One of our favorite family destinations is the always adventurous Jekyll Island, Georgia. This amazing barrier island has it all! Beautiful hiking trails, bike riding paths, playgrounds, mini golf, and a water park. If you are looking for some great family fun in the sun, this is the place to visit.
We visit the island whenever we need to get away and spend some time lounging in the surf. Jekyll Island features seven beach areas to enjoy. Our favorites are Driftwood Beach and Great Dunes Beach. These two beaches are very distinct. Driftwood Beach features a maze of trees that have washed ashore, therefore, creating beautiful opportunities for pictures.
Great Dunes Beach is the most popular beach on the island as it is has the most access points and is near a few restaurants. Also, the miniature golf course, and a bike rental concessionaire is nearby. There are several picnic tables here and a large playground area just across the street. Great Dunes is our favorite beach on the island for playing in the waves and building sand castles!
At Great Dunes, near the playground, there is a snack bar and additionally, Tortuga Jacks Restaurant. These are both great options for eating however, there are several picnic areas on Jekyll Island. We have enjoyed many a lunch under the shade of some ancient live oaks at the South Dunes Picnic Area.
There is so much to do while visiting this island getaway! If you are on an extended stay or looking for something educational to do there is the
Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Tidelands 4-H Center. Both of these are excellent places to expose kids to the natural wonders of the Golden Isles of Georgia. Furthermore, your family could go camping, ride a horse, play 18 holes of golf, take boat tours to see dolphins, and so much more!
Jekyll Island has several great restaurants and a large number of additional options off the island in nearby Brunswick, Georgia. Also, several hotels are available on the isle with the Days Inn being the budget friendly option. Several Jekyll Island Vacation Rentals are available through VRBO and Home Away. Flipkey by Tripadvisor is also great for vacation rentals. Laura S. Walker State Park, a 30 minute drive from Jekyll, has cabins that are reasonably priced as well.
The dining options look amazing! Although,Jekyll Island offers many great choices for dining, we have only ever ate at two of them. You may laugh but we have splurged at Tortuga Jack’s, which was amazing, and the local Dairy Queen. Dining on the Island can be a little high for a family traveling on a budget!
January and February on the island are plenty cool and windy. However, during these months Jekyll Island features the annual Island Treasures hunt. This is where volunteers hide colored glass orbs all over the island for visitors to find. People come for miles to hunt these unique items. If you find one of the samples on the island, you return it to the visitor center, where they exchange it for a real glass ball! The hidden treasures are actually colored plastic, so that it won’t break! Enjoy!
This stunning state park has some of the most amazing hiking trails I have ever seen! Conveniently located West of Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park is an easy drive to escape the big city and get some fresh air. We love this beautiful place and have so many great family memories here!
Our family has visited Sweetwater Creek several times while living nearby. Here you will find many awesome things to see and do. For example, you may find the ruins of the New Manchester textile mill, consequently burned by General Sherman during the Civil War. Additionally, the water running through Sweetwater Creek is quite beautiful and a trail runs along it’s banks for two whole miles. The park’s visitor center has numerous historical displays to explore. Lastly, the gift shop is quite well stocked with t-shirts and souvenirs.
This wonderful Georgia State Park is a favorite among hikers, trail runners, and dog walkers alike. The reason for this is due to the pathways at Sweetwater being gently rolling to relatively flat in some places. Furthermore, there are several different hiking trails and they can range in difficulty from easy to very difficult. The most popular route is the Red Trail, which parallels the creek all the way to the mill ruins. The trail begins at the visitor center and is very wide and flat. Be sure to ask the park staff for recommendations. Click here for a trail map.
Sweetwater Creek State Park offers unique camping opportunities. For an experience similar to glamping, your crew can rent one of the 10 Yurts on the property. Yurts are like round cabins, but made out of simpler materials. They are very much a hybrid between a cabin and a heavy duty tent. In each is a Full-size bunk bed as well as a full size futon.
Additionally, tent camping is also available at the park, just up the hill from the Yurts. There are only five campsites and they are site specific so definitely consult the campground map before booking. Several hotels are within easy driving distance of the park if you require less spartan accommodations. Another way to go is through vacation rentals like HomeAway or VRBO.
Sweetwater Creek State Park has a very large reservoir on it’s property that provides excellent fishing and boating activity. Another thing to know is that lake traffic is limited to small fishing boats, kayaks, and canoes. Therefore, all of these vessels can be rented from the park’s bait shop.
Additionally, the lake area has a very large parking lot with several picnic tables and bathrooms. Generally, the bait shop is open at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Lastly, the park has several paddle boats for rent. You must propel these using your feet much like a bicycle.
Check out this great video of The Falls area at the end of the Red Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park as well as this great photo of the falls with snow.
I find nothing more enjoyable as a parent than seeing my child light up as they come upon a new discovery! Traveling to unique and exciting places provides that moment in abundance. I love seeing it! Our family travels are the key to so many great memories.
There is a whole wide world to explore and kids grow fast! Before you know it, they will be off chasing and building the lives we encourage them to dream of.
Alas, I pray that the adventures we take over these few years will give them an eternal sense of wonder, the confidence to endeavor, and the experiences that open a myriad of possibilities to them.
Standing out there alone, looking at the most beautiful natural wonder you have ever seen, will never compare to having someone you care about with you while you do it.
For instance, when you explore something amazing, having it all to yourself, surely will be a wondrous experience. However, the very next thing a person in the modern age is going to do is take a picture or a video. We send our friends and family a text or we post it on facebook, instagram, twitter, or pin it to pinterest. At the very least, we tell someone about it the very first chance we get. It’s what we do as human beings.
A person becomes inspired and cannot help but offer it to someone else. It is among the many reasons I write about our family travels. I want to share our experiences and pass on the inspiration to others. So let’s bring someone along for our journey. It just means more this way.
I can think of no one I would rather share an epic journey with than my wife and children. I want as many amazing memories and beautiful moments as I can get with them. Every parent, I am sure, feels this way. We are investing in our family by traveling and we hope that you will find value in your own family travels.
My wife and I take our family on a new adventure every time we can merge the budget, the time away from work, and the slightest willingness of the kids to drop the video games and go see something tangible. We firmly believe in giving our children as many healthy experiences are possible. We plan our family travels, mostly for the good times but there is always a lesson to be learned along the way.
I do not mean only positive experiences. My children need to see adversity once in awhile and the bond is strengthened through those moments. We feel that it is good for kids to be along for the ride when a tire blows out, or a traffic jam occurs, or maybe they learn how to roll with it when a reservation is lost. The world is not perfect, even when you are on vacation.
A life of limited experience will always be limited. When I take my children to an aquarium, has my daughter not been opened to the idea of being a marine biologist someday? Visiting a state or national park and seeing the career of a park ranger up close, could that career be open to them? Meeting a native american craftsman, do they not gain a small appreciation for their art and culture? When visiting an aviation museum, do my children not imagine themselves becoming a pilot someday? I believe these things will build my children and their character. In our travels, our kids have been exposed to so many things and they have expanded their horizons. The light they shine on the rest of the world is broader for it. Their own possibilities are amplified several times over.
Your children are only in your home so long. When they are small, it seems as if they will be that way forever. However, I can assure you, children grow. My eldest child is 14 now. This means I only have four more years to spend with him. I only have four more years to grow the memories. Four years until the page on that chapter is turned. Once he goes off to college or some other path, he will be building his own life on his own terms and schedule.
I want him to be ready and comfortable with new experiences, ideas, cultures, and whatever life can throw at him. While there are many things that we have tackled as parents, our travels are where he has learned the most about life.
Do not put it off! Please, do not envision a perfect age for which to travel with children. There is no such thing. Strap them to you and go if need be. Drag them kicking and screaming if you must, but just go somewhere. No one ever told me that it would be easy and sometimes it isn’t. Water bottles, jackets, and shoes will get forgotten and lost. Gas runs out before you can make it to the next station. Kids get cranky and just want out of their car seat.
All this will happen, but it is the moments in between that bind a family together. The one great picture you took, out of one hundred. The stories you tell each other when you look back on the worst moments. For example, a sudden rainstorm on a camping trip, that soaked everything we owned. That is what you are looking for. A life is what you build when you seek something beyond existence.
Let’s face it, money does not grow on trees. Most of us, have a limited travel budget. I could write about tips on saving money but I will simply say travel where you can. Though I dream of traveling to Japan, Australia, Germany, and Bali, it just isn’t in the finances. Travel with your family and keep it simple.
