Compared to the rest of GEORGIA, the largest of the Southern states, the bright lights of its capital Atlanta are a wild aberration. Apart from some beaches and towns on the highly indented coastline, this rural state is composed of slow, easy-going settlements where the best, and sometimes the only, way to enjoy your time is to sip iced tea and have a chat on the porch.

Settlement in Georgia, the thirteenth British colony (named after King George II), started in 1733 at Savannah, intended as a haven of Christian principles for poor Britons, with both alcohol and slavery banned. However, under pressure from planters, slavery was introduced in 1752 and by the time of the Civil War almost half the population were African slaves. Little fighting took place on Georgia soil until Sherman’s troops advanced from Tennessee, burned Atlanta to the ground, and, in the infamous “March to the Sea”, laid waste to all property on the way to the coast.

Today, bustling Atlanta stands as the unofficial capital of the South. The city where Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was born, preached and is buried bears little relation to Gone With the Wind stereotypes and its forward-thinking energy is upheld as a role model for the “New South”. The state’s main tourist destination, though, is the coast, stretching south from beautiful old Savannah via the sea islands to the semitropical Okefenokee Swamp, inland near Florida. In the northeast, the Appalachian foothills are fetching in autumn, while the college town of Athens is known for its offbeat rock heroes R.E.M. and the B-52s.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

In 2013 Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy. But now the city is on the rebound: cool start-ups are filling once-neglec…

23 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate local_activity Special feature
A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

Perhaps no city in history has fallen from such heady heights as Detroit. Through the earlier half of the twentieth century, the city bubbled with industry. Det…

22 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

This year marks 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, and also the launch of a new Civil Rights Trail through the USA's south – a r…

04 Apr 2018 • Ella Buchan local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right