Columbus, Ga is the Ultimate Educational Adventure

Whether you homeschool your kiddos like we do, or you want to turn a fun weekend adventure into an educational opportunity, Columbus, Ga is a great destination. We enjoyed multiple attractions that offered incredible insight into science, nature and history (Shhhh! The kids were having too much fun to realize how much they were learning!) Here is a small sample of the excitement we enjoyed while in Columbus.

Science – Coca Cola Science Center. You’ll find several interactive galleries, the Challenger Learning Center mission simulator, an observatory and Omnisphere Planetarium Theater. It also houses Georgia’s most extensive Space Shuttle artifact collection.Oxbow Meadows in Columbus, Ga

Nature – Oxbow Meadows. This environmental learning center offers opportunities to see turtles, snakes (including a python!) alligators, tortoises and more. Don’t forget to check out the Discovery Trail Guide at the front desk; it’s a great way to extend the learning opportunities of your visit. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.

History – National Infantry Museum. This museum is the only museum in the country dedicated to the American Infantryman, and it holds one of the greatest collections of military artifacts. Infantry history is traced from colonial times to the present via a series of galleries. This large facility is filled with amazing artifacts, but if you only have a moment, the Last 100 Yards Ramp is a heart-wrenching overview of our Army’s history. For a hands-on experience visit the kid-sized room where little ones can try on Soldier uniforms and learn about humanitarian missions Soldiers carry out.National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga

There are a series of free events for the whole family available year ‘round at the Infantry Museum so be sure to visit their website. Upcoming events include The Battle of Yorktown (1791) Living History event on Oct 17 and Kelly’s Zeroes World War II reenactment “You’re in the Army Now!” on Dec 5, where living historians Ernie and Linda Stewart will open their Traveling Trunk of toys, clothing, tools, etc from the Revolutionary War era for kids to touch and learn from.

Phys Ed – WhiteWater Express. In its third year, but attracting accolades from all over the world, your kids will not want to miss a white water rafting experience down the Chattahoochee. WhiteWater Express also offers bike rentals and other ways to explore the city. Read more about our WhiteWater Express adventure (including a video) here:

Read more about Columbus, Ga on 365AtlantaFamily, including where to stay, free things to do, kid-friendly restaurants and more.

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.

Northeast Georgia Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches

What do you think of when you think of the fall season – amber and yellow leaves, crisp cool mornings, and football? Well, these are some of the welcome signs of fall, but in North Georgia visitors can enjoy these along with several very traditional fall activities.

Do you have childhood memories of wandering through a pumpkin patch looking for that perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween or wandering through a corn maze that left you laughing from your farm puzzle exploits?

If so, then head to North Georgia and relive your childhood memories with your friends, your children or even your grandchildren at one of the following corn mazes and pumpkin patches. If not, head to North Georgia and make some new memories!

Jaemor Farm Market Corn MazeJaemor Farm Market
Just north of Gainesville on Hwy 365, you’ll find Jaemor Farm Market, where of course you can always find the most delicious fried pies and fresh farm vegetables and fruits, but in the fall, they have a corn maze as well. The corn maze opens September 12th and lasts until November 8th.

Southern Tree Plantation
Little kids will find something a bit different at Southern Tree Plantation south of Blairsville off of U.S. 129. Not only will pumpkins dot the landscape but a wooden barnyard maze awaits the eager puzzle seekers. Hayrides, mini-train rides and roasting marshmallows round out this trip to North Georgia.Southern Tree Plantation

Bradley's Pumpkin Patch

Bradley was featured in Georgia Magazine in 2010

Bradley’s Pumpkin Patch
Dawsonville grown pumpkins are waiting for you at Bradley’s Pumpkin Patch! Bradley started the pumpkin farm when he was only 13 years old. The farm is open for the pumpkin picking season and pumpkin patch hours are posted on their website. Other times are by appointment. They have lots of freshly grown pumpkins grown right on their Dawsonville farm. Family visits are free and educational group tours are offered for a small fee. Visit the Country Store with lots of locally made items.

