Unique Sites in Southwest Georgia

Coheelee Creek BridgeEarly County, located along Georgia’s southwestern border with Alabama, is by far the state’s best kept secret with fascinating attractions that preserve the history of Native Americans, the Civil War and the state’s agricultural heritage. Kolomoki Mounds Historical Park is one of Early County’s major tourist destinations that draws in thousands of visitors each year. Along with the mounds and on-site museum, the park boasts walking trails, campgrounds and lakes. Occupied by the Swift Creek and Weeden Island Indian cultures (Woodland Indians) from 250-950 A.D, the park is “the oldest and largest Woodland Indian site in the southeastern United States,” according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

While Kolomoki Mounds is known throughout the Southeast for its rich cultural history, it is also known as the site of Georgia’s greatest historical artifact theft. During one night in March 1974, 129 artifacts were stolen from the museum. Over the years, part of the collection has been recovered from sources in Florida and Pennsylvania, but much of the collection still remains missing.

FlagAnother unique site in Early County is the last remaining Confederate flag staff still standing in the United States. Just one month into the Civil War, on May 16, 1861, a wooden flag staff was erected on the northwest corner of Court Square in Blakely adjacent to the courthouse. The stalwart pole, hewn from a long leaf pine that grew one mile southwest of Blakely, serves as a light into the past and a reminder of how far our society has progressed over the past 150 years.

Another glimpse into history in Early County is the Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge located in the unincorporated town of Hilton. Built in 1891 for $490.41, the Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge is the southernmost covered bridge in the United States. The bridge was renovated in the 1980s, and a series of small waterfalls set the stage for exciting and breathtaking photo opportunities.

CourthouseEarly County’s economy is driven by agriculture, specifically the peanut industry, which developed in the days of plantations and elegant Victorian homes, many of which still stand. Shops and restaurants line Court Square in Blakely, all shadowed by the courthouse known locally as the “Grand Ole Lady.” Whether you are passing through for the day or staying for the weekend, there is much to experience in Early County; Georgia’s best kept secret.

HeadshotMarshall Hooks graduated from Georgia Southern University in May 2012 with a Master of Public Administration degree and has been the Director of the Blakely-Early County Chamber of Commerce since November 2012. Marshall says the best part about his job is “meeting new people, exploring Early County, and working hard to help businesses succeed.” In his spare time, Marshall enjoys fishing, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Labor Day in the Peach State

Celebrate Labor Day in Georgia

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This Labor Day weekend, take your pick of any number of things to see and do across the state. Kick back and relax, or kick up your heels to mark the unofficial end of summer in the South.

  1. Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain
  2. AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race in Hampton
  3. Annual Labor Day Weekend Catfish Festival in Kingsland
  4. Labor Day Celebration on the River in Savannah
  5. Flatlanders Arts & Crafts Show in Lakeland
  6.  St. Simons Island Antique Show in St. Simons
  7. Southern Gospel Music Celebration in St. Simons
  8. Art in the Park in Marietta
  9. Powers’ Crossroads Country Fair & Art Festival in Newnan
  10. Mountain Heritage Festival in Blairsville
  11. IPRA World Championship Fall Rodeo in Cumming

At the State Parks:

  1. Labor Day Luau at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel
  2. A Labor-less Day  at Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge in Helena
  3. Labor Day on the Lake at Florence Marina State Park in Omaha
  4. Ft. McAllister Labor Day Festival 2013 in Richmond Hill
  5. Roosevelt Day – Anniversary of the Little White House in Warm Springs

 

chopLindsay Isaacs is the Content Manager for exploregeorgia.org. She’s an Atlanta native and sports fan whose ideal holiday weekend includes relaxing with friends and enjoying Georgia-made beer and Georgia-grown food. 

 

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, Georgia. Photo by Scott Moore. Submitted via Facebook.

Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, Georgia. Photo by Scott Moore. Submitted via Facebook.

Cohutta Wilderness. Photo by Roy Cohutta. Submitted via Flickr.

Cohutta Wilderness. Photo by Roy Cohutta. Submitted via Flickr.

Pasquan in Buena Vista, Georgia. Photo by @brianroslund. Submitted via Instagram.

Pasquan in Buena Vista, Georgia. Photo by @brianroslund. Submitted via Instagram.

 

 

 

Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier: Atlanta’s Hamptons with a Southern accent

sunrise cove marina background imageAs summer comes to a close, my sweet family of four found one last hurrah in Hall County, a 40-minute car ride north of Atlanta. At Lake Lanier Islands Resort, we were greeted with the expected activities – golf, swimming, tennis and spa – alongside the unexpected: zip line canopy tours, wake boarding at Wake the Lake Wakeboard Cable Park, horseback trail rides and a beach/waterpark. Recuperating from a day on the water was easy with options for accommodations that included hotel rooms, suites at Legacy Lodge & Conference Center, luxury lakeside villas, private lake houses, houseboats and rustic campsites for RVs and tents at water’s edge.

