Stay, Play and Eat at Historic Banning Mills

Snake Creek Gorge at Historic Banning Mills

Snake Creek Gorge at Historic Banning Mills

Historic Banning Mills is home to Screaming Eagle, the world’s best and largest zip line, according to Guinness. It’s tucked along Snake Creek Gorge, with plenty for the entire family.

Rooms, cottages and tree houses

Historic Banning Mills includes overnight accommodations for every budget. Economy rooms and Inn Side Cottages are the most affordable option. With a family, you’ll want to try a Cabin or Creekside Room, or the Full Size Cabin. We stayed in the Full Size Cabin on our visit, which included three bedrooms (four beds), two full bathrooms and a full kitchen. For something unique, try the new Tree House Rooms high above the ground.

A million ways to play

OK. Maybe not a million, but there is more to do than you can accomplish on one visit! You don’t want to miss zip lining, of course! There is even a great zip lining option for kids 4 years old and older called Crazy Squirrel Village. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip!

Zip lining at Historic Banning Mills

Zip lining at Historic Banning Mills

The kids will also love swimming in the (seasonal) pool, playing mini-golf or hiking over the suspension bridge. Our family really enjoyed hiking along Snake River, seeing the historic mill ruins and splashing in the water. Enjoy regular birds-of-prey shows, horseback riding or kayaking.

Dining at the resort

All overnight guests who stay on the Inn side of Historic Banning Mills will receive a full country breakfast each morning of their stay. Country breakfasts include fresh fruit, coffee, juice and tea. They also serve hickory-smoked bacon, ham or sausage, homemade biscuits and eggs. Yogurt and cereal are available, as well.

There is not a walk-in restaurant on the grounds, so be sure to order a picnic-style lunch from the Inn before your stay. For dinner, you can “tag on” to a group dinner buffet if you inquire about it ahead of time. We enjoyed delicious BBQ chicken from the on-site chef. If you are looking for a sit-down restaurant, take a short trip to Carrollton. Plates on the Square was especially delicious, great with kids and very charming.

See more photos and read more about our stay at Historic Banning Mills and why it’s a great family retreat, even with young children.

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.

American Girl Doll is a Spectacular Alpharetta Vacation

American Girl Doll Check-in

Photo courtesy of Marriott.

American Girl Doll has taken the nation by storm, with a series of toys that marry fun with education and strength. If your kids have fallen in love with these creations, then you’ll want to make your way to Alpharetta for a spectacular vacation.

Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta sweeps visitors off their feet with a “pink carpet” welcome when they select the American Doll Package. In your room, enjoy pink sheets and other pink touches such as a beanbag, trashcan, alarm clock and towels. Your doll is not forgotten…she receives a bed that you get to take home.

After a fun-filled day exploring Georgia’s only American Girl Doll store, enjoy cookies and milk delivered to your room (for your doll, too!) Parents will also appreciate that the Marriott package includes breakfast at the hotel, free Wi-Fi and free parking. Don’t forget your swimsuit- there are both indoor and outdoor pools for play!

American Girl Doll Room

Photo courtesy of Marriott.

The American Girl Package is only available on weekends. Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta regularly hosts 50+ experiences each weekend, so make a reservation early.

Looking for more ideas? Here are Five Magical American Girl Doll Experiences in Alpharetta, Ga.

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.

Dahlonega with Kids

Crisson Gold Mine in Dahlonega

Crisson Gold Mine

Thinking of spending fall in the mountains? Dahlonega is a superb destination, with educational excursions, hiking opportunities and more. Here are five places to visit in Dahlonega with kids and two family-friendly dining opportunities.

3 Gold Adventures

Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. Visit the oldest surviving courthouse in Georgia, and see the real gold laced in the bricks. See gemstone collections, stories about private mints, and a great movie about the history of gold discovery and excavation in Dahlonega.

Chestatee River Diving Bell. See an actual diving bell used to retrieve gold from the river floor in the 1800s.

Crisson Gold Mine. Tour the mine, and see the only working Stamp Mill in Georgia at 130 years old. Kids will love panning for gold and gems.

See more photos from our Dahlonega Gold Adventures.

2 Outdoor Adventures

Springer Mountain Trail. Hike to the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. From the parking lot, this is a moderate 2-mile journey. If you have hiking poles, you will want to bring them. At the top you will see a commemorative AT plaque, and cubby in the rock with a notebook for hikers to share their thoughts. See more Springer Mountain Trail info here.

Cane Creek Falls. You will weave through a Methodist Church Camp/Retreat to get to this waterfall. From the parking lot there is only about a 100-yard walk to the falls. You can easily get to the water’s edge for great photos, but splashing and swimming in the water is not permitted. See more Cane Creek Falls info here.