We keep it basic by making lots of day trips to museums, state parks, the occasional national park, zoos, and going camping. When visiting family we dig up whatever travel experience we can find along the way. We save money where we can throughout the year so that we can wander the country in the future. Sometimes we spend as necessary and other times we skimp. Visiting local attractions around your state does not need to break the bank. Find a trail and hike it. Be with your family and explore every corner of the world you can reach.
Life at home can be great, but there are so many distractions. It is good to walk away from the tv, the ipads, the video games, the responsibilities, and the appointments. It is okay to put all that stuff is put on hold. Don’t worry! It will be there when you get back. Let the lawn grow a little long and spend this weekend going somewhere. Leave a load of laundry unfolded. Skip tee-ball or soccer practice when they are little. Travel with your family before you wake up one day and realize you missed it. Chase the sun. Take your family and aim for the horizon!
I do not believe I will leave this world having seen enough of it. -Cass-
There is no experience that has convinced me more of God’s existence greater than being immersed in his creation. -Cass-
One of the most beautiful and most popular outdoor attractions in the state of Georgia is the awe inspiring and serene Tallulah Gorge State Park. Our family lived in North Georgia for a few short years and as such we made many day trips to this great place.
Tallulah Gorge is about an hour and a half from Atlanta, Georgia.
The canyon at Tallulah Gorge State Park is 2 miles long and includes several waterfalls and nearly 20 miles of hiking trails. You can combine the North Rim and South Rim trails to circle the canyon or you can hike down 1000 feet of stairs to the gorge floor.
The campground at Tallulah Gorge has 50 campsites for tent and RV camping use. The sites are either 25 feet in length or 50 foot, for large RVs and Fifth Wheels. When camping in Georgia State Parks, remember that their campgrounds are site specific, so book exactly which site it is you desire.
Three backcountry campsites are available to hike into. Each campsite has a three sided adirondack style shelter that is covered.
A pioneer campground, specifically for large groups of 25 people or less is also available.
Unfortunately, there are no cabins on Tallulah Gorge State Park. Black Rock Mountain State Park, a 15 minute drive from the Gorge, features 10 of the most sought after cabins in the Georgia State Parks. These cabins rest on a flat ridge high atop Black Rock Mountain. They are very clean and feature some spectacular views.
If you bring your bicycles, Tallulah Gorge features a paved hiking path that sits on an old railroad cut, and is perfect for bike riding. The three mile long Shortline Trail meanders along a beautiful river. Rollerblading is another great activity that you can do on the Shortline.
The North and South Rim Trails are about three miles combined and offer great views from 5 different vantage points. These overlooks also give you a view of the bridge that straddles the dam. From this trail you ca see L’Eau d’Or Falls, Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
The Gorge Floor Trail requires a special permit and there are only 100 issued daily. The attraction is that you get to see the waterfalls up close and visit the Sliding Rock swimming hole. This large sloped rock face has gentle water flowing over it and enough algae to create a natural water slide into the pool below. See the “things to know” section for more information on Gorge Floor Permits. The hike to the Gorge Floor is not for the faint of heart but as it is rocky and rugged with a lot of elevation change.
Be on the lookout for some amazing Peregrine Falcons! The last several years there have been a nesting pair on the cliffs below the visitor center. Occasionally, a sighting is made of this magnificent bird screaming in while on the hunt!
Our latest and greatest adventure in search of some family fun took us to Jacksonville, Florida for a quick day trip. There we visited the Museum of Science and History or MOSH, as it is commonly known. We had a great day exploring the exhibits! There is something for everyone here!
The many featured items included a replica Allosaurus Skeleton, a touch tank with sea creatures, snakes and reptiles, a science lab with live demonstrations, a planetarium, an elaborate display on Jacksonville’s history, and a 3D topography model.
The great thing about MOSH is that it was very interactive. There always seemed to be some kind of device to use or educational game to play for the kids.
The first room you come to after the main lobby, is themed to teach children about aquatic life in the ocean waters off the Florida coast. There was a tool that uses echolocation to measure distance, like a dolphin. Next, we found an actual size Right Whale and calf on display and several aquatic specimens preserved for kids to see and explore. The most noteworthy thing in this room is the touch tank exhibit. MOSH staff conduct a program involving the touch tank that allows children to reach into the tank. The kids were able to touch sea snails and anemones, for instance.
