What I Miss About Georgia

I moved away from Georgia three years ago to work on my master’s degree at the University of Alabama. Although Alabama is only one state away, there are days when it feels like it is a million miles away.  On those particular days, I am typically missing any one of the following things only Georgia can offer.

Photo Credit: @picturesbecrazy via Instagram

Photo Credit: @picturesbecrazy via Instagram

1. All things UGA football: Do I go to the school with the nation’s No. 1 football team?Yes. Are games in Bryant-Denny stadium fun? Absolutely. Does that make me miss Georgia football any less? No. There is nothing, and I repeat nothing, like UGA football. UGA has the best fans in the world, and I had to leave to realize it. I grew up a Dawg, and I have been sitting in the upper deck of Sanford Stadium since I could toddle up the steps. Each game is a labor of love—of yelling, fist clenching, sweating, cheering. As a Dawg, I have watched the most heartbreaking losses and the most exciting wins. It takes a village in the Bulldog Nation, and there is nothing like being in the stands cheering on the Dawgs.

2. Athens in the Fall: The sky is the bluest in Athens in October. Most days are cloudless, and the sky is so vibrantly and perfectly blue that it hurts your eyes.

ATL3. Atlanta skyline: The view of the skyline from I-20 East is the best view of Atlanta, and my heart beats a little faster each time it appears in the distance.

4. Flat fields filled with red clay: I grew up in South Georgia surrounded by the characteristic red Georgia clay. There is something about the deep burnt orange-red color stretching for miles in a freshly plowed field that is balm to the heart. It is also the world’s toughest substance to get out of the knees of a pair of blue jeans. Once you take a step into the clay, it consumes you. It works its way under your fingernails, colors your socks and the hem of your pants, and cakes the soles of your shoes.

5.  The backyard at my parents’ house in the summer: This is the one spot that I miss most of all. Although I grew up in town, my childhood home sits in front of a pond, and there are no neighbors behind the house. There are only woods filled with birds, frogs, bugs and the occasional deer. My mom is an avid gardener, but not the “here are a few really pretty potted plants” kind. She is the full greenhouse, hundreds of potted plants, Jurassic Park-era ferns, hanging baskets from every beam kind. Her yard looks like something out of Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens. Did I mention that she does it all by herself? The yard in the summer buzzes with bees in the flowers, crickets in the grass, and frogs in the pond. It always smells like freshly cut grass that she and my dad have just mowed. Even though the June temperature in South Georgia usually hovers around 90 degrees, the yard in the evening somehow always feels cool, and it is the perfect place to sit for a few minutes until the mosquitoes drive you inside.

My days of missing Georgia are coming to an end, and I will be moving back to Georgia in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, please stand outside under the blue sky and breathe in the cool autumn air for me!

Collins_Goss_HeadshotA Georgia native and UGA alumnae, Collins Goss is now 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.

Georgia’s Best Ice Cream Parlors

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Can we still scream for ice cream in the fall? If you live in Georgia, absolutely! It won’t start cooling off here until Halloween, so there is still plenty of time for a scoop or two of ice cream from these local ice cream shops.

Atlanta Metro 

You can spot the rainbow-striped umbrella of a King of Pops cart from a mile away. Located around Atlanta and at many outdoor events, a homemade King of Pops popsicle is sure to hit the spot on a warm day.

Creamberrys’s Ice Cream sits in the heart of the Olde Town Historic district in Conyers. The ice cream shop offers visitors 24 flavors of ice cream, sorbet and sherbet along with soft pretzels, milkshakes, popcorn and cookies.

Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream was voted Creative Loafing’s “Pick for Best Ice Cream.” With the goal to create the most unique and exotic flavors, Morelli’s offers ice cream cakes and ice cream flavors such as Mexican chocolate, banana chip and cinnamon caramel almond.

For 10 years, Jake’s Ice Cream has been selling ice cream in Old Forth Ward that is as delicious as its flavor names are unique.  Flavors include Yo Daddy’s Vanilla, Chocolate Slap Yo Mama, and Kiss O’ the Leprechaun.

