7 Relaxing Beach Getaways Near Atlanta

In just a short drive, you can dip your toes in the surf at these great beaches near Atlanta

Beaches are all about fun in the sun, but to really get your relaxation on and get away from it all, try going off the beaten path for some serenity. If you’re visiting Atlanta and are looking to get out of the city for a day or two, consider hopping in your rental car and driving to one of these seven relaxing beach destinations within a six-hour drive from the Georgia capital.

Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island offers a variety of activities, historical exploration and plenty of space to relax. With its 13 miles of pristine beaches and meandering roads shaded by oak canopies draped in moss, you will feel a world away from the hustle of any big city.

How to Get There

Beaches Near Atlanta: Amelia Island, Florida Enjoy 13 miles of pristine, uncrowded, golden-sand beaches on Amelia Island, Florida.

For beach exploring, there’s Amelia Island State Park on the southern side of the island, with bike trails, kayak rentals and horseback riding amid 200 acres of coastal maritime forest and secluded beaches. In the winter, visitors may be able to spot North Atlantic right whales from the beach.

The island owes its diverse history to the eight governments that have claimed it, beginning with French settlement in 1562. Discover all of this and more, including docent-led architecture tours and stories of the island’s rich African American heritage, at the Amelia Island Museum of History and the American Beach Museum.

When it’s time to eat, head to quaint downtown Fernandina Beach for delicious fare. There’s fresh local seafood at the Crab Trap — a staple in town for 40 years — and a true farm-to-table experience with greens picked straight from the garden at 29 South. For a special night out, make reservations for the chef’s dinner at Salt in The Ritz-Carlton. And for a bit of fun mixed with history, check out the late-night live music and cocktails at Florida’s oldest bar, the pre-Prohibition-era Palace Saloon.

Where to Stay

Jekyll Island, Georgia

With so many beautiful beaches in Florida, it is easy to forget that Georgia has a coastline, too. Georgia’s Jekyll Island is situated between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. It still retains the charm that attracted famous historical families, like the Macys, Goodyears, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, to spend their winters on the island.

How to Get There

Driftwood dots the beaches at Jekyll Island, Georgia, providing a unique subject for a stunning sunset photograph.

Jekyll Island’s driftwood beaches are a stunning sight, perfect for photography enthusiasts or families with young children eager to climb on a natural jungle gym. It’s not unusual for cars to stop to allow sea turtles, deer and alligators to cross the road safely.

The local cuisine represents the best of the Georgia coastal area. It’s a mix of fresh seafood, barbecue and low-country Southern cooking that includes comfort foods like Brunswick stew, fried green tomatoes and cheesy grits. For a bite to eat, check out Driftwood Bistro or Loveshack BBQ Shrimp & Yardbird. There’s also a gourmet grocery market on the island that makes it fun to cook away from home, or at least pick up a few delicious local goods as souvenirs.

Where to Stay

Seaside, Florida

Seaside sits on Florida’s jewel-toned Emerald Coast, and it’s so picture-perfect it looks straight out of a magazine. Located just outside of Panama City Beach along County Highway 30A, you’ll find a simple way of life in this fast-paced digital age.

How to Get There

Beaches Near Atlanta: Emerald Coast in Seaside, Florida Jewel-toned water and sugar sand await you along the Emerald Coast in Seaside, Florida.

The preferred mode of transportation here is a beach cruiser, and the only place to stay is in one of the colorful beachside cottages. Spend the morning playing on the soft sand and swimming in the warm Gulf waters before heading to brunch at the acclaimed Vue on 30a.

For lunch, peruse the set of vintage Airstream food trucks permanently parked downtown serving a variety of casual foods, from organic fresh-pressed juices to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. There’s also a great place right on the beach, The Shrimp Shack, where you can grab a bucket of shrimp and an ice-cold beverage.

Enjoy a crab cake in Seaside, Florida, one of the spectacular beaches near Atlanta Have brunch at Vue on 30a near Seaside, Florida, and be sure to try the crab cakes.

Stop in the family-owned grocery store Modica Market to shop for provisions to stock your beachside cottage kitchen.

At the end of the day, celebrate the sunset like a local on the deck at Bud & Alley’s Restaurant.

Where to Stay

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

One of South Carolina’s barrier islands, Hilton Head Island owns the distinction of being one of the first modern planned resort communities to welcome families in the mid-1950s.

How to Get There

Travel + Leisure readers voted Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, as the best island in the continental U.S. four years straight in 2016–19.

The beach land is publicly owned, and there are parking lots and public access points around the island for people who aren’t staying on beachfront properties. For unique views of the beach, climb the functioning Harbour Town Lighthouse, or take a guided kayak tour through Saltmarsh Paddle Tours and be prepared to see dolphins, birds, blue crabs and sea turtles.

Golfers can find a tee time at more than 20 courses on Hilton Head Island. After a round on the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Golf Course, have lunch at Big Jim’s BBQ, Burgers & Pizza.

