A “Gone With the Wind” Weekend

“Frankly, my dear…” Who doesn’t know the ending to this infamous phrase? It was time for this Georgia girl to unite with fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved books with the variety of hands-on experiences along the state’s first and only designated Gone With the Wind Trail.

Road to Tara Museum

The first stop brought me back in time through the sights and sounds of the Civil War and Reconstruction, narrated by Scarlett O’Hara and her dashing romancer, Rhett Butler, at Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, a mainstay since April 2003. On display is an extensive collection of memorabilia sure to delight and intrigue any “Gone With the Wind” fan, from novice to aficionado.

Margaret Mitchell House

The Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta, Georgia

Next on the agenda: touring the Margaret Mitchell House (a small apartment Margaret called “the dump”) in Midtown Atlanta, where I traced the footsteps of the talented author and delved deeper into the birthplace of “Gone With the Wind.” Also at “the dump,” I watched a “Gone With the Wind” movie exhibition and display showcasing the life and times of one of Atlanta’s most famous authors.

After the Mitchell House, the trail directed me to The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library. With one of the most extensive collections of Margaret Mitchell’s photographs, books and personal items, the Central Library’s Special Collection Department is a must-see destination for all lovers of literature and Margaret Mitchell. The collection includes Mitchell’s personal books used for her research, more than 400 personal photographs, motion picture stills of the film, her 1937 Pulitzer Prize, her Remington typewriter and more.

Next, I headed to Mitchell’s final resting place, Oakland Cemetery. Historic Oakland, a Victorian garden cemetery, is also a magnificent sculpture garden, botanical garden, flourishing wildlife habitat, public park and picturesque setting for quiet reflection. Amidst the beauty of a blue-skied Atlanta autumn day, I visit the gravesites of “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell and roam thoughtfully among thousands of other Atlanta notables and pioneers.

My final stop on the trail landed me in Jonesboro, the official home of “Gone With the Wind” just 15 miles south of Atlanta, at the Road to Tara Museum, where visitors can relive Rhett and Scarlett’s sweeping romance by enjoying original movie props and wardrobe items, a foreign edition library, original manuscripts, costume reproductions, an extensive photo gallery, and a collectible plate and doll collection. The antebellum years and the Civil War make their presence felt through such exhibits as an authentic “Sherman’s necktie” (a section of rail twisted into a loop so as to be useless to a railroad company) and an original Fairbank Scale, used to weigh cargo, specifically cotton.

And because “tomorrow is another day,” the journey into “Gone With the Wind” and the Civil War can continue by exploring the trail’s “Rhett Also Recommends” stops, including the Atlanta History CenterAtlanta CycloramaKennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and Stately Oaks Plantation.

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.

10 Must-Dos in Georgia’s Magnolia Midlands

Vidalia Onion Museum

The Vidalia Onion Museum, Vidalia, Georgia

1. Get your sweet onion fix in Vidalia: Explore the history of “America’s favorite onion” at the Vidalia Onion Museum. Adults can discover the economic impact of this famous Georgia vegetable, while children can learn to sort onions and even color their own picture of Vidalia’s mascot, Yumion the Onion. Don’t forget to pick up a bag of onions during the Vidalia onion season (April through July).

2. Experience “Southern Fusion” dining in Lyons: What began as the first movie theatre in Lyons, Georgia, is now home to Elements Bistro & Grill, a unique fine dining experience in the middle of small-town South Georgia. The menu is full of mouth-watering dishes, but I highly suggest that you order the buffalo quail. Your taste buds will thank you.

3. Buy local in Statesboro: Like fresh produce? Then you’ll love the Mainstreet Farmers Market in Statesboro! Open every Saturday from early April to the end of November, this market is the place for fresh local fruit and vegetables, meats and dairy, preserves and baked goods. Be sure to stop by the Garden Table, where you can watch local chefs prepare dishes made with produce from the market.

Little Ocmulgee State Park

Little Ocmulgee State Park, Helena, Georgia

4. Go just around the riverbend in Uvalda: Experience not one, not two but three rivers when you visit the Magnolia Midlands. Kayak or canoe along the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers with the help of Three Rivers Outdoors, Inc. They can help you plan any river trip – whether you want it to last two hours or two weeks!

5. Spend the night in a barn loft in Brooklet: On the hunt for an authentic farm experience? Look no further than Hunter Cattle Company in Brooklet. Feed the animals, collect eggs, swing on the front porch and spend an evening in a comfortable barn loft when you visit this family-owned and -operated farm.

6. Get a green thumb in Metter: With its cascading waterfalls, shimmering streams, flowering plants and quiet paths, it’s no wonder that people often visit Guido Gardens to find peace. Guided tours of the gardens are offered Monday through Friday, and admission is always free!

7. Discover natural wonders in Douglas: Located within Georgia’s sandy, coastal plains, the Broxton Rocks offer more than 500 species of rare plant life, cave-like crevices and a roaring waterfall. Keep your eyes peeled for unique wildlife, including flying squirrels, the threatened indigo snake and gopher tortoise.

