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 best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

After two months road tripping through the southwest USA, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper captured the region's stunning natural beauty through his lens. H…

16 Oct 2017 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook