Indoor Play Options in Georgia

By Lesli Peterson

NatureQuest

NatureQuest

I am a huge advocate for outside play. Rain, sleet, snow, or mosquitos…we are out there.  I’m also a realist. When you experience day after day after day of wet, freezing, or muggy weather, the kids need a break. Here are a few of our favorite places to play indoors.

In the City

High Museum The Greene Family Learning Gallery is a hands-on education center. It provides a building area, storytelling space, and three other kid-friendly areas. I love it as a tool for connecting my boys to the art in the museum.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History My boys love to explore at NatureQuest, where they learn about forests, swamps, and more. If I can drag them away, we also play scientist at Sensing Nature. Their favorite stations are the bubble maker and the green-screen meteorologist camera.

North of Atlanta

INK

INK

Interactive Neighborhood for Kids Plan to spend an entire day at this “kid-sized” town. Climb in a plane, play musical instruments, or play veterinarian. You can also climb aboard a firetruck, “milk” a cow, or play judge and jury. Bring a picnic, as there are not lunch options in the building.

Tellus Science Museum Head straight to the back, and busy the kids with gem mining.  My boys look forward to getting a little wet and finding a golden nugget. In the next room, ancient dinosaur bones hide under rubble, waiting for little hands to discover them.

South of Atlanta       

Thronateeska

Thronateeska

Museum of Aviation Explore four hangers of equipment, uniforms, and other military flying gear. Most are “for eyes only,” but there are a handful of places where children can climb, touch, push, steer, and more. Stop for lunch at the cafeteria, with large windows for viewing more airplanes outdoors.

Thronateeska Heritage Center This kid-friendly museum is a science center, train exhibit, and planetarium – all under one roof. Our favorite areas are the archaeology exhibit, the “skeleton” piano, and the HO-scale model train.  

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’s Best Pies

Photo Credit: The Pie Hole

Photo Credit: The Pie Hole

It’s National Pie Day! In honor of this delicious holiday, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite pies in the Peach State. Fair warning: this list will make you very hungry.

Buttermilk Pie courtesy of GirlsGetaway.com

Buttermilk Pie courtesy of GirlsGetaway.com

Buttermilk Pie at Yesterday Café in Greensboro: Arguably the most famous pie in Georgia, the Buttermilk Pie at Yesterday Cafe is so good that Southern Living named is one of the South’s Best Pies and Carrie Underwood ordered 300 for her wedding.

Photo courtesy of  Savannah Candy Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Savannah Candy Kitchen

Pecan Pie at Savannah Candy KitchenSavannah Candy Kitchen’s recipe uses fresh eggs, real butter, corn syrup, sugar and fancy Georgia pecan halves. You can purchase your own pecan pie at the store in Savannah or online. We suggest serving your pie with whipped cream and/or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Your taste buds will thank us.

R&A Orchards, photo courtesy of examiner.com

R&A Orchards, photo courtesy of examiner.com

Fried pies at R&A Orchards in Ellijay: What could be better than a pie? A FRIED pie! R&A Orchards in Ellijay serves up a wide variety of fried pies everyday. We’d tell you our favorite but we can’t choose just one.

Anything from The Pie Hole in Roswell: Busy bakers, tiny tables and a display case full of sugary treats welcome you to The Pie Hole in Roswell, Georgia. Slices are available daily but the menu is different every day. However, we’ve never tasted a Pie Hole pie that didn’t make our eyes roll back into our head with delicious delight.

Mary Macs photo courtesy of Foodspotting.com

Mary Macs photo courtesy of Foodspotting.com

Peanut Butter Pie at Mary Macs in Atlanta: Nothing cleanses the palate after a southern feast like a piece of Mary Macs’ famous Peanut Butter Pie. It’s silky-smooth texture and cookie crust will make you want to give up your day job and become a professional pie eater. Seriously. It’s that good.

 

 

LaurenLauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

5 Outdoor Family Adventures in Georgia

By Candy Cook

My family enjoys a wide range of activities in Georgia’s diverse landscapes. We’ve taken one step at a time to discover and broaden our outdoor hobbies. Budding outdoor enthusiasts, like my young sons, need places that offer lots of options to make the most of an adventurous side while not breaking the bank or getting overwhelmed. These are some of my favorite places to start adventuring outdoors in Georgia.

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island

The great outdoors play an important role in all of our visits to the shores of Jekyll Island. My family first discovered Jekyll when my son developed an interest in sea turtles. I planned a week vacation around a visit to The Georgia Sea Turtle Center for his birthday. We have returned several times having fallen in love with the beauty of the land, relaxed beaches and focus on nature. I love that we can camp out near the beach and head out to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic. To get started on our Jekyll Island adventures, we abandon the car in favor of biking the trails, go on a sea turtle walk with the experts, and get hands-on with local animals at Tidelands Nature Center.

