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cascading waterfall with fall foliage surrounding and a pedestrian bridge crossing over the base

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When I first moved to Georgia, I never would have guessed that the state experienced a real fall season with the foliage changing, one of the most prominent apple picking cities in the US, and even a Bavarian themed town that hosts Oktoberfest!

In this travel guide to fall in Georgia, you’ll see just how many incredible fall things to do in Georgia there really are! So strap on your travel planning hat and let’s go!

These are the top 13 ways to spend fall in Georgia including the best autumn hikes, apple picking in Ellijay, Oktoberfest celebrations, and how to spend fall in Atlanta!

Map of the Best Things to Do in Fall in Georgia

1. Start with festivities in Atlanta

We can’t talk about Georgia without mentioning Atlanta. You may be starting your trip here if you’re flying into the Atlanta airport.

Atlanta has so many fun fall activities, so you’ll surely be entertained!

Music Midtown

While the timing doesn’t always line up perfectly with the start date of fall, you can often kick off the season with Music Midtown, Atlanta’s largest music festival that has had headliners including Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, My Chemical Romance, and more! It’s located in Piedmont Park in Midtown (a neighborhood of Atlanta).

piedmont park view, atlanta skyline view, midtown, what to do in atlanta in one day, free things to do in atlanta
Enjoying the view at Piedmont Park in Atlanta

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Also in Piedmont Park, you’ll find the Atlanta Botanical Garden where every fall, they have a scarecrow decorating event. If you miss the event, don’t worry because they display the scarecrows around the gardens for the duration of fall. The Atlanta Botanic Garden is also home to large topiary sculptures, which makes it an interesting stop regardless!

ATL Georgia things to do, botanical garden sculpture, dragon plant, georgia things to do
Dragon plant sculpture

Taste of Atlanta

Another fun fall event is Taste of Atlanta. This brings together restaurants, bars, food trucks, and chefs for the ultimate foodie event. You purchase a wristband that gives you a certain number of “tastes” from all the vendors and alcohol tastes are free! You can also sign up for chef demonstrations or wander over to Ponce City Market to extend your foodie adventure. This event happens every October!

BBQ parfait
Taste of Atlanta is the ultimate fall foodie event!

Doll’s Head Trail

If you’re looking for a spooky Atlanta activity, you’ll find one of the weirdest trails here complete with hundreds of dolls strewn about. It’s called Doll’s Head Trail and it’s a trip, especially in spooky season. The trail is 1.6 miles round trip and is located in Atlanta’s Constitution Lakes Park.

abandoned doll in a forest floor
Literally dolls everywhere!

2. Celebrate Oktoberfest in Helen

You may be surprised to learn that you don’t need to travel to Germany to have an authentic Oktoberfest experience. Helen, Georgia’s Bavarian mountain town, hosts Oktoberfest every fall. The architecture of the town is German inspired and so are all the local businesses. You can get authentic German eats at Bodensee, pretzels from around town, and lots of Oktoberfest beer!

Helen has an array of activities, so be sure to read this Helen travel guide before booking your autumn trip.

building in Georgia mountain town that looks German even though its in the United States
Just one of the many beautiful Bavarian themed buildings on Main Street.

Related read >> Best fall destinations in the US (Helen is on this list!)

3. Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Scenic train rides aren’t just for Switzerland, Colorado, or Canada! You can have a fun scenic train ride experience right here in Georgia, specifically the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

It travels between Blue Ridge, Georgia and the Georgia-Tennessee border, which is home to McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee.

The train ride travels through the mountains so you get some gorgeous fall foliage views along a river. There is a tour guide who speaks over the speaker during a portion of the trip when there are noteworthy sights – like river stones placed by Native Americans to catch fish. I was especially grateful that they only shared tour tidbits on the way there, because on the way back I was knackered! I almost took a nap!

In the two cities at the end of the ride, you’ll grab lunch. The restaurants are all highly rated but I gravitated toward Katz’s New York Deli (seriously, what are the odds that there was a location of this iconic New York restaurant in remote Georgia).

view of fall foliage in the distance past an open grass field with two small homes on the edge of the forest
The best part of traveling by train is that no matter when you go, some part of the region you pass through will be in peak foliage!