Cane Creek Falls in Dahlonega

Cane Creek Falls

Family-friendly Dining.

Several places on the Dahlonega Square make for a great family-friendly dining experience. We enjoyed lunch at Gustavo’s Pizzeria, with tasty pizza pies, pastas and salads. For dinner, try a seat on the upper patio of Bourbon Street Grille. It’s the perfect view for eating Cajun cuisine (plus burgers and pasta for picky eaters).

See more photos and info regarding family-friendly dining in Dahlonega.

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.

Georgia Lighthouses

Traditionally lighthouses have served as beacons for ships sailing in the night – today these popular structures serve as beacons for beach-goers and sight-seers. And Georgia’s historic lighthouses are no exception: these gorgeous structures all have unique stories and make for fantastic photo ops!

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Tybee Island Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Meredith112 via Flickr

Standing tall at the entrance to the Savannah River, the Tybee Island Lighthouse is one of only seven surviving colonial era lighthouses. James Oglethorpe, Georgia’s founding father, ordered the construction of the light station that would survive hurricanes, earthquakes and being burned by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Today the tower continues to serve as a guide for ships, in addition to housing a museum of Tybee Island’s history. Visitors can also climb to the top for a gorgeous view.

St. Simons Island Lighthouse

St Simons Island Lighthouse

St. Simons Island Lighthouse | Photo courtesdy of Joe Szalay via Flickr

Commissioned by the federal government, the St. Simons Island Lighthouse still serves as a warning for ships entering the St. Simons Sound. Though the tower no longer requires a keeper to greet guests, the panoramic view of the Golden Isles from the top provides visitors an unforgettable experience. The Keeper’s Dwelling and Museum illustrate the life of a lighthouse keeper and the history of the Golden Isles.

Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Sapelo Island Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Evangelio Gonzalez via Flickr

Sitting on the island that serves as a modern epicenter of Gullah culture, the Sapelo Island Lighthouse is the nation’s second-oldest brick lighthouse. Originally built in 1820, the tower was replaced in 1905 and later reconstructed to its original structure in the 1930s. The lighthouse is no longer active, but visitors can visit the lighthouse on a tour of Sapelo Island led by Georgia State Parks.

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

Cockspur Island Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of paulbr1 via Flickr

Located at the South Channel of the Savannah River, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse is considered part of Fort Pulaski. Situated in the direct line of fire of Union and Confederate troops during the defeat of Fort Pulaski, the lighthouse miraculously suffered minimal damage. Instead the structure would fall victim to flooding and today is only accessible via kayak or small boat. Along with the rest of the Fort, the lighthouse is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Little Cumberland Island Lighthouse

Little Cumberland Island Lighthouse

Little Cumberland Island Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of United States Coast Guard

The only one of Georgia’s five surviving historic lighthouses not open to the public, the light station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two towers were built on Little Cumberland Island: the one to the south with a revolving light and the one to the north, which remains, with a fixed light to mark the Satilla River and St. Andrew Sound. The lighthouse is no longer active, but has been well preserved by the Little Cumberland Island Association.

In addition to the five surviving historic lighthouses, Georgia boasts several other nautical lighting fixtures:

Sapelo Island Range Front

Sapelo Island Front Range Beacon

Sapelo Island Front Range Beacon | Photo courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology via Flickr

While on a tour of Sapelo Island, visitors can also view the front beacon situated at the southern tip of the island. Though inactive now, the beacon historically helped guide mariners within the range of the island’s lighthouse.

Savannah Old Harbor Light

Savannah Old Harbor Light

Savannah Old Harbor Light | Photo courtesy of Phil Houck via Flickr

This cast iron light was erected as the rear range light to guide vessels from Fig Island Lighthouse into Savannah. Six ships had been sunk during the Revolutionary War to provide a naval buffer, and the Old Harbor Light was utilized to avoid these wrecks. After renovations in the early 21st century, the light was re-erected in Emmet Park on Bay Street.

West Point Lake Lighthouse

West Point Lake Lighthouse

West Point Lake Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Sussman Imaging via Flickr

Situated right on the Georgia-Alabama line on West Point Lake, this ornamental tower provides beautiful ‘Kodak moments’ from the middle of the lake or for visitors to Maple Creek Park in LaGrange.