Beyond this room is the Allosaurus skeleton and the live animals exhibit. Gopher Tortoises, King Snakes, several Turtles, an Indigo Snake, and a few live birds can be seen in the animals exhibit. At MOSH, there is a commitment to displaying exhibits directly related to the state of Florida. For example, all of the animals on display at the museum are native to to the state of Florida.
After that, we made our way to the second floor where we found a large area for the kids to play in. This level has a topographic map simulator, a mini golf play area, and several educational games. Additionally, a throwing booth with a radar gun is setup so that your kids can test their best fastball. Hence, we spent a large amount of time on the second floor playing. Finally, you will come to the planetarium.
The planetarium has three scheduled shows each day. Therefore, your family can choose one of which to see. Each paid admission includes a visit to the planetarium! We really enjoyed our time watching the timeless “Two pieces of glass.”
MOSH certainly has several interesting exhibits. Moreover, some are only on display for short term basis. On the 3rd floor we found an area featuring the many boroughs in the City of Jacksonville. The theme was to educate children on the complexities of building infrastructure and social inclusion in a community. On the first floor, on your way out through the gift shop, is a great interactive display on how the human body functions. Additionally, another good option is a small outdoor pond with freshwater and Alligator snapping turtles swimming around. This area is a good place to learn about the plant life found in Florida. Lastly, it was just nice to get some fresh air.
Certainly, one of the coolest things we did was attend a demonstration at the Science Theater. This lab program, put on by one of MOSH’s staff members . Our presenter did a great job of presenting some awe inspiring science demonstrations. She was very engaging and really made the science fun for the kids. An example of this was when she performed a controlled explosion with a 5 gallon water bottle and alcohol. The kids loved it.
Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States and he just happened to be from our home state of Georgia. President Carter rose from simple beginnings in the small, South Georgia town of Plains. Our family is always looking for an excuse to get out and explore so we thought we’d look into it.
On our drive to go camping at Kolomoki Mounds State Park, we added a visit to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and Boyhood Home. To get there we rode the Sam Shortline Train from Cordele, Georgia to Plains. The SAM Shortline Train is operated by the Georgia State Parks, who do a wonderful job making the trip a fun family experience.
Full disclosure. We were given tickets to the train by a friend, and as such we did not pay to ride. It is a great experience but it is not the cheapest thing we have ever recommended. With that said, I think your money would be well spent. The unique travel, the money saved on gas and not having to endure a car ride were all positives.The train does have a snack car that serves hot dogs, candy bars, chips, ice cream, nachos, and more. You ride a rail bridge across Lake Blackshear. It is quite the experience.
President Jimmy Carter is our only Georgia born president, and a respectable man. We learned more about the former President and how his young life was shaped by this small town in the Georgia countryside. President Carter still lives in Plains after all these years! What a commitment to your roots! What a very humble man he is. Plains is where President Carter staged his presidential campaign in the 70’s. There are several shops along the store fronts in Plains and they are within an easy walk of the train. There is a layover of an hour and a half for the train. These shops cater to the tourists like us, coming to experience the historic site. One shop we visited specialized in political merchandise. The kids bought a ruler. Some of the memorabilia was pretty neat. Another shop sold Peanut Butter Ice Cream, which was delicious! Many other treats and souvenirs were available.
The high school that President Carter attended is now used as the National Park Service’s visitor center for the site and his boyhood home. It is within easy walking of the train depot, directly across the tracks from the store fronts. The visitor center still looks like an old school but does have many unique displays featuring the President’s career in politics before becoming president, his Nobel Prize, and a replica of his desk. The kids completed the Junior Ranger activity and were awarded with their Junior Ranger badges. Dad bought a book.
From Plains, the SAM Shortline Train moves down the tracks to the next stop in Archery, Georgia. Here you arrive at the countryside farm that President Carter grew up on. You can see a working windmill water pump, the simple home his family lived in, and the old country store his father operated. You really can find a sense of what simplicity and values President Carter started with and what he forged himself to become. I loved that my children could see how a person can grow from humble beginnings.
Once this layover is complete, the train simply is pulled back along the way you came, allowing for a restful ride back towards the depot at Georgia Veterans State Park. Georgia Veteran’s State Park is a great place to camp and explore. There are several military vehicles on display at the park and worth at least a brief look. The kids were less than enthused but we made an effort.
