Whenever I ask my kids where they may want to travel to next, the answer has always been Legoland Florida!
We have a houseful of Legomaniacs and if your children are like mine, you are going to have to make at least one trip to this amazing, family friendly, over the top destination!
Legoland Florida is about a five hour trip from our home. My wife and I didn’t tell the kids where we were going until we were turning into the parking lot! We pulled off the surprise of a lifetime and had the most incredible day!
I admit, at the end of the day, when we were driving back to our hotel, I mentally had a fist pump moment. The dream came true for my kids that day!
It can be tremendously simple to spend thousands of dollars on a trip to any destination in Orlando. Disney, Universal Studios, and the surrounding attractions have mastered the techniques of separating people from their money. I get it. Quality entertainment is valuable but we have a large family and have found that the more expensive something is, the less fun we seem to have. Legoland Florida is an exception to the that rule but we did save where we could.
You can find deals everywhere for Legoland tickets. Lego Magazine has coupons for Buy One, Get One Free Admission. There are youtube videos and literally hundreds of blog posts that tell you how to get the best ticket prices and promotional discounts. I was easily able to find discounted ticket prices. However, you may have to fork over a fair amount of money for your trip. Finally, I can tell you that we had a lot of fun and are already planning a trip for later this year, so it is totally worth it!
We homeschool our children and Legoland offers special weekday prices on specific dates for families like ours. Essentially, we got in on a Tuesday for half the cost it would have been if we came on a Friday or Saturday.
Currently, for homeschoolers, 1 day Legoland tickets for kids are $14.50 and Adult admission is $29. You must book in advance on specified dates and you will need to submit proof of homeschooling. Our family got in the park for $116 dollars. As such, the normal admission price is $84.99 per person, so you can see how we saved. The park has tremendous discount opportunities if you dig deep enough and combine deals. Save money where you can!
Legoland has numerous overnight accommodations to choose from. Each of them look amazing and fun!
The Legoland Hotel is literally right next to the front gate to the park. They have themed rooms and several awesome activities for the kids. In addition, staying here also gets you into the park about an hour before the general admission crowds are allowed in. These rooms are pricey but come with the aforementioned perks and if you don’t mind spending the money this is an ideal way to go.
There are also the bungalows at the Legoland Beach Resort for a larger than average family and for perhaps extended visits to Legoland. Next, there is the newest lodging on site, the Legoland Pirate Island Hotel. Just opened!
Additionally, Legoland partners with several condos and vacation rental properties around the Lakeland area. Legoland does offer several ticket and lodging packages that could prove convenient for your family’s needs.
We chose to stay off property at the Holiday Inn Express-Lake Wells and saved a ton of money. This trip was kind of last minute so we hadn’t exactly been stashing cash for this adventure.
The kids had a lot of fun riding the small roller coasters and various rides. We got soaking wet on the Aquazone Wave Racers ride. The ride is basically an unpowered boat with water cannons you can aim, water explosions that get you wet, and the folks waiting in line and around the outside edge of the river course can squirt you from their own cannons! If you get on this ride be prepared to get wet and just go with it. The water ski shows were a lot of fun to watch and the kids had a great time watching the stunts.
The food options are aplenty in the park and they are literally everywhere. We ate a big breakfast at the hotel and planned to eat a large meal after we left the park that evening. That turned into ordering pizza in our room, after a long but fun day! The kids were happy!
Legoland allows you to bring soft sided coolers and snacks into the park with you. This is the option we chose and basically packed some Pringles, sandwiches, and fruit snacks in each of the kids’ backpacks. We did spend money on bottled water so that the kids would not have to carry the weight all day and we followed some recommendations and tried some of Granny’s Apple Fries. They were a unique, tasty treat and a fine suggestion.
All in all we did the whole trip for less than $350 and really didn’t feel like we missed out on anything except the water park, which we will visit another time. The crowds were very manageable during the weekday. You have gotta check it out!