Things to Do on Labor Day Weekend in Georgia

Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens

Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens, Labor Day Weekend

As the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day signals the upcoming season of fall festivals, football, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, apple picking and brilliantly colored scenery. Don’t miss the chance to squeeze in one more summer blast at these Georgia Labor Day events! Find more information about these and many more things to do in Georgia on

Food & Drink

Sept. 4: Food Truck Friday, Duluth

Sept. 4-5: Bacon Fest, Savannah

Sept. 4-5: 33rd Annual Kingsland Catfish Festival, Kingsland

Sept. 5: Grape Stomping Festival, Blairsville

Sept. 5: Boos and Brews Pub Crawl, Dahlonega

Sept. 6: August Wine Cruise Series, Lake Lanier

Follow Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer Jennifer Hill Booker for fall recipes and culinary trip ideas, and follow Georgia’s official Festival Explorer Eileen Falkenberg-Hull for more fall festival trip ideas!

At the State Parks

Sept. 4: Labor Day Twilight Paddle, Fort Yargo State Park, Winder

Sept. 4-6: Laborless Day, Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge, Helena

Sept. 5: Red Fox Fun Run, F.D. Roosevelt State Park, Pine Mountain

Sept. 5: Labor Day at Jarrell Plantation, Juliette

Sept. 5: Labor Day Face Painting, Fort Mountain State Park, Chatsworth

Sept. 5: Labor Day Celebration, Fort McAllister State Park, Richmond Hill

Sept. 5: Dirty Spokes Trail Run, Hard Labor Creek State Park, Rutledge

Sept. 5-6: Wild Cave Tours, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn

Sept. 5-6: Labor Day Weekend Night Kayak, Hard Labor Creek State Park, Rutledge

Sept. 5-6: Tightrope Lessons, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls

Sept. 5-6: Twilight Night Paddle, High Falls State Park, Jackson

Sept. 5-7: Holiday Gorge Floor Hike, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls

Sept. 5-7: Tools and Skills That Built a Colony, Wormsloe Historic Site, Savannah

Sept. 5-7: Labor Day on the Lake, Florence Marina State Park, Omaha

Sept. 7: Labor Day at Fort King George, Darien

Sept. 7: Labor Day Commemoration, Fort Morris Historic Site, Midway

Follow Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer Candy Cook for more outdoor trip ideas this fall!

Family Fun

Sept. 4: Hot Rods on Main Cruise-In, Douglasville

Sept. 4: Dive In Movie, Atlantis, Lake Lanier

Sept. 4-5: Fiddlin’ Flea Market & Family Festival, Newnan

Sept. 4-6: Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

Sept. 4-6: Stone Mountain Park’s Labor Day Weekend Celebration, Stone Mountain

Sept. 5: Dive In Movie, Finding Nemo, Lake Lanier

Sept. 5-6: St. Simons Island Antique Show, St. Simons Island

Sept. 5-7: Labor Day Weekend at the Zoo, Cleveland

Sept. 6: Tybee Island Labor Day Beach Bash, Tybee Island

Follow Georgia’s official Family Explorer Lesli Peterson for more family-friendly fall trip ideas!

Free Things to Do

Sept. 4: 1st Friday Concert, Rome

Sept. 4: Friday Night Live: The Great Downtown Tailgate, Woodstock

Sept. 4: First Friday Fireworks, Savannah

Sept. 4: First Friday: The Benders, Thomasville

Sept. 4: First Friday Concert Series, The Swingin’ Medallions, Monroe

Sept. 4: First Friday Concert Series, Top 40 Pop Night, Dublin

Sept. 4: First Fridays, Historic Downtown Brunswick

Sept. 4: First Friday, Valdosta

Sept. 4: First Friday Fest in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, Clayton

Sept. 5: Good Life Drum Circle, Albany

Sept. 5: Buchanan Cruise Night, Buchanan

Sept. 5: Bluegrass on the Square, Tallulah Falls

Sept. 5: First Saturday Programs, Andersonville

Sept. 5-6: Perspectives 2015 – Georgia Pottery Invitational demonstrations and gallery talks, Watkinsville

Follow Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer Sue Rodman for more inexpensive fall trip ideas!

Sports & Racing

Sept. 4-6: IPRA World Championship Fall Rodeo, Cumming

Sept. 5: South Hall Rotary 5K, Gainesville

Sept. 5: 21st Annual Duck Race, Glenwood

Sept. 6: Callaway Gardens Family Fitness Series Triathlon, Pine Mountain

Last Chance! Events Ending Labor Day Weekend

Through Sept. 7: Summer Music Weekends, Lookout Mountain

Through Sept. 7: Blue Star Museums, Albany

Through Sept. 8: Festival Springs Fountain, Albany

Opening Labor Day Weekend

Sept. 1-Sept. 30: Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

Sept. 4-Oct. 30: Augusta Canal Moonlight Music Cruise, Augusta

Sept. 5-Oct. 11: Blue Ridge Mountains Photographers National Juried Show, Blue Ridge

Find special offers and discounts on great places to stay in Georgia on the Deals page.