4 Georgia destinations that may surprise you this winter

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to bundle up and stay home. Instead, you’ll find some worthy — and surprising — places to visit in Georgia. Winters in the Peach State lean toward the milder side, making it a great place to enjoy a getaway even when the temperatures drop. Whether you’re looking for something relaxing or more adventure, you’ll find a pleasant escape at these destinations.

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Credit: AtlantaTrails.com

Credit: AtlantaTrails.com

Blood Mountain

The highest peak on Georgia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail is Blood Mountain, which is between Dahlonega and Blairsville in the North Georgia Mountains. Reaching 4,458 feet, the mountain is an ideal spot for a winter day hike. To begin, head to the Byron Reece Trailhead close to Neels Gap. After about a mile, you’ll join the Appalachian Trail and follow it until you reach the Blood Mountain summit. This 4.3.-mile hike is challenging, but the views are well worth the effort. Just remember to check the weather before heading out, as snow could impact your journey.

Credit: Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau

Credit: Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau

Chattahoochee Riverwalk in Columbus

Approximately 1.5 hours southwest of Atlanta, Columbus offers a lot for visitors during the winter. A good place to start is the Chattahoochee Riverwalk, a 15-mile linear park alongside the river. Along the way, you can enjoy scenic views, take in the sounds of water rushing over the dams and enjoy the city’s heritage along the way. You also can take the RiverWalk GeoTour, and see who can find the geocaches scattered along the path, much like treasure hunt. The winner can claim a custom geo-coin.

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Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

During winter, Margaritaville at Lanier Islands turns into Snow Island, where you can hit the ice rink, go snow tubing, have a snowball fight or take a spin on carnival rides. You’ll also find warm spots to enjoy a bite to eat, roast marshmallows for s’mores, or enjoy a hot chocolate. If you want to extend your stay beyond the day, you can book a room at the Legacy Lodge.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens draws a lot of visitors during the spring when the azaleas are in full bloom as well as in the summer when people want an outdoor vacation. However, Callaway provides the perfect destination for a winter getaway. Visitors can enjoy the gardens without the crowds, and, although there won’t be a lot of plants in bloom, it’s still a great time to bike or walk the many trails. Plus, you’ll have a good selection of accommodations to choose from, ranging from The Lodge & Spa to one of the many cottages. This year, the annual Fantasy in Lights features Celebration Lake, a new experience featuring 30 dancing trees in honor of 30 years of the holiday event.

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