8 Beaches Within Driving Distance
By Jeffery Silvey
There is no greater summer destination like a good beach. Lush sands and crashing waves are the stuff that summer vacation dreams are made of! While living in Atlanta does provide traffic jams and big skyscrapers, it doesn’t grant as much sand and sun opportunities as some people desire. Luckily the southern coasts are right in Atlanta’s backyard, meaning that all it takes is a mini road trip to get to these eight glorious beach destinations for the sexiest summer day!
Coastal Georgia is littered with islands and beaches, but there are two that are definitely worth checking out.
1. Tybee Island is always a good go-to beach choice. Just a matter of miles from beautiful historic Savannah, this five-mile island is beautiful escape. Home to the Civil War site of Fort Pulaski National Monument and an 18th century lighthouse, Tybee also boasts (allegedly) Sandra Bullock as a part time resident. With white beaches and plenty of local country cooking around, it’s easy to understand why. Distance from Atlanta: 4 hours.
2. St. Simons Island is one of four islands located off of Brunswick. Along with Jekyll Island, its sister is size, St. Simons is a popular choice. Whereas Jekyll boasts more convention centers, hotels, and an overall business vibe, St. Simons provides a better sense of peace and community. For proof try visiting the local gay bar Castaways for an after beach bar trip. Distance from Atlanta: 4 hours, 15 minutes.
South Carolina Beaches:
To the northeast of Georgia offerings lie not only some of the South’s most famous beaches, but also some of the most spectacular.
3. Myrtle Beach, in the northeast corner of South Carolina, has proven to be an example of stylized southern attraction. Although gambling may not be legal on their sands, they offer many gambling boats for a chance to experience Atlantic City further south in the Atlantic ocean. If the sands or boats don’t suit your taste, then spend some time on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, regularly ranked by travel magazines as one of America’s best boardwalks. Distance from Atlanta: 5 hours, 30 minutes.
4. Hilton Head Island may appear at first glance like nothing more than a strip full of luxury car dealerships, but these 12 miles of beach are so much more. With 24 premiere golf courses and wealthy island residents, Hilton Head makes the entire beach experience feel more like a casual afternoon at an exclusive country club. Aided by decadent shopping in boutiques and outlet stores, Hilton Head is definitely a sophisticated and affordable choice. Distance from Atlanta: 4 hours, 15 minutes.
5. Charleston is considered the sister city to Savannah with an abundance of southern history and antebellum flair. Just like Savannah has Tybee, Charleston has Folly, beach that is. It is home to a 19th century lighthouse, but that isn’t the brightest attraction that Folly has to offer. The real crown jewel would be the Folly Beach Pier. With several locations for delicious local food, fantastic fishing, and not to mention one of the most amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, it makes Charleston and Folly look like a southern paradise. Other notable locations, although more inland, include the Charleston Aquarium and the Charleston Place, a swank upscale hotel that boasts Gucci and Louis Vuitton stores in the lobby. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon cocktail. Distance from Atlanta: 4 hours, 45 minutes.
Without a doubt no list of Best Beaches would be complete without listing Florida. Even though Ft. Lauderdale and South Beach Miami are a little too far for an afternoon drive, the northern half of the state offers two fantastic beach options.
6. Panama City Beach just may be the birth of the modern day Spring Break craze, but it’s even better suited for the summer. Located in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico with 27 miles of sand, this beach locale offers warm waters and crisp golden sands. Various museums, theme, amusement, and state parks take residency here, guaranteeing an eclectic adventure for everyone. Distance from Atlanta: 5 hours 15 minutes.
7. Jacksonville Beach is located on the eastern coast of Florida, not far from St. Simons Island. While Jacksonville may be the home to several corporate headquarters, they have much to offer outside of the business world. In addition to being the home of the NFL Jaguars, they also have the Jacksonville Zoo where you can see actual Jaguars. As far as the beach experience goes, there is a golf course resort, a water amusement park, premiere shopping, and so much more. This location definitely has it all and then some. Distance from Atlanta: 5 hours, 30 minutes.
Considering the Florida panhandle blocks the majority of Alabama from touching any major body of water, it’s easy to forget that Alabama has some decent beach offerings.
8. Gulf Shores is the exact reason why Alabama shouldn’t be forgotten when beach planning. This white sand location offers adventures like zip lining, deep sea fishing, golfing, and even a bird trail. The warm gulf waters that this location offers may seem like quite a distance from Atlanta, but they’re closer than you’d think and definitely worth the visit. Distance from Atlanta: 5 hours, 30 minutes.