Museums Outside of Atlanta to Visit with the Family

We adore the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, World of Coca-Cola and all the other gems in Atlanta, but there are dozens and dozens of amazing museums beyond the metro, as well. Here are six Georgia museums we insist you visit with your kiddos.

Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville)

Photo courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

Photo courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

You’ll see Western artwork, presidential paintings and letters, Civil War art and 200+ Native American artifacts at the Booth Western Art Museum. It’s the second largest art museum in the state and holds the country’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art. Don’t miss Sagebrush Ranch, an interactive gallery where kiddos can learn about art and Western America.

Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site (Dahlonega)

Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

The 1836 Federal/Greek Revival building in the center of town square is the oldest surviving courthouse in Georgia. The Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site offers guides, displays, a gift shop, and the award-winning “Gold Fever” film of the late 1820’s story that brought the town to life. Have the kids keep an eye out for the locally made bricks containing traces of gold. Three ways to see gold in Dahlonega, Ga.

Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center (Mountain City)

Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center. Photo by Lesli Peterson

Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center. Photo by Lesli Peterson

When The Foxfire Book became a national phenomenon, Foxfire students purchased land and created the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center, a physical presence in the community. Experience the simple, functional buildings like homes, a chapel, workshops and more. More Foxfire photos here.

Georgia State Railroad Museum (Savannah)

A diesel train at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah

A diesel train at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah

The Georgia State Railroad Museum is a family-friendly facility featuring several children’s play areas. You can see, hear and smell historic steam and diesel locomotives come to life. Tour inside two executive rail cars, take a train ride tour of the museum, and ride on a hand car.

Museum of Aviation (Warner Robins)

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins

Museum of Aviation is the second largest aerospace museum of the USAF. See more than 90 different aircraft, spread over four hangers and 51 acres. Meander through spy planes, fighter jets, bombers, bi-planes and several famous aircraft. Kids can even climb into the cockpits of several displays, so don’t forget your camera.

National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center (Columbus)

An exhibit at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus

An exhibit at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus

The large, beautiful National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center is a world-class tribute to those who served in this capacity in the Army. As you walk into the building, you’ll first approach the Last 100 Yards Ramp — an emotional and fully immersive walk through time, covering the Infantry since its formation in 1775 through the present. That is only the beginning. You’ll see a full-sized helicopter, mini tanks, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and more. More hidden gems in Columbus.

Still want the best of Atlanta, click here to find our favorite museums for families in the Metro.

LesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

5 Reasons to Visit Little St. Simons Island with the Family

Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

You’ve probably heard of St. Simons Island, but do you know that just across the river is a private, eco-friendly, all-inclusive island just waiting for you? Our family visited Little St. Simons Island and fell madly in love; here’s why we think you should make a reservation today.

The Serenity

Untouched for centuries, Little St. Simons Island is one of the least developed of Georgia’s barrier islands, covering 10,000 acres with 7 miles of shoreline. We didn’t drive our car onto the island. Guests visit by boat, and only 32 at a time may stay overnight (though small guided day trips are periodically available). The untarnished environment, limited population and carefully protected wildlife create a tranquil escape that immediately melted away our stress.

The Food

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all carefully created and presented on the island. There are no grocery stores or restaurants, and no need for them. Chef Ulfet Ralph hails from Turkey, and her delicious dishes include everything from filet mignon to duck tenderloin. Breakfasts are mammoth with a variety of delights like French toast, berries, eggs, bacon, frittata and more – everything you need to carry you through a day of exciting adventure.

We also love that there is a USDA-certified organic garden on-site providing vegetables and fruits at almost every meal. I’ll note, too, that Chef Ulfet was very thoughtful about the kids, offering hamburgers, PB&Js, mac and cheese, and other kid-friendly fare for our picky eaters.

The Water

Little St. Simons Island’s proximity allows families to swim in the Atlantic, boat on the Atlamaha River and fish in Mosquito Creek. Along the beach we rode the waves, collected shells, biked the shoreline, and caught Atlantic Sharp Nose sharks while shore fishing. We took a skiff and a kayak along the creek to the river and kept an eye out for dolphin and alligators. Low tide offers the best opportunities for kids to catch fish in the creek, including Redfish, Sea Trout and Flounder.

The Adventure

If fishing, swimming, boating and kayaking are not enough, there are even more ways for kids to explore. You can bike around the island (adult bikes, kid bikes and bike trailers are all available), keeping an eye out for more than 300 species of birds. We also saw alligators, a diamondback rattlesnake and a multitude of armadillo. Loggerheads and horseshow crabs were also active on the island.

Two to three excursions each day are led by one of the island’s naturalists, and the crew is amazing – both because of their extensive knowledge and because of their gentle nature with kids. Excursions are discussed after each meal, usually with about two options available during each time slot. I love that a trip to the beach with these guys is so much more – it includes learning about the changing shoreline, finding horseshoe crab eggs, or gaining a closer look through one of their field telescopes.

The Hunting Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

The Hunting Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

The Value

Little St. Simons Island guests pay a single flat fee for accommodations, three meals, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks, every excursion, use of the equipment (boats, kayaks, canoes, bikes, etc.) and so much more. Even the tip is included in the price!

Our family adored Little St. Simons Island, ranking it as one of our all-time favorite adventures. In fact, we are already planning to head back next year. Read our detailed post (with more photos) for more tips and insight on visiting Little St. Simons Island with kids.

LesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Family Football Fun in the Summer

I know it’s summer time, but Georgia has football on its mind! The new Mercedes-Benz stadium is already changing the Atlanta skyline. With the announcement of Atlanta as host city for Super Bowl LIII, you can already hear the fans cheering.

Mercedes-Benz stadium under construction, May 2016.