The Georgia State Parks encompass some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces that you will ever experience! These parks are ideal for families looking to spend time building grand adventures and exploring the natural world. Conservation, accessibility, and affordability are merged masterfully in over 64 states parks and historic sites. Great camping, hiking, outdoor activities, and comfortable cabins are available at every corner of Georgia. Below are our family’s ten favorite state parks. We hope you find inspiration for your next adventure below!
Kolomoki Mounds State Park is one of our family’s favorite parks because it is a very low key place to set up a tent and relax. The campground is smaller than most with just 25 sites. However, a good many of those sites are along the edge of a large pond. The smaller campground also keeps the park from being overcrowded and provides for a quiet stay. The thing that can be said for Kolomoki Mounds is that it has always been a peaceful visit for our family.
The park is located near the small town of Blakely, Georgia in the southwestern portion of the state. While all your needs can be met there it is a very rural area and your time will mostly be spent camping, hiking, or kayaking at the park. The staff at Kolomoki Mounds give great tours detailing the history of the native american mounds located on the property. Additionally, the park offers several special events and festivals throughout the year. Find the outdoors and some peace at Kolomoki Mounds State Park.
Laura S. Walker State Park is a hidden gem nestled in the southeastern corner of the state. Here you will find 44 campsites, six pristine sportsman’s cabins, a 120 acre lake, and two swimming areas. Laura S. Walker also features several picnic shelters, two large group camping areas, an 18 hole golf course, kayak and canoe rentals, an outdoor exercise station, and 5 miles of easy hiking trails. The city of Waycross, Georgia is very close by and features several restaurants and provides for all your last minute necessities.
Another great thing about Laura S. Walker is that it is conveniently located within a half hour’s drive of the golden isles of Georgia. These isles include Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and the coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Hotels and vacation homes in these areas can be quite pricey. The cabins we have stayed in at Laura S. Walker were very clean, comfortable, and a fraction of the cost of those on the islands. They were perfect for our family of six. We did not mind making the drive to Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island and saving a couple hundred dollars.
F.D. Roosevelt encompasses over 9,000 acres and has nearly 40 miles of hiking trails with backcountry campsites available. This park, named for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is one of the largest parks in Georgia’s system. The original infrastructure of the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The stonework of the buildings, parking areas, and the 21 cottages are testament to that legacy.
We have stayed in one of the cabins at FDR and it was amazing! The park sits high atop Pine Mountain, on the southeastern border with Alabama, near Columbus, Georgia. The views off the mountain resemble those found in the Northern portion of the state. Two of our favorite aspects of F.D. Roosevelt was the spring fed Liberty Bell Pool and a local eatery called The Wicked Pig. The Liberty Bell Pool’s cool waters were a nice respite from the sun and the BBQ at The Wicked Pig was delicious. F.D. Roosevelt is also near the historical area of Warm Springs where the president had a home. The home is operated as a historic site museum by the Georgia State Parks as well.
Conveniently located near Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park offers a great retreat from the city. The fresh air along the 12 miles of trails can restore a person’s balance quite nicely. Sweetwater Creek also has a large lake with boat and kayak rentals for fishing or just a pleasant float. The trails meander along the Creek and past the ruins of a mill burned by General Sherman’s troops when they occupied Atlanta during the Civil War.
Our family has made several visits to Sweetwater Creek over the years and we love it immensely. The trails are very diverse and are great for trail running or hiking. They range from flat to gently rolling and provide great exercise. In recent years the park has added yurts and a few tent camping sites. The park’s visitor center has several exhibits and a very complete gift shop. Tours and nature programs are also available on site. Our large family stayed in one of the yurts and enjoyed the experience.
Yet another Georgia State Park that sits high atop a mountain is Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Fort Mountain boasts beautiful mountain views, interesting history, and miles of hiking and biking trails. Wildlife is in abundance at Fort Mountain State Park and the park has a very healthy population of Black Bears. Watch your food, these creatures are very crafty!
