In search of Deep South soul, Gothic architecture and Atlantic Ocean beaches on Georgia and Carolinas holidays
Imagine hundreds of blush pink Indian azaleas in bloom at one of the oldest Romantic Gardens in the USA, driving under a huge fairytale arch of Spanish moss covered oaks or exploring wildlife-filled forests where the Civil War Battle of Utoy Creek began.
Visualise secret whispers between friends on the wide porches of Charleston’s chalky coloured antebellum mansions, a thousand stories from the cotton boom trickling through Savannah’s well-preserved downtown architecture and hundreds of years of history hidden inside weeping willows that line the pathways. Expect shrimp boats leaving at dawn to bring you mouthwatering seafood brunches, devilled eggs and grouper bites overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the South’s favourite honey man - Ted Dennard’s much-loved Savannah Bee Company. Georgia and Carolinas holidays are all about the sugar-coated and the pretty - there’s that Instagram-worthy photo of the iconic Forsyth Park fountain, sweet-tooth dreams come true inside Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola and the piercing song of tree frogs and katydids as you kayak the saltwater marshes of Greater Charleston.
Holidays to Georgia and Carolinas are unspoiled coastline, glittering Atlanta skyscrapers, hundreds of beautiful waterfalls and secret spots where iconic movies were filmed. There’s that tranquil Lake Lure location of Dirty Dancing’s legendary water-scene, Savannah’s Chippewa Square where Forest Gump sat on his bench philosophising over boxes of chocolate and Boone Hill Plantation, which served as Allie's summer home in ‘The Notebook.’ There’s good reason why the film industry flock to the South – it’s all gorgeous age-old oak trees, pretty cobblestoned sidewalks and extraordinary Georgian architecture.
If you want to experience the beautiful South, give one of our USA experts a call or pop into your local store and we’ll start crafting your dream holiday.
Georgia & The Carolinas holiday highlights
Atlanta has different skyscraper districts, each with their own character. Head to commercial Downtown to see City Hall, the CNN centre, Georgia Aquarium, the New World of Coca-Cola museum and the Centennial Olympic Park from the 1996 Olympic Games. Midtown is a popular nightlife area and also includes Piedmont Park and the Woodruff Arts Center. Buckhead is north of Midtown and an affluent commercial area, but it’s also a popular nightlife district and has Peachtree Battle, Lindbergh Center and the Governor’s Mansion. If you’re looking for history, in West Atlanta there’s the historic West End and Vine City.
Further north, soak up sweeping views from the lofty viewing points of Rock City Gardens, a tourist attraction on Lookout Mountain which was once most likely inhabited by American Indians. For more history, visit one of the city’s museums, including the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum or the Puppetry Arts Center. There’s also the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Chattahoochee River Fun Center. Legoland Discovery Center and Imagine It! The Children's Museum of Atlanta are ideal for little ones.
Head to Savannah’s Historic District to see cobbled streets, parks shaded with oak trees and manicured gardens; River Street is at the start and has numerous restaurants and shops, and on the far edge of the district there’s Forsyth Park, a large public space with a beautiful fountain, perfect for a picnic. Savannah’s 18th-Century City Market area is excellent for exploring, with an upstairs art centre, local galleries and shops to browse. If you’re into art, visit the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Telfair Museum of Art or the Jepson Center for Arts. A Savannah Cruise Ride or the free Savannah Belles Ferry crossings are perfect for seeing the city from the river, and the latter takes you over to Florida’s Hutchinson Island.
If you’re visiting North Carolina then pop to Asheville, a city with dozens of state parks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, to experience a unique arts scene and historic architecture. The River Arts District is a hub of galleries and museums where former factory buildings are now artists' studios. Visit the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence or see the Biltmore Estate containing Biltmore House, a huge 19th-century châteauesque mansion built by the Vanderbilt family which is the largest privately owned house in the USA.
On the coast in South Carolina you’ll find Charleston, the state’s oldest and largest city. Discover the beautiful Historic District, on a peninsula formed by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers; here you can visit the beautiful Battery & White Point Gardens with great views of the river and the elegant pastel-coloured antebellum houses along the promenade. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history by visiting the Charleston Museum, the Patriots Point Navel & Maritime Museum, historic military college at The Citadel and Fort Sumter, accessible by boat and known for 2 battles of the American Civil War including the first shots of the conflict. Head to the beautiful Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, a historic house on the Ashley River home to a swamp garden, flowers including camellias, daffodils and azaleas plus the resident peacocks.
South Carolina also has its share of pretty beaches. You can enjoy low-key Folly Beach or upmarket Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms just outside of Charleston’s Downtown area, or head to the famous Grand Strand. This 60-mile stretch of beaches includes Myrtle Beach, home to a boardwalk lined with arcades, souvenir stalls and restaurants. The adjacent Myrtle Beach State Park stretches along the Atlantic Ocean with several miles of forest.
Where is Georgia and The Carolinas?
Georgia is on southeastern USA, bordered by Tennessee and North Carolina to the north and Florida to the south. South Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean is to the east of Georgia and Charleston is found midway along the Atlantic Ocean coastline in a narrow valley of the western Appalachian Mountains. Getting around
The scenic beauty of Georgia and The Carolinas is best experienced on a self-drive holiday or one of our hand crafted Kuoni tours. If you are using public transport, Atlanta’s MARTA buses and rail services run throughout the city and suburbs; the DOT fare-free shuttle service runs through 24 Historic District stops in Savannah and Charleston has both bus and trolley systems in place for travellers. Inside the city limits you’ll also find taxis available.
Food & drink
Boil it, bake it, sauté it, gumbo it or stir-fry it… shrimp is the order of the day, as is barbecue – hickory smoked pork, slow-cooked beef or a plate of succulent ribs. Southern cuisine is also reimagined everywhere you go, whether combined with fresh catch-of-the-day, vegetables from nearby farms or innovative flavours inspired by international menus. Expect family-style dining and high-end eateries in the Historic District of Savannah, a stunning Tom Dixon designed sushi restaurant in Atlanta and plenty of delicious raw bars offering oysters and wine pairings in Charleston. Dine waterfront, beachside, downtown or on the river. There’s cheese grits and waffles for breakfast, crab cakes and surf ‘n turf for lunch and mouthwatering sheepshead for dinner - a flaky fish only found in southern Georgia. Barbecue still dominates the menu here; full of southern soul charm, and you shouldn’t go home without trying the infamous She-Crab soup, okra and Frogmore stew.