Do you have a Chrysler? Does it seat about 20? Then hurry up and bring your jukebox money! We are heading down not the Atlanta highway (much) but west, mostly, down hwy 85 in search of a great day trip from Greenville! On the way we will hit two (inn)famous college towns and the place now referred to as Black Hollywood, as well as some famous forests, climbs, waterfalls, and a German village, just to keep it wacky. Many places in this area have made their way into the collective imagination via pop culture, as well as some serious history. If you take one of these adventures I’m sure you’ll soon discover why.
Do you like the color orange? Prepare to be enveloped in a sea of it. We can always tell when there’s a big game approaching in the Upstate because cars (and sometimes pedestrians) are festooned with orange paw flags and tiger tails. Our first stop off the 85 is the home of Clemson University. Take the exit at SC 88 and in about 45 minutes from Greenville you’ll be there. When you tire of touring the campus you can go play in the beautiful waters of adjacent Lake Hartwell. Notable attractions in town are the immense and gorgeous (and free) South Carolina Botanical Gardens, and Fort Hill Plantation.
If you’d like to get a great view of the area from 3,563 ft, Sassafrass Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina. It’s sort of north into the mountains up US 178 from Clemson, but Clemson claims it as their architecture students built the lovely viewing platform shown above. Clever kids!
If you head down the 123 from Clemson you will soon come to a place of many falling waters. Tallulah Falls are a stunning standout in a region known for waterfalls and well worth the hiking involved. Parts of the movie Deliverance were filmed here, and on July 18, 1970, a 65-year-old Karl Wallenda of the Flying Wallendas performed a high-wire walk across the Tallulah Gorge.
A lot of weddings take place with Toccoa Falls as a backdrop. Located on the campus of tiny Toccoa Falls liberal arts college it one of the tallest free falling vertical drops in the Eastern US.
Continuing with the nature theme a bit longer, keep heading west from the falls and you will soon be in the Chattahoochee Forest. Spanning ancient Cherokee and Creek Indian lands, this wilderness area offers most everything you go to a forest for. Hike in and check out the ancient carvings at Track Rock Gap archeological site.
Would you like to do a little tubing on the Chattahoochee? Would you like some schnitzel with that? Perhaps some apple strudel… Would you believe me if I told you that there was a Bavarian alpine village in the hills of Georgia with street names like “Edelweiss Strasse”? Well believe it! It is also the jumping off point for a tubing enthusiasts. Who knew?!
Once upon a bike race… The Tour de Georgia was a premier cycling event in the US from 2003 to 2008. It attracted professional teams from all over the world to compete over six days. The most anticipated stage ended with the ascent of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest point. You can visit it today and feel like King or Queen of all you survey.
Back to hwy 85, exiting onto 78 (the Atlanta Highway) Kate Pierson’s tinroof house from her UGA college days that was the inspiration for “Love Shack” burned down some years ago but the boho campus culture that spawned the B52s is still going strong. An alternative/progressive oasis in the more conservative leaning South, this classy college town is also ranked as the 7th best in the nation for dating! Go DAWGS! Besides campus activities Athens is notable for the gorgeous Georgia Museum of Art. Actress Kim Basinger is from here as is football legend Fran Tarkinton. In addition to the B52s, this burg also spawned Danger Mouse, the Whigs, Widespread Panic and Of Montreal, to name a few. Members of R.E.M. still maintain residences in Athens.
Calling all bike racers! Athens Twilight Criterium, professional cycling event and festival was the first nighttime bike race in modern times. Take over the streets of Athens with other bike nuts over three nights of fun.
If you turn west (to 129) instead to 78 east you will come to Buford GA and nearby Lake Lanier islands. The Bona Allen Tannery opened here in 1873 making, among other leather goods, the saddles worn by Hollywood’s most illustrious cinematic cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. The Bona Allen Shoe factory has been transformed into the Tannery Row Artist Colony. The Mall of Georgia, the 36th largest in the nation also resides in Buford.
Lake Lanier was the site 1996 Olympic Games rowing and kayaking competitions and offers an array of watersport options for amateur athletes (vacationers) too! Start at the Port Royal Marina to get oriented.
From civil war to civil rights, Atlanta has earned her stripes and reinvented herself several times to become one of America’s most iconic cities. If most of what you know about Atlanta comes form a certain book by Margaret Mitchell, you have some catching up to do. With current nicknames like “Black Hollywood” and “Hotlanta”, this city puts diversity upfront for a vibrant cultural mix.
When you’re done walking the historic nieghborhoods, visiting historic sites, dining at the vast array of fine and ethnic restaurants check out the Botanical Gardens or the Georgia Aquarium for a hit of nature in the heart of the city. Your kids will love it!
Cyclists will enjoy Atlanta’s 33 mile urban Beltline Trails and, northwest of Atlanta, the 61.5 mile Silver Comet Trail, which, in addition to walkers, runners, bladers, and skaters also accommodates horses! So don’t forget your bikes (or tack)!
So that about covers the region around Greenville and the Swamp Rabbit Inn. We’ve gone north, south, east, and lastly, west. Enjoy your adventures and when you come back to the Inn we want to hear all about it! Make some memories.