Burt's Farm



Burt’s Farm
At Burt’s Farm, pumpkins are the “star” of the show. The only thing more beautiful than the fall leaf season is the sea of orange created by thousands of Burt’s pumpkins. You can wander through this vast array of pumpkins (make sure NOT to pick them up by the stem) picking out just the right one, take a two-mile hayride through the farm, and wander through the country store that is fully stocked with everything you’ll need for decorating your home for fall.

Uncle Shuck'sUncle Shuck’s Corn Maze
If you haven’t visited Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze then you must put it on your list and start a new family tradition. Explore the corn maze, find your perfect pumpkin and shoot the Corn Cannon. When you are hungry they have food, fall decorations for making your house festive for the season and a Goat Walk (you’ll have to come and find out what that is!). In October on the weekends, see if you can make it through the Haunted Maze. If you are not into scary, then hang out by the bonfires after a hayride. Check out their website for info on special events for scout and school groups. Uncle Shuck’s is also a great birthday party option.

Buck’s Corn Maze
Buck’s Corn Maze is named after W.Z. “Buck” Samples, who farmed for 50 years on the land that now features this 12-acre maze in a 20-acre field next to Cochran Creek with a beautiful view of the Appalachian Mountains. Buck loved to have friends come visit and enjoy the beautiful views and peaceful country. Although Buck is gone, his family still welcomes everyone to come and enjoy the maze and the tranquil countryside. As much fun as the maze is in the daytime, it is double the fun at night: bring your flashlight and test your skills in the dark. After completing the maze, go on a relaxing hayride, which runs by the creek and through the cornfield.Buck's Corn Maze

Hillside Orchard FarmsHillside Orchard Farms
Just north of Tallulah Gorge State Park and Interpretive Center on Old U.S. 441 is Hillside Orchard FarmsIn addition to the corn maze, there is a playground and farm animals to pet. They have something new this year: Ol’ #3, a miniature of the Tallulah Falls Railroad Train, which will run every hour on the weekends.





3283c42Cheryl Smith is the Northeast Georgia Mountains regional travel expert. She’s worked in the region for the past 26 years and likes to say that if she doesn’t know what you are looking for, she knows someone who does! Cheryl spends her time paddling and riding her Harley 1200 Sportser.

Must-Ride Mountain Bike Trails in West Georgia

I met up with mountain bike trail designer Ethan Quehl to check out the latest addition to Allatoona Creek Mountain Bike Park, a fun quarter-mile downhill called Mo Flow. This expert-rated ride is jam-packed with jumps, rollers and berms. While it is rated expert, Ethan is quick to point out that Mo Flow is designed for everyone. Advanced riders take advantage of Mo Flow’s features to get some air and hone riding skills. But, cruising Mo Flow nice and easy is just as much fun for an intermediate biker.

Ethan Quehl on the Mo Flow mountain bike trail. Photo by Candy Cook

Ethan Quehl on the Mo Flow mountain bike trail. Photo by Candy Cook

Mo Flow, and the rest of the Allatoona Creek trails are maintained by West Georgia SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association), a volunteer organization that hosts trail work parties, special events, and trains bike patrols for trail emergencies. Upcoming events include time trials at Mt. Tabor Park (September 27), Allatoona Creek Mountain Bike Park (October 25), and Clinton Nature Preserve (November 15). Trail work volunteers meet Saturdays and earn perks for their commitment to maintaining the trails.

Get involved in this great community and check out some of the following mountain bike trails in West Georgia.

Rusty Bucket + Mason’s Bridge Connector – Allatoona Creek (Beginner): This 1.5-mile trail is the perfect place for families to discover mountain biking fun. Last time I rode Rusty Bucket, I spotted a preschooler on a balance bike! With virtually no elevation change and toned down trail features, this easy ride helps new bikers develop the basic skills of mountain biking.

Turtleback – Allatoona Creek (Intermediate): This is four miles of fast-flowing trail loaded with short climbs and great drops. The trail makes great use of the terrain spreading out the elevation change without many technical obstacles. Turtleback makes a great step up from beginner.

