Alpharetta is a Symphony for the Senses

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ALPHARETTA, just north of Atlanta and easily accessible via the state’s “Hospitality Highway,” entertains, offering a variety of opportunities to savor the sounds of live music. From an intimate setting at The Velvet Note to outdoor ambiance at Matilda’s, to noteworthy performances at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Alpharetta brings new sounds to the suburbs!

Catch a concert at Alpharetta’s impressive 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, which hosts famous names throughout the year.

Photo: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Photo: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Get in touch with Southern roots at Matilda’s Music Under the Pines. This outdoor Alpharetta concert venue offers a relaxed alfresco evening of entertainment. Owner M.J. Potter created the music series in 2005, and it has grown over the years to attract some of the best musicians and bands in Atlanta and around the country.

Bring favorite eats, drinks and even Fido along, and kick back while bands pick out bluegrass, country and folk rock tunes. Matilda’s Music Under the Pines offers a downhome experience that will have patrons feeling sweet harmony — only in Alpharetta.

Photo: ABH Photography

Photo: ABH Photography

April through November, head to Chukkar Farm on select Friday and Saturday evenings for live music set against the backdrop of more than 100 acres of rolling landscapes and breathtaking views of the polo field.

Go indoors at The Velvet Note and hear a world-class musical artists in a setting as intimate and comfortable as your own living room.

Photo: The Velvet Note

Photo: The Velvet Note

Seek out this Southern city during the annual Wire and Wood Songwriters Festival each October. Nationally recognized singer-songwriters gather for three days of concerts. Music lovers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that inspired country, rock, blues, Americana and bluegrass songs. Attendees will be able to meet touring veteran songsmiths and local up-and-coming talent as music fills the streets of Alpharetta. More details will be announced at as soon as they are available.

Photo: Occupy My Family

A perfect duet: Pair good eats with sweet beats

Cure cravings at any of Alpharetta’s menu of eateries featuring cuisines that satisfy from homegrown to globally-inspired.
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Photo: Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau

At Avalon, Oak Steakhouse‘s contemporary dishes like bone-in pork chops over Carolina grits and wild Alaskan salmon will make you say farewell to grandfather’s stuffy steakhouse. This modern take on fine dining also features prime cuts of beef and a handmade cocktail menu to really please your palate. (678) 722-8333

Calamari, crostini and clams, oh my! Colletta offers a modern take on Italian favorites. With unexpected flavors like a peach and gorgonzola pizza or a veal chop over polenta, your taste buds will not be left wanting. Don’t forget to end the night with a cannoli.  (678) 722- 8335

Every other Wednesday these jointly-owned restaurants pair up for an outdoor party in Palmer Plaza. Let artists from near and far serenade you while you kick back with $5 drinks and specialty apps.

Downtown is also where you will find more restaurants with a beat! Your lips will be smackin’ at locally owned Smokejack’s Southern Grill and BBQ. Start off with a tasty basket of fried pickles, move to a pulled pork sandwich or chomp down on smoked, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Relish the finger-lickin’ comfort food while local bands pick out bluegrass and country favorites every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. (770) 410-7611

Music and food culminate in Alpharetta for a symphonic experience for the senses.

South Main Kitchen is known for its farm-to-table fare and unique communal dining experience. Fill your appetite with their fresh ingredient-focused dishes from an ever-changing, American-inspired menu.Top off a cocktail and toast a night out by heading to the rooftop lounge and bar area. Local musicians fill the fall air with sweet sounds most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. (678) 691-4622



Indulgent dishes paired with fresh melodies — Alpharetta feeds both body and soul.

TIP: Call ahead to ensure the restaurant of your choice is featuring live music that night. 

Find everything you need to know about Alpharetta here, including the city’s Don’t Miss Events.

Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau,, 678-297-2811.

© Lauren Boyd Photography 2013

Mom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Three Winter Hikes for Georgia Families

Fort Mountain photo by Lesli Peterson.

Fort Mountain photo by Lesli Peterson.

Hiking in winter affords views of the Georgia mountains that are not available when the foliage is full. Rocks, tree trunks and nature’s architecture offer a different perspective that can be just as beautiful as a newly bloomed flower of spring. Here are three of our family’s favorite winter explorations in Georgia.

Fort Mountain State Park (Chatsworth): Fort Mountain has amazing views and great historical markers, like the tower and wall. Perfect for viewing in the bare winter season.

There are plenty of hiking trails for the entire family at Fort Mountain, so you might consider making a weekend of it. We stayed at one of the newly refurbished cabins cabins, which are just spectacular.

Read more about our winter time Fort Mountain Adventure.

Blood Mountain (Blairsville): Blood Mountain easily comes to mind because of the diverse rocky terrain and the fun shelter at the end of the trail. Add to that amazing panoramic views, and you’ve got a winter hike like no other!

Blood Mountain is about 4.5 miles, and it is a climb. I would not recommend it for a kid’s first hike. It’s great for kids that hike regularly (my son was 6 years old when he first completed it without being carried) or teenagers. If you have hiking poles, this is the perfect hike on which to use them.

Read more about our hike to the Blood Mountain Summit.

George L Smith State Park (Twin City): Explore a different kind of winter trail here: a water trail. Wind your way through black water and bare cypress trees, which reflect off the lake like towering giants reaching for the clouds.

