From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Buford is a small city located in north-west Georgia, less than an hour’s drive from Atlanta. It’s home to numerous parks, including celebrated state parks, as well as the scenic Lake Lanier, making it the perfect place to escape to for a weekend – or a lifetime – to enjoy the tranquillity of a city with a slower pace of life.
Ready to discover the best of Buford, Georgia? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Buford and its surrounding area are home to multiple state parks, helping you to get back to nature and leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city – even if only for a couple of hours. Here are our top picks within the region.
Around a 40-minute drive south-east of the city is the popular Fort Yargo State Park, which features a historic 1792 log fort built by settlers seeking protection against Creek and Cherokee Indians. This family-friendly and somewhat glamorous state park also offers the option of renting lakeside “glamping” yurts, which come complete with furniture and operating electricity. Other recreational activities here include swimming, fishing, and boating in the large lake, as well as biking and hiking.
A 40-minute drive north-east of the city will take you somewhere completely new, allowing you to experience the natural beauty of Don Carter State Park. It’s Georgia’s newest state park, as well as the first state park on 38,000-acre Lake Lanier, and is situated on the north end of the reservoir. Enjoy water activities such as swimming, boating, paddling, and fishing, as well as multi-use recreational trails, and more.
A little over an hour’s drive north of Buford will take you to one of the most popular state parks within the state: Amicalola Falls State Park. Situated on the cusp of the North Georgia Mountains, this state park is a nature lover’s wonderland and is located only 8 miles from the Appalachian Trail and within the Chattahoochee National Forest. Don’t miss a beautiful trek out to the famous Amicalola Falls while here!
Traveling south from Buford for around an hour will lead you to Panola Mountain State Park, which is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. With activities such as archery, geocaching, orienteering, birding and tree-climbing programs, as well as a paved trail open for biking, roller blading, jogging and dog-walking, there’s no shortage of fun.
At Red Top Mountain State Park, located just over an hour’s drive west from Buford, you can connect with the natural beauty of Lake Allatoona and explore the iron mining tradition and history of the Etowah Valley. It’s also a hiker’s haven, with more than 15 miles of trails winding through the forested park, providing brilliant views of the namesake, red-soil mountain.
One of the best ways to truly experience Buford is by foot, so luckily, there are plenty of hiking trails in or near the city. These are some of our favorites!
This 7.1 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail takes hikers past the picturesque Chattahoochee River, offering peace and tranquillity away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Rated as moderate difficulty, the trail is accessible year-round. Pack your swimming costume in the warmer months if you fancy a dip in the swimming beach on your travels!
No visit to Buford is complete without walking the Ivy Creek Greenway to Wildlife Observation Trail. This 5.1 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail is rated as easy, making it a great walk for persons of all ages and abilities. It’s mostly paved and offers great natural scenery.
Whether you’re craving comfort food, fast food, or a fine dining experience, this area has it all. Ready to satisfy those post-hike cravings?
Provino’s Italian Restaurant has been serving the Atlanta area since 1977, providing a family atmosphere with traditional and exceptionally cooked meals. Along with gluten-free options and a popular kid’s menu, you’ll also find favorites such as pasta, parmigiana, and Veal A La Roma.
With almost 10,000 likes on Facebook and an average rating of 4.9 stars, it isn’t hard to see why Rico’s World Kitchen has made our list. This family-owned restaurant is located in downtown Buford and specializes in international comfort cuisine. They offer a unique menu with daily lunch and dinner specials featuring original twists on food from around the world.
Craving some traditional Brazilian fare? Santa Lucia Brazilian Steakhouse is the perfect destination for the authentic offering of meats carved table side. They have a farm to table philosophy, as well as a modern and comfortable atmosphere, providing you and your family with a wonderful dining experience.
Known as “the home of the best barbecue, pizza, sandwiches and libations” in historic downtown Buford, Tannery Row Ale House is located in the historic Tannery Row building, and specializes in modern comfort food inspired by the history and culture of the surroundings. Don’t miss their ‘Tacos and Tunes’ on the Patio from 6-8pm every Tuesday, as well as menu favorites such as sticky ribs, Wagyu sliders, and stone-baked pizza.
With a ‘punny’ name and the motto, “food like your momma made”, you know you’re up for a good time – and great meal – when you step intoPraise the Lard BBQ. Their homestyle menu features everything from burnt ends of brisket and ribs, to devilled eggs, collard greens, and a signature carrot souffle.
After feasting and enjoying all that nature has to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Buford’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking for some fun activities to do with children? Look no further! The following attractions are sure to satisfy even the smallest humans for hours on end.
At Buford Corn Maze, they strive to promote a family-friendly atmosphere while also educating children about agriculture and farming. They offer a five-acre corn maze, as well as a popcorn jumping pillow, combine slide, hayride, pony rides, a petting zoo, haunted forest, and more. Whether old or young, everyone is sure to enjoy their time here.
Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is a lakefront paradise inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and award-winning author Jimmy Buffett. Here, you and your family can enjoy activities such as waterslides, a wave pool, boating, and more. There’s even an onsite RV resort if you require it.
Whether it’s date-night or you simply find yourself wandering around the city long after the sun has gone down – here are our top activities to enjoy in Buford during the darker hours.
Is there a more fun way to spend a night with friends, family, or even your significant other than doing an Escape Room? Paranoia Quest offers escape room challenges covering themes such as pirates, jail break, Indiana Jones, zombies, Alice in Wonderland, and so much more. Trust us, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
If you’re looking for some live music or a stage show to pass the time one night while in Buford, head down to the Buford Community Center and take advantage of one of their popular events. Featuring local and interstate acts, and covering a wide variety of genres, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
Want to hit the town without it costing you a small fortune? Buford is full of fun and interesting attractions, including those that cost just a few dollars for you to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy the city “on the cheap”.
The best part about malls is that there’s something to suit every single budget – whether you’re looking to shop until you drop, or make a $10 note go a long way. The Mall of Georgia is the largest mall within vicinity to Buford and features a popular food court, not to mention big-name shops such as Barnes & Noble, Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, and more. Don’t miss their free events from time-to-time too!
The Tannery Row Artist Colony is a collection of 21 individual studio spaces where independent artists work in a variety of mediums and genres. Here, you’ll find regular creative events, exhibitions, workshops, and more. Some works are also sold, so drop by and see if anything takes your fancy. Of course, it’s free to browse too, and this beautiful space is sure to inspire.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Buford? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Buford that won’t cost you a cent.
The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center is a multi-use history, culture, heritage, and environment facility. Located on 233 wooded acres near the Mall of Georgia, the center features interactive exhibits, walking trails and greenways, unique rental spaces, a gift shop, and is a model of innovative green building techniques.
If you didn’t get your nature lover’s fix from the numerous state parks, then all is not lost. There are also several other wonderful parks within Buford, with our favorite being Little Mulberry Park. Cute name aside, the park has lots to offer outdoor enthusiasts, including 15-miles of paved and non-paved trails for hiking and equestrian use, disc-golf, playgrounds, a lake, pavilions, Lakeview pier, and so much more.
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Buford has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
Dermani Medspa isn’t your average spa. You see, they specialize in enhancing medical procedures too, allowing them to offer more services than most. If you’re looking for skin rejuvenation treatments, such as chemical peels, facials, microdermabrasion, skin tightening, or more, then this is the place.
Nothing makes you feel more relaxed or allows you to melt away the stress of daily life than a visit to Total Health Spa. Open since 2012, this spa offers a full range of luxury spa treatments, including massage, facials, and body scrubs. They’re located across from the Mall of Georgia and down from Kirkland's.
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Buford is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Straight Blast Gym is a top-rated fitness and martial arts gym located in Buford. It serves athletes interested in group fitness classes, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, fitness kickboxing, personal training, MMA, kids’ martial arts, and more. There’s sure to be a class here to suit every level of fitness and every exercise need.
Located in historic Tannery Row in beautiful, downtown Buford is ToLife! Yoga and Pilates, which features two group classrooms, one room containing Pilates apparatus, and one small room used for private yoga sessions. Whether a beginner to the practice of yoga or more advanced, this studio offers classes to suit everyone, including children!
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Buford without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
If you fancy driving around 3 hours north-east from the city, and over the Tennessee border, then you’ll find yourself at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – one of the most famous national parks in the world. It’s America's most visited national park for many reasons, namely its mist-covered mountains, stunning natural scenery, and of course, plentiful black bears. Enjoy activities such as wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, camping, and more.
If you dream of visiting a place where you can surround yourself with hundreds, if not thousands of varieties of flowers, then Callaway Gardens is for you. It’s around a 2-hour drive from Buford and is one of the state’s most beautiful places. Here, you can visit the Butterfly Center, enjoy a Birds of Prey show, witness the annual Balloon Festival, listen to an outdoor concert, and so much more.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Buford that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Buford? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.