For seafood and spectacular waterfront views, head to Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, a local favorite.

Where to Stay

Destin, Florida

When Atlanta locals talk about going to the beach for a weekend, Destin usually makes the list. The fine, white sand is ideal for relaxing — with an almost 100 percent quartz composition, it typically doesn’t heat up enough to burn feet.

How to Get There

The fine sand at Destin, Florida, beaches is almost entirely quartz, so it’s relatively cool on the feet.

Beyond the beach, the water is clear and ready to explore: Destin Snorkel offers snuba (a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving), snorkeling and shell finding. Also, Destin, which was founded as a fishing village, is home to the largest charter fishing fleet in North America.

After all of this fun, take a break at Destin Commons to shop, view art displays and watch a movie.

Have dinner at local favorite The Back Porch, serving fresh raw oysters and grilled seafood in a casual environment right on the beach near Henderson Beach State Park. Destin Brewery, a local craft brewery, is a unique find in a beach town — families are welcome to take a tour, but only adults can do the tasting.

Where to Stay

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

President George Washington visited Myrtle Beach on his tour of Southern states more than 200 years ago, but it was not until the 1930s that it grew into the bustling area it is today. Myrtle Beach has all the charm of a beach resort, with plenty of things to do.

How to Get There

The nearly 200-foot SkyWheel yields spectacular views of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

For outdoor midway rides like a wooden roller coaster, visit the beachfront amusement park Family Kingdom, or find calmer adventures on nature and wildlife boat tours with Waccamaw River Tours. WonderWorks is a must-do on a rainy day; this “amusement park for the mind” features more than 100 fun and educational hands-on exhibits.

Myrtle Beach hosts many festivals throughout the year, such as the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival in April and the Carolina Country Music Fest in June.

Can’t decide where to eat? Crabby George’s Seafood Buffet prides itself on having more than 100 food options. Enjoy chicken and waffles at the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues on Sundays. For an afternoon pick-me-up, go to Sugar Life Candy, an ice cream and candy bar, to satisfy just about any sweet tooth.

Where to Stay

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island, Georgia’s northernmost barrier island, is less than 20 miles from laid-back Savannah and has its own unique beachy feel. This idyllic locale has been the backdrop for more than two dozen movies.

How to Get There

A 154-foot-tall lighthouse welcomes visitors to the calm waters and laid-back beaches of Tybee Island.

For quality time on the shoreline, go to North Beach. The area tends to be less crowded and also features the Tybee Island Light Station, Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. Admission includes access to the lighthouse and the museum across the street, where you can discover the area’s rich history, dating back to 1736.

Along with Back River Beach on the south side, North Beach has calm waters, enticing dolphins to come close to shore. If seeing dolphins is a must-do, book a tour with Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure Tour — if you don’t see a dolphin on tour, you’re welcome to come back again at no charge. End the day at Tybee Pier and Pavilion for people-watching.

Naturally, this coastal town is a great place to enjoy fresh sea-to-table seafood. The Crab Shack is known for its crab boils — and after you’ve had your fill in the restaurant, have some fresh seafood and packaged spices shipped home so you can re-create the dishes later. For a side of nostalgia after your meal, visit The Sugar Shack, a family-owned ice-cream stand turned full-service restaurant that’s been a staple since 1971 and is still run by one of the four founding brothers.

Where to Stay

FYI: Atlanta Beach FAQs

  • What’s the closest beach to Atlanta? A favorite beach close to Atlanta is Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, about 280 miles from downtown Atlanta. The closest beach to Atlanta, however, is Tybee Island, Georgia, about 265 miles from downtown Atlanta.

  • What are the beaches like in Georgia? Georgia has 100 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, and the beaches are as varied as the state itself. The coast features a mix of rivers, swamps, barrier islands and diverse wildlife. Some beaches are secluded and uncrowded.

  • What’s the closest Florida beach to Atlanta? Seaside is the closest Florida beach to Atlanta, about 300 miles from downtown Atlanta. Seaside is part of the South Walton region that includes beaches like Grayton Beach, Rosemary Beach and WaterColor. Another solid option for a getaway is Destin, about 310 miles from downtown Atlanta.

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About the Authors

Rachelle Lucas

A foodie with a zest for life and passion for travel, Alamo Chief Travel Guide Rachelle Lucas has been blogging since 2007 when she started documenting her life as an innkeeper. As her wanderlust grew, she sold the inn to pursue travel writing full-time and has since been to more than 45 countries in pursuit of the tastiest meal. Rachelle and her blog, The Travel Bite, have been recognized in PEOPLE Magazine, USA Today's Top 10 and by Trip Advisor as one of the Top 25 Culinary Travel Blogs to follow. In addition to travel, Rachelle enjoys exploring scenic running routes, endless cups of green tea or coffee and immersing herself in historical fiction novels.


Kendra Pierson, an Atlanta-based freelance writer, contributed to this post. Follow her adventures on LoveLearnTravel.com and Instagram @kendra.pierson.