Cumberland Island, GA
With rapid construction overtaking Atlanta’s already jammed streets, there’s no better way to escape than to cruise down to CUMBERLAND ISLAND. It’s Georgia’s biggest barrier island, and it can only be reached by ferry, making it a subtropical oasis for a plethora of animals, including egrets, pelicans and wild horses. Walk along the secluded beach, with its backdrop of smooth, white dunes, and you might catch a glimpse of loggerhead turtles laying eggs. Or venture under the island’s canopy of massive live oaks to spot anything from painted buntings to armadillos. Be sure to check out Plum Orchard, the remnants of the Carnegie family’s Tara-esque mansion, built in the 1890s. The island’s serenity is constantly threatened by politician-led schemes to turn it into a tourist trap. For now, however, it remains the crown jewel of Georgia’s “Golden Isles.” If you visit, go between now and April, because the island’s wildlife also includes sand gnats and mosquitoes. On the pricey end, Cumberland's only commercial entity, Greyfield Inn is a treasure.