Exploring Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island TreesGeorgia is home to many unique historic locations. One of my favorites is Cumberland Island. Located just off the coast of St. Marys, it’s one of the most secluded and remote spots that you can visit. A while ago, while camping at Crooked River State Park, we decided to take a day trip over to the island. Our adventure started with a ferry ride over to Cumberland. It’s a quick trip across the water, and before we knew it, we were there. We planned ahead for our trip, bringing sunscreen, water, a picnic lunch and cameras. (There is no place on the island to purchase things like snacks and sunscreen, so you have to bring your own!)

Cumberland Island HorsesOnce we arrived, we found different trails to explore throughout the island with lots of sights to see, including the ruins of one of the homes that used to belong to the Carnegie family. We also spotted a few of the wild horses that call the island home. There were also troops of armadillos that darted through the woods and onto the trails.

Cumberland Island Beach ShellsBeing able to “unplug” for the day was fantastic. I didn’t have cell phone service; there was no background noise or traffic, just nature. If you want to escape all the commotion of your everyday life, even for just a little bit, this is the place! We eventually made our way to the other side of the island where we enjoyed the beach, which was full of seashells and a few seagulls. I’ve only visited a few times but have never been lucky enough to catch a group of horses trotting through the surf. Guess I’ll have to go back again!

After a day spent trekking through several of the trails and relaxing on the sand, we made our way back to the dock. Most everyone who had ridden the ferry with us earlier in the day returned as well. You can camp on the island, but I haven’t had a chance to do that yet either, so I will have to start planning my next visit soon!

Warm Springs Batmobile

Anna Lee Mikell is a Southern girl raised in Georgia and South Carolina. She loves Southern food, photography and SEC football. You can often find her searching for old records at the flea market or sipping sweet iced tea.

 

 

Gems on Georgia’s Backroads

PecanTrees

Pecan Trees

One of my favorite things about traveling to and through Georgia is getting off the interstate for a much more interesting ride down a two-lane highway. You never know what you’re going to find, like a beautiful pecan orchard or a vintage Ford truck just waiting to be photographed. Here are a few of my favorite stops on the backroads of Georgia.

LanePackingFort Valley: You aren’t a true Georgia visitor until you’ve eaten some of our produce, especially freshly picked peaches right off the tree. There are roadside stands all over the state with bushels of peaches for sale, but the mecca of peaches is located in Peach County (Yep, we love peaches so much we named a county after them) at Lane Southern Orchards. Right outside of Fort Valley you will find some of the best peaches you’ve ever eaten. You can get baskets full of them, or if peach preserves or homemade peach ice cream is more what you’re craving, they’ve got that, too. If you visit during the week, you can take a peek at the packing plant and watch peaches being inspected and sorted. And if you stop by any other time of the year, you can find other fresh goodies like pecans, tomatoes and strawberries. There’s always a good reason to make a pit stop here!

Whistle Stop Cafe

Whistle Stop Cafe

Juliette: If you’ve ever seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, you’re going to want to stop by Juliette. Located just a little bit north of Macon is the little town where the movie was filmed, and the best part is that it is still home to the Whistle Stop Café. A lot of the residents who were in involved with filming are still in Juliette and love to tell stories about it while you wander through the shops in their downtown. Make sure you leave time for lunch at the café, because these really are the best fried green tomatoes you’ll ever eat.

Thomaston: Every family has a restaurant or two that they visit so often it becomes a family tradition. For my family, that restaurant is River Bend. It’s been around for 40 years, and after you visit just once you can see why. Right outside of Thomaston on a hill overlooking the Flint River sits River Bend. They’re only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but you know you’re in for a treat when folks start lining up at the door about an hour before they open. Order a plate of fried catfish or shrimp, and you’ll be stuffed before you know it. Their hush puppies are to die for! It’s always nice to take a little stroll and enjoy the view after supper, too.

