6 beaches near Atlanta: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

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Best beaches near Atlanta

The biggest city in Georgia, Atlanta is known for its prominent history in the civil rights movement, a lively urban environment, and a thriving hip-hop scene. What it's generally less known for is beaches. After all, it's a very long way from downtown Atlanta to the Georgia coastline, and there's so much to see and do in Atlanta itself that heading to the beach might not be the first thing on your mind.

However, Atlanta summers are long and hot, and the city's urban sprawl can start to get you down after a while. When you find yourself needing to recharge your batteries, heading to the best beaches near Atlanta can be a great way to get rejuvenated and refresh your energy. Whether it's a tranquil lakeside beach in the Georgia backcountry or the beautiful white sand beaches of the coast, the perfect beach getaway is an ideal way to see more of Georgia outside the big city.

Before heading to the beach, make sure you travel light by leaving your bags behind at a Bounce luggage storage in Atlanta. Take only what you need to the best beaches near Atlanta, and you'll have a much better time on your trip. With so many different beaches to choose from, you have tons of options here, so bring only the essentials to enjoy these excellent beaches near Atlanta.

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Lake Lanier beaches near Atlanta

Mary Alice Beach Park

It might be a long way from Atlanta to the coastline of Georgia, South Carolina, or Florida's Panama City Beach, but a trip to the beach doesn't have to mean going all the way to the ocean. Just a short distance from Atlanta, you'll find some great lakes that offer some of the best beaches near Atlanta, GA, but won't take all day and then some to get there. This small but charming beach park is a great place to hit if you want to get some of that beach vibe without straying too far from the city.

Travel distance from Atlanta

It's only 42 miles from downtown Atlanta and the CNN Center to this popular park. That means you can get there in about 40 minutes by car. This makes it one of the best beaches near Atlanta for a day trip, and it's close enough that you could visit after work if you wanted to.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: Located on Lake Lanier, this park has a summer beach that is a great place for a swim. The water can be chilly, but that only makes it more refreshing in the heat of an Atlanta summer. There are no lifeguards on duty, so be careful as you swim. However, the calm water and beautiful forest surroundings make this a great place to cool off and enjoy the water. There are also public bathrooms available, so you can comfortably spend all day here.

Paddleboarding: Did we mention the calm water? This park is a great place for paddleboarding, though there are no rental facilities in the park, so you'll need to bring your own. The water also makes an ideal place for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, with three boat ramps to choose from to launch your craft. That makes this one of the best beaches near Atlanta for enjoying a boat ride.

Picnic: This popular park offers picnic facilities, but you may want to get there early to reserve a spot. Fully equipped with tables and grills, the facilities are a great place to cook food you brought from home or even grill up some fish you caught in the lake if you get lucky. Still, it's probably better to bring something from home just in case you strike out on the water.

Mary Alice Park is a wonderful place to get away from it all at any time of year. Although you probably won't be swimming in the cold waters of the lake during winter, the forest trails of the park are a great place to explore at any time of year, and in the off-season, you'll have the beach more or less yourself. Anytime you're looking for a breather from Atlanta, consider this nearby park as a good option.

Acworth Beach near Atlanta

Acworth

Another lakeside destination that's easy to reach from the city, Acworth offers some of the best beaches near Atlanta. Ideal for day trips, water sports, and just taking a relaxing break, Acworth makes the perfect getaway from this busy city.

Travel distance from Atlanta

Acworth lies 32 miles north of Atlanta, so expect to take around half an hour to reach the beaches here.

Activity recommendations

Cauble Beach: This 25-acre lakefront park offers a beautiful white sand beach that's the perfect place for swimming, sunbathing, and just hanging out. There are also picnic facilities and boat launches if you want to get out on the water. Popular with families, this is a great place to come during the summer to enjoy the warm weather and take a break from the city. It's easily one of the best beaches near Atlanta, especially given how easy it is to reach.

Cobblestone Golf Course: On the shores of Lake Acworth, this beautiful golf course is the perfect place to get a round in and enjoy the natural surroundings. You can rent clubs and a buggy at the clubhouse and take on this beautiful course, providing a great way to enjoy the Atlanta summer and get out of the city for a while.

Logan Farm Park: This lovely wooded area is full of nature trails that wind their way through the trees along with the river that feeds into the lake. If you want to stretch your legs and get some steps in during your beach vacation, this is the place to do it. There are also open lawns that are great for outdoor sports and even a playground to keep the kids occupied.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island

Some of the best beaches near Atlanta are on local lakes. But if only the coast will do, you're in luck. It's a substantial drive from Atlanta to the coast of either Georgia or South Carolina, more suitable for a weekend getaway than a day trip. But if you do make it out to the coast, you'll be treated to some truly breathtaking beaches, lively towns, and stunning natural environments that make the trip well worthwhile.

Hilton Head Island is a great example of this. One of the easiest coastal beaches near Atlanta to get to, this beautiful island offers tons of recreational activities and is a must-visit for anyone with a little more time on their hands.