Our family had been hearing how great St. Augustine was to visit from several friends for months. Since it was only a few hours drive from where we live in South Georgia, we made a day trip to the Old Town. St. Augustine was well worth the drive! We had a really fun day checking out the fort, walking around St. George Street, and eating some amazing food.
When planning this trip, three awesome destinations were recommended to us. The first stop was the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. We really wanted to make the trip as educational as possible for the kids and soak up all the history that St. Augustine has to offer. Of course, my kids love watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and so we had to include this stop. The second spot was the Colonial Quarter just next to the pirate museum. Lastly, we made the short walk across the street to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the main attraction.
The monument was a really enjoyable experience. The kids did a scavenger hunt here, took some really unique pictures, and even got to see the live cannon firing demonstration. The volunteer reenactors dress in Spanish colonial uniforms and give all the firing commands in Spanish, giving the experience a unique authenticity. Upon completing the scavenger hunt the kids earned their Junior Ranger Badges from the National Park Service park rangers. Over the years my children have done several junior ranger programs but the staff here were great about talking to the kids and helping them through the workbook. Exploring the fort was pretty cool. To walk on stonework that was several hundreds of year old was an experience. We really got a great sense of this piece of history. The pictures we took were pretty cool too.
This museum was full of great artifacts from the age of the pirate. There were marvelous flags, gold doubloons, swords, hats, and lots of interactive exhibits for the kids. The staff dress in costume and walk around offering information and such. There are tours available if you are interested. We just wandered as a family. Inside there were replica cannons that the kids can “fire”. A small room off the back of the museum has a short movie you can watch about the time period. The sword Johnny Depp used as a prop during the Pirates of the Caribbean movie was on display too. The museum has an excellent gift shop with every pirate novelty you can imagine. Dad walked away with a great book he found called, Blackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast. Two of the boys pooled some allowance money to buy a pirate gun and sword set. This completed their complete uniform they said. As you can see in the picture above, they already had the hat and coat. Outside, there is a cannon and old stocks to pose in. The pirate museum was really a lot of fun for the kids.
After leaving the pirate museum, we walked next door to The Colonial Quarter. This attraction is basically a living history village, complete with a blacksmith’s shop, woodworkers studio, and several other historical buildings. Staff dress in period clothing and give tours of the village. The tour guides really take their history seriously and know it very well. We were so enthralled with the historical information presented that we forgot to take pictures during the entire tour. There is an observation tower at the property that overlooks the fort. That is how we got such great views from across the street. As I said, once up in the tower, we snapped out of it and began taking pictures. In the parade ground of the village, the kids were given wooden toy guns and invited to take soldier training. It was playful and the tour guide gave gentle commands and the kids had some fun participating. Here are a couple pictures from The Colonial Quarter.
The National Civil War Naval Museum was extremely fascinating. Our family loves museums! My poor kids have a history buff for a father and therefore, while visiting F.D. Roosevelt State Park, we made the drive into Columbus to check it out.
What an amazing place we found! There were so many exhibits which included the wreck of an actual ironclad! It was huge and there was even a framed mock-up that gave you some appreciation for the actual size of the vessel! Outside the museum are several cannons and a sailing ship that can be explored.
Throughout the visit, the kids completed a scavenger hunt that was provided by the museum. They really enjoyed the exhibits. There are so many historical markers offering factoids. Because of this, Dad was so enthralled that he literally had to be pulled away from every placard and display. As a result of this, we spent a good long while visiting here.
The various ships on display are extensive. There are actual size versions of the famous ironclad ships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Albemarle. After that, there is also a replica sailing vessel named the USS Hartford. However, the ship is cut away below decks and visitors can tour life aboard the ship from the level of a seaman and even the captain’s quarters.
In addition, the museum also has a very extensive collection of flags from both the Union and the Confederacy. You could even see bullet holes and battle damage from their time aboard these fighting ships.
Below are some great photos of the kids exploring the museum.
By far the main attraction of the National Civil War Naval Museum is the wreck and mock up of the Confederate ironclad, the CSS Jackson. There is an entire wing of the building that features this nautical construct. The ship was actually built in Columbus, Georgia! However, when Union Cavalry entered the city, Confederate sailors burned it to the hull and set the ship adrift down the Chattahoochee River. As a result, the ship sunk. Finally, the CSS Jackson was recovered in 1961 and eventually placed in the museum.