The campground has 75 campsites, numerous specialty campsites, and there are 15 newly remodeled cabins to choose from. A prominent feature to visit is the stone fire tower at the top of the mountain. The Civilian Conservation Corps has their stamp on Fort Mountain State Park as well. The fire tower being the centerpiece of their work on the park. My son and I recently camped in the backcountry here and enjoyed the experience. Try to find the heart shaped rock hidden in the side of the tower!
If your family is looking for awe inspiring nature, then look no farther than Tallulah Gorge State Park. The gorge has several waterfalls that descend beyond the dams upriver and eventually end at a lagoon with sloped rock formations known as sliding rock. There the algae covered rocks form natural water slides. The Jane Hurt Yarn Visitor sits high atop the cliffs that form Tallulah Gorge. The gift shop there is one of the most well stocked I have ever seen at a state park.
Families will find the campground comfortable and conveniently located to the trails, which parallel the gorge on the upper rim and descend down hundreds of stairs to the gorge floor. Several other trails lead farther into the wooded areas and provide access to three backcountry sites. The Shortline Trail is a longer paved trail, perfect for taking the kids for bike rides. Bring your own bicycles along as you explore this beautiful state park in Northeast Georgia.
The Civilian Conservation Corps left an indelible impression on the Georgia State Parks. Vogel State Park is yet another prime example of that as this state park features a very good museum showing the perspective of a CCC worker. Vogel State Park has a lot to love and one of our family favorite aspects is the one mile Lake Loop Trail. This gorgeous trail is flat, well kept, and sits at the bottom of the valley that cradles the majority of the park. Vogel is one of the oldest and most revered Georgia State Parks. Many of the cabins at Vogel were CCC built and are some of the most unique stays among any of Georgia State Park cabins . The park is located in the beautiful North Georgia mountains not far from Helen, Georgia.
There is so much to love about this park! The park offers two 18 hole miniature golf courses on site for the kiddos. There are waterfalls, tremendous hiking trails, the aforementioned beautiful old cottages as well new ones, and plenty of campsites. The alpine town of Helen is just down the mountain as well. Helen is a small but lively tourist friendly town with all kinds of activities and restaurants. Vogel is also close to many of the natural landmarks of North Georgia, including Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest point. The park is lovely in every season, but gorgeous and very busy in the Fall. Two camping areas are available, one for tent camping and one that is best suited for an RV. Head to the mountains for your next adventure in the Georgia State Parks.
The park should be named Dreamland! Seeing the morning fog slowly roll through the valleys is a real treat. This Georgia state park has exceptionally well maintained trails with watefalls, rapids, and lush forests surrounding you on all sides. Hike along the canyon rim or descend into the rocky bottom. There are 72 great campsites, 30 walk in campsites, 10 yurts, and 16 freshly renovated cabins. All great options for your family’s stay.
There are many great activities to do while visiting Cloudland Canyon such as the 18 hole disc golf course. Additionally, you will find mountain biking trails, nearby paved bike trails, and several miles of horseback riding trails. Cloudland Canyon is well removed from larger cities but Chattanooga, Tennessee is an easy 40 minute drive. There are only a few state parks that compare to the beauty of this serene marvel!
Sunset at Providence Canyon State Park is absolutely gorgeous! The red, orange, and white canyon walls are like something you might find in the western United States. This unique park offers 10 miles of hiking trails and six back country campsites. Our family has visited several times and have always enjoyed ourselves while reveling in the scenery.
Providence Canyon State Park has no cabins or electric campsites. Those can be found just a short drive away at Florence Marina State Park. Eufala, Alabama is the closest city with grocery stores and major restaurants. The trails, the peace and quiet, and the scenery will leave you mesmerized. Providence is one of the crown jewels of the Georgia State Parks!