Travel distance from Atlanta

It's around 280 miles from central Atlanta to this rugged island on the South Carolina coast. Expect a drive of more than four hours to get here. However, there's more than enough to do here to keep you busy on a long weekend trip.

Activity recommendations

Coligny Beach: The most popular beach on Hilton Head Island and one of the most popular in South Carolina, this huge beach with its crashing waves is surrounded by bars, restaurants, and shops where you can get absolutely everything you need to enjoy your beach day. Although it gets crowded in the summer, there's usually enough room to find somewhere to stretch out and enjoy the coast, and the popularity of the beach means there are tons of recreational activities to enjoy, so this is one of the best beaches near Atlanta for fun activities like windsurfing, jet skiing, and swimming.

Tybee Island: Hilton Head isn't the only beautiful island in this area. Located close to Savannah, Georgia, Tybee Island and the charming coastal town that shares its name offers tons of beaches to explore and find your favorite. Tybee Island is also known for its lighthouse, the Fort Pulaski National Monument, and dolphin-watching experiences, so Tybee Island makes a memorable base for a weekend beach trip or even longer.

Island skiff adventure tours: Head out onto the water on a small boat and see more of what makes Hilton Head Island America's favorite island. Along the way, you'll encounter incredible wildlife, including the local bottlenose dolphins, which makes this an incredible place to explore for nature lovers and a great way to decompress from the busy city you will have left far behind.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island is one of Georgia's top coastal destinations and offers what are undoubtedly some of the best beaches near Atlanta, GA. This beautiful island is home to several beaches, each with its own unique character, so however you like to spend your beach time, you'll find something great to do here.

Travel distance from Atlanta

It's a hefty 320 miles from the center of Atlanta to Jekyll Island. That means you'll be driving for almost five hours, so make sure to take some breaks along the way. Still, if you have the time to spare, it's worth it to explore some of the best beaches near Atlanta, GA, and soak up the more laid-back atmosphere of Jekyll Island that provides a perfect contrast to busy Atlanta.

Activity recommendations

Driftwood Beach: Located on the north end of Jekyll Island, Driftwood Beach is one of the most visually appealing beaches near Atlanta. That's because of its gnarled trees that have been twisted and worn down by decades of rough weather. These beautiful trees are especially impressive at sunset, making Driftwood Beach ideal for photography.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center: If you want to encounter the local wildlife up close and personal, this is the place to do it. This rescue center for sea turtles will teach you all about this charismatic species and the ecosystem of the Georgia coast that supports them. It's a fantastic place to visit for animal lovers and for anyone with an interest in nature.

St. Simons Island beach getaway

St. Simons Island

Located right next to Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island is another popular place to visit for beaches near Atlanta, GA. Enjoy the scenery and settle into the relaxed island pace of life, and you'll feel like you've come a long way from the heart of the city.

Travel distance from Atlanta

It's not possible to reach St Simons Island from Atlanta on public transportation, so your only option if drive. The trip is long at about four and a half hours, but totally doable for a fun beach weekend away.

Activity recommendations

East Beach: The main beach of St. Simons Island, East Beach is the first place you should go for sun, sand, and surf. There are tons of activities here, from kiteboarding and beach biking to swimming and sunbathing. Lifeguards keep watch over East Beach during the summer, making this a great place to bring the family.

Fishing: The fertile waters off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina are exceptional places for fishing. Grab yourself a fishing license from a nearby tackle shop, and you can fish from the beach or go on a boat trip to engage in some ocean fishing.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach

This South Carolina beach is hardly a hidden gem. In fact, it's one of the busiest resorts in the hold the South. Still, if you want tons of options for activities, restaurants, and bars with legendary nightlife, this is a good place to consider.

Travel distance from Atlanta

It's around 360 miles from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach, so you'll spend a long time in the car - around six hours, in fact. For that reason, Myrtle Beach is better thought of as a destination for a weekend trip than a day trip from the city.

Activity recommendations

Sky Zone: This fast-paced adventure park is a great place to let the kids burn off some energy. Challenge yourself on the rides and games here, and you could easily spend a whole day enjoying what's on offer.

Shopping: Myrtle Beach is home to some incredible shopping destinations. Explore the fashion boutiques or outlets of this coastal city and get some retail therapy at one of the best beaches near Atlanta, GA.

Conclusion

Atlanta may be nowhere near the coast, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some fabulous beaches from here. Georgia's lake country offers some great beaches near the city, and if you're willing to travel a little further, you can enjoy incredible weekend trips from Atlanta to destinations like Tybee Island, St. Simons Island, and Driftwood Beach. In fact, if you're willing to go just a little further, you could even explore the tropical climate of Florida at Panama City Beach or the Gulf Islands National Seashore if you're looking for incredible ocean beaches.

As well as making ideal destinations for trips, these beaches offer some of the easiest ways to visit Atlanta on a budget because all you have to pay for are your refreshments and transportation. So drop off your bags and head to these sandy beaches to enjoy some of the best the South has to offer.

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