6 (Ok...7!) Weekend Getaways from Fort Benning that Aren't Atlanta
I'm not gonna lie, Fort Benning is my favorite duty station. I'm a weirdo. But here's a secret: not only does the area right around Fort Benning have a lot to offer, but I found that I was more centrally located to all the destination hotspots than almost anywhere else I'd been stationed. I'm talking reasonable driving distance to America's iconic destinations. You know, the ones people will actually vacation to. Here's a list of my favorite spots within driving distance of Fort Benning where you can easily squeeze in a three or four-day weekend:
At right around six hours from Fort Benning, Nashville makes for the perfect weekend getaway. I visited Music City for the first time with my little bro during the summer of 2017. Sure, the crowds were a bit overwhelming on the iconic Broadway, but that's all part of the experience. The best part is you can go without a plan and still have a great time. Snag yourself an Airbnb and let the weekend plan itself. We took Uber or Lyft everywhere so we didn't have to compete for parking. If you enjoy people-watching, then this is the spot for you! Check out our Nashville itinerary for more info!
New Orleans, LA
NOLA...The Big Easy...how I love you. This was my final weekend trip before PCSing away from Fort Benning and it was the perfect note to end on. There is SO. MUCH. TO. DO. I went with my husband in mid-February 2018 (about week after Mardi Gras), and let me tell you, there are two reasons why this was the perfect time to go: 1) Mardi Gras was over 2) weather was really temperate, and therefore the streets didn't smell God-awful. Every local will tell you to stay as far away from NOLA as humanly possible during Mardi Gras, and we were glad to heed their warning. Even a week after the town's signature event, the streets were still loaded with Cajun flair. The party never seems to stop. At right around seven hours from Fort Benning, NOLA was the farthest of all weekend trips we'd taken, but it was also the most fun. For an in-depth itinerary click here!
Panama City Beach & Destin, FL
Here's where my six options are actually seven options. Yes, PCB and Destin are not the same place, but I include them together for a few reasons: 1) they are within 30 minutes of one another (3.5 vs. 4 hours away from Fort Benning) 2) they offer the same things 3) nobody can agree on which is better. People will get into legit arguments about which one they prefer.
Honestly, I've never been to Destin (cue the hate mail!) but that's cuz I'm cheap and lazy and figured I'd rather arrive 30 minutes earlier to my beachfront vacation. BUT, I'm listing Destin because you cannot be stationed at Fort Benning without getting your ear talked off about it.
The perks of Destin (as I've been told 1,000 times) are that supposedly it's a classier version of PCB. Also, Fort Benning owns the recreation facility there and you can reserve a great spot at its hotel at an unbeatable price. If you're like me and like to go against the grain (and you're also cheap and lazy!) then you'll have a great time at PCB. Just dear God, do not go during the month of March. That's peak Spring Break season and it's horribly crowded. What's worse is alcohol is not allowed on the beach during this time, and that's an actual tragedy. Check out our in-depth itinerary for all the good eats and activities!
If I could go to Helen every weekend, I probably would. Though internationally known to many, I was surprised to have never heard of this iconic German-American town until my arrival at Fort Benning. The history behind its founding is fascinating, but what's better is that you get to enjoy authentic German food and culture within a three-hour drive from Fort Benning. Much like the NOLA locals tell you to steer clear during Mardi Gras, Helen locals will advise the same for Oktoberfest. Buuut, you may need to try it just once...if only so I can live vicariously through you. Aside from this event, there are plenty of other reasons to visit. For one, they've got a killer winery scene! Check out our full Helen itinerary!
Blue Ridge, GA
Not much farther north from Helen, the Blue Ridge Mountains within the famed Smoky Mountains spanning Tennessee and North Georgia are a true outdoor paradise. Beautiful, serene and within reasonable reach of Fort Benning, the town of Blue Ridge and the surrounding area are perfect for anyone looking to disconnect from stress and bask in nature's glory. I highly recommend renting a cabin and going over 4th of July weekend. You'll experience the great outdoors and swell with all-American pride at the outpour of red, white and blue that envelopes the town during our nation's celebration of independence. The best part is you won't miss the 4th of July celebration at Fort Benning that's typically a week earlier.
Funny that I've listed Savannah since you could easily visit this place daily if you were stationed at Fort Stewart/HAAF. So, why take a weekend trip to another military town if you're at Fort Benning? Umm...cuz it's Sa-friggin-vannah, that's why. Depending on traffic, Savannah is about 4-4.5 hours away. It's such an easy trip to take and you can head there without plans. Much like Nashville, just reserve an Airbnb and walk to many of the local hotspots. The food, scenery and historic sites are absolute perfection! Grab a few friends and make a fun weekend out of it. Or take your goofy lil bro like I did and get white girl wasted on the waterfront. Whatever floats your boat. Check out our full Savannah itinerary!
There are plenty more places for a weekend trip from Fort Benning, but these suggestions will last you until at least your first year of assignment! Happy travels :)
about the author
Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up. She’s currently stationed in Washington, DC, with previous assignments at Fort Huachuca, Fort Bliss, Fort Riley and Fort Benning. You can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!