Three Gardens for Mother’s Day with the Kids

Looking for beautiful blooms and a world of color for Mother’s Day? We’re sharing three of our favorite Georgia gardens that are brimming with color. Take a break and visit on your own, or bring the entire family for a day of exploring these magnificent marvels.

Dunaway Gardens in Newnan, Ga.

Dunaway Gardens in Newnan, Ga.

Dunaway Gardens

This haven in Newnan was once a large theatrical training ground for producers, directors and performers. It’s the South’s largest natural rock and floral garden, with 12 scenic spots, three waterfalls and several ponds. Check the website before you go; it is not open to the public everyday. I must say, it is one of my favorites in the state — pure heaven. Bring your camera! Meat ‘N Greet on the nearby square is a great stop for lunch. See this post of my visit to Dunaway Garden with the kids.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Ga.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Ga.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens

Tucked away in Kennesaw is a hidden gem with flowers, trails, sculptures and more. My family loves the waterfall, children’s garden and koi pond. We recommend bringing a picnic to enjoy under the shade trees. If you can’t make it for Mother’s Day, then consider visiting during one of their programs for children: young chefs, garden stories or the young explorer’s lineup. See this post of my visit to Smith-Gilbert Gardens with the kids.

Photo courtesy Gibbs Gardens, Facebook.

Photo courtesy Gibbs Gardens, Facebook.

Gibbs Gardens

220 acres in Ball Ground include 24 ponds, 32 bridges and 19 waterfalls. You’ll spy blooming annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees all year round, plus enjoy educational events, musicians, festivals and more throughout the year. We have a season pass here and enjoy every season with anticipation for the next. Mother’s Day features strolling musicians and Brunch in a Box for an affordable $15.

For many more trip ideas to beautiful Georgia gardens, visit ExploreGeorgia.org.

LesliLesli Peterson is 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.

What’s New and How to Save at Georgia Theme Parks

Looking for a thrilling weekend adventure? How about a visit to one of Georgia’s theme parks? This year, there are even more reasons to visit, too. Here’s a taste of what’s new at your favorite Georgia theme parks, and how to save on a visit.

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Georgia

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Georgia

Six Flags Over Georgia
What’s New:
Revolution at Dare Devil Dive. The existing Dare Devil Dive roller coaster has added a thrilling new element: virtual reality. Now while you are dropping, twisting and going upside down, you can fight aliens using special virtual reality goggles. For the younger set, Bugs Bunny Boomtown has seven new attractions, and DC Super Friends is a new themed area that opens this summer.

Money-saving Tip: If you plan to visit Six Flags Over Georgia twice this year, purchase a season pass. It will pay for itself in two visits, and you’ll also get admission to White Water, a water park in Marietta.

Wild Adventures

Photo courtesy Wild Adventures theme park, Valdosta, Ga.

Wild Adventures
What’s New:
Dinosaurs are invading Wild Adventures! Guests can interact with 20 life-sized moving, roaring dinosaurs. Wild Adventures has also added nine play spots throughout the park with games like giant checkers and drum sets for families to play. In the Animal Kingdom, they’ve also added a South American exhibit.

Money-saving Tip: Bring a picnic lunch and save on food in the park. Wild Adventures has picnic tables outside the gate and allows guests to leave and return provided they get a hand stamp.

Geyser Tower at Stone Mountain

Geyser Towers at Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain Park
What’s New:
The Jump is the latest attraction added to the Crossroads at Stone Mountain near Sky Hike. Guests free fall 10, 15 or 20 feet from a tower.

Money-saving Tip: Stone Mountain often partners with Kroger. Look for discount coupons to the park at local Kroger stores. You can also visit after 4 p.m. and purchase a Sunset Pass for less.

Photo courtesy Lake Winnie and SoakYa Water Park

Photo courtesy Lake Winnie and SoakYa Water Park

Lake Winnepesaukah
What’s New: The Twister! Can you stomach it?

Money-saving Tip: When planning your trip, visit the Lake Winnie website and click the “specials” tab where you’ll find money saving coupons. Be sure to plan ahead though; coupons are for specific days.

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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Georgia’s Top Trout Destinations

Fish for trout in the Toccoa River at Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville, Georgia.

Fish for trout in the Toccoa River at Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville, Georgia.

It’s no secret that trout is becoming big business in Georgia. From residents and visitors wanting to fish the state’s streams and rivers to the featured protein on restaurant menus, the prized fish is impacting local economies in a big way. Here are the top places to find trout in Georgia.

Toccoa River – The Toccoa River, in Fannin County, has just the right conditions to warrant the growth of big fish. According to the Blue Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the river is stocked above Blue Ridge Dam “about every other week” during prime fishing times. Book a lesson with any of the fishing guides in Blue Ridge to learn some tricks for reeling in the big ones. (Before casting a line, review the Georgia Department of Natural Resources trout fishing regulations.)