Warm Springs Batmobile

Warm Springs Batmobile

Warm Springs: Best known for FDR’s Little White House, Warm Springs is a great stop if you’re traveling through West Georgia on Hwy 41 or Hwy 85. The town is full of antiques, shops and curiosities. There is a motorcycle museum called Art in Motion that is definitely worth the price of admission. You could spend the better part of an afternoon checking out old Indians and Harleys. There are also items from classic movies and animatronic toys on display. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit Warm Springs during one of their festivals like the Spring Fling. If not, make sure you get a snack at Mac’s Barbecue. The pulled pork sandwich is one of my favorites!

Camping in the Giant TentAnna Lee Mikell is a Southern girl raised in Georgia and South Carolina. She loves Southern food, photography and SEC football. You can often find her searching for old records at the flea market or sipping sweet iced tea.

Get Outdoors in Augusta

When you think of Augusta, The Masters golf tournament or James Brown might be the first things that come to your mind. However, what you may not know is that Augusta is a fantastic place to get out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.  Here are my suggestions for great outdoor attractions & activities in Augusta, Georgia:

Augusta Riverwalk: Augusta is situated along the Savannah River, which forms the state line between Georgia and South Carolina. Take a stroll down the multilevel Riverwalk and enjoy the scenery of the river, gardens, abundant opportunities for picnicking and a playground for kids (and kids at heart). Riverwalk is a great place to experience 4th of July fireworks, the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and the Augusta Market on the River, where you can find fresh produce, food and crafts during the warmer months of the year. It is also home to the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre, a unique spot for outdoor concerts.

Kayaking the Canal

Kayaking the Canal

The Augusta Canal: The Augusta Canal was built to provide water to textile mills and factories that used hydro-power to operate large machinery. Today, you can tour the canal by boat, bike or foot. If you have your own canoe or kayak, you can put in at the canal head gates and paddle the 7 miles past Lake Olmstead to the 13th Street Bridge. There are several outfitters in town that offer boat rentals and shuttles. Because there are no gas-powered boats allowed in the canal, the only traffic you will see is tour boats and other paddlers. It’s pretty cool to be on the water, viewing birds, turtles and possibly alligators and heading right through the heart of downtown at the same time. If you’d rather stick to land, you can experience the Canal Trail, a dirt path that runs the length of the canal and is great for biking or hiking. The trail is shaded by large trees, so it is enjoyable year-round, and there are different entrance points, so you don’t have to trek the entire length of the trail if you’re not up for it.

Disc Golf: Augusta is home to the PDGA International Disc Golf Center, making it a mecca for disc golfers. You can toss some discs there or at several different courses throughout the area. Just bring your own discs, and you’re all set.  Pendleton King Park is great for beginners. If you’re looking for a challenge, I suggest the Lake Olmstead course is perfect, which is built around the water.

Auggie

Auggie

The Augusta Greenjackets: The Augusta Greenjackets are a minor league team affiliated with the San Francisco Giants that plays at Lake Olmstead Stadium, just minutes from downtown. The tickets are affordable and the beer is cold, making it a great option for a night out with family or friends. Insider tip: Don’t miss out on the chance to have your picture taken with the mascot Auggie!

Lake Thurmond

Lake Thurmond

Camping: After all of your outdoor adventures, it’s time to relax with nature. What better way to do that than by camping at Lake Thurmond? Mistletoe State Park is only about 30 minutes from downtown and a great place to set up camp. You’ll be right on the banks of Lake Thurmond, where you can swim, boat or simply laze about and enjoy your surroundings. The last time I camped there, the weather was perfect and peaceful. It’s also nice to know you aren’t too far from civilization in case you forget to pack any essentials.

Camping in the Giant TentAnna Lee Mikell is a Southern girl raised in Georgia and South Carolina. She loves Southern food, photography and SEC football. You can often find her searching for old records at the flea market or sipping sweet iced tea.