A Foodie’s Perfect Day at Avalon

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely been to (or at least heard of) Alpharetta’s Avalon by now—the $600 million, 86-acre live-work-play development opened last October and the city has been abuzz ever since. To see what all the fuss was about, I carved out an entire Saturday to spend at the sustainably-designed, 2.4 million-square-foot mixed-use mecca. And let me tell you—it was delicious. Take a look:

8 a.m. Breakfast at Bantam + Biddy
Unlike so many outdoor shopping areas that are littered with mediocre chains, Avalon is home to dozens of locally-owned restaurants. Start at Atlanta’s favorite poultry project: Bantam + Biddy, where fried chicken makes an appearance in many breakfast items, like the Fried Chicken & Cheddar Waffle topped with Steen’s Cane Syrup, honey butter and homemade vanilla bean apple sauce. For something on the lighter side, try the Protein Scramble, made with three farm eggs, roast chicken, cheddar or goat cheese, scallions and fresh fruit.

Bantam + Biddy

Bantam + Biddy | Photo courtesy of Alpharetta CVB

9:30 a.m. Core Fusion Barre at Exhale
To counteract all of the calories planned for the day, head to Exhale, the second Georgia location of the award-winning, mind-body boutique studio, where fat-blasting classes are offered alongside chic fitness apparel and gifts (there’s locker rooms and showers, too!). Try the Core Fusion Barre class, Exhale’s signature full body, ballet-inspired workout focused on isolated exercises, alignment, flexibility and posture.

11 a.m. Drybar
Look your best at the restaurants scheduled for the day by popping into Drybar, a sleek hair salon where blowouts are offered alongside chick flicks and complimentary beverages, like champagne. Their tagline says it best: “No cuts. No color. Just blowouts, for only $40.”

12 p.m. Lunch at Bocado Burger
It used to be that if you wanted one of Atlanta’s best burgers, you’d have to fight traffic on the Westside—but now Bocado has opened a second location in Avalon almost exclusively devoted to America’s favorite sandwich. Though I’m partial to the classic burger stack—melty American cheese cocoons two thin, charred patties made from a trio of house-ground meat (chuck, brisket and short rib)—you can also build your own burger (choose a beef, turkey or veggie patty) and choose from Southern-inspired toppings like pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes and Alabama white BBQ sauce.

Afternoon Shopping:
To burn off some of those delicious burger calories from lunch, get in some casual cardio by walking around the dozens of shops calling Avalon home. With your next dinner party in mind, hit up Crate & Barrel for some pretty serving platters, Anthropologie for vintage-inspired glassware and West Elm for gorgeous table linens. Make a stop into Paper Source for some fun place cards and party favors before perusing Whole Foods for recipe inspiration.

5 p.m. Wine flight at Cru
Whether you prefer relaxing on a sunny patio or people watching on the rooftop deck overlooking The Plaza, Cru is the perfect spot to kick off happy hour. We recommend trying one of the many wine flights offered at this wine bar—there’s more than 350 wines to choose from, and a flight (which comes with three tastes in different categories) will help you make a dent in that list. I’m partial to the Rose flight, but summer is also a perfect time for any of their six white wine flights.


Colletta | Photo courtesy of Alpharetta CVB

6:30 p.m. Dinner at Colletta
If you’re looking for a special evening, The Indigo Road restaurant group has you covered—Oak Steakhouse and Colletta are both located in Avalon, though after a day of heavy eating, Colletta, a modern Italian restaurant specializes in fresh, light and local fare, sounds like the perfect finish. Go for the scallop crudo to start, a dish that’s as beautiful as it is delicious, and share a few pastas with your tablemates—we can’t get enough of the black pepper tagliatelle carbonara, which is spiked with crispy pork, chives, a creamy egg yolk and pecorino romano cheese. The spit-roasted bone-in pork chop is a clear summer standout, served with tomato and peach panzanella salad and housemade ricotta salata.

8 p.m. Movie at Regal Cinema
Date night isn’t complete without a movie, and this new theater not only plays the latest Blockbusters in the country’s first 12-screen, premium VIP theater, they’re also equipped with a full-service kitchen and bar to make your experience all the more delicious.

