Get active: 5 nearby spots for an outdoor getaway this month

Now is a great time to get outside and enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer. With so many fantastic destinations nearby, you’ll find more than enough to do just two hours or fewer from Atlanta.

ExploreSmooth travel tips for seniors

Helen

Helen is in the North Georgia Mountains and has a Bavarian Alpine village rich with German traditions and food. It has a variety of activities to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast. Start by shooting the ‘Hooch with Cool River Tubing; you can float down the Chattahoochee River through downtown Helen.

At nearby Unicoi State Park, you can set out on several hiking trails or fly through the air on the Aerial Adventure course, which has 19 zip lines and nine suspension bridges. Another thrilling activity is riding the Georgia Mountain Coaster. If you’ve never been on an alpine coaster, you don’t want to miss this downhill experience.

One more must-do: Walk the Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail along the Chattahoochee River. This one-mile accessible trail runs from the south side of Helen to the Hardman Farm State Historic Site. Once here, you can take a guided tour of the historic home, or wander the grounds and take in the nearby barn — home of Nacoochee Dairy from 1910 through the mid-1920s — and other buildings.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Just across the Georgia-Tennessee state line, Chattanooga offers many ways to get outside and play downtown and beyond. You can bike, walk or run along the 13-mile Riverwalk that sits next to the Tennessee River.

Another fun option is to head to Lookout Mountain, where you can go underground at Ruby Falls, see seven states at once from Rock City, or ride up and down the mountainside on the Incline Railway. Before leaving Lookout Mountain, you also can stop in at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which offers approximately 80 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, rock climbing, and ranger-guided tours.

If you want to explore the area on the water, you can take a Tennessee River Gorge tour with River Gorge Excursions. This provides a glimpse of the area’s history and natural environment. Also, baseball fans can catch a game with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A Minor League Baseball Affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds.

Credit: Birds of Prey at Callaway Gardens

Credit: Birds of Prey at Callaway Gardens

Pine Mountain

Head southwest of the city to Pine Mountain. Start your outdoor exploration at Callaway Gardens, which has a wealth of outdoor attractions. The obvious starting point is one of the many gardens, but you can also bike through the floras, conquer the ziplines and obstacles at the TreeTop Adventure and Ziplines, hit the fairways and greens on two 18-hole golf courses, fish on the lake, or just relax on the beach.

More outdoor adventures await at nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, where you can hike more than 40 miles of trails, fish in the lake, go horseback riding, or go geocaching. If you want to extend your stay beyond a day, you’ll find more than 100 trailer, tent and RV campsites.

Animal lovers won’t want to miss Wild Animal Safari, home to hundreds of exotic animals who freely roam the 500-acre park. In addition to driving through the park to see the animals, visitors also can opt for a close animal encounter with a sloth or a reptile.

Augusta

While Augusta rightfully garners a lot of attention each spring when the PGA arrives for the Masters, this city east of Atlanta offers more than just golf. At the headquarters of the Professional Disc Golf Association, you can hone your skills on the same three courses as the professionals.

Another fun activity is taking a guided kayak tour on the waters of the Savannah River, which is part of Augusta’s River Region, in downtown Savannah. You can also take a guided tour on a replica canal cargo boat on the Augusta Canal. This is a great way to get a glimpse of the city’s history.

Cyclists and walkers will love traveling along the 7-mile North Augusta Greeneway Trail, which is just over the state border in South Carolina.

Mountain City

Located northeast of Atlanta, Mountain City offers plenty of outdoor activities that will keep you on the go. At Black Rock Mountain State Park, which is Georgia’s highest state park, you can hike 11 miles of trails, try to land a big one fishing, or take in the scenic views while picnicking at the summit visitor center.

Nearby Foxfire Museum provides an authentic look at life from a bygone era with its outdoor village of more than 20 historic log buildings. These buildings represent life from the 1820s to the 1940s. They’re filled with artifacts that showcase residents’ daily life.

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