30 Minutes From Atlanta: Sweetwater Creek State Park

2

While Atlanta is exciting, after a couple of years of living here we got into a rut. Luckily, we discovered Explore Georgia on Twitter and got inspired to explore .This year, as our resolution, we have decided to get out of our rut and truly see what Georgia has to offer.

Living in the Atlanta area, sometimes it is easy to forget how close natural sights are. Sweetwater Creek was the first sight we decided to explore, and on every visit we see something new. It offers beautiful Civil War-era ruins, trails of various difficulties, rapids and small waterfalls. Sweetwater Creek is absolutely beautiful and relaxing. You completely forget you are so close to the city: you feel like you are in your own world.

3

“Hunger Games” fans would be interested to know that many of the outdoor scenes in District 13 (from “Mockingjay – Part 1″ were shot here. The visitor center also has some great exhibits about area wildlife, the Civil War and the cotton mill ruins. This park offers so much. It’s a must-visit!

Location

Sweetwater Creek State Park
1750 Mt. Vernon Road
Lithia Springs, GA 30122

Hours: 7 a.m. – Sunset

Admission: $5 parking (annual parking passes available)

All photos by Stefanie Barber

1Our names are Stefanie and Adam and we are a married couple who grew up in Augusta. After graduating from college, we both set our sights on the big city of Atlanta to further grow in our careers and lives. During the week we maintain our respective careers. The weekends, however, are spent exploring all that Georgia has to offer – every hidden gem and fascinating locale. We run StefanieandAdam.com to share our exciting adventures and explorations with the world.

Spring Break in Atlanta with CityPass

CityPASS

Spending spring break vacation in Atlanta opens your family up to a world of possibility. What if I told you that your family can visit Atlanta’s newest museums and attractions, at a discount, and jump to the front of the line?

My secret is CityPASS. I always encourage visitors and locals to consider using Atlanta CityPASS, and here are three reasons why.

  1. Atlanta CityPASS allows you to visit five of the best museums in the city while saving 43% off admission. Tickets are good for nine consecutive days, which starts with the first day of use. Tickets for kids age 3-12 are $59.35 and tickets for adults are $73.25.
  2. An Atlanta CityPASS ticket allows you to skip most ticket lines once you have your ticket booklet. You may encounter a line when you exchange a voucher for a booklet, but that should be reasonably short. Skipping the line during spring break buys you tons of additional time in the attraction.
  3. As of March 13, 2015, Atlanta CityPASS now includes two of Atlanta’s newest museums, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame.

Civil Rights MuseumI am sad to see Atlanta History Center (AHC) and High Museum fall off the list this year; AHC is truly one of my favorite Atlanta museums.  Here’s a tip for locals: AHC and High are both members of the Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums. Depending on the level of membership you purchase, a membership at one museum can offer admittance into both locations.

Atlanta CityPASS includes the following attractions:

Georgia Aquarium

World of Coca-Cola

Inside CNN Studio Tour

Zoo Atlanta OR Center for Civil and Human Rights

Fernbank Museum of Natural History OR College Football Hall of Fame

LesliLesli is the 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.

4 Places to Feed Your Faith in Georgia

The South has always been known as a highly religious region. Christianity has been, and continues to be the most dominant religion, but people of all faiths call Georgia home. In addition to numerous historic churches and synagogues, Georgia also has several unique museums to feed your faith, or gain a better understanding of another religion. All of these museums welcome visitors, regardless of religious affiliation. So feed your faith, or increase your tolerance with a visit to one of these museums.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit: The Monastic Life Heritage Center has a museum about the history of the Monastery, as well as life as a monk. See for yourself what it means to be a monk by attending mass at the chapel or talking to one of the monk’s working at the Center. There’s a fabulous gift shop with unique items, like tasty monk made fudge. Be sure to stop at the garden center and peruse the impressive array of bonsai plants.

Photo courtesy of Explorations In Antiquity Center.

Photo courtesy of Explorations In Antiquity Center.

Explorations in Antiquity: Visiting the Holy Land isn’t realistic for most people. But a visit to Explorations in Antiquity Center, in LaGrange, Georgia, about an hour southeast of downtown Atlanta is almost better than a trip oversees. The Center explores ancient Middle Eastern life as a Shepard, farmer and villager, and covers hundreds of years in a compact garden environment, much easier (and cheaper) then traveling to the Holy Land. In addition to self-guided and guided tours, the Explorations in Antiquity Center offers special programs that are well worth the price of admission.