You can explore the grist mill and dam from 1880. Nearby is also Magnolia Springs Park where you can explore a Civil War POW museum and see a natural spring.

Read more about our paddle at George L Smith and our turtle escapade at Magnolia Springs.

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.

Providence Canyon: A Must-See in Winter

Canyon Climbers Club - Providence Canyon

Join the Canyon Climbers Club in southwest Georgia’s Providence Canyon.

Providence Canyon offers a fascinating look at the nature that make this region unique, and winter is the perfect time to see it all. In the absence of hardwood foliage and vegetation, visitors experience a landscape like nowhere else in the state. One of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders, the colorful rock formations of Providence earned the nickname, “Little Grand Canyon.”

Hiking the Canyon

The three-mile trail exploring Providence Canyon begins at the interpretive center and quickly descends along shaded switchbacks. The first few canyons on the trail are wooded, with trees obstructing some of the views. However, moving toward canyons four and five, the trees thin, revealing the striking beauty of the colorful canyon walls.

Providence Canyon photo by Candy Cook.

Providence Canyon photo by Candy Cook.

Providence Canyon is one of four sites included in Georgia State Parks’ Canyon Climbers Club. Hiking to the impressive No. 4 and 5 canyons completes the Canyon Climbers challenge for this park. Read more about our experience completing the Canyon Climbers Club at Providence Canyon.

View from the Rim

Providence Canyon photo by Candy Cook.

Providence Canyon photo by Candy Cook.

The trail winds along the fragile edge where visitors get the big picture of this canyon carved by erosion. These views are simply amazing and make a great place to witness a glorious sunset. Notice the safety rail has been moved back as the canyon continues to widen, and beware of the fragile nature of the area.


We opted to camp at nearby Florence Marina State Park, which boasts the can’t-miss Kirbo Interpretive Center, and a modern campground set among Spanish-moss draped trees. The campground includes tent and RV sites complete with water, electricity, and bathhouse. However, adventurous backpackers are welcome to arrange camps at one of six secluded, primitive sites along the seven-mile Providence Canyon backcountry trail.

For visitor information and to make reservations for backcountry camping, visit the Georgia State Parks website.

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.

A Holiday Hike through the Enchanted Garden of Lights

Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights sign

Photo by Candy Cook

The perfect holiday light display for outdoor families, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights sets Lookout Mountain aglow with the magic of the season. I visited the display last week to celebrate the season with my sons. Meandering along the rock garden path is pure magic!

Gingerbread light display at Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights

Photo by Candy Cook

Holiday cheer appears around every corner with quirky elves and drummer boys greeting guests along the trail. Soaring mountain rock formations become tunnels of splendor, bouncing colors from lights draped high above and echoing classic holiday tunes. Light displays animate dancing trees set to music, penguins in a winter wonderland, and a bright gingerbread village before the path leads to the overlook where we “See Seven States” of distant twinkling lights.

Toy soldiers at Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights

Photo by Candy Cook

Memorable moments are made warming up around flickering fire pits, meeting with Santa on the Cliff Terrace, and shopping for last-minute gifts at the holiday marketplace. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the magic when children meet fun characters like Jack Frost, Mrs. Claus and Frosty the Snowman. Finally, grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy live musical performances featuring choirs and bands playing the sounds of the season in the North Pole Lodge.

Enjoy all the festivities of Enchanted Garden of Lights holiday evenings from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. through January 2.

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.

Four Odd Things to Do this Winter in Georgia

With the family in town for the holidays and the kids out of school for winter break, there’s a good chance you’re looking for some things to do, maybe even a little out of the ordinary. After you’ve seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” forget the ordinary movie and try one of these four odd things to do this winter in Georgia.

Fort King George Historic Site in Darien

Learn how Georgia came to exist as the 13th British colony at Fort King George Historic Site in Darien. Photo courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources Parks and Historic Sites division

Capture a Fort: One of our favorite winter outings was to Fort King George in Darien, Ga. From its construction in 1721 until it was abandoned in 1732, Fort King George was the southernmost outpost of the British Empire in North America. The completely rebuilt fort includes a three-story block house, bunk house, as well as other outbuildings. Inside is a museum with artifacts from the 18th and 19th century, as well as wooden guns for the upcoming battle.

Go Swimming: It’s always fun to do something counter to the season — play in snow in summer, swim in winter. Although Georgia’s mild weather can mean it’s nice enough to swim outdoors in December, indoor swimming guarantees warm water. With deals from Explore Georgia, it’s easy to find an affordable hotel with an indoor pool. In Atlanta, there are also several public pools, some are more like an indoor water park, with swirly slides, dump tanks, diving boards and splash features.

Ride a Stagecoach: The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville is the go-to place for any cowboy or cowgirl. In the basement of this museum is the Sagebrush Ranch, an area specifically for children to run around and play amid Western-themed activities, including a life-sized stagecoach that moves back and forth. Kids can also climb on a life-sized horse, or set up camp and make a meal in the chuck wagon.

Enjoy a Party Line: In the old days, you talked on the phone; there was no texting. The phone also had a cord and was attached to a wall in the house. Not only did you share the phone, you also had to share the phone line with neighbors. It was called a party line, and if anyone was using the phone, it meant that no one else could use it. Could you imagine! See the evolution of the telephone, as well as lots of interesting phone and communication related artifacts at the Rural Telephone Museum in Leslie, Ga.

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.

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