Before heading back on the train, you have time to walk the towns, explore the river, and pop into the local shops and breweries!

For the best views, I recommend an open air car, which has bench-like seats facing outward so you can see without anyone’s head in the way! Plus, on the way back, they have everyone switch sides so you can get both experiences.

If you get hungry, there’s even a snack car with items available for purchase!

Tickets are $67 per person with discounts for the military, 1st responders, teachers, seniors, and children.

view from inside a train car looking out the side during fall in north Georgia
Grab your camera because there’s lots to see as you pass by!

4. Go apple picking in Ellijay

Ellijay is the best spot for apple picking in Georgia! Drive along Highway 52 for orchard after orchard.

There are a couple things to know before going apple picking. First, not all apples are always in season. Check the websites of individual orchards to see what will be available when you’re visiting.

Next, it can be helpful to do a little research on which orchard to visit ahead of time. This is because not all orchards have a “U-Pick” area – meaning you can’t actually pick apples from all orchards. We’ve loved R & A Orchards and B.J. Reece Orchards!

woman handing off a freshly picked Ruby red apple with leaves still on the stem to her boyfriend's hand
Handing off a freshly picked apple to my boyfriend, the keeper of the peck

When you go apple picking, the metric that you purchase is a peck. You can get about 28 apples in a peck. If you’re a couple (rather than a family) a ½ peck should be plenty!

Some orchards charge admission in addition to the peck (or ½ peck), so to save a bit, be sure to only purchase a reasonable amount of pecks. What I mean is that just because there are 2 people in your group, you don’t need to purchase a peck for everyone. You can share!

Finally, don’t skip all the orchard markets. Each orchard sells their apples as well as the most delicious apple products like apple cider and my favorite: apple cider donuts! I have taken entire road trip detours to get these apple cider donuts!

woman holding up a ½ peck of apples in an apple orchard in Georgia USA
Apple picking is a great activity if you want a road trip snack for the rest of your trip!

5. Enjoy Tallulah Gorge State Park

One of my favorite state parks in Georgia makes for the perfect fall destination! Tallulah Gorge State Park has a huge raging river with large waterfalls in the gorge. You can best see the gorge surrounded by the foliage by hiking a bit and descending the many (many) stairs.

There is a $5 entry fee for parking, but if you’re a Georgia resident you can save by checking out a state park pass from your local library for free! This is one of my favorite budget traveling hacks!

For an epic view overlooking the park, visit Tallulah Point on Tallulah Gorge Scenic Loop. It’s a gift shop, but they have ice cream and a second story with telescopes for prime viewing of the park.

Tallulah Gorge Overlook
My mom admiring the view of Tallulah Gorge Overlook from Tallulah Point

Related readHow to plan a flawless hiking itinerary

6. Hike Amicalola Falls

There are so many waterfalls in North Georgia to explore. I’m a fan of Amicalola Falls because the path to see the falls is easy and semi-paved (read: made from recycled tires).

The falls shine during autumn when the surrounding leaves change colors for a bright, colorful backdrop!

Just like Tallulah Gorge, parking is $5, but you can save with that library hack!

cascading waterfall with fall foliage surrounding and a pedestrian bridge crossing over the base
Amicalola Falls in Georgia is a must-see during the fall!

7. Chase the best views at Brasstown Bald

What better spot to see the Georgia mountains in all their colorful glory than from the highest point in Georgia – Brasstown Bald. It rises 4784 feet so naturally when you’re up there, you can see mountains for miles!

In the fall, it’s especially gorgeous if you can catch the views before the foliage is past its peak.

Brasstown Bald costs $8 per person and there are shuttles to transport visitors to the top!

view from the highest point in Georgia, Brasstown Bald
Go at sunset or sunrise for an even more orange landscape!

8. Visit Lula Falls if you’re lucky

Located in the upper northwest corner of Georgia is Lula Falls, another incredibly scenic area come fall.

