Places to Go Tubing in Georgia

Beat the heat on a joyful journey floating down the river with friends and family. River tubing offers amazing scenic views from some of Georgia’s most beloved waters. This is where excitement and adventure meet relaxing good times.

Blue Ridge

Float down the Toccoa River for a fun summer experience. Photo of Shallowford Bridge Tube Rental by Randy Gray, Broadcast Pro Photo.

Float down the Toccoa River for a fun summer experience. Photo of Shallowford Bridge Tube Rental by Randy Gray, Broadcast Pro Photo.

Perfect for families with younger kids, tubing trips on the Toccoa River offer smooth rides through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shallowford Bridge Tube Rental is one of the oldest tubing experiences in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a 1.5-hour trip down the gorgeous Toccoa River. Toccoa Valley Campground and Toccoa Wilderness Tubing also offer a shuttle service for an easy-going adventure. Check out more outfitters in Blue Ridge.

Ellijay

Perfect for stress-relief, Coosawattee River Tubing Company takes care of tubes, life vests, and shuttle service so tubers can focus on fun with family and friends! This is a lazy float through the exquisite scenery surrounding the Coosawattee River.

Helen

Photo by @ambiguous_ash, Instagram

Cool River Tubing shuttles tubers for one- to two-hour floats down the Chattahoochee River. Go for the two-hour trip and float through serene forests before taking in the sights as the river winds through Alpine Helen! Helen Tubing and Waterpark also offers a water slide along the way.

Roswell

Floating on the Chattahoochee River is a summertime tradition. Photo: Shoot the Hooch, Roswell.

Floating on the Chattahoochee River is a summertime tradition. Photo: Shoot the Hooch, Roswell.

Located just minutes from downtown Atlanta, Shoot The Hooch is one of the best ways to experience the Chattahoochee River. Launching from several great locations, Shoot The Hooch offers short trips just over an hour to all-day excursions. Options for exploring the river with Shoot the Hooch include tubes, rafts, kayaks, paddleboards and canoes!

In addition to those destinations, there are many more places to rent tubes in Georgia. Find more tubing outfitters on ExploreGeorgia.org.

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.

Museums Outside of Atlanta to Visit with the Family

We adore the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, World of Coca-Cola and all the other gems in Atlanta, but there are dozens and dozens of amazing museums beyond the metro, as well. Here are six Georgia museums we insist you visit with your kiddos.

Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville)

Photo courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

Photo courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

You’ll see Western artwork, presidential paintings and letters, Civil War art and 200+ Native American artifacts at the Booth Western Art Museum. It’s the second largest art museum in the state and holds the country’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art. Don’t miss Sagebrush Ranch, an interactive gallery where kiddos can learn about art and Western America.

Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site (Dahlonega)

Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

The 1836 Federal/Greek Revival building in the center of town square is the oldest surviving courthouse in Georgia. The Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site offers guides, displays, a gift shop, and the award-winning “Gold Fever” film of the late 1820’s story that brought the town to life. Have the kids keep an eye out for the locally made bricks containing traces of gold. Three ways to see gold in Dahlonega, Ga.

Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center (Mountain City)

Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center. Photo by Lesli Peterson

Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center. Photo by Lesli Peterson

When The Foxfire Book became a national phenomenon, Foxfire students purchased land and created the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center, a physical presence in the community. Experience the simple, functional buildings like homes, a chapel, workshops and more. More Foxfire photos here.

Georgia State Railroad Museum (Savannah)

A diesel train at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah

A diesel train at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah

The Georgia State Railroad Museum is a family-friendly facility featuring several children’s play areas. You can see, hear and smell historic steam and diesel locomotives come to life. Tour inside two executive rail cars, take a train ride tour of the museum, and ride on a hand car.

Museum of Aviation (Warner Robins)

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins

Museum of Aviation is the second largest aerospace museum of the USAF. See more than 90 different aircraft, spread over four hangers and 51 acres. Meander through spy planes, fighter jets, bombers, bi-planes and several famous aircraft. Kids can even climb into the cockpits of several displays, so don’t forget your camera.