If your kids love animals and exploring then the Jacksonville Zoo is the place to go. Our family recently made several trips there and had discovered something new each time. We are a family that loves the outdoors and the kids are always fascinated by animals. That is why we basically visit every zoo we can get to. We always have a lot of fun checking out the various exhibits and cannot wait any longer to share our experiences with you.
The Jacksonville Zoo is a few hours drive from our home but we don’t mind making the trip. We have been several times this last year. We always pack a lunch to save a little money. The interstate can be a bit congested but getting there is easy enough. The thing the kids wanted to see more than anything was the Jaguar exhibit. With the Jaguars being the local NFL franchise it made sense that the Jacksonville Zoo would have this animal on display. Our friend wasn’t feeling up to it on this day but it was still awesome to get so close to such a good looking cat.
The great thing about zoos is that they are designed for kids and families. The Jacksonville Zoo takes this to the limit. They have several things in addition to the animals. There is the Splash Ground water play area, the Wildlife Carousel, Jungle vines to swing on, and a goat petting area. Family themed restrooms are also quite useful for visiting with small children. Not to mention the wide eyed discovery of the awesome zoo creatures!
If you are looking for an outstanding, unique outdoor experience for your family then look no farther than the dazzling heights of F.D. Roosevelt State Park.
Named after the always revered President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, F.D. Roosevelt State Park is an outdoor wonder that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Roosevelt had a home nearby and would often visit Pine Mountain, upon which the park sits. There is an amazing story here and a great deal of history. The CCC influence on the property is apparent in nearly every building.
This 9,000 acre state park feature 40 miles of hiking trails, including the Pine Mountain Trail, which winds up and over Pine Mountain for 23 miles. It is a well known backpacking destination and fun for the whole family. The park is located 80 miles Southwest of Atlanta and 35 miles Northeast of Columbus, Georgia. The hills of the area give you a sense of irony. Despite being in South Georgia, you would think you are in the Appalachian Foothills. The park has over 120 campsites and 16 back-country campsites. 21 Cabins sit along the crest of the mountain and offer some amazing views. Here are some pictures of the cabin we stayed in.
One of the unique and lasting experiences at FDR State Park is the Liberty Bell Pool. This spring fed swimming pool was built by the very same CCC boys who developed the rest of the site. It is aptly named due to it’s bell shape. The water is nice and cool in the hot months of Summer. Our kids had a blast! Kids + Water is always a good recipe for fun.
Along the scenic drive up Pine Mountain at FDR is a really neat picnicking area called Dowdell’s Knob. Apparently, FDR himself would drive his custom built vehicle to this point for relaxation and the occasional picnic. There is a life-size statue of the President, which is great for taking fun pictures. The view off the mountain from here is breathtaking. Our family spent a couple of hours just goofing around here. We truly had an amazing day exploring F.D. Roosevelt State Park.
A visit to the mountains of North Georgia would be incomplete without a stop at highest point in the state! At 4,784 feet above sea level Brasstown Bald takes that distinction. Within easy driving distance from other well known vacation areas in North Georgia, Brasstown Bald is a great family destination! This amazing site has a museum, shuttle service, hiking trails, and amazing views. This is a great day trip for adventurous family travelers like us!
We decided that as native Georgians we had to visit the highest point in our state, at the very least. The drive was just over an hour from Black Rock Mountain State Park, where we were staying. We parked in the main parking lot which is quite a bit below the summit area, where the museum is located. There we paid our $5 fee and received some stickers for our troubles.
The staff encouraged us to wait on the shuttle van that would carry us up the road to the summit, which is closed to visitor traffic. Otherwise, we could walk the trail to the top. Once we made the observation that the trail was just over half a mile (.6 miles), we chose the adventurous route and started off on foot. The climb was simple enough but a small challenge. I remember the path being paved for most of the way so it is less than rugged. The kids loved exploring and we took our time so it was quite a nice little hike. When we got to the top it was spectacular!
