10 Ways to Use the 2014 Georgia Travel Guide

TravelGuide2014The official 2014 Georgia Travel Guide is the state’s premiere marketing resource for visitors and vacation planning. This FREE full-color, magazine-size guide provides visitors with information on Georgia’s tourism assets including trip ideas, attractions, accommodations, events and more. The Georgia Travel Guide is organized by nine travel regions to help you plan your visit.

To get a copy of state’s official 2014 travel guide – visit our brochure room on ExploreGeorgia.org, stop at one of our 11 Visitor Information Centers or call 1-800-VISIT GA.

  1. Relive the excitement of the 1939 premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on page 12
  2. Go to page 15 and make note of Georgia’s unique seasonal offerings
  3. Use the Georgia State Parks guide on page 27 to plan a year full of outdoor adventure
  4. Take a road trip through time with our Civil War feature on page 34
  5. Make plans to visit all of the featured locations on our list of “100 Inspiring, Engaging Arts & Culture Attractions” on page 10
  6. See fan-submitted Instagram photos & tweets about Georgia on page 49, 73, 89, 99, 111, 119, 135, 151 and 161
  7. Get a full list of Georgia’s festivals
  8. Find an attraction that fits your interests in any Georgia city
  9. Discover Georgia’s small towns and best kept secrets
  10. Use our accommodations listings to find a hotel, bed & breakfast, resort and more in any city in Georgia

Surprising Suburbs: Watkinsville

All-inclusive resort vacations aren’t limited to the Caribbean; try this concept — a surprising suburb of Athens.

Point is—vacationing with indulgences is within reach! If this checklist works for you, head to Watkinsville.

  • Luxurious accommodations
  • Abundant art
  • Massage and yoga
  • Gardens and gentle walking paths
  • A bit of history
  • Convenient dining
Ashford Manor

Ashford Manor

Sleep in Ashford Manor, an 1893 Queen Anne home that is a sumptuous inn where breakfast is a work of art.

I might make arrangements in advance to see about dinner there too, or a picnic packed to enjoy on the terraced yard.

“We’re very high service oriented,” says Dave Shearon. “Breakfast can be in your room, on the porches or in the gardens.”

Wherever you like and whatever you like seems to be their style at the Ashford Manor.


Choose the 1840s cottage with three suites if you are an antebellum purist or the elegant main house. Expect almost 10 acres, four terraces, gracious yards and a gazebo.

Cottage at Ashford Manor.

Cottage at Ashford Manor.

What else is all-inclusive? You could arrange a massage therapist for in-room treatments.

Walk across the street—busy but with a traffic light—and choose from several eateries.

There is a yoga studio across the street too and that’s an all-inclusive feature many claim in the resort world. Could splurge on a four-day yoga renewal retreat in March, at Ashford Manor.

Artland is Watkinsville’s moniker, and one way to immerse yourself is in the 1827 Haygood House, now home and gallery for Jerry and Kathy Chappelle.

Watkinsville Chappelle Gallery

Chappelle Gallery

As if their fine pottery weren’t reason enough, 125 artists have works here. Happy Valley Pottery, the community of artists a few miles south of Watkinsville, is all wrapped up in the art movement here since the 1970s. Ask for pointers to the Watkinsville mural art that is located in several locations around town. The last population census was 2,832 so you know you won’t have to drive far.

The pewter is polished and the wood handsome in Watkinsville’s Eagle Tavern. Could have purchased a half-pint of cordial there had I visited in 1819, according to ledgers with flowing handwriting. Instead I mused about the wonder of standing in a 1790s former stagecoach, then hotel, then tavern on land given to a Revolutionary War veteran. That classic George Washington portrait hanging in thousands of classrooms meant more in this place.

Oconee is the county name, and Athens is just 10 minutes north.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com.

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Snow in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Donna Smith. Submitted via Facebook.

Snow in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Donna Smith. Submitted via Facebook.

Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City, Georgia. Photo by Carl Pearson. Submitted via Flickr.

Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City, Georgia. Photo by Carl Pearson. Submitted via Flickr.

Georgia snow. Photo by @chelefishcreations. Submitted via Instagram.

Georgia snow. Photo by @chelefishcreations. Submitted via Instagram.





Camping at Georgia State Parks

first time camper program Ga

My boys and I love to camp. I’ve been a camper my whole life and I’ve taken my own sons camping since they were babies. It comes quite naturally to us since none of us has never known a life without the thrill of living in a tent, cooking over a fire, and falling asleep in a cozy sleeping bag to the sounds of crickets chirping.

It’s a wonderful adventure for kids and adults alike. We get the benefits of being outdoors non-stop as well as the chance to explore our lovely state without breaking the bank. But for those who aren’t experienced, getting started can be intimidating and costly.

