Whether you can’t take off work for a whole week or you can’t afford a big vacation, you probably still want to at least go somewhere this summer. For those staying close to home, here are a few nice day trips you can take in only a couple hours. These places aren’t too far from Gainesville and offer a good time for someone on a budget.
Tallulah Gorge State Park in Rabun County
Distance from Gainesville: 45 miles
More info: www.gastateparks.org/tallulahgorge
Tallulah Gorge is a natural beauty found right here in north Georgia. The state park is only 45 minutes away from Gainesville and is a great destination for people who love the outdoors.
The main attractions of this area are the cascading waterfalls, along with various park activities that allow you to take in the land and have fun at the same time. You’ll find 20 miles of trails to hike, and there’s also a 1.7-mile paved path for bicyclists. But if you want to be closer to the water, the park also offers fishing and kayaking and even has a swimming beach. Other activities such as tennis, archery, picnicking and geocaching are also available. There is a $5 parking fee to enter.
Brasstown Bald in Towns County
Distance from Gainesville: 52 miles
If you want a good view from the sky without taking a plane ride, try visiting Brasstown Bald, about a 90-minute drive from Gainesville. The mountain is Georgia’s tallest, and from the top, visitors can see Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina when the weather is right. You can hike all the way up or take a shuttle. And you can even pack a sack lunch and enjoy a picnic at the visitors center. The cost to enter the center is only $5 per person for ages 16 and up.
But if the mountain itself isn’t satisfying enough, you can head over to Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa for some more activities, even if you aren’t spending the night. The resort offers golf, horseback trail-riding, hiking and fishing.
The Dillard House in Rabun County
Distance from Gainesville: 62.5 miles
More info: www.dillardhouse.com
Another fairly local mountainous destination is the Dillard House about an hour away. The view on the way is worth the drive. While the Dillard House does have an inn for those wanting to spend a few nights, it’s also famous for its restaurant. The service and food will show you just what it means to live in the South. Their homemade dishes are served “family-style,” which will leave you with a generous portion whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Dillard House also has horseback riding and a petting farm zoo available for people who are just visiting for a day.
Greenville, South Carolina
Distance from Gainesville: 103.6 miles
More info: www.visitgreenvillesc.com
About two hours away is the city of Greenville, S.C. If you’ve never been before, this summer is the time to go with a wide array of attractions, both indoors and outside. One of the activities to put on your to-do list is a visit to Falls Park on the Reedy. With no admission fee, this spot is perfect for those who just want to take in some fresh air with beautiful scenery. You can enjoy the bountiful flowers, have a picnic or play a game of frisbee at the park.
When you’re done, you can drive over to the Greenville Zoo, which offers animals such as red pandas and even a giant anteater. But if the zoo isn’t your cup of tea, head to the Greenville County Museum of Art. The museum is filled with pieces such as Federal portraits and contemporary abstractions, and it’s free.
Distance from Gainesville: 158 miles
More info: www.chattanoogafun.com
About 2« hours away is Chattanooga, Tenn., right across the state line. The town is a popular tourist destination of the South, and it will keep your whole day jam-packed. One way to see the city is by taking a ride on the Southern Belle Riverboat. The boat travels down the Tennessee River through the Chattanooga area.
Next, you might want to explore Ruby Falls. The 145-foot waterfall is located in a cavern within Lookout Mountain. But if you’d rather be up high than down low, you can enjoy the view from Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Known as the world’s steepest passenger railway, the ride climbs the mountain in trolley-style railcars. But to really experience the view from Lookout Mountain, you can fly in the air at Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding.
Another popular attraction is the Tennessee Aquarium downtown on the Tennessee River, which offers extensive freshwater and oceanic displays of aquatic wildlife.