Vastly different at each of its edges, Georgia – the largest state east of the Mississippi River – is in many ways the perfect distillation of everything the South has to offer. It’s a state of wild geographic and cultural extremes: right-leaning Republican politics lean against liberal idealism, small towns merge with gaping cities, northern mountains rise to the clouds and produce roaring rivers, while coastal marshlands teem with fiddler crabs and swaying cordgrass.
Atlanta is the state capitol and the region’s transportation hub, a sprawling metropolis with friendly neighborhoods alongside multinational corporations such as UPS and Coca-Cola (which celebrates itself with a glossy downtown museum). So start your trip in the city known as ‘the ATL,’ then road trip across the state to fall under the spell of Savannah’s live oaks, seafood, antebellum homes and humid nights. From here you’re close to the coastal barrier islands, a mix of ritzy resorts and nature preserves. Bring your tuxedo to Jekyll Island, and your hiking boots to Cumberland Island.
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Like a Southern belle with a split personality, this grand historic town revolves around formal antebellum architecture and unbridled public debauchery. It sits alongside the Savannah River, about 18 miles from the coast, amid Lowcountry swamps and mammoth live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.