Georgia Coast

Bill and Gayle Pollard’s search for a traditional after-dinner ice cream cone led them to open The Ice Cream Stop in Richmond Hill. Drop by for a scoop and to see the beloved “ad train,” a three-track train that chugs along the top of the store and features advertisements for local businesses.

If you are looking for an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, look no further than Leopold’s in Savannah. The parlor has been scooping out ice cream since 1919. The new store in downtown Savannah houses the black marble soda fountain and wooden phone booth from the original store.

Classic South

The Dairy Lane has been locally owned and operated in Sandersville since 1953. This self-proclaimed “must-stop for locals and tourists” serves three meals a day with menu items such as BBQ sandwiches, onion rings, Brunswick stew, potato salad, and of course, its namesake dairy treats. Stop in any time of day for a chocolate milk shake or Butterfinger blast.

Two Scoops Ice Cream in Augusta claims that two scoops of its ice cream are all you need to satisfy your ice cream craving.

Historic Heartland 

Oconee Sweet Sensations in Greensboro has something for everyone’s sweet tooth, including hand-dipped ice cream cones, soft serve, milkshakes, banana splits, malts, floats, fudge, custom cakes and more. If you need to counteract the sugar, Oconee Sweet Sensations also offers salads, wraps and sandwiches.

Do you want to be the hippest kid in Athens? A popsicle from Hip Pops will put you on the right track. Hip Pops makes handmade popsicles with fresh ingredients and sells them out of its trademark cooler carts or out of its store in the Chase Street Warehouse. Enter through the door marked “Mercury.”

If you are looking for homemade ice cream and fudge, look no further than Scoops. Scoops offers a rotation of favorites as well as holiday flavors, yogurts and sorbets in its Madison and Covington locations.

Are you feeling peachy keen, jelly bean? Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley makes peach ice cream from its homegrown Georgia peaches.

Magnolia Midlands

Brian’s Oak Tree Express scoops out homemade ice cream right off of I-16 in Metter.

Science meets ice cream at Frozen N2 Time in Dublin. The shop specializes in nitrogen-infused, made-to-order ice cream and frozen yogurt.

Historic High Country

The Sweet Spot in Dalton and Cartersville offers a twist on traditional ice cream. If frozen yogurt is your favorite frozen dessert, The Sweet Shop offers more than 35 flavors and toppings.

Are you having an ice cream craving? Crave! Homemade Ice Cream in Elijay is the place for you. Crave! serves premium ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet, as well as New Orleans-style shaved ice sno-balls.

Northeast Georgia Mountains 

Mountain Fresh Creamery in Clermont sells ice cream treats straight from the cow. Stop by the silo for the freshest ice cream, shakes, butter, chocolate milk and buttermilk around.

If you are looking for a unique combination of ice cream and food, visit La Mejor De Michoacan in Gainesville for ice cream, popsicles, hot dogs and nachos.

Plantation Trace

In Valdosta, drop by The Scoop for a dish of delicious ice cream before you cross the Georgia-Florida line.

Ice & Creamy in Thomasville serves ice cream delights such as cones, banana splits, ice cream cookie sandwiches and milkshakes. The shop also serves healthy smoothies and coffee.

Presidential Pathways

With 16 flavors and more than 50 toppings, Freeze Frame Yogurt in Columbus is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Richelle’s Cakes, Confections and Ice Cream is located in the historic Windsor Hotel in Americus. It is the go-to place for its famous ice cream pie as well as custom cakes and hand-dipped ice cream.

With warm days still ahead in Georgia, there is no need to scream for ice cream. Stop by a local ice cream parlor for a scoop or two of your favorite flavor.

Collins_Goss_HeadshotA 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.

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.

Where to Cool Down in Georgia

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Six Flags White Water

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

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 over 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.

Splash in the 'Boro

Splash in the ‘Boro

2. Splash Island at Wild Adventures in Valdosta: South Georgia natives can be 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.

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 at Splash the Boro.

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.

Summer Waves

Summer Waves

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.

Collins_Goss_HeadshotA 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.

