Bring Your Whole Family to This Atlanta Coffeehouse

By Lesli Peterson

Hodgepodge Coffeehouse

I almost didn’t go. It had been a long and difficult morning, but I needed caffeine. Once Imumbled my intention aloud, my girlfriend was game. “I love that place. We’ll come with you.”

And that, my friends, is how I first met the love of my life…er, I mean, Hodgepodge Coffeehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Let me introduce you to my new favorite hangout. It’s perfect year-round, but especially wonderful in winter. Here are four reasons I love Hodgepodge; I want you to visit, too.

AWESOME COFFEE. So let’s be real. You can’t have fall in love with a coffeeshop that has bad coffee. Here you’ll find Batdorf and Bronson beans, roasted locally. Delish! I’m a fan of the Oh Honey! – Espresso, steamed milk, honey, and a hint of vanilla.

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ART ATTACK KIDS. Every Monday, Art Attack helps kids create and art project. Pair this with story time, and you have the recipe for an awesome start to the week.

PLAY SPACE. There’s a corner defined by a rug against huge windows. There are toys – worn and loved, but still awesome. Books…rocking chairs…an old-school rocking horse. This is where the children gather to play. I’ve cried big tears and laughed a million laughs all with my girlfriends, while my littles played beside me.

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PALEO BROWNIES. There is great food here. Love the chicken salad on spinach. Kudos. But there are also sweets for everyone, including Paleo brownies! And they are so yummy! I recommend a stop for lunch, and don’t skip dessert.

Don’t miss another day. Delicious coffee to warm your bones, and family-friendly to arm your heart. Bring the kids, invite your bestie, and have a great time.

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.

Top 3 Things to do in Madison, Georgia

By Susan Rodman

Photo courtesy of Madison, Georgia CVB

Photo courtesy of Madison, Georgia CVB

Madison, Georgia always feels like a genteel southern lady to me. The tree-lined streets shading local shops and restaurants invite you to wander. The active town square is perfect for a picnic, maybe a festival or just somewhere to meet the locals. These three activities are well-worth the hour drive from Atlanta, and if you’d like to stay the night, Explore Georgia has some hotel discounts in Madison too.

Time Travel: The stately antebellum mansions, spared by General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War, give us a glimpse of what life was really like for the aristocratic southern planter.  There are walking tours where you can view the homes from the sidewalk, or visit in May for the annual Tour of Homes & Gardens. Explore Georgia has a special group rate for the 2015 event.

Ride Into the Sunset: Southern Cross Guest Ranch is the weekend house you’ve always dreamed about. Numerous activities are available on this country lane, but it’s the horseback riding that takes center stage. All riding levels are welcome, and experienced riders can choose to go off on their own after a brief introduction to the trails. Even better, the trail horses are saddled only when being ridden and rotated among the herd, so there is plenty of time for the horses to just be horses.

Go Hollywood: Ricky D’s, located in the historic town of Madison, is a retro cinema, diner, wine bar and museum all rolled into one. Grab a hot dog and frozen custard from the pick up window, or sip a glass of merlot with Elvis at Backstage, the wine bar. The retro cinema shows indie films and you are welcome to enjoy your meal as you watch.

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.

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Top FREE Things to Do in Alpharetta

1With options such as exploring the city’s parks and trails to browsing the downtown shops, you don’t have to break the budget to have an awesome time in Alpharetta, Georgia!

  1. Pack a picnic and walk the Big Creek Greenway. If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, look no further than Alpharetta’s 12 foot wide paved path for biking, walking or roller blading. There are five access points to the trail and after you have conquered the Greenway, Alpharetta has 12 other trails to explore.2
  2. Attend one of Alpharetta’s countless free events. Alpharetta may be known for its new foodie game but the events in the city are what give it the hometown feel that visitors keep coming back for. The Awesome Alpharetta calendar of events stays full of festivals, races and other happenings throughout the year. Almost every event has free admission and entertainment. 
  3. Visit the Walk of Memories. The only one of its kind in Georgia, this memorial pays tribute to U.S. veterans, family and friends through a walkway of nearly 8,000 bricks inscribed with the names of Georgians who have served our country. Monuments along the walkway spotlight several conflicts, including WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
  4. Arboretums and parks. Alpharetta’s three arboretums at Cogburn Road Park, Webb Bridge Park and Wills Park are living museums of trees that can be used for education, research and enjoyment. 3
  5. Browse the downtown Alpharetta shops. Great for window shopping or purchasing gifts, downtown Alpharetta offers a variety of funky retailers, antique stores and art galleries that you’ll only find in Alpharetta. If you are an art lover, you will want to visit the area the last full weekend of every month from May-September for Art in the Park. Local artists set up shop along the street and create custom art pieces for browsers and shoppers to enjoy.
  6. Play Disc Golf at Wills Park. Grab friends and participate in an 18-hole course that is set up all throughout the park. The park also features baseball fields, picnic pavilions, walking trails and Wacky World playground.4
  7. Take a history walk. Alpharetta’s extensive history can be discovered by picking up a complimentary history walk brochure at the Alpharetta Welcome Center. The self-guided tour gives you details on 17 historical markers that are located throughout the downtown Alpharetta area.
  8. Geocaching in Alpharetta will help you find treasures in and around our city. Visit geocaching.com and search Alpharetta zip codes (30004, 30005, 30009, 30002) to find a complete list of all the caches around town. Plug in the coordinates into your GPS device and start hunting!