This one is also extra special because they only allow visitors in twice a month so if you can catch it during the fall, you’re actually pretty lucky!

You can get tickets 2 months in advance here and they cost $18 per vehicle.

When you arrive, I recommend hiking the Out and Back trail or the Classic Loop to see Lula Falls. The trails are 4.2 and 4.5 miles, respectively and the Classic Loop will take you on the Bluff Trail, which leads to some great overlooks on the other side of the mountainside!

Note that some of the areas on the Lula Lake Land Trust are tricky to navigate with ledges where you have to use a rope to climb down and with steep embankments, so please read recommended routes before visiting.

tall waterfall long exposure
The highlight of Lula Lake Land Trust is Lula Falls!

9. Experience football season in Athens

One of the most unique things to do in the fall in Georgia is give in to college football. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, the college town of Athens, Georgia comes ALIVE during football season.

I may be biased because I spent 5 years there earning my PhD, but hey, they did just win back-to-back National Championship titles!

view of a college football game from the student section with red pom poms being waved in the air by students
This is the crazy student section, but no matter where you sit in Dooley Field, you’ll feel the energy!

ESPN has hosted their College Game Day segment numerous times from the University of Georgia campus, so depending on the matchup, you might even catch it! They choose one matchup per week to be present at, so it has to be the best. I’ve caught the one for UGA versus Notre Dame and UGA versus Arkansas.

couple standing in a crowd of American college football fans
It’s Game Day in Athens and even more of a party when ESPN is in town!

Football games happen on select Saturdays from early-September to late-November, but there are away games and bye weeks, where the team isn’t playing at all that week.

Games can cost as little as $50 when the UGA Bulldawgs are playing against a smaller team. If you don’t want to spend the money on game tickets, you can easily partake in the endless gameday party from inside Tate Student Center where fans gather to watch a projection of the live game or from local bars who also show the game live! My favorite bars for this are All Good, which has two stories and a rooftop patio, and Wonderbar, a nerdy bar with fandom themed drinks, board games, and arcade games (to entertain anyone not watching the game)…they have ice cream sandwiches and Lunchables, just sayin’.

Wonderbar Athens
Clearly, I’m very good at being an adult of drinking age.

You can easily spend a weekend in Athens because there’s tons to do aside from football games like visit the board game café, Rook and Pawn, stroll the State Botanical Gardens, and taste your way through Athens at their many delicious restaurants and breweries. Some of my favorites are Creature Comforts Brewery, Clocked! Burgers, and ZZ and Simone’s with some killer pasta!

flight of craft beer from Athens Georgia brewery Creature Comforts downtown
One of the best breweries in Athens, is Creature Comforts. Try a flight and stay awhile.

10. Take a haunted tour in Savannah

If you correlate fall and spooky things (hi, same here), then you simply must make your way to Savannah, one of the most haunted cities in America!

Savannah oozes that old South feel with its architecture, historic graveyards, and creepy buildings. Top haunted sites include Bonaventure Cemetery, the Sorrel-Weed House, and the Hamilton-Turner Inn.

One of the best fall activities in Savannah is to take a guided ghost tour. They are super popular and for good reason because of all the reportings of hauntings in the city!

Try a pub crawl ghost tour, a traditional walking tour, an adults-only ghost tour, or even one guided by a bonafide psychic!

Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah Georgia with Spanish moss covered oak trees and creepy gravestones
Get into the spooky spirit at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah!

11. Visit the bug-free Golden Isles

Georgia’s Golden Isles is made up of a number of barrier islands off of Georgia’s coast including Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Sea Island.

These islands are most popular during the summer months when families flock there for their summer vacations.

Sandy boardwalk to a beach in the distance on a cloudy day.
One of the many boardwalks to the beaches of Jekyll Island

Instead, visit during fall for a relaxing time. Not only are the crowds gone in the fall, but so are the bugs! That means you can easily go camping, cross through the swampy forested areas to get to the beach, and overall have a worry-free time (because I don’t know about you, but mosquitos are so annoying and distracting on a getaway). Seriously, we visited in August and I still have scars from the mosquito bites! It was 3 years ago!! Okay, I’m done.