8. Sip wine at sunset in StatesboroDoes the idea of sipping a delicious glass of Muscadine wine as the sun sets over rural Georgia appeal to you? If you said yes, then you need to plan a trip to Meinhardt Vineyards in Statesboro. Whether you prefer red or white, Meinhardt has a wine to suit all tastes. My personal favorite? The peach Muscadine — it tastes like Georgia in a bottle!

9. Fly high in DouglasVisit the site where 10,000 young men learned how to fly in the PT-17 Stearman at the WWII Flight Training Museum in Douglas. It’s the most intact, complete and original school left in the United States with 13 original buildings still standing, including one that houses the WWII Flight Training Museum, which tells the important and often unknown story of wartime aircrew training.

10. Feed the animals in Nicholls: Kids (and adults) will love the opportunity to feed the animals at General Coffee State Park’s Heritage Farm. Animals on the property include sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys and more! Insider tip: Be sure to buy some farm-fresh eggs while you’re at the park.

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Lauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

Georgia Grown Specialties

Five Georgia treats to seek out on your next trip

Georgia’s climate is perfect for growing a delicious variety of crops, from grapes and peaches to peanuts and sugarcane. Start your tour of Georgia’s fabulous flavors with products from these five local businesses.

Georgia Winery

Tiger Mountain Vineyards, Tiger, Georgia

1.  Tiger Mountain Vineyards: In 1995, John and Martha Ezzard, doctor and lawyer respectively, changed their careers and lifestyles to return to John’s birthplace, a 100-acre farm in Rabun County to a piece of land that Martha says “is part of John’s soul.” Less than 10 years later, Tiger Mountain Wine has won more than 170 medals, including a double gold and best of class for its Petit Manseng in the Los Angeles International Competition. Their wines are served in top Atlanta restaurants and can be found in Georgia Fresh Markets in Georgia as well as in Metro Atlanta Whole Foods stores. You can tour the vineyard and taste delicious Tiger Mountain Wine in Tiger, Georgia.

2. Hardy Farms: From supermarkets to roadside stands, Hardy Farms has been turning out the finest peanuts around since the family-owned business

Hardy Farms Peanuts

Hardy Farms Peanuts, Hawkinsville, Georgia

started in 1935. Hardy Farms uses only the finest and freshest peanuts available. Their longstanding reputation for quality has made their peanuts some of the most popular in the Southeast. They pick their peanuts daily, then clean, process and package them just for you, allowing you to take them from the bag directly to the pot. They will even cook them using their proven method of boiling and ship them to you ready to enjoy. Order your peanuts at www.hardyfarmspeanuts.com.

Lane Southern Orchards

Lane Southern Orchards, Hawkinsville, Georgia

3. Lane Southern Orchards: Since 1908, Lane Southern Orchards has planted, grown and harvested more than 3,000 acres of the best-tasting peaches in Georgia. The sweet Georgia peach can be enjoyed from mid-May through August. This friendly agricultural operation offers more than 300,000 visitors annually a chance to see a real working farm in Fort Valley, Georgia. You can tour the farm in June and July, the peak of peach season, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the peach orchards.

Richland Rum

Richland Rum, Richland, Georgia

4. Richland Distilling Company: Erik Vonk, originally from Holland, came to the United States in 1992 to bring the Dutch-based staffing company Randstad to the states. While in America, Erik decided to purchase a large piece of rolling land outside of Richland, an area with a history of sugarcane farming, beginning his mission to grow sugarcane, and distill and barrel-age his own rum. What began as a hobby became a full-fledged business in 2011 when Erik and Jay McCain, master distiller, created their first 300 cases of Richland Rum. In an industry dominated by large-scale production, the Richland Rum team produces their rum on a much smaller scale and completely by hand using only fresh pure sugarcane juice or condensed sugarcane juice with the water taken out. Richland Rum is now officially for sale in shops, bars and restaurants near Richland and in Atlanta. Find out where you can buy Richland Rum here.

Georgia Winery

Georgia Winery, North Georgia

5. Georgia Winery: Established in 1983, this is the first of its kind in Georgia and is the only winery in the North Georgia and Chattanooga area. Georgia Winery is a family-owned and -operated facility producing award-winning fine wines. If you are planning a visit to the Chattanooga or North Georgia area the Georgia Winery is your next stop! Enjoy complimentary wine tasting of all signature wines at the elegant tasting bar. Winery tours are offered every Saturday at 2 and 4 p.m. Peruse the beautiful gift shop to find unique gifts, gourmet foods, homemade fudge, hand-crafted wine, chocolates, and more.

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Lauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

10 Reasons We Love Springtime in Georgia

Georgia is on our mind year-round, but we especially love the Peach State during the spring months. From the blooming flowers to the delightful temperatures, there is plenty to love about springtime in Georgia!