 

CaitlynFlorida native turned Georgian, Caitlyn Blizzard is the Director of Communications at the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau and loves advocating all things fun and unique in Awesome Alpharetta. She enjoys exploring metro Atlanta attractions and restaurants and spending time outside with her miniature schnauzer, Winstyn.

 

How to Keep Spring Break Fun and Affordable in Georgia

By Susan Rodman

Photo courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

Photo courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

Spring break is always a welcome respite from the long winter days. Whether planning a week-long family vacation, a quick city break or a staycation near home, here are some tips on saving money on spring break while keeping the fun.

Mix in Some Free: Ask attractions you’d like to visit if they have free or discounted days or hours. For example, the Booth Western Museum in Cartersville is free on Thursdays after 4 pm.

Become a Member: Take inventory of memberships you have in your own city. Many museums and attractions have reciprocal memberships, which means if you are a member in one city, you get in free or at a reduced rate in another.

Get Social: Find restaurants, attractions and hotels where you will be visiting on social media. Often they’ll offer discounts to loyal followers and even if you don’t spend less, you may be able to have a better experience while on vacation.  Research local travel bloggers who may have visited before and ask them for advice or inside tips via social media or comments on their blog. There’s always someone who has been there before that can offer advice, or even be there to answer a question. Plus a lot of times locals have done some of the more hidden adventures that tend to be the most fun and least expensive.

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.

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Discover Atlanta’s Black History Aboard the Atlanta Streetcar

By Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Photo courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Photo courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

With the recent addition of the Atlanta Streetcar as a transportation option for locals and tourists. Atlanta’s part in America’s black history is more accessible than ever.

Free to ride through March, 2015, the Streetcar has several pick-up points throughout Downtown Atlanta, the Old Fourth Ward, and Sweet Auburn districts of the city.  Here’s where to get off and explore history:

Edgewood at Hilliard – A few blocks south of this stop is Historic Oakland Cemetery, the centuries old burial place for people of Atlanta from all classes and races. Graves of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor; Bishop Wesley John Gaines, founder of Morris Brown College; and Carrie Steele Logan, 19th Century founder of Atlanta’s first orphanage for black children which continues today as the Carrie Steel Pitts Home.

King Historic District – This stop is at the Martin Luther King, Jr, National Historic Site where visitors will find multiple sites paying tribute to the civil rights leader including the Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, The King Center, and the National Park Service Visitor Center.

Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Sweet Auburn Market – The Sweet Auburn Historic District is an African-American neighborhood centralized on Auburn Avenue.  On the list of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and as a registered U.S. National Historic Landmark District, Sweet Auburn offers up history alongside modern Atlanta foodie haven the Sweet Auburn Curb Market which offers up cuisine for every palate including my favorite place to grab a burger in Atlanta- Grindhouse Killer Burgers.

Auburn at Piedmont – Just a short walk from the intersection of Auburn at Piedmont you’ll find the APEX Museum, a museum dedicated to presenting history from an African American perspective.

Centennial Olympic Park – Pemberton Place, next to Centennial Olympic Park, is the home of the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and the recently opened National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The center connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements through interactive displays and a multi-cultural experience. Across the part visitors will find the College Football Hall of Fame which features an immersive experience surrounding the game including a special display about Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

On February 28, 2015 the annual Black History Month Parade will march alongside much of the Atlanta Streetcar route. The parade is the largest celebration of Black History Month in the United States.

EileenEileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.