Best Cheap Holiday Escapes Near Atlanta

December 14, 2013 7:00 AM

The outskirts of Atlanta are home to perfect locations to unwind in an affordable escape this holiday season. The TV/movie industry brings opportunities to visit famous filming sets, including zombie shows and past Oscar-nominated productions. Whether you want to explore Civil War sites, hit the hiking trails or even drive 17-ton tanks and bulldozers to fulfill a fantasy, you’ll find it. Treat yourself to a holiday trip in Georgia and enjoy nearby affordable experiences beyond the hustle and stress of the city.

Juliette, GA
The Whistlestop Cafe
443 McCraken St.
Juliette, GA 31046
(478) 992-8886

Juliette, Georgia is a quaint, sleepy Southern town made famous by the movies it has hosted throughout the years. The most recognized was the acclaimed “Fried Green Tomatoes,” with The Whistle Stop Cafe at its heart. Visitors can still order up the fried green tomatoes. The town dates back to 1882 and features the Old Mill Motorcycle Museum with its vintage bike displays, historic cemeteries and “Pickin on the Porch” weekly music jams with famous and not-quite-famous musicians from all over the South. Lodging for an overnight stay can be found in nearby Forsyth and Jackson.

Senoia, GA
Sonoia Welcome Center
68 Main St.
Senoia, GA 30276
(770) 727-9173

If you’re a fan of zombie movies, you’ll be thrilled to know that just outside of Atlanta, you can look for the cast and crew of AMC’s hit series in the streets of Senoia, a beautifully manicured historic town. If TV zombies are not included in your sightseeing desires; you’ll find much more. Southern history abounds with The Buggy Shop Museum, Main Street shopping and Starr’s Mill park. Area attractions nearby include the Calloway Gardens, the Red Oak Covered Bridge (which is the second longest in Georgia) and the Little White House Historic Site where President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away. A favorite attraction among the men is the nearby Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Culpepper House and the Veranda are two in-town B&Bs.

Madison, GA
Main Street Madison
132 N. Main St.
Madison, GA 30650
(706) 342-1251

One of the few cities that wasn’t burned to the ground in the Civil War, Madison gives you a look at the original Southern charm of the 1800s. It offers Antebellum mansions, a central town square that hosts community events, concerts, weddings and incomparable architecture and verdant landscapes. Explore the 204-year-old community with a walking or driving tour through downtown and the historic district. Visit nearby Hard Labor Creek State Park, Georgia’s largest, by going through tiny historic Rutledge, a town of 800 residents. Stay in farmhouse B&Bs and guest ranches while exploring historic homesteads and the rural farms that are a part of the locally grown and organic food movements.

Related:  Best Weekend Getaways In The Atlanta Area

Tank Town USA
10408 Appalachian Highway
Morganton, GA 30560
(706) 633-6072

“Drive Tanks, Crush Cars” is the motto of this escape from the day-to-day humdrum of real life, particularly for men who have no interest in browsing historic downtowns or Antebellum mansions. Fulfill the fantasy of commandeering a 17-ton tank or moving land with a bulldozer. An added bonus is the chance to crush cars on the tank course, with guidance in maneuvering each pass to destroy the car from all angles. You’ll need reservations to demolish the cars, and they are recommended, but not required to drive a tank. Ages seven and older will delight in celebrating their birthdays here, bachelorette parties will have a unique experience and corporate events give employees a thrill.

Sweet Water Creek State Park
1750 Mt. Vernon Road
Lithia Springs, GA 30122
(770) 732-5871

Known for its fishing and serenity, Sweet Water Creek is a true escape from the harried freeways and pace of the city. Within the park are the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill burned down in the Civil War; and a 215-acre reservoir for fishing, picnics and waterside lounging. Trails take you through high bluffs and forests. Canoes and kayaks are for rent. Nearby, see Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site and historic Douglasville.

Related: Ask An Atlanta Guide: Packing List For Your Next Campout

Di Chapman has been writing professionally for trade journals, audiobooks and a global business clientele since her early 20s. A coauthor of four books and a regular contributor to numerous blogs, she currently lives in the historic district of Roswell, Georgia, in the greater Atlanta area. Her work can be found at

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