10 Must-Dos in Georgia’s Plantation Trace

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Walk on the Wild Side in Albany: Meerkats, cheetahs and bears! Oh my! Chehaw Park is home to exotic and indigenous animals such as meerkats, flamingos, red wolves, gopher tortoises, black rhinoceros and bald eagles. Explore the wildlife exhibits, bike the BMX track, have a picnic, play on the playground at the Children’s Play Park or visit the Native American Festival, the annual festival celebrating the area’s rich Native American history held in April.

2. Hunt for Treasure in Sasser: Stop by the flea market, or pop into one of the shops on Main Street to browse antiques and doodads. Alice and Jay’s, the Sasser Flea Market and more are stocked full of gems looking for a new home. After a day of antiquing, make a pit stop at Mark’s Melon Patch just outside of Sasser for fresh-from-the-farm melons, boiled peanuts, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers and other Georgia produce. If you happen to be passing through during the fall, the famous pumpkin patch will cover the roadsides with bright orange pumpkins. Mark’s is a must-stop for any locally grown produce fan.

032-Flint River Aquarium   -exhibits-Dougherty County Albany - 042620073. Explore South Georgia’s River Critters in Albany: At the Flint RiverQuarium, you and your family can learn about Georgia’s wildlife, ecosystems and river conservation. The 175,000-gallon, 22-foot-deep blue hole spring is home to 120 species such as snapping turtles, alligators and fish. Other exhibits at the RiverQuarium include the Discovery Caves that allow kids to control the weather, change the river flow and cave dive. Once you finish exploring the RiverQuarium, take a short walk to RiverFront Park to splash in the fountain, play at the Turtle Grove Play Park and take a picture of one of the larger-than-life painted turtles along the river bank.

4. Go on an Indoor Safari in Doerun: Mr. Tyson has traveled around the world and has returned to Doerun with the most exotic game, making the Tyson Steel Wildlife Museum the largest wildlife museum in the South. Here, you can stand within inches of a giraffe, an ostrich, a cheetah, a zebra and more at Tyson Steel Museum. Make sure to take your picture!

Corn Sheller at Georgia Agrirama-Tifton-Tiff5. Travel Back in Time in Tifton: Learn what life was like as a kid on a South Georgia farm during the 1800s at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village at ABAC. Watch a blacksmith swing his anvil, and see the sparks fly. Turn the grindstone at the Grist Mill. Learn how women made soap and cooked without electricity. No trip to the Agrirama is complete without stopping at the drug store to shop for penny-candy and have ice cream from the antique soda fountain.

6. Shop Local in Thomasville: Downtown Thomasville captures the Southern charm and hospitality of a small South Georgia town. Shop for bridal gowns, antiques, clothes, shoes, toys and books, and eat a delicious lunch or dinner at one of the local restaurants.

Swamp Gravy - Cloquitt, Ga7. See Southern Life on the Stage in Colquitt: Catch a performance of the famous Swamp Gravy in Colquitt. Swamp Gravy is the official folk life play of Georgia, and each performance tells stories about Southern traditions, family and community. Based on a collection of oral history underscored with original music, Swamp Gravy gives a unique glimpse into the lives of South Georgians.

8. Get Back to Nature in Adel: Book a trip for your friends, family or colleagues at Live Oak Plantation in Adel. Live Oak offers first-class hunting, fishing, golfing and skeet shooting packages that are sure to please any outdoors enthusiast.

9. Release your Inner Daredevil in Valdosta: Throw your hands in the air as you zoom down roller coasters, get soaked at Splash Island on a hot summer day, explore the bird house and animals and enjoy live entertainment at Wild Adventures Theme Park just north of the Georgia-Florida line.

10. Bring Your Rod and Reel to Bainbridge: Cast your line into Bainbridge’s Lake Seminole, and it won’t be long until bass are tugging on your hook. Covering 37,000 acres and dotted with the stumps and grass beds where bass love to hide, Lake Seminole is an angler’s dream and the perfect spot to catch lunker largemouth and hybrid bass. So, put your boat in the water and settle in for a day of fishing in Bainbridge.

Collins_Goss_HeadshotA 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.