Ready, Set, Camp at Stone Mountain Park

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Stone Mountain Park is a Georgia family tradition. I can look back on many fond childhood memories of summer days and nights spent enjoying the historic landmark. Now, as a mom, I’m creating new memories at this unique destination that has grown a lot over the past few decades.

The addition of the Crossroads District has enhanced the old-fashioned, family-friendly charm of Stone Mountain while the Natural District still preserves over 15 miles of serene hiking trails for nature-lovers. What I have learned to appreciate most about Stone Mountain Park is the bridge between the natural world and modern family fun.

candycook_stonemtn_002Camping at Stone Mountain Park is truly like nowhere else. The campground is a tranquil lakeside spot nestled among loblolly pines and frequented by geese and ducks. Upon awakening, campers may be treated to the breathtaking view of deer hopping along or a Great Blue Heron fishing for breakfast. Exploring the park proves a thrilling adventure as visitors hike to the top of the mountain, relax on train rides, complete the SkyHike aerial obstacle course and picnic near the Carillon bell tower during its daily concerts. As the sun sets and the moon comes out of hiding, everyone settles down on the lawn to watch the Lasershow Spectacular. There’s no better way to put this day to bed than drifting to sleep to the sounds of nature.

The abundance of outdoor recreation, kid-friendly activities, intriguing natural features and full service campground make Stone Mountain Park the perfect place to get started on the road to family camping adventures. With the park’s “Ready, Set, Camp!” program it’s easier than ever for families to get a taste of sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors. The quiet campground provides all the amenities that may have campers homesick. Campsites are available with running water and electricity, a picnic table and grill. The sites are within walking distance of restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. There’s even a camp store, on-site, in the event that essential items are left at home.

candycook_stonemtn_003Thanks to “Ready, Set, Camp,” new campers can jump right into the fun spirit of camping without the added difficulties of choosing gear & struggling to set it up on site. Campers arrive to brand new 4-person tent, pitched just for them, with 4 comfortable sleeping pads inside. The tent is a one-door, two-window tent with shock-corded poles. The mesh roof increases air circulation and allows for stargazing on clear nights and a rain fly for less-than-ideal conditions. The lightweight sleeping pads give a nice barrier between campers and the unforgiving ground. All in all, it’s a great setup that campers take home with them to use on their next family campout.

Reserve your “Ready Set Camp” experience at Stone Mountain Park, today!

candycookCandy Cook is a professional writer & photographer who enjoys adventuring outdoors with her two sons. She draws inspiration from the natural world releasing it through written word and award-winning photography on her blog LongLiveLearning.com, as well as digital & print publications.

Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Class

BulletinAs road trip travel bloggers, my sidekick Jerry and I spend a lot of time driving the backroads of our amazing planet, and we frequently find ourselves drawn to the AmericusPlainsAndersonville area of South Georgia because there is so much to see and do in that 15-mile radius. We typically make the historical Windsor Hotel in Americus our home base because it is centrally located between the Andersonville National Historic Site and the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains.With two major national parks in such close proximity, this area of the Presidential Pathways region of Georgia is rich in culture and history.

When you visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site you will be transported back in time to the Boyhood Farm, Plains High School, and the Train Depot presidential campaign headquarters. You will drive away having spent a rewarding day learning about the 39th President of the United States.

But not so fast.

Jimmy Rosalynn HowardIf you leave now, you will leave town having missed the best part—the opportunity to meet the President himself.

Yes, you heard me correctly. You can meet President Jimmy Carter in person!

Although most Americans know President Carter as a humanitarian and spiritual man, many people do not know that he has been teaching Sunday School for most of his adult life, and he still teaches most Sundays at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains. We have been privileged to attend on two occasions, and those visits rank among the most memorable moments, not just of our travels, but of our lives. If you plan your South Georgia travel accordingly, you can attend Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School class, too.

Here’s how it works:

1. The church doors open for seating at 8:30 AM, and Sunday School begins promptly at 10:00 AM.

2. You must pass U.S. Secret Service screening, including bag searches, metal detection, and a bomb-sniffing dog.

3. Prior to Sunday School, Miss Jan, a retired school teacher, will give a stern, but highly-entertaining, orientation so you will understand presidential protocol and how to behave in church.