  1. Festival Season: Nothing says spring quite like chowing down on a turkey leg while meandering through booths selling organic soap, handmade jewelry and bottle cap artwork. Georgia is home to such popular spring festivals as the Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the famous Macon Cherry Blossom Festival. No matter where in Georgia you go, your chances of finding a spring festival between March and June are high. Our advice? Pack up the car and spend a weekend exploring Georgia.

    Savannah

    Savannah, Georgia

  2. St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah: The city’s famous St. Patrick’s Day festivities attract more than 400,000 Irish and honorary Irish visitors each year! Perhaps the most famous Savannah St. Patrick’s Day celebration is the three-hour parade featuring U.S. military divisions, award-winning bands, marching units, the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales and much more. Want a prime parade-viewing spot? We suggest arriving on Bull Street by the cathedral by 6 a.m.
  3. Mild Temperatures:  Georgia’s spring weather is perfect for backyard barbeques, front porch sitting, driving with the windows down on the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway or visiting Georgia’s Golden Isles. Georgia’s spring weather is so perfect, in fact, we think even Goldilocks would find it to be just right.
  4. Pick-your-own Farms: Grab a bucket and head to one of Georgia’s many pick-your-own farms for a true Southern springtime tradition. Pick fresh peaches at Gardner Farms in Locust Grove or stock up on strawberries when you visit Smith Farms in Caldwell. The whole family will have fun picking their favorite springtime treats fresh from farms throughout the state.
  5. Georgia State Parks: Take advantage of the perfect spring weather with a trip to one of Georgia’s state parks. Whether hitting the hiking trails, paddling the waterways, or sleeping under the stars, Georgia’s state parks have programs the whole family will love.
  6. Spring Break: When Spring Break rolls around, students of all ages are restless for outdoor fun. Luckily for them (and their parents), Georgia is filled with theme parks, attractions, outdoor adventures and more. Treat your little one to a day at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, a hike up Stone Mountain in Atlanta or have an adventure on the water in Rabun County. No matter which activity you choose, your child will return to school with a story to share!

    TurnerField

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia

  7. Braves Baseball:  When April arrives, fans across the Southeast don their jerseys, paint their faces, and do the tomahawk chop in honor of the Atlanta Braves. A game at Turner Field, affectionately called “The Ted,” is a must-see when in Georgia.
  8. Patio Dining: We’re of the firm belief that food always tastes better when eaten on a patio. Whether you’re sipping a cocktail at Atlanta’s Park Tavern or enjoying an intimate sunset dinner at the Meritage Café in Columbus, Georgia’s springtime weather makes for the perfect patio dining experience.
  9. Lake Season: When the temperatures warm up, folks everywhere flock to Georgia’s lakes for weekends full of water skiing, tubing and more. Rent a pontoon boat on Lake Sinclair, camp on the shore of Lake Oconee or book a weekend at the luxurious Lake Lanier Islands Resort to get your lake fix this spring.
  10. Flowers in Bloom: Our springtime list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our beautiful blooming flowers, including azaleas, peach blossoms, magnolias and more. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the season with a visit to one of Georgia’s famous gardens, such as Guido Gardens in Metter, Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground and Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. You’ll discover displays of floral beauty like you’ve never seen before when you explore Georgia!
Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Lauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

Where to Cool Down in Georgia

Are you tired of making small splashes in the rain puddles this summer? Make a big splash at Georgia’s water parks!

1. Six Flags White Water in Marietta: Six Flags White Water is one of the Travel Channel’s Top Family Water Parks in the United States. The park is packed with more than 50 water rides from the Cliffhanger’s 90-foot free fall to the S.S. Feathersword, an interactive play ship that is perfect for kids.

2. Splash Island at Wild Adventures in Valdosta: Get swept down the Wahee Cyclone at Wild Adventures’ Splash Island. The cyclone will flush riders down a 45-foot funnel into the waves below. Splash Island also offers a less adrenaline-pumping tube ride down Paradise River among other rides.

Splash in the Boro

Splash in the Boro in Statesboro, Georgia

3. Splash in the Boro in Statesboro:  Splash in the Boro is home to the only dual flowrider in Georgia. Surf Flowrider’s unbroken wave, and ride up the wave’s surface. If you aren’t up for hanging ten, grab an inner tube, and float down the 800-foot Lazy River.

4. SoakYa Water Park at Lake Winnepesaukah: Celebrate SoakYa Water Park’s five-acre expansion, the largest expansion in the park’s history. Splash in the pools, fly down the new slides and soak up the sun on the poolside beach.

5. Summer Waves Water Park in Jekyll Island: Watch out for the larger-than-life splash bucket in the Splash Zone at Summer Waves Water Park. The bucket will tip over and drench you if you aren’t careful. Also, beware of Nature’s Revenge on the Tornado and Hurricane water slides.

6. Lanier World at Lake Lanier Islands Resort: The Big Beach at Lake Lanier offers fun in the sun for kids and adults. From the kid-friendly Wiggle Waves to the twists and turns of the Twister, Lanier World has something fun for the entire family.