20 Fun Getaways for Fall

By Kathy Kantorski

Day in and day out, you do your best to eat healthy and get some exercise. Why abandon your hard work on vacation? These trips, all within a few hours’ drive of Atlanta, have a fitness bent to them that will help you feel great while having fun. Whether you choose horseback riding, kayaking at sunset or foraging for a wild meal, you’ll return from vacation that much closer to your goals of fitness, health and happiness.

20 Fun Fall Activities Near Atlanta

Have an Adventure

Thrill seekers unite! These three destinations will satisfy your adrenaline cravings.

Banning Mills
Drive time: 45 minutes

Soar up to 60 miles per hour over the lost gorge and the ghost town of Banning at Banning Mills Resort and Adventure Park. This family-owned conservancy features more than 100 zip lines and a multitude of sky bridges, along with a 100-foot power free fall, aerial challenge courses, kayaking, hiking, biking and even sleeping in treehouses. historicbanningmills.com

Drive time: 1.6 hours

This Georgia town is a new hotspot for whitewater kayakers. Its 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River features Class I to Class V rapids, along with a Lazy River. And what makes this rafting destination unique is its urban location – exit the river and bike or skate along the city’s 20-mile river walk, offering live music, food, boutiques and more. visitcolumbusga.com

001Amicalola Falls and Unicoi State Park
Drive time: 1.75 hours

Newly introduced adventure-lodge experiences await at these state parks in the North Georgia mountains. Both offer treetop zip lines, GPS scavenger hunts, 3-D archery and climbing walls, and both are designated GoPro Parks, with classes and a rental program enabling guests to make an entertaining record of their day using the action camera mounted on a bike, kayak or helmet. Amicalola Falls also features guided hikes and fitness trail runs, survivalist camping and a birds-of-prey experience, while Unicoi adds lessons in fly fishing, paddleboarding, kayak fishing and primitive camping under the stars. gaadventurelodge.com


Climb A Mountain
If you think “The higher the altitude, the better,” check out these getaways, in order of distance.

Callaway Gardens
Drive time: 1.25 hours

Located in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Callaway Gardens is a man-made nature retreat for the purpose of connecting people with nature in ways that benefit both. The area features four lodging options along with activities such as a butterfly center, daily birds of prey shows, treetop zip lines and obstacle courses, geocaching (a real-world treasure hunt), beach and water sports, golf and, of course, plenty of gardens to tour. callawaygardens.com

002Town of Blue Ridge
Drive time: 1.5 hours

This cozy mountain town offers easy access to the Aska trail system, which features 17 miles of walking and biking trails. In October, visit the nearby Georgia Apple Festival, which includes food, art, crafts and more from hundreds of vendors, or catch a movie under the stars at the Swan Drive-In Theatre, built in 1955. If you decide to stay overnight, Escape to Blue Ridge (escapetoblueridge.com) offers a wide selection of cabins with great views and amenities. cityofblueridgega.gov

Snowbird Mountain Lodge
Drive time: 2.5 hours

Celebrating its 74th season, the Snowbird Mountain Lodge offers majestic views and warm accommodations. Hike, horseback ride, do yoga, mountain bike, fish and canoe, or go for the unique experiences of wildflower walks or night walking with synchronous fireflies. The lodge closes for the season on November 29. snowbirdlodge.com

003Bryson City
Drive time: 3 hours

Take a break from the gym and take a fitness trip to the Smoky Mountains instead—Bryson City, North Carolina, to be exact. The city offers a two-day get-fit itinerary that involves jogging past waterfalls and through woods, paddleboarding, a sunset kayak tour, mountain biking and a one-hour massage to cap off the trip. www.greatsmokies.com

Singletree Gun and Plough Resort
Drive time: 5.5 hours

Nestled in the city of Danbury, N.C., this 1,000-acre family-owned wilderness resort offers lodge rooms or private cabins. Eight miles of private hiking trails are offered for guests of the resort only, but you can also visit the adjacent Hanging Rock State Park for 26 more miles of hiking trails, including five waterfalls and a 12-acre lake for fishing, boating and swimming. Additional activities include zip lines, fly fishing and tubing. We recommend you cap off the day watching the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip moonshine on the lodge’s front porch. singletreegunandplough.com



004Primland Resort
Drive time: 5.75 hours

Let the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains take your breath away as you sleep not just under the sky, but in it, in one of Primland Resort’s three treehouses. Or you can opt to stay on the ground in the mountain homes, cottages and other lodging options of this 12,000-acre mountain resort, offering activities such as golf, disc golf, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, nature walks, sporting clays, off-road adventures, archery, swimming, tennis and stargazing from the resort’s observatory. primland.com


Get Cultured
These destinations offer the perfect combination of history and activity for those looking to stretch their bodies and expand their minds.