Photo courtesy of the The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

Photo courtesy of the The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

The William Breman Heritage Museum: The Breman has a moving permanent exhibit called the Absence of Humanity, which looks at the events of the Holocaust from 1933 – 1945 through the eyes of Atlanta survivors. This is done through numerous photographs, as well as artifacts and even sets, such as a period grocery. In addition to the main exhibit, there are informative traveling exhibits such as Dr. Suess, Rich’s Department Store and Where the Wild Things Are. Although all exhibits have a Jewish link, they are universally enjoyable.

Besser Holocaust Memorial Garden - Atl Biz Chron

Besser Holocaust Memorial Garden: The garden is located on the grounds of the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody, amid baseball and soccer fields. It contains a series of sculptures that depict Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust. The Marcus JCC is open to anyone, and the garden is a simple place to reflect for those of any faith.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

Click here to order Sue’s book, 100+ Things to Do in Atlanta.

Click here to follow Sue on Facebook.

Click here to follow Sue on Twitter.

Click here to follow Sue on Pinterest.

Click here to follow Sue on Google+

Click here to follow Sue on Instagram.

Find Your Chi at Georgia Nature Preserves

Photo courtesy of Autrey Mill Nature Preserve

Photo courtesy of Autrey Mill Nature Preserve

There’s nothing like a walk in the woods to melt away the stress of everyday life. And when that stress is gone, the world becomes a little kinder too; at least that’s what I find with my family.  In addition to numerous state parks, Georgia has several woodland nature preserves, perfect for getting in touch with your inner calm.  As an added bonus, these preserves also have more than just woods to mosey around.

Dauset Trails Nature Preserve – Bring your bike or your horse to this nature preserve. There are 20 plus miles of bike and hiking trails, as well as 10 miles of horse trails. There is also a barnyard where you can explore a 19th century working farm, and Wildlife trail where you’ll see animals that cannot be released back into the wild. Although Dauset Trails offers free admission, bring some change to feed the fish off the boardwalk.

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center – Autrey Mill sits on 46 acres in a bustling northern Atlanta suburb. In addition to trails, there is a Heritage Village showcasing the area’s rural past. Buildings date from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. In addition, there are several Indian dwellings, including a full-sized tepee that my boys love playing in and around. Autrey Mill also has an animal exhibit with dioramas, as well as real native animals.

Photo courtesy of Reynolds Nature Preserve

Photo courtesy of Reynolds Nature Preserve

Reynolds Nature Preserve – Located in Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, this 146-acre woodland habitat has three miles of hiking trails, as well as a nature center with live animals.  The hiking trails wind from high ridge to wetlands. You might also spot old farm equipment, a springhouse, and a barn dating back to 1867.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

Click here to order Sue’s book, 100+ Things to Do in Atlanta.

Click here to follow Sue on Facebook.

Click here to follow Sue on Twitter.

Click here to follow Sue on Pinterest.

Click here to follow Sue on Google+

Click here to follow Sue on Instagram.

Become a Park Paddler at Sweetwater Creek State Park

CandyCook_SweetwaterPaddler2titleGet off the beaten path and onto the water trails of Georgia State Parks! The Park Paddlers Club offers visitors 24 miles of scenic water trails, at six diverse waterways. Plus, you’ll earn a commemorative t-shirt.

Nestled in the forest of Sweetwater Creek State Park, is a serene water trail just a short drive from Atlanta.The gentle water of George Sparks Reservoir is where I first learned to paddle a kayak. This is our first time rowing as Park Paddlers. The club encourages paddlers to follow the perimeter of the reservoir on a 3-mile water trail.  We take two tandem kayaks to ensure both children have an adult by their side. I enjoy paddling as a bonding experience with my kids. We glide along the reservoir bank, noticing the first signs of spring.

CandyCook_SweetwaterPaddler

A visit to the bait shop allows paddlers to pick their paddle and lifejacket. Choose between kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboards. Ask about the Park Paddlers Club to pick up your membership card. You’ll need it to receive your reward for paddling at all six parks.

Sweetwater Creek State Park also schedules ranger-led paddles. These group events help uneasy paddlers build confidence in a supportive setting.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.