Culture Travel Travel Snapshots: Georgia By Catie Leary Writer and Photographer Georgia State University Catie Leary writes and curates visual stories about science, animals, the arts, travel, and the natural world. our editorial process Catie Leary Updated November 29, 2019 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community The Peach State Photo: muffinn/Flickr [CC by 2.0] From the foothills of the Appalachians to the largest aquarium in the world to the barrier islands along the Atlantic Ocean, Georgia is a unique state. Georgia Aquarium C. Elle/Flickr. With over 8 million gallons of water, the Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the world. The tanks contain more than 100,000 sea creatures, including jellyfish, beluga whales, sea turtles and even enormous whale sharks. Okefenokee Swamp Frank Kehren/Flickr. Straddling the Georgia-Florida border is one of the largest peat-based, blackwater swamps in the world, Okefenokee Swamp. The 402,000-acre wetland is chock full of unspoiled nature, including cypress forests, alligators, marshes, lakes and Sandhill cranes. (Meaning you don't have to drive to Florida to experience some great eco-tourism.) Cumberland Island National Seashore anoldent/Flickr. Featuring scenic saltwater marshes, a dense maritime forest and a 17-mile long stretch of beach, Cumberland Island is one of the country’s 10 federally protected seashores. Designated as such in 1972, the island’s history and residents has fluctuated dramatically over the years. One thing that hasn't changed is its breathtaking natural beauty. Piedmont Park C. Elle/Flickr. Often called the Central Park of Atlanta, Piedmont Park is a popular gathering place in the Midtown section of the city. The park offers a large array of recreational activities and amenities: Sports facilities, picnic areas, a dog park, several miles of paved paths for pedestrians and bikers, a lake for fishing (see photo), and a pool and bathhouse. The park also serves as a go-to spot for several annual events, such as the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Atlanta Pride Festival, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, and it is also the terminating point for the city's famous Peachtree Road Race. Atlanta Botanical Garden Bickel/Flickr. This 30-acre botanical garden located in Midtown Atlanta boasts the noble mission to “develop and maintain collections for the purposes of display, education, conservation, research and enjoyment.” Exhibits include the Fuqua Orchid Center (see photo), the Tropical Rotunda, the Japanese Garden, the Children’s Garden, the Conservation Greenhouse, the Woodland Shade Garden and the Desert House. Because the collections naturally change with the seasons, the botanical garden experience is always unique. Amicalola Falls State Park J. Griffin Stewart/Flickr. This stunning state park — the name means “tumbling waters” in Cherokee Indian — is home to the tallest cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi River and serves as the approach trail to the Appalachian Trail. In addition to its hiking, picnic and photo opportunities, the park offers a guest lodge, cabins, campgrounds and the Len Foote Hike Inn, an eco-friendly lodge which is only accessible from a 5-mile hiking trail. Appalachian Trail marklarson/Flickr. The Appalachian Trail, which extends more than 2,000 miles through 14 states, is considered one of the most famous hiking ranges in the United States. And where’s the traditional place to start the journey? None other than the Peach State! Once you’ve set off on the trail, you’ll enjoy 75 miles of Georgia wilderness before blazing through to North Carolina. Golden Isles Rick Coker/Flickr. These gems can be found along Georgia's 100-mile stretch of Atlantic coast. Within this chain of barrier and tidal islands, the luxurious Golden Isles provide a great place to vacation. The Isles include St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Sea Island (site of the June 2004 G8 summit). Stone Mountain Kelvin Kay. Home to the largest bas relief sculpture in the world, Stone Mountain Park is centered around — you guessed it — a stone mountain. To be exact, it’s an intrusive igneous body of rock that was formed as a result of an upwelling of magma underneath the surface of the Earth. The mountain is over 5 miles in circumference at its base, and the top can be reached by a steep walking trail or a skylift. Don't forget to check out the nightly laser show! Lake Lanier wannaoreo/Flickr. Lake Lanier, created in 1956 after the completion of the Buford Dam over the Chattahoochee River, is the perfect vacation spot for families looking for some recreational summer fun. Over 7.5 million people visit every year, and boating, jet skiing and tubing are just a few of the popular activities. In addition to recreation, Lake Lanier also doubles as the primary source of drinking water for metro Atlanta. (Though that final distinction is being hotly debated by the governors of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.) Savannah phill55188/Flickr. Founded in 1733, the city of Savannah is touted to be one of the most beautiful coastal cities in the east. From the many luscious, green squares and gardens scattered around the historic district of the city to the annual St. Patty's Day parade, it's also literally one of the greenest cities around.