Drive time: 1.15 hours

Home to the largest hard-rock gold mine east of the Mississippi (and site of the first major U.S. gold rush), Dahlonega is a historic quaint mountain town in the heart of Georgia wine country, just over an hour north of Atlanta. Enjoy panning for gold and gemstones, visiting the heritage museums and touring the town, with its arts scene and gold-medal wineries. Or crank the activities up a notch with hiking, kayaking, bicycling, mountain biking, golfing, hunting, fishing and camping. dahlonega.org

005Biltmore Estate
Drive time: 3.25 hours

In 1895, George Vanderbilt built this 250-room chateau in Asheville, N.C., which stands today as the largest home in America. The home’s gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the backdrop. Outdoor activities include fishing, horseback riding and bike rentals, and visits to the nearby Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery are popular highlights of this trip. biltmore.com

006The Brice Hotel
Drive time: 3.5 hours

A new addition to Savannah, Ga., The Brice Hotel overlooks Emmet Park and the Savannah River in the city’s historic River District. The four-star boutique hotel is pet friendly, and offers PUBLIC Bikes so guests can spin around the city. Its inviting brick courtyard, called the Secret Garden, is charmingly strung with lights, and a nightly social hour with free wine is held in the lobby. bricehotel.com


Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Foodies and wine enthusiasts will treasure these getaways that leave you well fed and feeling great.

007Chateau Elan Winery and Resort
Drive time: 45 minutes

Just a quick drive to Braselton, northeast of Atlanta, Chateau Elan is a 3,500-acre vineyard featuring healthy dining, a European health spa and 63 holes of golf with courses for beginners to champions. While you’re there, check out the resort’s Night Golf, a walking course event with glow-in-the-dark balls, flagsticks and tee markers lighting the course. chateauelan.com

White Hills Herb Farm
Drive time: 2 hours

Lisa Kessler, a former instructor at the Medical College of Georgia, now runs this sustainable herb farm in Dearing, just outside of Augusta. She welcomes guests to her 1890s farmhouse and offers tours of the fragrant lavender farms as well as lessons in producing field-to-product balms or lavender-infused oils, creating the perfect herb rub or pot of tea. whitehillsherbs.com

Paradise Hills Winery Resort
Drive time: 2 hours

The Lander family, originally from Northern Maine and Belgium, moved to Blairsville, Ga., in 2002 to open and run this winery resort. Situated on a mountain ridge, Paradise Hills offers cabin rentals, a spa and a family farm winery. The area is also popular for outdoor activities such as fishing, rafting, canoeing, hiking and horseback riding. paradisehillsresort.com

White Oak Pastures
Drive time: 2.75 hours

This cherished, sustainable family farm just opened its doors in August to diners and lodgers. Guests can stay in cabins or book a room in the Pond House. Every other Saturday, the farm will host classes, such as a seed starting class on Sept. 6. Additional offerings include guided horseback trail rides, farm tours led by a member of the Harris family, fishing in the farm’s ponds, skeet shooting and, of course, the incredible farm-to-table dining. whiteoakpastures.com

No Taste Like Home
Drive times: 3.5 hours

Take a foraging trip with this culinary travel group. No Taste Like Home partners with three hotels to offer foraging-for-fitness packages through October. The excursions include a woodland “shopping spree” where you gather wild mushrooms and other edible plants. Picnic, then enjoy fine dining at one of the group’s lodging partners (including the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.) as the chefs there cook up your “catch of the day.” notastelikehome.org


Go Where Life’s A Beach
If the sun and sand are calling your name, try these trips!

Hilton Head Health
Drive time: 4.15 hours

Already a top retreat for weight loss and wellness, Hilton Head Health recently underwent a transformation and now features a new spa and art gallery, and program changes including educational speakers. The wellness resort’s focus is combining health with nature, and it features such activities as kayaking, a daily sunrise beach walk, paddleboard yoga, daily cooking classes, golf, tennis and more. The retreat is located within Shipyard Plantation, an 800-acre gated resort and residential community on Hilton Head Island. hhhealth.com

008Jekyll Island Holiday Inn Resort
Drive time: 4.75 hours

After a $20 million rebuild, the Holiday Inn Jekyll Island opened its doors earlier this year, and guests have been flocking to its 1,200 square feet of unobstructed beachfront space on the historic Jekyll Island, which itself is undergoing a revitalization. Amenities at the new resort include a fitness center, kids club, nightly entertainment and more, and guests can also enjoy multiple water activities, golf, tennis, biking and nature-based excursions. hijklresort.com

009Sea Island
Drive time: 4.75 hours

The Lodge and The Cloister are resorts on Sea Island, and both have been ranked among the Top 10 resorts in the U.S. by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. Needless to say, this is a high-quality getaway for families, outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to simply refresh and recharge. Sea Island features five miles of private beach with horseback riding and open-sea kayaking, tennis and squash centers, a yacht club, a shooting school and three championship golf courses including Seaside, the site of the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic. seaisland.com

010Emerald Coast
Drive time: 4.75 hours

It’s time to revisit Florida’s Emerald Coast. With St. Joe Club & Resorts, your weekend could include: biking the Timpoochee Trail, which links each town’s art galleries, cafes, a popular food truck stop and beach access points; kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding across Western Lake; playing a round of golf on the Greg Norman-designed Shark’s Tooth course; hopping on a pontoon boat at Bay Point Marina and fishing for snapper, grouper and scallops in the Gulf, then cruising over to Shell Island to enjoy lunch on the beach; and ending the day next to a bonfire on the beach. stjoeclub.com


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