Stephen C. Foster State Park

Stephen C. Foster State Park

Stephen C. Foster State Park

This laid-back park is the entrance to the largest blackwater swamp in North America and boasts some of the darkest night skies in the state. One of my sons’ favorite memories is touring the Okefenokee in a park boat. There are guided tours if you’re uncomfortable going it alone. This year, our visit will include an overnight stay to admire the spectacular view of stars, explore the Trembling Earth Nature Trail and learn more about the ecosystem. I haven’t decided if we’ll be camping or staying in one of the cottages. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center

Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center

Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center

Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is my number one recommendation for families who are really enthusiastic about outdoor recreation. I have been fortunate enough to attend several programs offered by Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, including an affordable three-day workshop just for women who came from all over the country. This is where I learned firearm safety, wilderness survival, fishing and animal tracking.

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park is a place we visit often to enjoy the mountain landscape while expanding our outdoor skills and hobbies. Unique recreation options inspire us to adventure without over-doing it and risking our sanity. Day hiking the gulch, caving with guides, mountain biking and disc golf can make camping a challenge. I balance our adventure at Cloudland by staying in a yurt. It’s like camping, only easier and more comfortable. I’m taking my sons back country camping this year, and Cloudland Canyon is where we’ll start.

Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park has done an amazing job of combining great entertainment, outdoor fun and nature. I’ve explored Stone Mountain Park for decades, and there is always something new. The camper program that provides gear and help to first-time campers is a great way to get started in a family-fun environment. My sons enjoy attractions that weren’t available years ago, like completing the Sky Hike course and tubing Snow Mountain. In fact, that’s where we’re heading this weekend. I hope we can sneak in a hike to the top or a stroll around the base of the mountain. It’s a fun place to get excited about adventuring outdoors in Georgia.

Spend a Not-So-Chilly Day Outdoors at Snow Mountain

By Candy Cook

CandyCook_SnowMountain

What’s on every kid’s mind all winter long? A snow day! Snow is a great incentive to get everybody active outdoors, and at Snow Mountain we can enjoy all the benefits of snow without the snowy weather! Just outside of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park‘s memorial lawn is transformed into a snow-covered winter wonderland every weekend until February 22.

We headed to Snow Mountain on a sunny Saturday in January for some frosty fun. Excitedly, we all piled into the family tube and zoomed down the 400-foot hill before returning to the top to race each other down on solo tubes. I’m happy to report that the boys preferred the family flying down the hill together, because they are growing up so fast. It’s nice to know there are still some things my pre-teens love to do as a family.

After tubing, we entered the Snow Zone! I can honestly say that I’ve never seen the boys so excited to play in the snow. With the help of other families and children, several igloos and some snowmen were constructed. The boys had a blast throwing snowballs at targets in the shadow of Stone Mountain.

Get outside this weekend with a fun sunny snow day at Stone Mountain Park. Oh, and if you need a quick warm up, grab a mug of hot chocolate. That really hit the spot!

St. Simons Island Activities that are Better in Winter

 By Sue Rodman

Photo courtesy of The King & Prince Resort

Photo courtesy of The King & Prince Resort

No matter what time of year you visit St. Simons Island, you’ll find plenty to do. Unlike many beach vacation destinations, St. Simons has a year-round population of about 13,000, so businesses aren’t just seasonal. That, coupled with mild temperatures, means a wintertime beach vacation can be just as much fun as the summer, with better prices and smaller crowds. My favorite hotel on the island is the newly renovated King and Prince Hotel, which is running a special through Explore Georgia.

While the beach is fun any time of year, here are three things to do on St. Simons that are best in the cooler months.

  1. Guard the coast against Spaniards. If things had gone differently back in Colonial times, Georgia might have been a Spanish colony. Fort Frederica guarded the coast from Spanish-occupied St. Augustine. It’s now a National Historic Site with a small museum and stunning marsh views.
  2. Become a rice farmer at Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. Just off St. Simons Island is this authentic Southern rice plantation. Learn about life on a rice farm from its antebellum heyday through modern times.
  3. Go Shrimping on the Lady Jane. In summer it can be tough to get a reservation for this popular attraction, which is one of my favorites. The Lady Jane is an authentic shrimp boat. Trawls bring up a bounty of sea life to examine and release.

Click here to order Sue’s book, 100+ Things to Do in Atlanta.

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