Black Rock Mountain State Park is quite simply the most enchanted place I have ever traveled to with my family! Everyone in the family looks forward to our trips there and we cannot help but keep going back. In the Spring, mountain flowers grow along the road and bloom ever so brightly. In the Fall there is no more breathtaking place to be as the leaves change colors. Quite simply, the natural beauty of this park is significantly difficult to top.
During the Summer months, Black Rock stays nice and cool due to it’s elevation. Like an ice cold glass of water when your dying of thirst, Black Rock offers an escape from the summer heat. Black bears are found on Black Rock Mountain State Park and sightings are both infrequent and very special. Clayton, Georgia is the small town below the mountain that has all you need during your travels including a number of great restaurants. Several other state parks are within an easy drive. South Carolina and North Carolina are both less than 10 minutes away.
Black Rock Mountain State Park offers 10 beautiful cabins that sit along a beautiful ridge. The campground has 44 small and cozy campsites, but only a few can accommodate an RV. There are more than 12 miles of hiking trails and four very scenic backcountry campsites spread throughout. The summit of the park is a very iconic and photogenic place. The Georgia state parks must surely mark this park at the diamond center piece of their system. It definitely is special to our family. No other place has rewarded us so greatly in our travels.
Glorious adventures and awe inspiring canyons await you at Providence Canyon State Park! The slot canyons of the West are no doubt beautiful however, Georgia has it’s own very special offering in that regard. Providence Canyon is an excellent state park for a day hike, taking a long trail run, or camping in the backcountry! The experience here is worthy of a great day out for your family. We have visited this great place twice in the last couple of years and love it!
There are just over ten miles of hiking trails at Providence Canyon State Park to explore! The Canyon Loop Trail is the first path you access from the visitor center. It gently drops down into the canyon floor from the rim and you can choose from 9 different canyons to explore. This trail provides a comfortable and scenic first hand view of the red and orange colored canyon walls. The Canyon Loop Trail is about two and a half miles long and will take at least a couple of hours to complete. The canyon floor is often very wet if there has been recent rain, but the soil on the main trail is hard packed and it makes for an interesting hike.
Additionally, there is the Backcountry Trail. This trail is a 7 mile loop that leads to several backcountry campsites and a prolonged experience. The terrain goes from rolling gentle hills and flat canyon bottoms to steep climbs. It is a great hike for adventurous families and groups willing to take the challenging terrain. The Backcountry Trail will give you lots of views and experiences in the outdoors but is definitely a different experience compared to the Canyon Loop Trail. Both trails were worthy and provided our family some great adventure!
Providence Canyon State Park is a little different than most state parks in Georgia. There are no cabins here and there is not an RV accessible campground. For those amenities you will need to head over to Florence Marina State Park, about 10 miles away. However, there are six backcountry campsites that provide a great backpacking experience for the whole family! Each site offers plenty of space to spread out and relax. Firewood can be collected from dead limbs and twigs on the ground, of which there is plenty laying around. You will need to bring your water to the site as the creeks and streams are not reliable sources.
In addition to this there are 3 pioneer camping sites, which have 3 sided adirondack style shelters. These shelters have a roof and allow you to leave your tent behind. You simply lay out your sleeping mat and sleeping bag and rest, just like shelters along the Appalachian Trail. The pioneer sites are also equipped with a picnic table and fire pit.
Providence Canyon has a lot of kid friendly activities available and makes a great day trip. The park is commonly used as a simple day trip destination. There are two picnic shelters on the North Rim for family events and gatherings, a playground for the kids, and several tables to stop and eat a snack. The newly renovated visitor center is stocked with souvenirs, bug spray, and a variety of trinkets.
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 served as the 39th President of the United States and he just happens 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 operated under the direction of 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. Therefore, the train 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 spent the day learning 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. In addition, yet 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. Furthermore, 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 and the Castillo de San Marcos were 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 and 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 FD Roosevelt State Park is the Liberty Bell Pool. This spring fed swimming pool is yet another structure defining the lasting legacy of the CCC boys who developed the rest of the site. Therefore, the pool is named for 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.