Even after the temperatures have cooled, nothing beats Covid cabin fever than a road trip. Atlanta is within five hours of the beach, the mountains, and long list of historic sites worth paying a visit. So pack your family’s bags and gas up your tanks, because we’ve zeroed in on five fantastic winter road trips for families that start in Atlanta, below.

Gatlinburg, Tn

Gatlinburg is a great basecamp for families who want to explore the miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but who are looking for entertainment, attractions, and a multitude of lodging options. And, since peak visiting season is Summer and Fall, you can get some outstanding deals when you book winter trips to the Smokies.

Don't Miss: Gatlinburg is home to Ober Gatlinburg, the only ski resort in Tennessee—which includes ice skating, snow tubing, and a tram ride—and a historical Arts & Crafts Community provides a nice alternative to the tourist boutiques that line the strip. Of course, there's also Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Aquarium of the Smokies, along with easy access to Dollywood (opening for the season mid-March) and plenty of live shows.

Where to Stay: Gatlinburg's consolidated booking tool makes renting a hotel room, cabin, condo or chalet a breeze, and you can check out their deals page for savings on lodging, dining, shopping, and attractions.

Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau
811 East Parkway, P.O. Box 527
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Online: gatlinburg.com

Tybee Island, Ga

Located just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, this Georgia barrier island has been a popular vacation spot since the late 1800s. Its wide, clean beaches with warm and gentle waves makes Tybee Island is the perfect escape for those who need a healthy dose of sand, sun and seaside bliss. In the winter, you can still expect cooler temperatures, but locals agree that the island slows down and is an ideal winter destination for those seeking a slower-paced getaway.

Don't Miss: With both shrimp and oyster season in full swing during the winter, Tybee is home to some of the freshest seafood around. Go to an oyster roast, plan a Low Country boil or simply grab a bucket of peel-and-eat shrimp. And, during the winter, you can go kayaking, deep-sea fishing, fossil hunting and even bird watching without breaking a sweat. Travelers craving a historic experience can visit some of the island’s most popular museums and attractions for free on Super Museum Sunday.

Where to Stay: Tybee is home to historic bed and breakfasts as well as a limited number of oceanfront hotels. Visitors can find great deals for their winter island getaway with these special offers for everything from lodging to experiences. Our favorite basecamp at Tybee is from an airbnb cottage in the historic South end of the island.

Tybee Visitor Center
802 1st St.
Tybee Island, GA 31328
Online: visittybee.com

Providence Canyon State Park & Columbus, Ga

Just over two hours from Atlanta in Lumpkin, you'll find an astonishing smaller version (but still very big version) of the Grand Canyon. And, with our frequently glorious and not too cold winter weather, you can explore it year-round. With more than 1,000 acres of deep, rocky canyons caused by poor farming practices in the 1800s, plus native wildflowers and vegetation, it's as cool as it is totally out of place in Georgia. A surefire way to both social distance and experience one of the state’s most amazing natural wonders, the park should be on your winter bucket list. to the free Infantry Museum at Fort Benning.

Don't Miss: You'll find old cars rusted-out along the rim of the canyon not far off the trail, and if you only have time (or endurance) for one or two hikes, be sure and check out canyons 4 and 5, which are known for their impressive colors. The park has several picnic areas, including covered tables and a playground. Make sure you bring whatever you want to eat because there isn’t any place remotely close to pick up food near the canyons.

Where to Stay: If you want to make a weekend of the trip—it's doable as a long day trip—your best bet for lodging is in nearby Columbus. In addition to lodging, you'll find the Coca Cola Space Science Center, a Lunchbox Museum, and a cool Riverwalk that hugs the banks of 15 miles of the Chattahoochee River.

Providence Canyon
8930 Canyon Road
Lumpkin, GA 31815
Online: gastateparks.org

Columbus Visitor Center
900 Front Ave.
Columbus, GA 31901
Online: visitcolumbusga.com

Chattanooga, Tn

Chattanooga is just under two hours from Atlanta, and you'll find museums, river cruises, loads of city tours, and an incredible Riverwalk—13 paved miles of shops, parks, restaurants, bars, and more that will keep you busy all weekend.

Don't Miss: You'll find an awe-inspiring underground waterfall (be sure to bundle up) at Ruby Falls, an old-school but still super cool Rock City, which hosts special themed weeks throughout the winter, and an impressive Creative Discovery Museum that your kids won't want to leave.

Where to Stay: The best-known lodging in Chattanooga is in the sleeper car of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, but you can also find remote cabins, historic bed and breakfasts, and plenty of hotel options to choose among. For a comprehensive overview, this should help.

Chattanooga Visitor's Center - Temporarily Closed due to Covid
215 Broad St.
Chattanooga, Tn
Online: visitchattanooga.com

Sapphire, Nc

Not far from Highlands and Cashiers is a family-friendly mountain community—only around 3 hours from Atlanta—that's home to a ski resort, plenty of dining, and beautiful hikes.

Don't Miss: Walk behind a waterfall at Dry Falls, ski Sapphire Valley resort day or night, or go for a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in nearby Bryson City.

Where to Stay: To be near the slopes, check here to explore Ski Sapphire Lodging. Or, to be centrally located near multiple trailheads, the Black Bear Lodge might be just the thing.

Sapphire Resort
127 Sapphire Valley Rd.
Sapphire, NC 28774
Online: sapphirevalleyresort.com



—Shelley Massey



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