FirstTime-Camper-adjustedThat’s why Georgia State Parks began the First-Time Campers Program in 2012. Now beginning it’s 3rd year, the program has helped almost 200 families discover the joys of camping. Through this program, new campers get a chance to try a new outdoor adventure with the help of a ranger and without making a big investment in equipment.

The First-Time Campers program is available at eight parks throughout the state and for $50, you will be set up to camp for 2 nights with a tent, chairs, stove, sleeping pads, roasting forks, and a lantern. Of course, you’ll need to provide your personal items and bedding but you’ll get a handy checklist to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a great first experience. The best part of this program is that a park ranger will help you set up and provide some Camping 101 tips to get you on your way as a camping family.

This program is a easy way to get started on outdoor adventures, especially since Georgia State Parks campgrounds are quite comfortable. Campsites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings and grills, as well as electrical and water hook-ups. Plus the campgrounds themselves have bathrooms, showers, and playgrounds, among many other amenities. Most parks even sell some basic supplies, just in case you’ve forgotten something. This includes locally-supplied firewood since transporting firewood is not allowed for the sake of minimizing foreign pest invasions.

Mistletoe State Park in Appling, Georgia.

Mistletoe State Park in Appling, Georgia.

Campsites in Georgia State Parks typically run about $25 per night, give or take a few dollars, so at this price you’re essentially getting your equipment rental for free thanks to some generous program sponsors. The First Time Campers program is a tremendous value in and of itself, but camping in general is one of the most cost-effective ways to travel and vacation.

And beyond the budget-friendly nature of camping, your can’t put a price on the experience itself. Participants of the program so far have been amazed by all of the new adventures they’ve had at our state parks including hiking, geocaching, wildlife viewing, ranger-led programs, cooking over a fire, kayaking, biking, and even wagon rides. The rangers have gotten great compliments on their friendliness, helpfulness, and pre-camping instructions, making first-time campers feel welcome and comfortable.

Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia.

Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia.

Many first-time campers loved the family time and meeting new people. Those are certainly two of the perks that have always embraced in my love of camping. But whether you bring friends, make new ones, or simply enjoy the company of your family, camping together creates incredible bonds that will keep you coming back for more.

For more information on the First-Time Campers Program, visit the Georgia State Parks website. Happy camping!



ValJoinerVal Joiner is an outdoor and educational travel blogger based in Roswell, GA. The former geologist turned road-schooling mom chronicles her adventures at Val In Real Life. When Val isn’t on the road with her two boys, she can frequently be found honing her Southern Appalachian Naturalist skills in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Love Stories of Oakland Cemetery

February is a time for love. Candy hearts and boxes of chocolates fill store shelves. Valentine’s dinner reservations are made. You take a trip to the cemetery.

Yes, the cemetery. Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery is full of love stories. Oakland is the final resting place of nearly 70,000 people, and almost all of them loved — or were loved by — someone. Here are just a couple of the stories.

Clyde and Clara Belle King

Clyde and Clara BelleClyde King owned the Atlanta Plow Company, later known as the King Plow Company, which is now the site of an arts community and performing arts venue. He and his wife Clara Belle lived in a lovely home at 1010 Ponce De Leon Avenue. Clara Belle loved that house so much that she wanted to be buried in the back yard. City ordinances prevented the burial at her home, but Clyde had a plan.

Clyde so loved his wife that he commissioned a monument replicating the house so that she could lie forever in its shadow. Though the street number has changed — it is now 1386 Ponce De Leon Avenue — the house still stands, as does this monument to Clara Belle.

Photo Credit: Bob King

Photo Credit: Bob King

Marion and Sarah Kiser

This love story actually began at Oakland. Marion Kiser was one of Atlanta’s most prosperous businessmen. He is interred in his mausoleum with his three wives. His first wife, Octavia, died in 1873 when she was only 34, and Marion quickly remarried, choosing Hessie Scott, who was not yet 20. Unfortunately, she also passed away in her mid-30s, making Marion a widower for the second time. And that’s when the Oakland romance bloomed. Marion was there, paying his respects to both former wives, when he met Sarah Turner Ivy, a widow who was visiting the grave of her deceased husband, Michael. They began courting, he soon proposed marriage, and she accepted, though she had a request that could have been a deal breaker. Sarah made it quite clear that she would not share the mausoleum with his first two wives unless her first husband was also there!

Marion agreed and had Michael Ivy’s remains moved. The mausoleum walls must hear some interesting conversations!

These people lived, laughed and loved just like we do now. Join us as we share these stories and many more on our “Love Stories of Oakland” tour. Led by our costumed docent, the tours will be offered Sunday, Feb. 9; Friday, Feb. 14; and Saturday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. Tours are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. No reservations required.

HOF logoHistoric Oakland Foundation, founded in 1976, partners with the City of Atlanta to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery with the public as an important cultural resource and an island of tranquility in the heart of the city. For more information on our tours, events, and opportunities to give please visit our website at oaklandcemetery.com. 

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