At the Summit, there are many ways you can spend your time. Brasstown Bald sits on National Forest land and the property was operated by the US Forest Service until recent years. As such, there is a forestry museum that lays out how Forest Rangers would man Brasstown Bald as fire lookouts and the various historical aspects of the site. It is very informative and a lot of fun for the kids. There is also a theater that plays a short video about the area.
Of course you must head to the very top of the museum to see the pinnacle. As you may have guessed, a brass cover mark the peak. Take lots of pictures and walk around. From the observation platform you can see Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and of course, the Georgia mountains. Another thing you can do is relax in the rocking chairs provided. Rest your legs as you wait for the shuttle or anticipate the walk back down the trail.
Laura S. Walker State Park is a hidden gem of the Georgia State Parks system. Located near Waycross, Georgia, this park is a great base of operations from which to access the Golden Isles of Georgia’s coastline. Jekyll Island is a 30 minute drive and St. Simon’s Island is another 10 minutes! Laura S. Walker State Park even has a great 18 hole golf course!
This spacious state park has several fun, family oriented activities. There is a little bit of everything to do here! The 120 acre lake is perfect for kayaking, boating, and fishing. Two separate swimming areas are designated along the lake for kids to splash around in. SUP Paddle Boards, Kayaks, and Paddle Boats are available to rent from the park office. The small, but spacious campground is a perfect place to hang out under the pines. Laura S. Walker’s campground is truly one of the coziest Georgia state park campgrounds. 5 miles of hiking trails feature some great opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. You may even see a gopher tortoise! Bicycles are allowed on the trails and they also can be rented from the park office. Laura S. Walker also has a very nice dog park which is specifically partitioned into two separate areas. One for small dogs and one for larger dogs. For those that don’t want to rough it there are some very nice cabins. They are clean and very comfortable. More details below. The Okefenokee Swamp Park and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge are also within easy driving distance.
One of the great things about Laura S. Walker State Park is the cabins! These cabins are more like a small 2 bedroom home and they are are incredibly clean! I have stayed in several vacation rentals over the years but these were pristine. They come with most everything you need such as cups, plates, cookware, and utensils. All linens and towels are provided of course. They have screened in back porches overlooking the lake and nearby swamp and a fire pit as well. Each bedroom in the cottage has a queen size bed and the sofa converts to a full size sleeper. They all have DirecTV provided. These cabins are pet friendly. You will not find many dog friendly hotels in Waycross. Cabin number 4 allows dogs. Of all the state parks in Georgia with cabin rentals, these are the best. There are several motels in Waycross, but these are ideal for a family and there are plenty of beds. These pictures will give you a sense of what these cabins look like!
If you live anywhere close to Atlanta, you must make at least one pilgrimage to Stone Mountain!
This place has so many things to do! There are several hiking trails, laser shows, ropes and climbing courses, camping, boating, golf, train rides, and playgrounds. There are several festivals and holiday events at Stone Mountain, most notably the 4th of July laser show.
There is a $20 per vehicle parking charge but that covers a lot for your family. The playgrounds, hiking trails, and access to the summit of the mountain. On days that there are laser shows, there are no additional fees for the event.
It was a very cool day in April that we visited. At ground level we explored the playground, the Washington King Covered bridge, and the Nature Garden Trail. Eventually, we worked our way over to the aerial tram.
Since we had a little one we kept the hiking short and rode the Summit Skyride to the top of Stone Mountain, mostly for the experience. Children 3 and under are free so we didn’t have to pay for our youngest! This was the only excursion we splurged on but thought it was a great ride for the kids and saved us a long hike.
At the summit it was windy and cool, but we had great views of the Atlanta skyline and the surrounding landscape. A sight to behold for sure! The summit is available to explore at your leisure. You can hike up from below on a mile long trail or you can hike down to the bottom after riding the Skyride up. We rode it both ways.
Ok, so this amazing place is not actually in Georgia. After all this is Georgia Family Adventures, right? Well we do have some wonderful family activities in the five states that border Georgia and in time I will bring you those stories. This waterfall, ironically named Dry Falls, is just across the Georgia border above the extreme Northeastern tip of the state, in Highlands, North Carolina.
The falls were gushing due to heavy rains in the area the previous night. The cool thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind the water. As thousand of gallons of water roar above your head, you can stay dry and snap the photo of a lifetime. It reminds me of that scene from :Last of the Mohicans”. Watch that movie if you have never seen it. See for yourself how awe inspiring this experience was for our family.