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

4 Fun Disc Golf Courses

Oregon Park

Oregon Park

Disc Golf is a fun, fast growing sport among outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, which explains why disc golf courses are popping up all over Georgia. The game is played much like traditional golf, using flying discs instead of golf balls and specially designed baskets instead of holes. Disc Golf is a fun way to get outside and enjoy nature while playing, because the courses are often an interesting mix between wooded and open field. The object is to complete 18 baskets with the fewest number of throws. The game adds a lot of playful excitement to a relaxing walk in the woods.

McCurry Park

McCurry Park

Marietta’s Oregon Park is where we first discovered disc golf. This course is a great blend of playing among trees and across wide open fields, even taking players across a creek.

Deer Lick Park in Douglasville, makes a great setting for a round of disc golf. The course winds near a duck pond as it leads players on an interesting walk through the woods.

Fayetteville’s McCurry Park is home to an exciting course planted amidst the tall pines. The rec center provides players with a map of the course.

At White Oak Park in Dallas, disc golfers enjoy beautiful wide open views of a rolling landscape while they make their way around the course.

Deer Lick Park

Deer Lick Park

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.

Stay, Play and Eat in Augusta

Augusta TitleMost people know Augusta as home to The Masters, but that’s only part of the story. There are tasty local eateries, outdoor adventures galore and something for everyone with arts, history, sports and hiking opportunities around every corner. Attractions are relatively close together and many of them are free or affordable. Augusta makes a memorable weekend adventure for the entire family.

With newly renovated rooms and public spaces, Partridge Inn is the hotel of choice. This beautiful Summerville landmark dates from the early 1800s, but recent updates showcase the architecture with sleek lines and modern touches. Families will love the two-room suites with extra closet space, swimming pool and corner rooms brightened with gorgeous sunlight from large picture windows.

Partrige Inn

Partrige Inn

Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. Tour the Discovery Center; the kids learn from the hands-on exhibits and scavenger hunt. Once you’ve exhausted the museum, take a cruise down the Augusta Canal in a Petersburg Boat. Don’t miss the chance to stamp your National Parks Passport.

Augusta GreenJackets Game. Every seat in the house provides a super view. We welcomed the creat concessions, Cool Zone for the summer heat, and a Kid’s Zone for the littles. It’s adjacent to the field so you won’t miss a pitch. Read more about the GreenJackets here. Sign up for the Kids Club for free kiddo admission on Sundays.

Savannah River Rapids. See the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal…at one time. Walk between the two, or rent a bike for a lovely ride. Don’t miss a stop at the head gates or a kayak adventure down the canal. Free.

Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. Spend an hour or all day. Hike the trails, taking bridges over beautiful streams. Try to spot a turtle or gator in the lakes. Free.

Morris Museum. Morris is the first museum dedicated to the art and artists of the American South. Their collection includes over 5,000 pieces including paintings, artifacts, sculptures and more. Visit on Sunday for free admission.

Augusta Museum of History and Trolley Tour. Purchase tickets for the Trolley Tour and you can visit the museum for free. Will you be brave enough to touch the Haunted Pillar?

Cakes at Boll Weevil

Cakes at Boll Weevil

The Bee’s Knees. Family-friendly and focused on local, sustainable vegan/vegetarian selections – served tapas-style.

New Moon Café. Very kid-friendly; great patio, too. Love the made-to-order smoothies. After lunch, head across the street for a picture with James Brown.

The Pizza Joint. Great pizza pies, live music, outdoor seating and our boys loved playing corn hole during dinner.

Boll Weevil. Best cakes for miles around, and so many options to choose from. The Ahi tuna salad is can’t-miss.

Saturday Market on the River. Technically, there is much more here than food, but it’s a great breakfast stop on Saturdays. Cinnamon rolls and coffee beckon you to linger longer.

See more details and photos of our Augusta Adventure here: 365atlantafamily.com/AugustaWithKids

 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 Coffee Roasters

Why wait in line at Starbucks when there are dozens of incredibly delicious local coffee roasters sprinkled throughout the state? Next time you need that caffeine jolt, head to one of our favorite Georgia roasters:

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters

Photo courtesy of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters

Batdorf & Bronson (Atlanta): Though this company originated in Washington, they’ve been roasting coffee from around the world on Atlanta’s Westside for more than 25 years—you may recognize their coffee if you’ve been into their sister coffee bars, Dancing Goats, which has locations around the country, including two in Atlanta. With sustainability top of mind, B&B offers Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Bird-Friendly and Shade Grown coffees, available in more than 25 different blends, including many single origin coffees from hotspots like Costa Rica, Peru and Guatemala.

