Written by David Rice
Uncovering hidden local treasures doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom. These wallet-friendly locales will give you a feeling of discovery on the cheap. The best part? These destinations are only a tank of gas (or less) away.
338 Jane Hurt Yarn Dr.
Why Go? One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern United States, Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. For a few days each month, during the full moon period, the park opens for a mile and a half hike under the light of the full moon.
Insider Tip: If you want to walk the gorge floor, you must obtain a permit—get there early because the park only gives out 100 per day. Tallulah Gorge State Park is home to a suspension bridge swaying 80 feet above a rocky bottom that provides majestic views of the river and falls beneath.
Must Do: Be sure to enjoy the several “rim trails” that take hikers right up to the edge of the gorge on their way to scenic overlooks that promise to provide plenty of beauty to make your trip special.
The Fine Print: Admission and parking are $5 each. Check the park’s website for more information.
514 Green St. N.E.
Why Go? The Quinlan Visual Arts Center showcases the work of the myriad of member-artists from Gainesville and surrounding North Georgia communities, Atlanta and the Southeast.
Insider Tip: The museum is exhibiting "Watercolor Bold and Free,” a collection of impressionist and expressionist landscapes by artist Alex McKibbin.
Must Do: Check out the Georgia Art League Winter Juried Exhibition, which showcases a dazzling and eclectic array of art in all media, including landscapes, abstracts, still life compositions, portraits, ceramics, wood turnings and more.
The Fine Print: Open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free.
Lake Lanier Islands Resort
7000 Lanier Islands Pkwy.
Why Go? This magnificent attraction features new and improved holiday entertainment along with its traditional driving tour through more than seven miles of illuminated characters and scenery that comprise millions of twinkling lights.
Insider Tip: Drive over the magnificent snowflake bridge, down through the 12 days of Christmas, all the way to the Holiday House, Santa's Workshop, Christmas Carnival until Tuesday, Dec. 31.
Must Do: The Holiday Village is a must-see for everyone, complete with a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, delicious holiday fare, pony and amusement rides, holiday shopping and much more.
The Fine Print: Magical Nights are open from 5-11 p.m. each evening. Car pooling is the best idea as charges vary by vehicle. Buses with a capacity of over 20 people are $250, passenger vans with a capacity of 10-19 people cost $90 and cars with a capacity of 1 to 9 people cost $60.