise Garden

Sleep inside folk art wonderland Paradise Garden

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Nearly 50 years ago, God inspired Howard Finster to build Paradise Garden, an enormous display of sculptures and paintings scattered among a mirror-covered tree house, a tornado of rusted bicycles, and a towering church. Now Airbnb makes it easy to spend the night there.
Greyfield Inn

Live like a Carnegie at Greyfield Inn

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Originally part of a sprawling estate built by the Carnegie family at the turn of the 20th century, the colonial-style Greyfield mansion is the only hotel on Cumberland Island.
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Sleep (and hike) under the stars at Cloudland Canyon

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Reserve one of the 10 canvas-topped yurts and you can immerse yourself in nature while remaining cozy as a bug.
The masters

Go to the Masters

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
With the wait list closed years ago, organizers have made available a select number of tickets via online lottery.
50 Best Things To Do in Georgia what to do in Georgia

Ponder the meaning of America’s Stonehenge

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The Georgia Guidestones, a mysterious 19-foot granite monument near Elberton, dictates 10 philosophical commandments (engraved in eight languages) for governing humanity in concurrence with nature. Show up at noon to see the sun illuminate an engraving of that day’s date.
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Climb on the Noguchi Playscape

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The artscape is a study in vibrant color and geometry—plus it’s one masterpiece you’re encouraged not only to touch but to tackle.
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See a nationally acclaimed theater company perform on a farm

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Last year at the Serenbe Playhouse, a 6,000-pound helicopter landed on stage each night for Miss Saigon. This spring the playhouse’s founder built an entire drive-in theater.
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Get dizzy at Tallulah Gorge State Park

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
On Hurricane Falls Trail, take the 600-plus stairs down into this spectacular 1,000-foot canyon, cross the suspension bridge, behold six waterfalls, then ascend hundreds of leg-torching stairs on the other side, and savor your pride.
50 Best Things To Do in Georgia what to do in Georgia

Witness the toll of Civil War battle in Andersonville

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The largest and most notorious of Civil War prisons, Camp Sumter had a short but deadly history: Nearly 13,000 of the 45,000 Union soldiers died, mostly of starvation and disease.
50 Best Things To Do in Georgia what to do in Georgia

View Macon’s cherry blossoms from the top of the Hay House

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Completed in 1859 in Italian Renaissance Revival style, this elaborate residence was the “smart” house of its day.
Honda Battle of the Bands

Experience “showtime” at the Honda Battle of the Bands

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
At the annual showcase of the country’s best HBCU bands, high-stepping drum majors with plumed hats and drill canes perform spins and splits, sequined majorettes and dance squads execute fierce routines, and the crowd roars and dances in their seats.
Peaches at Pearson Farm

Eat a peach at Pearson Farm

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
This is the Peach State, after all, and you’ll experience it best by going straight to the source.
50 Best Things To Do in Georgia what to do in Georgia

Catch a flick under the stars at Swan Drive-In

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
One of only four drive-ins still operating in Georgia, the Swan Drive-In Theatre opened in 1955 in tiny Blue Ridge.
Dragon Con/Trader Vic's

Ogle the Dragon Con costumes (or show off your own) at Trader Vic’s

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Our fave spot to eyeball the Dragon Con crowd: Trader Vic’s, a festive tiki bar located on the lower level of the Hilton.
Chattahoochee

Tackle a Class V rapid on the ’Hooch

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
After some man-made channels and rapids were engineered, the 2.5-mile stretch became the world’s longest urban whitewater course, featuring a whooshing rapid called Cut Bait, the biggest wave east of the Colorado.
Center for Civil and Human Rights

Pull up to the lunch counter at Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
In the 1960s thousands of peaceful protesters risked violence and arrest to desegregate Atlanta’s lunch counters.
Madison in May

Admire Madison’s white columns in May

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
The best time to admire Madison’s pristine Greek Revival, Romanesque Revival, and Victorian architecture is during the annual Tour of Homes & Gardens in May.
Yoder's Deitsch Haus

Chow down on pie at Yoder’s Deitsch Haus

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
On a backroad through the fertile farmland near Montezuma, find Yoder’s, a cafeteria and local gathering spot for a community of Mennonites.
Buford Highway

Drive (and eat) along Buford Highway

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Don’t let the drab strip malls fool you; Atlanta’s most soulful dining experiences can be found along this corridor.
50 Best Things To Do in Georgia what to do in Georgia

Witness a rare diamorpha bloom on Arabia Mountain

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Stone Mountain isn’t the only enormous granite monadnock around.
White Oak Pastures

Eat a steak fresh on the farm at White Oak Pastures

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Will Harris’s family farm in southwest Georgia, White Oak Pastures, is the largest organic farm in the state and has gained nearly every accolade for sustainable farming techniques.
ATLiens

Listen to “ATLiens” at the Sound Table

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
At the Sound Table, a hip restaurant and music venue on Edgewood Avenue near downtown, a local DJ spins almost every night of the week.
Northwest Georgia fall leaves

Admire a blanket of autumn color in northwest Georgia

ATLANTA MAGAZINE  JUNE 7, 2017
Winding through the mountains on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest, State Route 52 drips with deciduous jewels in fall: golden-yellow oaks and ginkgoes, deep-purple sweetgums, blazing-red maples.

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Article courtesy of AtlantaMagazine.com