Georgia’s Unique Museums

From Antebellum Southern tradition to Gullah Geechee culture; from presidential houses to prestigious golf tournaments – Georgia has something to meet everyone’s interest. And Georgia’s museums reflect that diversity. Here are five of Georgia’s most unique museums to explore while seeking out all that is interesting and offbeat:

Road to Tara Museum: In Jonesboro you can discover all you’d ever want to know about Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was based in no small part off of her grandparents’ tales from a plantation just outside the city. The museum offers a glimpse into the story, combining the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro with Margaret Mitchell’s fictional tale and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind. From tribute dolls of every character to Scarlett O’Hara’s underpants, this museum is the perfect stop for any fan of this timeless story of the South.Road to Tara Museum

Georgia Rural Telephone Museum: Housed in a renovated 1920s cotton warehouse in Leslie, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of telephones and telephone memorabilia. Here you’ll find the rarest examples of telecommunication stretching back to 1876, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s two 1970s switchboards used during his campaign, the phone used to announce President McKinely had been shot in 1897 and even a jukebox phone!

Crawford W. Long Museum: Did you know the first use of ether as an anesthetic was by a Georgia surgeon? This Jefferson-located museum commemorates Dr. Long’s role in the development of one of the most important advances in medical procedures. Head to Jackson County to experience how this country doctor-turned-surgeon for the Confederacy became the ‘father of painless surgery.Crawford W. Long Museum

The Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis: Why travel to Graceland or spend outrageous amounts of money seeing impersonators in Vegas when you can have everything Elvis here in Georgia!? Located on the third floor of the Loudermouth Boarding House (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Cornelia, this experience celebrates Elvis’s successes and well as his flaws. If you love The King, you have to check out Everything Elvis – it is, after all, the only museum to house a body part of his: the Elvis Wart.

Billy Carter Gas Station Museum: While Jimmy Carter was busy running the country, younger brother Billy was busy running a local gas station. The Plains establishment features some of the First Brother’s unique wardrobe choices, as well as many empty cans of the short-lived beer named for him: Billy Beer. The next time you’re visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, take a quick detour to experience the life of one of the best known presidential siblings.Billy Carter's Service Station Museum

Georgia Camping for the Non-Camper

3 GEORGIA CAMPING TRIPS WITHOUT THE HASSLE

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Camping is a great way to explore Georgia on a budget, and there is nothing better than telling stories around the campfire while enjoying some freshly toasted marshmallows. However, gathering all the gear and pitching a tent can be a bit intimidating to the novice. Here are three ways to enjoy Georgia camping, without all the hassles.

Georgia State Parks First Time Camper Program: The Georgia State Parks first time camper program gives newbie campers everything they need for two nights under the stars. For $50, campers receive a six person tent, two chairs, four self-inflating sleeping mats, a camp stove with fuel, lantern and marshmallow roasting sticks – you need to bring your own s’more fixings though.

Glamping at North Georgia Canopy Tours: No need to bring a tent. Instead enjoy the comforts of an authentic Native American teepee with a few modern conveniences, like air conditioning (or heat in the winter), lighting and electrical outlets. If you’d rather, North Georgia Canopy tours also has 15 rustic campsites. The best part is getting first dibs on a zip line canopy tour the next day.

Glamping at North Georgia Canopy Tours

Glamping | Photo courtesy of North Georgia Canopy Tours

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch: The wagons are circled on a Georgia farm with cows grazing nearby rather than amid buffalo on the plains, but everything you could need is set up nearby. The Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch have four sets of bunk beds, so just pack a sleeping bag or some sheets. Firewood is stacked on a flatbed, and a table with paper towels, cups, hand washing water, drinking water, lanterns, paper and matches is nearby. If you don’t want to bring dinner, just order the Hot Dog Dinner and everything you need, down to the cooking skewers will be waiting for you upon arrival.

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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3 Georgia Lakes Perfect for a Family Vacation

SPEND QUALITY FAMILY TIME AT GEORGIA’S GORGEOUS LAKES

beach pool lake oconee

Georgia is home to 23 lakes, all of which offer superior family fun. Here are three Georgia lakes we particularly love that make great escapes for a vacation with the kids.

Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga. There are myriad ways to explore the 19,000+ acres of Lake Oconee, but our family’s favorite is to experience the waters from Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation. Enjoy a host of activities for families on the resort grounds, including S’mores by the Lake every evening at 8 p.m. Relax at the infinity pool overlooking Lake Oconee, or splash in the water at the beach. Reynolds Plantation offers numerous lake activities such as canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Young Harris Water Sports Boat Rentals is onsite to offer jet skis, pontoon boats, ski boats and wake boats.

Our family stayed at Reynolds Plantation and named it the best family resort in the state: 365atlantafamily.com/ReynoldsPlantation

Lake Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge, Ga. North Georgia’s rolling mountains surround the unspoiled blue waters of Lake Blue Ridge, creating one of the most scenic lakes in the state. Lake Blue Ridge Marina is a full service marina where you can launch your own boat, or rent a pontoon for a half or full day. Kids will love renting paddle boats, canoes or stand up paddle boards, as well. Don’t miss Morganton Point Recreation Area on the lake. It offers a beach, showers, a picnic area and trails to the Chattahoochee National Forest. Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters is located here; you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards and fishing equipment. You can purchase a fishing license, buy a hotdog, pick up bait or enjoy an ice cream all at one stop.