National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center (Columbus)

An exhibit at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus

An exhibit at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus

The large, beautiful National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center is a world-class tribute to those who served in this capacity in the Army. As you walk into the building, you’ll first approach the Last 100 Yards Ramp — an emotional and fully immersive walk through time, covering the Infantry since its formation in 1775 through the present. That is only the beginning. You’ll see a full-sized helicopter, mini tanks, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and more. More hidden gems in Columbus.

Still want the best of Atlanta, click here to find our favorite museums for families in the Metro.

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.

3 Scenic Day Hikes in Georgia

Plan day hikes at these trails and experience Georgia’s natural beauty from mountains overlooking Atlanta, shady rock gardens and enchanting waterfalls.

Cloudland Canyon

Waterfall at Cloudland Canyon. Photo by Candy Cook.

Waterfall at Cloudland Canyon. Photo by Candy Cook.

Two challenging trails at Cloudland Canyon State Park lead hikers on an impressive journey to the waterfalls at the canyon floor. One of Georgia’s top scenic hikes, West Rim Loop, winds along the plateau, offering magnificent views before descent into the canyon. The 5-mile trail includes several entry points, including the campground and yurt village, as well as seamless connection to Sitton’s Gulch Trail via The Waterfalls Trail. Hikers can join Georgia’s Canyon Climbers Club by completing Sitton’s Gulch Trail. Following an array of staircases and natural paths, Sitton’s Gulch features hemlock groves, overlooks, and amazing rock formations for 2.5 miles.

Panola Mountain

Panola Mountain State Park is a hidden gem for day hikes.

Panola Mountain State Park is a hidden gem for day hikes.

A true hidden gem just 15 minutes from Atlanta, Panola Mountain State Park invites hikers to explore a pristine monadnock on guided tours to the top. The moderately strenuous hike presents a gorgeous blanket of colorful moss and lichen as hikers ascend and loop the summit. This summer, several scheduled group hikes coincide with nightfall, offering hikers a fantastic view of the sunset over Atlanta.

Little Kennesaw Mountain

Little Kennesaw Mountain

Little Kennesaw Mountain. Photo by Candy Cook.

Hikers find a quiet, out-and-back trail that fills the senses with magical mountain rock gardens, wildlife sightings and tree-framed views. Beginning at the Pigeon Hill Trail in Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Little Kennesaw Mountain is a great escape to nature that connects to the higher elevation Kennesaw Mountain for hikers hoping to extend the trek.

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.

5 Reasons to Visit Little St. Simons Island with the Family

Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

You’ve probably heard of St. Simons Island, but do you know that just across the river is a private, eco-friendly, all-inclusive island just waiting for you? Our family visited Little St. Simons Island and fell madly in love; here’s why we think you should make a reservation today.

The Serenity

Untouched for centuries, Little St. Simons Island is one of the least developed of Georgia’s barrier islands, covering 10,000 acres with 7 miles of shoreline. We didn’t drive our car onto the island. Guests visit by boat, and only 32 at a time may stay overnight (though small guided day trips are periodically available). The untarnished environment, limited population and carefully protected wildlife create a tranquil escape that immediately melted away our stress.

The Food

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all carefully created and presented on the island. There are no grocery stores or restaurants, and no need for them. Chef Ulfet Ralph hails from Turkey, and her delicious dishes include everything from filet mignon to duck tenderloin. Breakfasts are mammoth with a variety of delights like French toast, berries, eggs, bacon, frittata and more – everything you need to carry you through a day of exciting adventure.

We also love that there is a USDA-certified organic garden on-site providing vegetables and fruits at almost every meal. I’ll note, too, that Chef Ulfet was very thoughtful about the kids, offering hamburgers, PB&Js, mac and cheese, and other kid-friendly fare for our picky eaters.

The Water

Little St. Simons Island’s proximity allows families to swim in the Atlantic, boat on the Atlamaha River and fish in Mosquito Creek. Along the beach we rode the waves, collected shells, biked the shoreline, and caught Atlantic Sharp Nose sharks while shore fishing. We took a skiff and a kayak along the creek to the river and kept an eye out for dolphin and alligators. Low tide offers the best opportunities for kids to catch fish in the creek, including Redfish, Sea Trout and Flounder.

