11 Reasons to Keep Georgia on Your Mind

In 1930, when Stuart Gorrell wrote the lyrics to "Georgia on my Mind," he was penning an ode to his sister, Georgia Carmichael. Thirty years later, Ray Charles sang the tune and in 1979, it became Georgia’s state song. Although the lyrics might not have originally been intended to describe the state, the song fits, as once you visit Georgia, it’s hard to shake this Southern place of beauty from one’s mind. Known as the backdrop of the famous Margaret Mitchell novel, Gone With the Wind (it was written in Georgia), and as the host to the 1996 Summer Olympics, vacationers can see everything from mystical swamps and gorgeous beaches to quirky statues and even a hospital for Cabbage Patch dolls. Welcome to the Peach State.
By: Jennifer Frazier
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Photo By: Ralph Daniel

Photo By: Ralph Daniel

High Art in Atlanta

The High Museum of Art is one of those places you can visit repeatedly and it will never grow old. That’s because it features an extensive collection (both permanent and rotating), including more than 11,000 works of American, European, African, decorative and folk art, as well as photography and mixed mediums. Known locally as The High, this museum is the leading art museum in the country’s Southeastern region, not only because of its collection, but also because of its world-famous architecture. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Beachfront Mystery on Jekyll Island

When you visit this magical beach, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped in a movie set because it seems almost too beautiful to be real. Fact is, there’s no smoke and mirrors here, just the beauty of Mother Nature. Located on the north end of Jekyll Island, Driftwood Beach will amaze you with the mystical driftwood remnants and bent-over trees and exposed roots that resemble a mysterious, hidden gem. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Food With Attitude in Atlanta

When you visit The Varsity, a classic fast food joint, be prepared for greasy (but delicious) burgers, fries and hot dogs, but that’s not all. Get ready to have insults flying at you, as workers here scream, "What’ll you have?" the minute you reach the counter. And if your order isn’t ready, don’t even bother approaching, as you’ll feel shamed for not being prepared. It’s part of a ritual that’s been going on since the 1920s, and one you should never miss when in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Ride the Wave in Columbus

When it comes to rafting the Chattahoochee River, which flows through downtown Columbus, you can choose wild or totally mild. As the longest whitewater course in the world, the stretch of river offers brave roaring rapids, as well as calmer floats. And you can go on your own or choose from one of many guided rafting companies. But no matter what, you’ll have a blast. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

A Presidential Experience in Plains

The city of Plains is Jimmy Carter country. Every landmark in this tiny town tells a story of where the 39th president left his mark. From the 1888 Plains Depot, which served as the headquarters for Jimmy Carter's Presidential campaign in 1976, to the modest home where he spent his boyhood, expect to get a glimpse of his life, as well as a possible sighting of him, since he and his wife, Rosalynn, still reside in Plains. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

On the Rails in Blue Ridge

Sometimes the best way to take in the beauty of Mother Nature is to sit back and let someone else do the driving. Whether you want to see the oranges and yellows of fall’s changing leaves, or the brightly colored blooms of spring, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, featuring a restored train, is the best way to take in the sites along Toccoa River. The 3.5-hour, 26-mile route allows a stop on the way and the ideal chance to enjoy the beauty of the South. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Drink Up in Atlanta

In the seventies, Coca Cola blasted a campaign about their drink, singing, "I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony." This advertising campaign might have been decades ago, but the sugary beverage still makes our hearts sing. Learn more about the drink, its roots and some other funky facts at Atlanta’s World of Coca Cola, and quench your thirst for fun (that’s their slogan!). Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

A Swampy Wonderland in Folkston

You may never learn how to spell it, or pronounce it, for that matter. But once you experience the Okefenokee Swamp firsthand, it will remain engrained in your mind. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a drippy, mysterious cypress forest is filled with wildlife and gorgeous flora, is located about 11 miles southwest of Folkston and was established in 1937 to preserve the 438,000 acre Okefenokee Swamp. Encompassing about 403,119 acres, this place will have you mystified. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

A Nutty Visit in Ashburn

In some circles, peanuts aren’t given due respect. Just consider the phrase, "He only works for peanuts!" Well, this isn’t the case in Ashburn, where the world’s largest peanut statue reigns supreme. Other cities in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas have tried to compete with the magnitude of this impressive statue, erected in 1975, but none compares to this one, which stands at approximately 20 feet tall. Visit it off Interstate 75, about a half of a mile south of exit 82. Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Baby, Baby in Cleveland

It’s not often that one gets to witness the birth of a baby. Here’s your chance. Make your way to Cleveland’s BabyLand General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Doll. Sitting on 650 acres in the gorgeous mountains of Georgia, this is where you can witness a Cabbage Patch birth under the Magic Crystal Tree and adopt a "baby" to take home, with the help of a LPN (Licensed Patch Nurse) or doctor. Creepy to some, sweet to others, this unexpected attraction is a site you won’t forget. Photo courtesy of Original Appalachian Artworks Inc.

A Lesson in Gratitude at Americus

You know that old saying about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? Well, it reflects back to many people not being grateful for what they have and instead being envious of others – think bigger houses or nicer cars. Visit Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village and Discovery Center for a good dose of reality. Where you are isn’t half as bad as it is for many folks. In the Center’s Poverty Section, you can see what this generous foundation builds (in the form of replica homes), as well as the shacks they aim to eliminate. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity International.