Best Beaches Within Driving Distance from Atlanta: Worth the Drive
If you’re anything like us, there’s something about the sun, sand, and sea that feels like a warm embrace. Let’s be honest – is there anything more rejuvenating than a beach vacation?
- Why Beach Vacations?
Best Beaches Near Atlanta, Georgia
- Orange Beach, Alabama
- Pensacola Beach, Florida
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida
- Panama City Beach, Florida
- Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
- St. Simon’s Island, Georgia
- Tybee Island, Georgia
- Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
- Fort Yargo State Park Beach, Winder, Georgia
- Comparison and Choosing the Right Beach for You
The beauty of the coastal landscapes, the rhythm of the ocean waves, the feel of sand beneath your toes, and the sun’s healing touch – it’s all an unforgettable experience. And it’s an experience within your reach even if you’re based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Why Beach Vacations?
From the moment you step onto a beach, the world seems to fall away, and you find yourself immersed in a paradise of tranquility. Beach vacations have always been a favorite, and it’s no secret why. They provide an unrivaled opportunity to unwind, explore, and create lasting memories.
You can take long walks at sunrise, dive into the heart of the ocean, build sandcastles with your children, or simply enjoy a good book while soaking up the sun. Not only is it a joy for the soul, but also incredibly beneficial for mental and physical health.
A beach vacation is the perfect escape from the bustling city life of Atlanta and a delightful treat for the senses.
Best Beaches Near Atlanta, Georgia
And now to the good part! If you’re in Atlanta, you may be surprised to know that there are numerous beach options available to you within a few hours’ drive. That’s right, you’re closer to crystal-clear waters and sandy shores than you thought.
From the charming Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia to the family-friendly environment of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, there’s a place for every type of beach-goer near Atlanta.
Whether you’re an adventure junkie seeking water sports at Pensacola Beach, Florida, a nature enthusiast exploring the beauty of Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida, or just want to relax by the shore at Tybee Island, Georgia, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’re going to dive into some of the best beach destinations near Atlanta, Georgia, exploring what each one has to offer.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Just a five-hour drive from Atlanta, you’ll discover the charming coastal city of Orange Beach, Alabama. Known for its sandy white beaches and crystal-clear waters, Orange Beach is a paradise for beach lovers and a well-kept secret among Atlantans.
What sets Orange Beach apart from many other coastal destinations is its exciting blend of leisure and adventure. Families can delight in dolphin-sighting cruises, while adrenaline junkies can enjoy the thrill of deep-sea fishing, diving, and water sports.
And let’s not forget the fantastic seafood dining experiences and a vibrant nightlife that the town has to offer. Orange Beach is indeed a complete package, making it worth the drive from Atlanta.
Key Activities in Orange Beach
- Make sure to explore the Wharf, Orange Beach’s premier outdoor shopping center with a range of boutiques, dining options, and even a Ferris wheel.
- Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the Backcountry Trail, a beautiful network of trails offering a peek into Alabama’s diverse wildlife and landscapes.
Pensacola Beach, Florida
Another popular beach destination that Atlanta folks can reach within a six-hour drive is Pensacola Beach, Florida. Located on the Gulf Coast barrier island of Santa Rosa, Pensacola Beach is famous for its laid-back atmosphere, soft white sands, and warm, emerald-green waters.
The beauty of Pensacola Beach is in its simplicity. Here, you can slow down, soak up the sun, and let the sea waves wash away your stress. But there’s more to this place than just relaxation. Pensacola Beach also offers history buffs a treat with the nearby Historic Pensacola Village and the Pensacola Lighthouse.
Top Attractions in Pensacola Beach
- While at Pensacola Beach, make sure to take a walk along the Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier.
- You might also want to try out snorkeling and paddleboarding.
- You can visit Fort Pickens, a historic military fort on Santa Rosa Island.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Just under six hours away from Atlanta by car, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, greets you with its expansive, sandy shores and a skyline dominated by the iconic SkyWheel. Myrtle Beach, part of the Grand Strand – a 60-mile string of beaches, is a top-rated destination for families and groups.
Myrtle Beach is not just a beach; it’s a full-fledged resort city with tons of activities. Beyond the beach, there’s a world of live entertainment, water parks, award-winning dining, and shopping waiting for you. Plus, the town boasts some of the most stunning golf courses.
Fun Things to Do at Myrtle Beach
- When in Myrtle Beach, take a spin on the SkyWheel for a stunning view of the city.
- Explore the city’s many attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium, Broadway at the Beach, and Myrtle Waves Water Park.
- Don’t miss the chance to enjoy live shows at the Carolina Opry or Pirate’s Voyage Dinner & Show.
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida
About five hours away from Atlanta, Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida, offers over a mile of sugar-white sands and sparkling emerald waters. This nature preserve is a delightful departure from the often crowded beach resorts.
Henderson Beach State Park is all about pristine natural beauty and tranquility. Here, you can enjoy the beach the way it’s meant to be—quiet, peaceful, with only the sounds of waves and birds in the background. The park also has a pet-friendly campground, making it a perfect destination for the whole family.
Top Attractions at Henderson Beach State Park
- Don’t miss out on the nature trail that winds through the dunes, showcasing the local flora and fauna.
- The park also offers ample opportunities for fishing, picnicking, and camping.