Your Delta flight – Acclaimed chef Linton Hopkins, of Restaurant Eugene, cheeseburger hot spot Holeman and Finch, H&F Bread Co. and the forthcoming Linton’s at Atlanta Botanical Garden, has worked with the Atlanta-based airline to create menus with local flare for passengers flying from Atlanta to Europe. Along with regional cheeses, Carolina Gold rice and grits, local charcuterie and pork, travelers will find mountain trout being offered up.

Chattahoochee National Forest – Spanning a large part of the state’s northern region, the Chattahoochee National Forest is home to the Chattooga River, which features prime whitewater rafting opportunities and Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, a species that is not stocked by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Blue Ridge Trout Fest and Outdoor Adventures – Each year, the town of Blue Ridge plays host to a weekend of festivities celebrating its claim as the Trout Capital of Georgia. This year’s festival runs April 29-30, 2016.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull 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.

From Atlanta Airport to a Waterfall in Less Than 30 Minutes

Creek through Cochran Mill Park in Chattahoochee Hills. Photo by Candy Cook.

Creek through Cochran Mill Park in Chattahoochee Hills. Photo by Candy Cook.

Cochran Mill Park is a great escape to nature just 20 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The park boasts a waterfall and an impressive trail system for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding in Chattahoochee Hills. Nearly 15 miles of natural surface trails wind through the peaceful forest with varying terrain and skill level. The park also features a playground and picnic shelters nearby Cochran Mill Nature Center. Trail maps are located at an information kiosk near the entrance. The trails are all multi-use unless marked otherwise on the trail map.

Trails to Henry Mill Falls

Henry Mill Falls. Photo courtesy Cochran Mill Park.

Henry Mill Falls. Photo courtesy Cochran Mill Park.

Yellow – The yellow-blazed trail offers a fantastic outdoor experience for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders beginning with a stream crossing and a fun, twisty singletrack that transitions to a fast, flowing ride for bikers. This moderate trail leads to a view of Henry Mill Falls before looping back on itself.

Red – The more difficult red-blazed trail hugs the banks of the creek for more than a mile and a half before reaching a beautiful view of Henry Mill Falls. Visitors make the return trip by looping back through the hilly forest for a total distance of nearly 4 miles. This trail has a separate entrance for horses.

Cochran Mill Falls & Nature Center Trails

Biking through Cochran Mill Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Biking through Cochran Mill Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

For a relatively easy and quick refresh, hit the Cochran Mill Falls & Loops. These trails offer several creek crossings, a view of the falls, and continues through the wildlife habitat of Cochran Mill Nature Center. The Nature Center is not affiliated with the park, however it’s worth checking out while visiting. It is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

candycookCandy Cook 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 Sassy Georgia Sleepovers

The camel’s whiskers tickled my cheek, searching for an opening to enjoy some of my morning coffee. Waking up with camels is all part of the plan at the North Georgia Zoo. Overnight campers set up tents or campers next to the camels for sleepovers at the zoo, protected by the Great Pyrenees dogs that roam the perimeter of the property at night. The evening’s entertainment is a flashlight walk through the empty zoo and some up-close animal encounters. Howling with the wolves is optional.

If you’re looking for something a little different than your standard hotel room, why not try one of these overnight adventures in Georgia?

Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium

Sleep with the Fish: It’s not every day you can wake up to a whale shark watching you. Ok, so he probably isn’t watching you, but you could watch him all night long if you want during a sleepover at the Georgia Aquarium. Enjoy the aquarium without the crowds and get a personal tour of the different habitats.

Fort King George

Fort King George

Sleep like a Soldier: At Fort King George in Darien, Ga. You can have a sleepover on the bluff and visit the fort at night, or sleep inside the fort! Have a solider talk about life in the fort, or if you want to make things really interesting, book a cannon firing!

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Sleep in a Covered Wagon: At the Rock Ranch near Barnesville, Ga., you can rest your head in an authentic Conestoga covered wagon. Wake up to sunrise over the 1,500-acre working cattle ranch founded by the late Truett Cathy, who also founded Chick-fil-A. Visit when they have a special event, and you’ll have early access to the fun.

Tree Climbing with Field Trips with Sue in Panola Mountain State Park

Tree Climbing with Field Trips with Sue in Panola Mountain State Park. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Sleep in a Tree: It’s not just for the birds anymore. At Panola Mountain State Park, climb a tree and spend the night viewing the stars through the canopy. Your bed is a hammock high in the treetop. Hopefully you won’t need to go to the bathroom until morning.

Sue and a friendly camel at North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm, Cleveland, Ga.

Sue and a friendly camel at North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm, Cleveland, Ga.

Sue 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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