Great Vacations In The Southeast: The North Georgia Mountains vs. The Beaches Of Florida’s Gulf Coast

When it’s warm, the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast may be calling your name, but the allure of the cool, peaceful North Georgia mountains may also sound appealing. Although very different vacation destinations, each has its draws. Which spot is ideal for your next getaway? This comparison of the two popular retreats should help you to make a decision with confidence and ease.Hickory Wood Cabin

Comparison Dimension: Entertainment value

The North Georgia Mountains

Although a visit to the mountains offers something for everyone to enjoy. For adventurers, entertainment may be found in the form of kayaking, rock climbing, or mountain biking. Nature lovers will enjoy hikes and horseback rides through Chattahoochee National Forest or fishing, whereas history buffs will be kept occupied by historic Dahlonega, and the legends of Sautee-Nacoochee. Families can go tubing together, try a zipline tour, or play mini golf, and shoppers will delight an numerous antique stores. People from all walks of life come to be entertained in the Helen area.

The Florida Gulf Coast

Many beach-goers enjoy the luxury of soaking up the sun and lazing on the beach all day, but that doesn’t mean that there’s any shortage of entertainment along Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast, which is home to 5 of the top 20 beaches in America, features both charming towns and swinging vacation destinations. Visitors can enjoy water sports, parasailing, snorkeling, visiting theme parks like Busch Gardens, or taking in the nightlife of popular beach towns.

Comparison Dimension: Cost

The North Georgia Mountains

Northern Georgia is very budget-friendly. There are plenty of options for accommodations and attractions, based upon what you would like to spend. Booking a stay in a hotel, for example, may cost from $60-$100+, per night, whereas a roomy and modern cabin rental, like those available from Cedar Creek, will cost around $300 per night (plus taxes and fees). The amount of nights that you choose to stay is very flexible. Most of the local attractions are relatively inexpensive, however, those costs should be considered as well. Finally, you’ll need to set a budget for meals. In order to maximize savings, you may choose to stay in a cabin or hotel suite with a kitchen, so that you can prepare your own meals.

cedar creek cabins florida gulf coast beachesThe Florida Gulf Coast

The Florida Gulf Coast also provides vacationers with choices for their accommodations. Hotels may range from $50-$150+, per night, but travelers should be mindful that the less expensive facilities will be located further away from the beaches. Beach rentals, like condos and cottages, can also be rented, and tend to range from $200-$400 per night, depending on the season and the beach. Many Gulf Coast beach rentals must be reserved for at least a week, so expect to factor in those costs. If your accommodations aren’t located on the beach, you may need to plan for the costs of commuting to the water each day, and any possible parking fees. Budget for any major attractions or activities that you and your family would like to try, and consider daily meals. As with northern Georgia, your best bet is to book a rental with a kitchen to reduce costs.

Comparison Dimension: Family Friendliness

The North Georgia Mountains

The areas surrounding the north Georgia mountains are very family oriented, and offer a plethora of activities for children and adults alike. Families can bond as they work together to canoe down a river, explore the Alpine village of Helen via bike or Surrey bike rentals, learn about America’s first Gold Rush in Dahlonega, before descending into a gold mine and panning for treasure, and hiking to all of the nearby waterfalls. A ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is also a lot of fun for family groups, as is tubing down the Chattahoochee, or learning to fish.

The Florida Gulf Coast

Families can have a blast, splashing and playing on the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. From building sand castles, to chasing the tide, to collecting seashells, there’s plenty to do and see. For safety, it’s very important for parents to keep an eye on the kids whenever they are out in the water, as unexpected swelling in the waves can occur. Those visiting the central coast can also take advantage of spending the day at Busch Gardens, whereas those along the Gulf Coast Pan Handle may enjoy playing in the sand dunes together. Due to the popularity of the Gulf Coast during Spring Break, however, families with younger children may want to avoid visiting during March and April.

Comparison Dimension: Available Activities

helen gaThe North Georgia Mountains

Regardless of what your budget is, you’ll be able to find suitable activities to enjoy in the mountains of northern Georgia. Free museums like The History Museum of Sautee-Nacoochee, The Gourd Place, and Babyland General Hospital are all local family favorites. Even window shopping is a blast in the Helen area. Exploring The Christmas Shoppe or trying free samples at the Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen doesn’t cost a dime. Visiting the numerous Georgia State Parks like Unicoi, Tallulah Gorge, and Amicalola Falls is very low-cost, and can fill entire days with fun. Tubing and bike rentals are quite affordable, and even the larger attractions like ziplining are moderately priced. Helen also celebrates numerous festivals throughout the year, making the visit even more special.

The Florida Gulf Coast

Beach bums will have it made if they are able to book accommodations right on the beach. In this case, hunkering down in the sand and playing in the waves will be free each day. Frugal vacationers can also avoid spending by wandering amongst the vendors and people-watching at Pier 60. Visiting St. Andrews State Park is a low cost option, as is renting bicycles to ride along the beach paths together. Taking surf lessons, parasailing, or heading to Busch Gardens will be more costly, but will create lasting memories.

Comparison Dimension: Accessibility

The North Georgia Mountains

Driving up into the north Georgia mountains may sound like a challenge, but it’s actually extremely straightforward. The Alpine village of Helen is situated approximately 90 miles north of Atlanta, and can be reached by the I-84 and GA-400, which are well maintained for safe travel.

cedar creek cabins florida gulf beachesThe Florida Gulf Coast

While the Florida Gulf Coast Panhandle areas, like Pensacola, may be reached via the I-85 and I-65 in just under 5 hours, the most commonly visited Gulf Coast cities, like Clearwater and Tampa, are generally accessed by the I-75 in approximately 7 hours. Travelers should be advised to be aware of the possibility of severe weather on the trip during hurricane season.

Comparison Dimension: Quiet Factor

The North Georgia Mountains

Though northern Georgia is always bristling with activity (especially during Oktoberfest), peace and quiet is possible when you decide to stay in a private and secluded cabin rental.

The Florida Gulf Coast

The beach is quite peaceful, but during the peak summer months, expect some level of noise from other tourists – especially if your rental is on the beach. Noise ordinances are usually in place to prevent late night rowdiness, but Spring Break may be a time to avoid, for those who value quiet.

Are you a beach person, or a mountain person?

If Cedar Creek Cabins sound like the right spot for you, click here to see our fabulous cabins for yourself!