Panama City Beach, Florida
A six-hour drive from Atlanta, Panama City Beach, Florida, is one of the most popular beach destinations on the Gulf Coast. Known for its 27 miles of beautiful white-sand beaches and exciting outdoor activities, Panama City Beach is a hub of excitement and relaxation.
Panama City Beach strikes a perfect balance between adventure and relaxation. It is as much a place for thrill-seekers who love water sports as it is for those seeking rest and relaxation under the Florida sun.
Not to mention, the city hosts one of the country’s biggest spring break parties.
Most Exciting Activities in Panama City Beach
- While you’re here, visit St. Andrews State Park for a day of snorkeling and fishing.
- Take a boat trip to Shell Island.
- Dive into fun at Shipwreck Island Waterpark.
- If you’re a fan of wildlife, don’t forget to check out Gulf World Marine Park.
- And as the sun sets, Pier Park offers a plethora of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
A hop, skip, and jump away from Atlanta at just about a five-hour drive, Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia, offers a unique and ethereal beach experience. It’s a true hidden gem, offering stark beauty with its iconic sun-bleached driftwood and fallen trees that line the shore.
What makes Driftwood Beach special is its surreal, haunting landscape, which offers some of the most unusual beach scenery in Georgia.
It’s an excellent spot for photography, quiet contemplation, and even bird watching. Visitors often feel like they’ve stepped into a different world, one that’s peaceful and untouched.
Best Experiences at Driftwood Beach
- While here, be sure to catch a sunrise or sunset, as the views are truly spectacular.
- The adjacent Jekyll Island Club Resort also offers horseback riding tours on the beach, an experience not to be missed.
St. Simon’s Island, Georgia
About a five-hour drive from Atlanta lies the picturesque St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, a serene beach town perfect for a weekend getaway. One of Georgia’s ‘Golden Isles,’ St. Simon’s is known for its historic landmarks, rich natural beauty, and charming beach town vibes.
St. Simon’s Island offers a unique mix of natural beauty, history, and southern charm. You can enjoy a day at the beach, explore the local art scene, or dive into the area’s history with a visit to the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum.
Best Places to Visit on St. Simon’s Island
- While you’re on the island, make sure to visit the St. Simon’s Island Pier for a scenic view, the historic Christ Church, and the Fort Frederica National Monument.
- Don’t forget to take a bike tour of the island to enjoy its lush landscapes and tranquil beaches.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island, Georgia, located less than a five-hour drive from Atlanta, is a quintessential beach town with a unique character. Known for its sandy beaches, historic sites, and a lighthouse that offers panoramic views, Tybee Island is a delightful coastal escape.
At Tybee Island, you can enjoy the warmth of the Georgia sun, take a dolphin tour, visit historic sites, and even try local seafood delicacies. The relaxed pace of life here lets you enjoy beach life at its best.
Key Activities on Tybee Island
- Top attractions include the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, Fort Screven, and the Marine Science Center.
- And of course, you can’t leave Tybee Island without a leisurely walk on the South Beach, popular for sunbathing and dolphin watching.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Located a little over four hours from Atlanta, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is an upscale beach destination known for its golf courses, tennis facilities, and beautiful beaches.
Hilton Head is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and those who appreciate a blend of luxury and natural beauty.
Hilton Head Island offers miles of pristine beaches, a vibrant arts scene, and a host of outdoor activities that make it an ideal destination for a family vacation or a romantic getaway.
From its renowned golf courses to its nature preserves, Hilton Head Island offers a refined coastal experience.
Must-Visit Places on Hilton Head Island
- While there, make sure to check out Coligny Beach Park, Sea Pines Forest Preserve, and the Harbour Town Lighthouse.
- For those who love the outdoors, you can bike, kayak, or hike on the many trails that crisscross the island.
- And don’t forget to enjoy a round of golf at one of the island’s world-class golf courses.
Fort Yargo State Park Beach, Winder, Georgia
Just an hour’s drive away from Atlanta, Fort Yargo State Park Beach, Winder, Georgia, is an excellent choice for a quick day trip. This man-made beach located within Fort Yargo State Park offers a different kind of beach experience for those seeking a break from the ocean waves.
Fort Yargo State Park Beach offers a freshwater beach experience complete with a swimming area, boat rentals, and picnic spots. It’s the perfect place for family outings, with ample recreational activities beyond the beach, including hiking, camping, and geocaching.
Best Experiences at Fort Yargo State Park Beach
- Make the most of your visit by hiking on one of the park’s many trails, or rent a kayak or paddleboard for some fun on the lake.
- If you’re a camping enthusiast, the park’s campsites provide the perfect opportunity for a night under the stars.
Comparison and Choosing the Right Beach for You
With so many fantastic beach options near Atlanta, choosing just one can be tough. Remember, the best beach for you depends on what you’re seeking. If you’re after a serene, surreal landscape, consider Driftwood Beach.
If you’re a fan of water sports, Panama City Beach may be your best bet. For history and architecture, think St. Simon’s Island.
For a more refined experience with golfing and high-end dining, you’ll love Hilton Head Island. Lastly, if you’re looking for a quick day trip with family-friendly activities, Fort Yargo State Park Beach is an excellent choice.
Exploring the best beaches near Atlanta, Georgia, is a journey filled with sun, sand, and countless memories. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a tranquility seeker, or a history buff, there’s a beach waiting to be discovered by you.