Swift & Finch Coffee

Photo courtesy of Swift & Finch Coffee

Swift & Finch (Rome): This fun, artsy coffee shop located on Broad Street in downtown Rome has become a popular hangout for locals. With more than 10 different blends, it’s easy to see why. Though their Peruvian beans, like Peru Zacarais Neira (a single farmer microlot coffee with a raisin-like sweetness and notes of cinnamon), are most popular, we recommend one of the complex Ethiopian blends done in the pourover method for the ultimate complex coffee.

1000 Faces Coffee

Photo courtesy of 1000 Faces Coffee

1000 Faces (Athens): Jittery Joe’s has long had a stronghold on the Athens’ coffee scene—they’ve been roasting the top 1 percent of beans from 18 different countries since 1994, after all. But they’ve gotten some friendly competition ever since 1000 Faces opened up in 2006. The eco-friendly roaster offers 10 different blends, including Suke Quto, which comes from a certified organic coffee farm in Ethiopia and was awarded with a 2014 Good Food Award.

Blackbird Coffee

Photo courtesy of Blackbird Coffee

Blackbird Coffee (Milledgeville): If you time it right, you can walk down Main Street and take in the intoxicating aroma wafting from this downtown shop when their coffee is being roasted. Beloved for their unique coffee drinks, like Honey-Nut Soy, Vanilla-Caramel, and Coca Mocha Nut, this café micro-roasts premium coffee on-site, and serves everything within a week to ensure freshness. Coffee selections rotate, but Colombia Excelsio and Guatemala Huehuetango are always crowd pleasers as they’re mild to medium flavor profile is easy to drink. Robust coffee lovers will revel in their Ethiopia and Sumatra blends.

Wanderlust Coffee

Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Coffee

Wanderlust (Atlanta): Iced coffee drinkers rejoice! Atlanta now has their very own ready-to-drink cold brew coffee, Wanderlust. Brewed with beans from local coffee shop Octane Coffee, this incredibly smooth sipper comes in three options: 10-ounce ready-to-drink and 16-ounce cold brew concentrate bottles can be found on shelves and behind counters throughout town (or online), while nitro cold brew coffee is available on draft at Porter Beer Bar.

Grassroots Coffee

Photo courtesy of Grassroots Coffee

Grassroots Coffee (Thomasville and Valdosta): Since 2009, this artisanal roaster has been offering small batch coffee with unparalleled freshness, alongside delicious breakfast and lunch items in their Thomasville café. They opened their second location in Valdosta just last year, bringing their intoxicating blends—there are nearly two dozen to choose from—to the city. Be sure to try one of their single origin offerings, like Bali Kintimani, an Organic Certified, Fair Trade Certified blend with notes of chocolate and strawberry. The Beanery Coffee Roasters is another Valdosta roaster worth checking out—there’s a reason shops and restaurants all over South Georgia and North Florida use their coffee: it’s as delicious as it is sustainable!

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

Three Georgia Swimming Holes

In search of relief from summer’s high temperatures and humid air, we searched out some places to get wet and cool down!

Tallulah River Campground

Tallulah River Campground


Tallulah River Campground – This secluded spot in Chattahoochee National Forest offers peaceful wading in the Tallulah River. The crystal clear water is refreshingly cold on hot summer days. The river is mostly very shallow, in this area making it a perfect worry-free wading spot to explore. Bring water shoes or sandals because it’s very rocky. Anyone can play for the day, even if camping for the night isn’t in the cards. The gravel road runs right alongside the river giving easy access to the water from several parking areas.

Edge of the World – A short hike leads to this excellent swimming hole on Amicalola Creek. Visitors will find shallow places to wade, as well as deeper waters. The scenery is gorgeous and I recommend packing a picnic for the day. Edge of the World is located in Dawson Forest WMA which requires a parking permit.

Edge of the World

Edge of the World

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Far from North Georgia’s mountains, this one is just west of Atlanta. An easy one-mile hike takes visitors on a walk along Sweetwater Creek before reaching historic ruins of an old mill. Play and wade in the shallow rocky waters for a relaxing cool down on a hot summer day.

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.