Atlanta is a great town, except for one thing; it’s not on the water. To find a great beach, you need to travel. So where is the closest beach to Atlanta? There are a few that are simple day trips from Atlanta, but most are oceanside fun weekend getaways. We’ll tell you what seaside beach is closest to Atlanta, but also 10+ more drivable favorites.
Discover the Closest Beach to Atlanta
The closest beach to Atlanta technically may be at a lake, but when I think of beach, I’m really thinking about oceanside family getaways searching for sea shells, or fun weekend getaways that include restaurants with amazing seafood caught nearby. With that in mind, Tybee Island is the closest beach to Atlanta for fantastic weekend getaways in Ga., but you may be thinking, are there other beaches near me? The answer is yes. In fact, no matter where you are in Georgia, the answer to where is a beach near me is yes, read on for the scoop.
Georgia Sea Kayak on Tybee Island, Ga. is a fun way to explore the marshes around Tybee Island, as well as some of the small islands around the mainland.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee Island is sometimes called Savannah Beach because it’s so close to the city. In fact, you could stay in Savannah and enjoy a city and sand vacation like we did recently. But how far is Savannah from Atlanta? It’s about 3.5 hours, or if you’d rather measure the distance from Atlanta to Savannah in miles, it’s around 250 miles, making Savannah’s Beach, Tybee Island the closest beach to Atlanta, and perfect for quick getaways.
In addition to enjoying the sand between your toes on the Tybee Island beach, be sure to check out Georgia Sea Kayak for a tour of the marshes and waterways around the island. If you’d rather enjoy the marshes the Georgia Islands from the land, order the low country shrimp boil at the Crab Shack and enjoy it out on the deck with marsh views.
St. Simons Island
There are several Georgia beaches, but my favorite Georgia vacations are usually at St. Simons Island. Probably because I’ve spent the most time there.
The King and Prince is where you want to stay to be on the St. Simons Island beach. They also have several swimming pools. My favorite is the main pool that overlooks the ocean. It’s the perfect compromise for my son who likes the pool and me who feels like we can swim in a pool anywhere, I want the ocean. The King and Prince also has a wonderful restaurant called ECCO. In addition to delicious food you can eat Oceanside (the only Oceanside restaurant on the island), they also have a great happy hour.
The Cloister at Sea Island is all about luxury.
The Cloister at Sea Island
The most luxurious beaches in Georgia are at the The Sea Island family of resorts. I’m still dreaming about the beds at The Cloister at Sea Island, and the spa, where I had one of the best massages of my life. Although this is a very family friendly resort, it’s also a great place if you are looking for romantic getaways in Georgia. In fact, it’s a favorite for honeymooners.
The Beach Club at Sea Island is the place to be for ocean views. Rent a catamaran on the beach, or just relax on one of the lounge chairs under an umbrella. If the kids get too antsy, they can walk across the sand to the Beach Club and either play in the pool, hit the arcade, or participate in any number of games like basketball or shuffleboard. If you need a break from the sun, there is a free movie theater (popcorn is extra).
And for the adults, there are several beachside bars and an ice cream shop that serves up the famous Sea Island Gold Brick Sundae – well maybe that’s for the kids, or all the kids at heart. Looking to enjoy Sea Island luxury for less? Check out a stay at The Inn at Sea Island.
A day aboard the Lady Jane Shrimp boat is one of my favorite activities when I visit Georgia’s Golden Isles (St. Simons, Jekyll or Sea Island)
Jekyll Island Beach
Jekyll Island is going through an amazing renaissance. If you’ve never been, now is the time to go. If you’ve been in the past, it’s worth a second look. I’ve always enjoyed staying at the Historic Jekyll Island Club, but it’s not on the beach. Now you have several beachside options including the Westin at Jekyll Island, the Holiday Inn at Jekyll Island and the Hampton Inn. You can’t visit Jekyll without seeing the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, but I’d also recommend a visit to the less flashy, but equally fun Tidelands Nature Center. If you have kids with you, Summer Waves water park is a must.
Sometimes all you want to do is just sit on the beach and watch the ocean.
It’s more than 6 hours from Atlanta to Tampa, but you can sometimes get really good flights that make the Tampa beaches closer.