Dry Falls is on US Forest Service land and there is a $3 per vehicle fee. The parking area is roomy but can fill up quick. There are bathrooms in the parking lot as well. There are stairs and they can be icy in the Winter months.
The falls are about 10 minutes East of Highlands on Highway 64. Highlands lies at 4100 ft above sea level high up in the Appalachian foothills and all the roads to it go up. They are winding and roads with some good climbs. However, it seems that there are gorgeous overlooks about every other mile and pull-offs for you to get out and take a picture. Highlands is a very nice town with plenty of B & B’s, classy restaurants, and boutique shops. We did not stay there but we have visited a few times over the years. A place we recommend for a lunch stop is just South of Highlands in Scaly Mountain. The restaurant is named The Mountain Junction Cafe. The carrot cake came in huge slices and was amazing! The place has some great character too.
This would make a perfect day trip for anyone camping or vacationing at nearby locations such as Tallulah Gorge State Park, Moccasin Creek State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park, or Franklin, North Carolina. Check out these neat pictures we were able to get.
Two for one bonus! On the way to Dry Falls you will drive right by and possibly under, Bridal Veil Falls, right off Highway 64. The Forest Service will sometimes block it off if it is icy or rocks have been falling, so do be careful. Usually the road leading behind this waterfall is open and you can take some cool photos, like we did.
On this trip we visited Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simon’s Island, near Brunswick, Georgia. Fort Frederica is one of Georgia’s 11 National Park Service operated sites. It is here that the Spanish and English armies clashed in 1742 at the Battle of Bloody Marsh. Thus settling all disputes over the ownership of the colony of Georgia in favor of the English. The monument is representative of the old fortifications and remains of the colonial settlement along the Frederica River marsh.
Our family had a great visit! We made the rounds in just a couple short hours as the monument is expansive but easy to navigate on foot. The kids participated in the Junior Ranger scavenger hunt which was pretty neat. The staff gives each kid a hat, a haversack, which included a telescope, a compass, and a colonial era toy. This gave the kids a sense of adventure and as such we went around the site reading placards and gathering the clues. We made the most of this and gained some valuable historical knowledge.
Fort Frederica’s gift shop was actually pretty cool. It had several books on the Fort and the early colonial period in Georgia. There are crafts, antique games, stickers, magnets, and even toys. There is a dress up bin that allows kids to get in the costume of the era. I was impressed by the interaction this site allowed children to have. Being given the uniforms and haversacks really allowed the kids a fun way to immerse themselves in the history. As I said, this was a quick stop and admission wasn’t bad because it was all FREE! You know we love free stuff! Our family of six literally spent nothing but gas to have this experience. We did spend money on a great lunch at Barbara Jean’s Seafood after so go there when you work up an appetite. Remember, Free Admission!
Visit the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia! This doesn’t happen very often. A totally awesome, action packed, and educational experience! Best of all, it was totally FREE! There is absolutely no charge for admission!
The museum is filled with hundreds of real aircraft on display. There are plenty of real life cockpits for the kids to climb inside and imagine themselves flying in the wild blue yonder! The artifacts, exhibits, and educational offerings are amazing for a place that doesn’t cost a dime. We could literally get nose to nose with the aircraft and the kids were encouraged by staff to touch! How often does that happen? We had an amazing time and think you will too.
The Museum of Aviation is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., though it is closed on major holidays. You will need most of this time, as there is just so much awesomeness to see. This place was flat out inspiring!
There are three buildings and thousands of items on exhibit linked to aviation. Planes from the modern age, WW2 bombers, and several helicopters were on display. I cannot say enough about the resources offered. There are a few self guided tours and the museum engages kids by offering coloring pages and scavenger hunt handouts from their Kid Zone, on the second floor. Most of these resources can be downloaded here before you go, saving time.
The kids were able to really get up close to several of the exhibits and experience what it was like to fly the aircraft. We were lucky enough to be on site for a event that had several Air Force pilots in attendance. Our children engaged a couple of the guys standing around in their flight suits. The pilots were very friendly and answered several questions for them. This was not part of the museum, just a kindness by the servicemen. I regret not getting photos. Always be ready with a camera is what I am learning after several missed opportunities.
We did get some great fun pictures of the family exploring the place though. Check out the pictures from our adventure below.