Bringing the grandparents along for our getaway made it easy to sneak off to a date night at Antebellum restaurant, which locally sources most of its menu items and serves Southern treats like a fried green tomato tower and homemade chocolate sorbet (that will haunt your dreams, by the way).

We didn’t feel guilty about indulging at mealtime because burning off calories at Energy Watersports was a blast with groovy classes like yoga boarding – a yoga class conducted on paddleboards – totally cool, right?

autographs 2All of my boys – young and old – scrambled for a chance to attend the nearby training camp for the Atlanta Falcons, located in Flowery Branch along with the team’s headquarters. Spring and summer training camps, free and open to the public, offer a chance to meet and greet the players, get autographs and watch NFL scrimmages with other teams.

While the boys played, it was time for mom to shop – and bring home a souvenir that serves a purpose from Rahab’s Rope, a local store and charity that helps girls newly rescued from the sex trade in India by giving them a home, teaching new skills and providing an education.

glamping 2On a future visit, we’re tempted to try a “glamping” vacation in an authentic Native American teepee at North Georgia Canopy Tours. Teepees include heating and air conditioning, lighting and electrical outlets. Each is custom painted with authentic Cherokee symbols, themes and patterns relating to the specific clan camping area in which it is located. For those who actually enjoy “roughing it,” North Georgia Canopy Tours also offers 15 rustic camping sites.

There is no shortage of entertainment in this must-visit destination. With an astonishing 10 marinas, the Hall County/Lake Lanier Area is also home of the Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center and point of entry to Georgia’s famed Pottery Trail. It encompasses the cities of Flowery Branch, Oakwood, Gainesville, Lula, Clermont and Buford and, in its midst, Lake Lanier Islands Resort. We can’t wait for a return visit to the area, which retains a small-town/Main Street USA feel with a lively vibe and offers world-class attractions, including the lake, North Georgia Canopy Tours and Jaemor Farms, where fresh Georgia-grown produce is available along with homemade peach and strawberry ice cream, fried fruit pies and smoked barbecue, not to mention an awesome corn maze in the fall.

For more information, contact the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.DiscoverLakeLanier.com.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Family Fun in Gwinnett County

Gwinnett County: America’s Playground for the Whole Family

Sitting only 30 miles outside of downtown Atlanta, Gwinnett County is home to big city thrills without the congestion on the downtown connector. Known as “Atlanta’s Playground,” Gwinnett County offers countless reasons for you to get out of the office to enjoy carefree summer days with your family.

885271_446619055417087_2018186299_oChannel your inner Tarzan as you swing from the trees at Buford’s TreeTop Quest. A maze of zip lines, rope climbs and obstacles, TreeTop Quest gives you an opportunity to explore Georgia’s lush canopy in Gwinnett Park.

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Put your boat in the water for a day on the lake at Lake Lanier. After a day soaking up the sun, check out the local restaurants, explore hiking trails and fly down the zip line.

Buy your kids some peanuts and Cracker Jacks at a Gwinnett Braves game. The minor league team plays at Coolray Field throughout July and August. Be on the lookout for their mascot Chopper the woodchuck!

Discover the next Monet at Anita’s ArtsCool. Anita’s ArtsCool offers summer camps for kids who are interested in drawing, painting and sculpting. There are also classes for adults and teenagers looking to express themselves.

1073747_10151600060203429_1820890431_oGather your knights at the round table at Medieval Times in Lawrenceville. Sit ringside as the knights and their horses battle for honor, and feast on a four-course meal of medieval fare.  Pack a picnic to enjoy at Lenora Park in Snellville. The 178-acre park includes a fishing lack, 18-hole disc golf course, baseball/softball fields and dog park.

Putt 18 holes, race around the track and soak your friends at Malibu Grand Prix in Norcross. Malibu Grand Prix houses a miniature golf course, go kart track, bumper boats, game room and batting cages. Stay tuned for the soon-to-open, five-tier Buccaneer Cove water park complete with water slides, spray loops and a giant splash bucket.

Go play in Gwinnett County this summer!

Collins_Goss_Headshot A Georgia native and UGA alumnae, Collins Goss is the summer communications intern for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Currently, she is working on her Masters in Fine Arts in Arts Administration emphasizing in communications at The University of Alabama. Collins will graduate in December and hopes to return to the Peach State.