Mercedes-Benz stadium under construction, May 2016.

If you’ve got an itch for football this summer, we recommend a trip to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The Hall features historic and contemporary memorabilia, children’s activities, interactive multimedia displays, a theater featuring an ultra-high-definition film, and unique special event and activity spaces.

College Football Hall of Fame. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

College Football Hall of Fame. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Here are a few upcoming events you won’t want to miss:

June 11, 2016 – Cool off during the Hall’s “Football Blues” from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sing and dance with 1980s Pop Tribute group Electric Avenue and eat “cookout” style food at the fun, family-friendly tailgate. Arrive in your official tailgate gear and get your grub on! Our family will be there – hope to see you!

June 19, 2016 – Have Dad show off his leg by testing his field goal kicking skills on Father’s Day! Dads can enjoy their special day at the Hall for FREE with the purchase of a regular price ticket along with a special Hall of Fame gift.

July 16, 2016 – In honor of July 4th, they’ll show their patriotic side with a performance from a special country music artist and other family fun. This last “Football Blues” summertime event is from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Outside of an actual game, the College Football Hall of Fame is the best way to experience college football in the South, with sophisticated interactive exhibits and hands-on opportunities to celebrate and learn. Fall is just a season away …get in the Atlanta football spirit right now!

LesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Easy Places to Go Camping in Georgia with Kids

Our family is prepping for our first back-country camping trip together. I was telling a friend recently, who responded with a profound, “No Way!” That’s when it dawned on me that our style of family camping isn’t the easiest, especially with little kiddos. If you want to enjoy the crisp air, wake up to the birds chirping…but still take advantage of Internet, a pool and a hot shower, then these family-friendly camping options might be right up your alley.

Stone Mountain Park Campground

Camping at Stone Mountain Park. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Camping at Stone Mountain Park. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Stone Mountain is ideal for those who enjoy a more “pampered” approach to camping. With water and electricity, clean comfort stations, the lake and park activities, a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, a playground, and the free lasershow, this makes a GREAT way to affordably escape for the weekend! Read more about our stay at Stone Mountain Park Campground.

Georgia State Park Yurts

Yurt at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Yurt at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Yurts are fun and easy ways to camp with kids. You can skip setting up the tent, and get straight to the good stuff: s’mores, hiking, swimming…whatever your crew loves to do. The newest yurts are at Sweetwater Creek State Park, but you’ll also find them at High Falls, Red Top Mountain, Fort Yargo, Cloudland Canyon and Tugaloo State Parks. Read more about where to camp in a yurt in Georgia.

KOA Georgia

Camping cabin at the Jacksonville North/St. Marys KOA. Photo from Facebook.

Camping cabin at the Jacksonville North/St. Marys KOA. Photo from Facebook.

KOA is easy for families, with tent camping, RV, cabin set ups…even a teepee at the St. Mary’s KOA location. Campgrounds include WiFi, pools, lakes, bike rental (Forsyth KOA), mini golf (Lake Oconee), a petting zoo (Calhoun KOA) and more.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park

Train at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Bremen

Train at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Bremen

Families can enjoy a large swimming pool, splash pool, put-put golf, gem mine, train rides, indoor cinema and lots more. Activities are based on weekly themes and include fun from morning ‘til night. The park accommodates RVs or tents, and offers cabins with or without kitchenettes.

LesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Explore Georgia’s Heartland for Free or Cheap

The Earth Lodge at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia.

The Earth Lodge at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia.

Looking for a fun way to explore Georgia’s Historic Heartland region – affordably – this summer? Here are eight ways to pinch a penny without sacrificing any fun with the family.

Dauset Trails Nature Center (FREE). Visit the animal trail and the barnyard animals. Enjoy hiking or mountain biking on over 20 miles of trails (dogs welcome.) Don’t skip the Wonder Room of animals located under the visitor center. More info on our visit here.

Go Fish Education Center ($5 per person – less for kiddos). See trout, bass and more in the large freshwater aquariums. Watch alligators and turtles, try out the interactive exhibits, and catch fish in the stocked pond.

High Falls State Park in Jackson, Ga.

High Falls State Park in Jackson, Ga.

High Falls State Park ($5 per car or FREE with a Friends of Ga State Park Pass). Hike the trail along the falls, or follow the History Falls Trail for beautiful views of the ruins. Our favorite part? Staying in one of the yurts with a view of the lake. More pictures from our stay here.

Lane Packing Line Tour and Peach Ice Cream ($2 per person). From May through August, you can tour Lane Southern Orchards, which has been growing peaches and pecans for over 100 years. Don’t miss their delicious peach ice cream.

Ocmulgee National Monument (FREE). This park and museum are dedicated to preserving the mounds of the Mississippian Culture, built around 900. Families can climb stairs to see views from the tops of several mounds and walk the trails, which include a boardwalk section over the wetlands filled with wildlife wonders.

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga.

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga.

Museum of Aviation (FREE). Do you have a want-to-be pilot in your life? The Museum of Aviation at Warner Robins will elicit a full day’s worth of grins and giggles. It is one of the largest aviation museums in the U.S. See over 90 different aircraft, spread over four hangers and 51 acres. More pictures from our first visit.

Covington Self-Guided Movie Tour (FREE). From Dukes of Hazzard to In The Heat Of The Night, you can tour numerous television and movie locations by picking up a map at the Clark Street Visitor Center.

Uncle Remus Museum ($5 per person – less for kiddos). My kids love Uncle Remus; we carry his books in our pack to read on the trails when we hike. If your littles love them too, then head to this museum honoring author Joel Chandler Harris. While you’re there, take a hike at nearby Rock Eagle.

LesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.