The Adventure

If fishing, swimming, boating and kayaking are not enough, there are even more ways for kids to explore. You can bike around the island (adult bikes, kid bikes and bike trailers are all available), keeping an eye out for more than 300 species of birds. We also saw alligators, a diamondback rattlesnake and a multitude of armadillo. Loggerheads and horseshow crabs were also active on the island.

Two to three excursions each day are led by one of the island’s naturalists, and the crew is amazing – both because of their extensive knowledge and because of their gentle nature with kids. Excursions are discussed after each meal, usually with about two options available during each time slot. I love that a trip to the beach with these guys is so much more – it includes learning about the changing shoreline, finding horseshoe crab eggs, or gaining a closer look through one of their field telescopes.

The Hunting Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

The Hunting Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Photo by Lesli Peterson

The Value

Little St. Simons Island guests pay a single flat fee for accommodations, three meals, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks, every excursion, use of the equipment (boats, kayaks, canoes, bikes, etc.) and so much more. Even the tip is included in the price!

Our family adored Little St. Simons Island, ranking it as one of our all-time favorite adventures. In fact, we are already planning to head back next year. Read our detailed post (with more photos) for more tips and insight on visiting Little St. Simons Island with kids.

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.

AthFest: Dozens of Bands, With Or Without Wristbands

The 20th annual AthFest begins on Friday, June 24 with a nice piece of symmetry. Atlanta fixture and onetime Athens resident Kevn Kinney — best known as the leader of Drivin’ N Cryin’ — played the music and arts festival’s maiden voyage. This year, Kinney will reprise his role when he opens the proceedings Friday at 5 p.m.

AthFest 2015. Photo by Porter McLeod

AthFest 2015. Photo by Porter McLeod

An event that began as a device to bring foot traffic to downtown Athens during the student-deprived summer months has blossomed into one of the keystones of Georgia’s summer festival calendar. “It’s almost like a football game weekend,” says AthFest board member and booking chair Troy Aubrey. “You see the mass exodus of students around May, but a lot of the kids come back for this.” The free family-friendly fun and frolic draws roughly 10,000 for each of its three days.

AthFest’s musical offerings span two stages (three counting the KidsFest stage) situated a block and a half apart, the larger one directly in front of the iconic 40 Watt Club. Given the town’s well-deserved national reputation as a musical hotbed, it’s no surprise the big dawg’s share of acts are Athens-connected, including two of this year’s headliners: indie darlings Kishi Bashi (Sunday) and the two-drummer “more organic and folkie” Family and Friends (Friday). Meanwhile, Saturday boasts the one-two punch of Atlanta hip hop legends Arrested Development and Jessup-born Americana heavyweight and current Athens resident Randall Bramblett.

AthFest 2015. Photo by Porter McLeod

AthFest 2015. Photo by Porter McLeod

After the free music, AthFest also coordinates the late-night Club Crawl, for which a $30 wristband buys you access to multiple venues and sets over two nights by edgier bands like Athens’ current  high-fliers Mothers and perennial faves Elf Power, and Atlanta’s raucous Coathangers and the Black Lips. “I’ve got kids now. I’m not going out every night anymore, but this is a great way to get a crash course and see what’s really happening,” says Aubrey. “Take the kids to mom and dad’s house and get a wristband!” That wristband also scores you a discount for LaughFest, the 18-and-over comedy event at the Georgia Theatre the preceding Wednesday, as well as other related happenings.

AthFest offers lots of family-friendly fun. Photo by Porter McLeod.

AthFest offers lots of family-friendly fun. Photo by Porter McLeod.

In line with Athens’ grassroots spirit, AthFest also took a unique path to philanthropy. Once it began turning a profit, organizers looked for a way to channel the proceeds for community good. Enter AthFest Educates, the nonprofit created specifically to sustain music and arts education in Clarke County. So, by enjoying the current generation of Athens’ finest, you’ll also be paving the road for the next one.

glen-headshotGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.