If one day is not enough- and it never is –then try camping at Morganton Point, with sites for primitive tent camping or full service hookups for campers. Blue Ridge also offers numerous cabin rental options; many are directly on the lake. Find a list of cabin rental companies here.

Our family stayed at a lovely unit from Mountain Top Cabin Rentals. You can read more about it on my site: 365atlantafamily.com/BlueRidgeCabin

Lake Blue Ridge Marina

Lake Blue Ridge Marina | Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge CVB

Lake Blackshear in Cordele, Ga. The Lodge at Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club at Georgia Veteran’s State Park. Take the SAM Shortline train excursion or visit the local Military Museum. At the marina, you can launch your own vessel or rent fishing boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, ski boats or kayaks. Stay overnight at the lodge for a weekend of excitement.

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.

Hiking Tallulah Gorge for Canyon Climbers Club

Canyon Climbers Club, set forth by Georgia State Parks, challenges hikers to conquer four scenic trails in a quest to earn a commemorative t-shirt. Tallulah Gorge State Park is a great starting point for beginning the quest. The Canyon Climbers hike at Tallulah follows along the North rim, before descending into the gorge on plunging staircases. Hikers begin the journey with a short walk from the Interpretive Center to a couple overlooks that offer amazing views of L’Eau d’Or Waterfall. This is the perfect opportunity to snap some before hike photos, because what comes next is the descent into the gorge.Canyon Climbers Club

The trail keeps hikers in a cool, damp shade for most of the hike. It’s made up entirely of stairs and platforms until visitors reach the slightly bouncy suspension bridge. The bridge spans the gorge and hikers have the options to either turn back, continue down 200 more stairs to view Hurricane Falls, or climb the 300+ steps to hike the south rim. Before heading back up to check out the interpretive center, we munched a picnic on a bench we found hidden beneath the north side of the bridge. Climbing the 300 steps out of the gorge is the most strenuous part of this adventure. But, there are plenty of benches to stop and take breaks if needed.Tallulah Gorge

The interpretive center at Tallulah Gorge is a must see and a great place to cool down after the hike. A self-guided tour of the building is designed to resemble the gorge, with ramps that lead visitors to different floors of the building and a rocky model of the gorge floor on the lower level. You will need to visit the interpretive center after your hike to either purchase a Canyon Climbers membership card or have your current card marked for completion of the hike.Tallulah Interpretive Center

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.

3 Thrilling Georgia Adventures for Less

There is lots of adventure in Georgia, and summer is a hot time for discounts on heart pumping attractions. As the mother of a tween and two teen boys, we’re always up for an intense experience. Here are three thrilling Georgia adventures and some ways to save and keep your wallet cool.

Historic Banning Mills: Historic Banning Mills is an eco-canopy adventure with course names and thrills that make the roller coasters at nearby Six Flags theme park look like kiddie rides. Don’t miss the aerial adventure park. It’s a fun way to break up the zip lines by doing a high ropes trek. For the extreme adrenaline junkie, there’s the 100-foot free fall. The first step is the hardest.

  • Historic Banning Mills Deal: Through 12/22/2016, get 10% off level 2 – 4 zip line tours. Just mention the Georgia Tourism discount for Banning Mills.
Historic Banning Mills

Historic Banning Mills

Durhamtown Plantation, Union Point, Ga.: Durhamtown Plantation is to my teens what Santa is to a preschooler. They get all giddy with excitement at the mere mention. My kids aren’t skilled dirt bike riders, but they enjoy riding the ATV’s and exploring America’s largest off-road resort’s 14 one-way trails.  We haven’t tried the hunting or skeet shooting yet.

  • Durhamtown Plantation Deal: Bring your kids to Durhamtown on July 25 for the 1st Annual Massey Kid’s Day. Kids 15 and under ride free with a paid adult rider. Get there early for a parent-kid race on the peewee track or stay late and do the mud obstacle course. Burgers, dogs, ice cream and watermelon will be served. Can’t make it in July? Get 50% off cabins & RV sites Aug. 1 – 31.
Durhamtown Off Road Riding Resort

Durhamtown Off Road Riding Resort

Whitewater Columbus: USA Today named Whitewater Columbus one of the Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World. They have rafting, as well as kayak and stand up paddleboarding. If you aren’t one for getting wet, there is also a new zipline course, or you can rent bikes and pedal the 11-mile pathway around the city.

  • Whitewater Columbus Deal: Answer a 10 question survey on the Whitewater Columbus website and get 25% off. Visit Whitewater Columbus online for weekday discounts available all summer long. Spend the night in Columbus with these hotel discounts.
Whitewater Rafting in Columbus

Whitewater Rafting in Columbus

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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