We've all stood in line at the Georgia Aquarium, straining to see fish over the heads in front of us. We've all sat in traffic, frustrated the University of Georgia game would start before we arrived. And we've all begrudgingly moved our towel and beach bag over to make room for another family while relaxing on St. Simons Island.
Crowds are exhausting, but they're par for the course when it comes to Georgia attractions. Or are they?
Sometimes the best places to go aren't in the guidebooks, so take a chance and make the trip to one of Georgia's hidden gems.
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
A waterfall in the middle of Atlanta? Yes, indeed, don't let the chain-linked parking area fool you. Over 120 acres of nature preserve sit just off of Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta. Visitors enjoy hiking through an urban forest, complete with wildlife, numerous streams and Civil War relics.
Paradise Garden was inspired by a vision from God in 1976, and in the years since has grown into an event space, foundation and four acres of nearly 40,000 handmade works of art. Located in Summerville, Ga., Paradise Gardens features stained glass, metal work, landscaping and much more.
Ocmulgee National Monument
Native American culture is strong at the Ocmulgee National Monument. According to findings, Native Americans first appeared at the site in Macon 17,000 years ago, hunting Ice Age mammals. Nowadays, there are miles of walking trails, a museum and historical events throughout the year.
On a quiet backroad in Elbert County, the Georgia Guidestones sit silently. Built in 1980, they are made of Georgia granite and contain a list of 10 guidelines. No one is really sure what these guidelines are for, but they are written in eight modern languages and four ancient ones; so one has to assume the advice transcends time and language. Although much controversy surrounds the real meaning, the Georgia Guidestones should still be visited, if only to see the monument known as an "American Stonehenge".
This 160-acre beauty has been prominently featured in books, movies and pretty much anything else that takes place in Savannah. Bonaventure is open to the public, so it's easy to spend hours wandering the landscaped walkways, reading the gravestones, observing the sculptures and visiting the notable residents, including Johnny Mercer and Conrad Aiken.