The 10 most charming towns and small cities in Georgia

by Paul Joseph  |  Published October 25, 2016

A TravelMag survey of US travel experts has revealed the ten most charming towns and small cities in Georgia.              .


A locomotive crossing the tracks in the heart of a Georgia suburb (Photo: Tom Spinker via Flickr)

We invited 50 travel writers, photographers and selected professionals to name the places in the southeastern state that they consider the most appealing. Those surveyed were asked to pick their three favourites, in no particular order, with only towns and cities housing populations between 3,000 and 50,000 considered. We then compiled the Top 10 based on these results.

So what do we know about America’s fifth largest state? Well, surrounded by pine forests, rolling fields, mountain peaks and historic seacoast are some of America’s finest towns and small cities, made distinctive by their charming 19th-century Antebellum architecture.

Indeed, it is in the region’s towns and cities that you gain a real sense of Georgia’s rich and diverse heritage. Brimming with tradition, scenic landscapes and southern charm, the state perfectly encapsulates small town America.

And so without further adieu, here, in alphabetical order, you will find what many consider to be Georgia’s most appealing towns and small cities.


Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Canton’s high standard of living along with a bustling social and cultural scene has helped make it one of the region’s fastest growing cities. But much more than that, it is also a place of great beauty, with various hiking trails attracting nature lovers all year round. For man-made attractions, Canton’s historical downtown district is the place to be, thanks to numerous sites and landmarks of interest such as the Cherokee Country Historical Society and the Cherokee Arts Center.


A typical style of large house in Canton (North Atlanta Communities via Flickr)


With a beautiful lake and mountain peaks on its doorstep, visitors can discover adventure at every altitude in Cumming. Situated north of Atlanta on the “Hospitality Highway”, the town’s centrepiece attraction is Sawnee Mountain Preserve, a 963-acre preserve with hiking trails, Indian Seats, tree canopy classroom, playground, picnic pavilions, climbing area and even an amphitheatre. For nocturnal pursuits, the Cumming Playhouse comes alive every night with live performances throughout the year, while the town also hosts a busy and diverse programme of festivals and fairs.


A steam engine parade passes through Cumming (Photo: Will Nix via Flickr)


Set amid the beautiful North Georgia mountains, Dahlonega was the site of America’s first major gold rush in 1829 and its affluent past is remembered by numerous gold-related landmarks and attractions dotted around the streets and public squares, including a fascinating Gold Museum. An abundance of original 19th-century architecture lends the city an authentic look and feel, while a recent wine renaissance has put the city at the heart of North Georgia’s vibrant wine scene.


A pretty store-lined sidewalk in Dahlonega (Photo: G. DAWSON via Flickr)


This pretty suburb of Atlanta boasts a distinctively small-town ambience. It is also routinely described as capturing the “spirit of good living” thanks to its vibrant cultural and social scene that revolves around the numerous concerts and festivals that take place here throughout the year. Quaint sidewalks make it a delightful place to explore by foot, while a myriad of bikeways allow for more energetic excursions. The city also has a rich railroad city that is celebrated at the popular Southeastern Railway Museum.


The picturesque Deen Day Sanders’ Garden in Duluth (Photo: Carol Norquist, NGC Flickr Chairman via Flickr)


Fayetteville is a city steeped in American civil war history and popular culture. Not only was it named after a revolutionary war hero, but it is also said to have inspired Margaret Mitchell, author of the famous American Civil War-era novel Gone With The Wind, who made frequent visits here. The city is also a visual delight, boasting picture-postcard beauty thanks to its perfectly-manicured city gardens and scenic nearby lake – all adding to its distinctive charm and appeal.


A river rushes through Fayetteville (Photo: amyshally via Flickr)


Officially designated as part of the Historic Heartland on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, Madison is one of Georgia’s most popular towns – and for good reason. Its historic district is pretty enough to captivate even the most hardened urbanite, featuring several lovingly restored buildings that testify to the town’s boom years during the mid-19th century. As with so many other towns in Georgia, grand style homes dating back to this era are a dime to the dozen, further adding to the sense that Madison is somewhere that embraces the present while cherishing its past.


A quaint street view in Madison (Photo: Jeffrey Neihart via Fickr)


Located 50 miles south of Atlanta in Coweta County, the quaint town of Senoia is sleepy small town America at its finest. Boasting a charming historic downtown area, it is a great place for leisurely antique hunting and picking up novelty curios – the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. In recent years, Senoia has also been thrust into the spotlight due to the hugely popular TV series The Walking Dead being filmed here, lending the town a more contemporary resonance and charm.


Star spangled banners flutter in front of shops in Senoia (Photo: Marnie Vaughan via Flickr)

St. Marys

Nestled in Camden County on the scenic banks of the St Marys river and dotted with woodlands and birding trails, the small city of St Marys is charm personified. But more than its natural attractions, the city is also steeped in history and was actually one of the first areas in modern America to be explored by Europeans in the 16th century. Standing as a proud testament to this heritage are a number of fascinating landmarks and museums, and there’s even an official tram tour that takes visitors around the historic district providing a rich insight into its past.


A scenic view over the north bank of the St. Marys River (Photo: Kathy via Flickr)


The moment you arrive in the small city of Toccoa in northeast Georgia, you instantly notice the calm and peaceful atmosphere. Distinctive brick buildings ooze character and charm and the award-winning downtown district boasts many speciality shops and art galleries, while the Stephens County Historical Museum gives visitors an insight into the area’s fascinating past. Toccoa is also a paradise for lovers of the outdoors, with Currahee Vineyards, Henderson Falls Park, Paul Anderson Park and the Traveler’s Rest State Historic site all offering superb opportunities to explore the region’s natural landscapes.

A colourful barber shop in Toccoa (Photo: Mark Denton via Flickr)


Abundant with traditional southern architecture, beautiful homes, great food, history galore and some of the friendliest people in the state, the small town of Washington is one of the jewels in Georgia’s crown. The site of an important battle in the American Revolution, numerous legends surround the town, including the belief that Confederate gold worth millions of dollars is buried within its boundaries. Washington’s earliest settlers built their homes in antebellum architectural styles that evolved through time, and many of them still stand today, with some even converted into public historical museums.


An Old County Store at Callaway Plantation in Washington (Photo: Explore Georgia via Flickr)