Some of the most popular things to do in Jekyll Island include visiting Driftwood Beach, exploring the Mosaic Museum, and learning about loggerhead sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Crooked driftwood tree branch framing the cloudy sunrise on the horizon
Beautiful driftwood during sunrise in Jekyll Island

On St. Simons Island (the largest of the bunch), visit St Simons Lighthouse, stroll through Neptune Park, and try to find the tree spirits, which are faces carved into some of the local oak trees.

Of course, the beaches are perfect in the fall because it’s not unbearably hot!

12. Have a Harry Potter staycation

You might be thinking…this is an odd thing to include on a fall in Georgia roundup. But for me, Harry Potter is the ultimate cozy, comfort series so as the weather cools down and everyone starts to move indoors toward their couches, Harry Potter marathons are the move!

woman standing with her arms up in front of a large 10 foot door outside a hut from Harry potter films
Look at the size of Hagrid’s door!

In Georgia, one of the absolute best ways to ring in your fall Harry Potter marathon is from one of these incredible Airbnbs in Georgia that are modeled after real locations from the series! I absolutely adored the Groundskeeper’s Hut, which is true to size. The common room space is also incredible with floor to ceiling tapestries, a stunning Baroque-style bathroom, and comfy twin beds reminiscent of those found in the wizard school!

If you’re looking for the ultimate staycation this fall, this is the spot for you!

Hogwarts banner with the House banners and ceiling and walls covered in tapestries
Tapestry covered walls and ceilings with the classic Hogwarts banners

13. Discover Lookout Mountain

Right next to Chattanooga, Tennessee is Lookout Mountain, Georgia. It’s a fun little spot with a surprising lineup of activities. You can easily spend a weekend exploring this whole area, but for your fall trip, here are some picks!

Go hang-gliding

The fall is the perfect time to try hang-gliding because the weather is so much nicer (no helmet sweat here!) and you’ll get the ultimate bird’s eye view of the foliage!

You can do this at Lookout Mountain Flight Park, where you’ll get strapped in with an instructor/pilot, then you get taxied into the sky by being towed behind a small plane. You’ll disconnect the line and then it’s smooth sailing flying.

Tickets cost $250, but there are often Groupons to get tickets cheaper (another of my top tips for traveling on a budget).

girl hang gliding with an instructor in the green mountains of Georgia USA
Hang-gliding in the north Georgia mountains, outside of Chattanooga, TN

See 7 states from Rock City

The other spot to visit on Lookout Mountain is Rock City, which is by far the weirdest place I’ve ever been. It’s an outdoor wonderland with natural wonders including slot canyons (very different than those in Page, Arizona), caves, and overlooks…but there’s also gnomes, fairies, and man-made elements including a waterfall, stained glass hallway, and archways.

It’s…bizarre. BUT, there is an incredible viewpoint overlooking 7 states! In the fall this spot is colorful and so worth the odd doll-filled caves.

viewpoint of seven states from Rock City
The point at which you can see seven states from one spot!
orange yellow and green fall leaves tower above the mountain road
Fall is unreal along the Blue Ridge Parkway…it’s no wonder this is a must-do in the South

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These are the top 13 ways to spend fall in Georgia including the best autumn hikes, apple picking in Ellijay, Oktoberfest celebrations, and how to spend fall in Atlanta!
Learn how to spend fall in Georgia with these incredible things to do in Georgia in autumn time. Some Georgia activities include kid-friendly fun like apple picking, with family friendly fall celebrations like Oktoberfest in Helen Georgia.
Click here to learn how to spend a delightful fall in Georgia with the top fall activities in Georgia. Some ideas include football season in Athens, visiting some of Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls, and where to see epic fall views of fall foliage in Georgia.
These are the top fall activities in Georgia for the perfect fall in Georgia. Don't miss the Blue Ridge scenic railway, Amicalola Falls, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and so many more ideas for the best fall in Georgia!

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Recent PhD graduate and hyper-planner of Periodic Adventures, my goal is to share travel inspiration, budget tips, detailed guides, and fun travel stories!

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