The best part about the beaches near Tampa is there are so many to choose from. Clearwater Beach is probably what you think of when you think Tampa beach, but I have friends who live in the area that love Caladesi Island State Park. The nearest beach to Tampa is probably the Ben T. Davis public beach, but it is on the bay, not the gulf. Jacksonville FL beaches are on the other side of the state, but are popular as well, and sometimes you can get great flights from Atlanta to Jacksonville that make these the closest beach to Atlanta.
Another perfect place to combine a city and sand vacation is in Charleston. At the Cottages at Charleston Harbor, you have your own private beach area, just off the rocking chair screened porch. There is also a pool and hot tub at the clubhouse. It’s a perfect set up for family getaways or a group of friends.
Down the road is the marina with boat transportation to downtown Charleston. We rode the Cottages’ bikes to Patriots Point to view the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier and the beautiful Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park with a marine themed playground and fishing pier Unfortunately we missed swing dance night on the pier. But this is a post about real oceanside beaches, and the closest one here is Sullivan’s Island, a 15 minute drive away.
A few more beach vacation spots in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina
A view from the beach to the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island.
In addition to the more well known Georgia beach destinations above, here are a few that may not be the closest beach to Atlanta, but still worth adding to your bucket list for family getaways.
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Little St. Simons Island is the perfect family getaway for anyone who loves nature, but hates camping, plus the food can compete with the best Atlanta restaurant, and there is always a cooler of adult beverages chilling on the porch.
Private Islands of Georgia
Eagle Island isn’t just for quick getaways, but true escapes. Just like the name suggests, it’s your own private island, accessible only by boat.
Cape San Blas, Florida
I love Georgia vacations, but sometimes you just want something a little different. Cape San Blas Florida is more remote than the Georgia vacation spots, but that’s what I like about it. Relax on the beach, you can even have a bonfire there, or bike down to the state park. If you need more action, there is a lot to do in neighboring towns like Port St. Joe, if you know where to look (and you will if you read this Gulf County Florida post)
San Destin Florida
After a fun filled day on the Beach, my kids loved hanging out at Baytowne Wharf in San Destin. It’s kind of the South’s answer to the Atlantic beaches boardwalk.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
A stay at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island is like combining luxury accommodations with a nature filled vacation. It is simply divine to open up the doors to the ocean, and sit out on the balcony overlooking the waves.
Hilton Head Island
When I originally put this post up, reader Kathi Girard asked via Facebook why we didn’t include her favorite beach destination Hilton Head Island. It’s been a looong time since I’ve been to Hilton Head, so I asked Kathi to give us the inside scoop. Here is what she said.
“We always stay at Hilton Head Beach and Tennis on Folly Field Rd. It has a huge pool right on the ocean (although I’m like you, I can swim in a pool anytime, I go for the ocean), also a smaller adult only pool, tennis courts and most units have a view of the ocean (some better than others). There’s a tiki bar at the main pool, as well as as sports bar and pizza joint on the property. I think there may be a sit down restaurant as well as on site bike rentals. Most importantly, the beach is beautiful. Wide stretches of beautiful white sand.
Because it’s a condo and we want to spend as much time on the beach as possible, we don’t really eat out., but there is a huge Kroger, a Walmart and a Publix nearby, so picking up stuff to cook or from the deli is easy.
As for Hilton Head itself there are bike trails everywhere and it’s relatively flat so easy riding. There are also 3 mini golf courses as well as numerous 18 hole courses.
The three main areas are Coligny Plaza and Public Beach and Harbour Town at Sea Pines Resort and Shelter Cove. Lots of restaurants, shops and activities. In the summer, Shelter Cove has HarbourFest every Tuesday night, live music, carnival games and fireworks.”
If you really don’t have time for a quick getaway and are thinking I really need THE closest beach to me, then there are a few Atlanta beaches to try. The closest beach to Atlanta the Beach at International Park in Jonesboro, Georgia. The Jonesboro Beach, as well as the beaches at Callaway Gardens (80 miles), Lake Lanier Resort (46 miles) and other area lakes make great day trips from Atlanta or quick getaways.