4. After a short prayer, Jimmy Carter will rise, greet the congregation, comment on current events, and begin his hour-long lesson. (If you peek during the prayer, you will see the President enter the sanctuary from a side door.)

5. As the best souvenir, you can have your picture taken with Jimmy and Rosalynn, but you must wait until the end of the hour-long morning worship service.

President CarterJimmy Carter will be 90 years old on his next birthday, and although he is in excellent health and still very active in diplomatic missions and humanitarian causes, I would encourage you to make the Americus – Plains – Andersonville area of South Georgia your next road trip destination. Before you plan your visit, however, be sure to verify Jimmy Carter’s teaching dates at the Maranatha Baptist Church web site.

Howard BlountHoward Blount’s passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. He is a writer, consultant, and published author with Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Although his road trips are financed by his day job as a middle school teacher, Howard would much rather be scouting waterfalls on the North Georgia mountain backroads near his cabin in Blairsville. You can reach Howard @backroad_planet on Twitter or at his road trip travel blog BackroadPlanet.com.

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Fishing Pier on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by Scott Moore. Submitted via Facebook.

Fishing Pier on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Photo by Scott Moore. Submitted via Facebook.

Browns Bridge over Lake Lanier in north Georgia. Photo by Sussman Imaging. Submitted via Flickr.

Browns Bridge over Lake Lanier in north Georgia. Photo by Sussman Imaging. Submitted via Flickr.

Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, Georgia. Photo by @karenlisa. Submitted via Instagram.

Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, Georgia. Photo by @karenlisa. Submitted via Instagram.

 

 

Georgia Restaurant Association Award Nominees

New GRA Logo

The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) revealed the finalists for the 8th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. These finalists are peer-nominated and the winners will be announced November 2nd at the GRACE. We are proud to

The GRACE Awards recognize and pay tribute to the leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry. All finalists are peer nominated, which ensures that we honor the most deserving of our Industry. To learn more about the GRACE Awards, or purchase tickets, visit www.garestaurants.org/GRACE.

2014 GRACE AWARDS FINALISTS

Restaurateur of the Year

George Frangos and Jason Mann, Farm Burger

Neal McCarthy and Steven Satterfield, Miller Union

Jennifer and Ben Johnson, Shelley Sweet, West Egg Café, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla
Industry

Partner of the Year

Fishbowl

Georgia Power

United Healthcare

Distinguished Service Award

Atlanta Community Food Bank

Chick-fil-A

Waffle House
The Innovator Award

Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow

Nick Melvin, Doux South and Venkman’s

Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor, Sobban

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Hal Nowak of Hal’s on Old Ivy

Chairman’s Award

Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture

For more information, ticket reservations, and/or sponsorship opportunities, visit the website at www.garestaurants.org/GRACE.

Georgia Tourism partnered with the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) to incorporate the association’s complete list of restaurants on www.exploregeorgia.org.

5 Ways to Use the New ExploreGeorgia.org

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NEW ExploreGeorgia.org homepage

The brand new ExploreGeorgia.org now offers visitors fresh custom features including the new Georgia Trip Planner, shareable trip ideas, interactive maps and much more. A fresh, innovative design, seamless social integration and mobile-friendly access make planning your next Georgia get-away easier and more fun than ever. Here are 5 ways to use the new ExploreGeorgia.org:

  1. Get travel inspiration from slide shows and image galleries, like this Guide to Georgia’s Outdoors slideshow.
  2. Get directions to & from your destination with interactive maps 
  3. Get the most bang for your buck with our new & improved Deals page
  4. Find the food you’re craving with our complete list of Georgia dining options
  5. Create a sharable itinerary with the Georgia Explorer Trip Planner. The Georgia Explorer Trip Planner provides visitors with a customized approach to exploring the website by organizing and mapping out the things they want to see and do in Georgia.
Interactive map

Interactive map

Georgia Explorer Trip Planner

Georgia Explorer Trip Planner