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5 incredible beach vacation spots near Atlanta

Before you know it, the temperatures will rise, the sun will stay out and you’ll be craving some time at the beach.

» RELATED: 5 best beaches near Atlanta: Where to play, stay and eat

While you may dream of flying off to California, Hawaii or the Caribbean for an exotic holiday, you don’t have to break the bank to catch some rays and cool off by the sea.

Nearby beaches are great for a quick and easy long weekend getaway. Whether you’re taking the family or planning for a romantic weekend with your significant other, you’ll find the relaxation and tranquility you deserve.

» RELATED: No ocean, no problem: 7 refreshing lake beaches near Atlanta

Here are five of the best beach vacation spots within just a few hours of Atlanta.

1. Tybee Island, Georgia 

This old-school 1920's beach cottage on Tybee's original cottage row has a tin roof and a white picket-fenced yard – all less than 100 steps from the beach! (Belinda Hall)

You don’t have to cross state lines to have a relaxing beach experience. 

Just off the coast of Savannah, this small and friendly barrier island combines history with tranquil relaxation. Tybee Island retains its historic street grid as well as a unique architectural style, the Tybee raised cottage. There are many of these historic cottages scattered throughout the island. 

From the historic charm to the picturesque beaches, Tybee is the perfect escape.

» RELATED: A dozen beaches within driving distance of Atlanta

There are several great places for couples or families to stay when visiting the island. DeSoto Beach Hotel is located right next to the sea, featuring oceanfront rooms. Prices start at around $115 per night. Hotel Tybee is another top option and it’s slightly more affordable. Situated along the beach as well, rooms start under $100 per night.

Time to get there: Approximately 4 and a half hour drive

2. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

If you’re looking for chartered cruises, water sports and nearby golfing, consider Hilton Head Island. The charming little harbour town is sure to impress as well, providing a picturesque background for your mini-vacation.

Sonesta Resort provides a luxurious and comfortable place to stay, with rooms starting at $165 per night. Located on the beach, the resort also features great on-site dining options. Another good option is the The Beach House, with rooms starting at about $120 per night. The property offers private beach access and a cool on-site beach bar featuring live music.

Time to get there: Approximately 4 and a half hour drive

» RELATED: The 10 best beaches in the world for 2018, according to TripAdvisor

3. St. Simons Island, Georgia 

(Bita Honarvar / AJC file photo)

For those searching for pristine, undisturbed beachfront, look no further than St. Simons Island located right here in the peach state. If you’re interested in historic haunted spots, a trip through the town will definitely capture your attention. Make sure to swing by the 1872 lighthouse, just keep and eye out for ghosts!

Ocean Walk Resort E12 is a great, homey place to stay with prices starting at about $145 per night. Although the property is a 15 minute walk from the beach, it provides free bikes and features on-site swimming pools. The Holiday Inn Express is also a good option, although it’s located just a short drive from the island. Rooms start at about $145 per night.

Time to get there: Approximately 5 hour drive

» RELATED: Dog-friendly beaches in Georgia

4. Destin, Florida

The beach in front of the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa in Sandestin, a 2,400-acre resort in South Walton in the Florida Panhandle. ((HANDOUT/Blake Guthrie))

There’s a reason the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida is called the Emerald Coast, and Destin is no exception. With more than 20 miles of white sand and clear green-blue water, you'll feel so relaxed you won’t want to go home when your trip is done This city is also full of shops and restaurants worth exploring.

If you want a private beach right outside your door, stay at the SunDestin Beach Resort by Wyndham. Vacation rentals start at $125 per night. A quality budget option is the Hampton Inn and Suites, situated just a 15-minute walk from Miramar Beach. Room rates start at about $100.

Time to get there: Approximately 5 and a half hour drive

5. Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama 

(The Hangout in Gulf Shores is an open-air beach bar and restaurant and the site of many annual festivals. PHOTO CREDIT: Blake Guthrie (For the AJC))

Festival fans may enjoy a short escape to the twin cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama. The beach area features several festivals throughout the year, providing an added incentive to head to the coast. 

The Hangout Music Festival runs from May 18-20, the National Shrimp Festival takes place between Oct. 11 and 14 and the Oyster Cook Off and Craft Beer Weekend happens in November. Of course, even if you can’t make it to those event, just heading over to enjoy the coastline is a great idea as well.

Palm Beach Resort is situated right on the beach, providing a relaxing place to spend your time. Rooms start at $135. A more affordable option is the Hilton Garden Inn, with quality rooms as low as $110.

Time to get there: Approximately 5 and a half hour drive

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