Mt. Tabor Park (Beginner to intermediate): The stacked loop trail system includes shorter beginner loops as well as more advanced longer trails. Pine Pong takes beginners on a mostly level ride through the pines, while Rocks of Doom tests bikers with 1.7 miles of rock garden that leads into the park’s most challenging trail, Booger.

Skills to pay bills – Clinton Nature Preserve (Expert): A favorite among local experts, this short and sweet track challenges bikers at every turn with a log ride and rocky terrain. Riding downhill offers a 109-foot descent, which becomes one of the most difficult climbs at Clinton in the other direction.

Voodoo – Allatoona Creek (Expert): A demanding three miles of minimally maintained trail with a primitive feel, Voodoo twists and turns offering advanced log and rock features, creek crossing, and fast flow segments that challenge skilled riders. Voodoo is at the top of the 2-mile Mumbo Jumbo loop.

Whippersnapper – Allatoona Creek (Expert): Controversy surrounds this short track… is it long enough to count as a trail? Either way, it’s a local favorite with unique technical features that pack a punch and make it very different from other trails.

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.

Tips for Enjoying Georgia’s Leaf Season

Hogpen Gap Overlook - Hwy 348

Hogpen Gap Overlook – Hwy 348

Fall is a perfect time of year to head to the North Georgia mountains. The crisp air has a touch of winter, while the blazing fall colors are a reminder of summer’s warmth.

Spectacular views are one of the main reasons to visit North Georgia in the fall. Peak leaf season in Georgia is usually October or early November, but to be sure you’ll be seeing the most brilliant colors, the Georgia State Parks has put together a website to keep you posted on the latest news. Beginning in October, they’ll post regular updates for leaf peepers. While the leaves may have brought you there, here are three other reasons to visit North Georgia in the fall.

Roads with a view: Forget the Sunday drive sequestered in your car, the sweeping curves, up and down hills, as well as straight stretches make North Georgia a popular destination for motorcycle riders, too. In addition to ideal road conditions, there are lots of great stops at unique shops like the Old Sautee Store. For the art lover, Reverend Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden is quite a find.

History takes on a new twist: Taking a local ghost tour is a fun way to spend a fall evening but also learn a little about the local lore of the area. It may not be the history book version, but there are always grains of truth in every story. Blue Ridge Ghost Tours weaves legend, and folklore into stories of the paranormal on each tour. The Ringgold Haunted Depot and Ghost Tours explore the macabre at the local train depot, and then visit the real haunted sites in town for a spooky lesson on the past.

Award-winning local restaurants: The 75-year-old Red Barn at Tiger Mountain was once a dairy barn, and now it’s a restaurant with award-winning Chef Jamie Allred creating unforgettable meals. Another one of Jamie’s restaurants is the award-winning Clayton’s Fortify Kitchen and Bar, which was named one of the 100 best farm-to-table restaurants in the U.S. by Open Table in 2015.

For more fall fun, visit the Field Trips with Sue Fall Guide, with lists of pumpkin patches, u-pick apple orchards, ghosts tours, haunted houses and more.

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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5 Reasons to Visit Augusta this Autumn

Augusta Canal Boat Tour

Augusta Canal Boat Tour

1.)  Feel the wind at your back on the canal. Take a canal boat tour and discover surprising facts about the city, its industry and heritage. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, have a fun time doing it.

2.)  It’s less crowded in the fall than the spring. The Masters brings in the crowds, but it’s during the summer and autumn that the true colors of the city begin to show, giving visitors more opportunity to experience the town like a local.

3.)  You can walk amongst the spirits. Feeling like you’re in the mood for some spooky fun? October in Augusta is filled with opportunities for you to walk amongst the possibly undead.

4.)  There’s a festival happening every weekend. Eat your way through the Augusta Greek Festival, shop at the Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival, take your family to the Annual Hispanic Festival and take in art on the fly during westobou.

5.)  It’s easier to see the sights when it’s cooler outside. Bring comfortable walking shoes and take on the mission of seeing some of Augusta’s most historic homes. Some of those homes are now museums including the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art and Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson.

Need another reason to visit Augusta? Autumn is also a great time to explore the family-friendly Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, where you can see wildlife and explore wetlands.

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