These Georgia Mountain Bike Trails Are Suitable For All Skill Levels

Mountain biking makes me feel like a kid again! I love the feeling of freedom that I get splashing through creeks and racing downhill. My whole family loves mountain biking and we vary in skills. These three mountain biking destinations cater to all skill levels. They offer something fun for everyone.


Blankets Creek – Blankets Creek offers 15 miles of mountain biking trails near Atlanta. The seven trails feature a variety of terrain, creek crossings, boardwalks, and downhill speed. A training area gives riders a chance to practice before enjoying an easy pedal winding along Blankets Creek or a fast-flowing ride with technical elements.

Allatoona Creek – Nearly 20 miles of trail, ranging from beginner to expert, make this park perfect for bridging the gap between beginner and intermediate mountain biking. Follow up the one-mile beginners trail by advancing to slight elevation changes and more rock features on Turtleback Loop. Advanced riders pick up the speed on Mason’s Bridge and take on the challenge of the expert-only Whipper Snapper Trail.

DCIM100GOPROFive Points Recreation Area  – This diverse trail network gives beginners a trail to get comfortable with mountain biking and adrenaline-pumping expert trails that twist through the forest. It’s a great place to plan a mountain biking getaway, with camping nearby, at Cloudland Canyon State 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.

Where to Eat Irish Food in Atlanta

Who needs a pot o’ gold when you can feast on these Irish treats?

Bite Bistro & Bar

Bite Bistro & Bar is getting a visit from a leprechaun this St. Patrick’s Day! On Tuesday, March 17, the restaurant will offer a variety of spirited specials from green beer to Irish whiskey cocktails made with Uisce Beatha. An “Irish coffee” will blend the whiskey with Irish Manor Irish cream and coffee topped before topping it with whipped cream, for $10 apiece, and “Irish mules” mixing whiskey with fresh lime juice, simple syrup and Fever Tree ginger beer, for $11 each, served in the classic copper mug. Victory’s “golden monkey” and Three Tavern Brewery’s “white hops” will also feel the luck o’ the Irish when they turn green for one night only!

Bourbon Bar1

Bourbon Bar

Bourbon Bar is spreading the luck of the Irish this St. Patrick’s Day! Celebrate like a true Irishman (or woman) on Tuesday, March 17, as Bourbon Bar pours $3 draft beers, $3 bottles of Guinness and $5 Jameson cocktails all night long. Those craving some authentic Irish food are also in luck with plates of shepherd’s pie available for only $7. For more information please call 404.946.9070.

HRC Rueben Sandwich

Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta

Get your green on with Hard Rock by feasting on an Irish classic – the corned beef and cabbage dinner includes sliced tender corned beef served over quartered cabbage, topped with herb butter and parsley and served with red potatoes and carrots. Guests can also enjoy the Irish Reuben, a sandwich featuring slow-cooked, hand-carved corned beef brisket, layered with crispy sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and aged Swiss cheese and served on a salt-crusted pretzel roll with crispy fries and citrus-spiked coleslaw. Sip on St. Patrick’s Day-inspired beverage for those looking to further celebrate the luck of the Irish. Guests can enjoy an Irish Mule, made with Jameson Irish whiskey, ginger beer and lime. An Irish twist on an old favorite!

Shake Shack St. Patrick's DayShake Shack

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Shake Shack is bringing Atlanta its special edition “When Irish Fries Are Smiling” special featuring crinkle-cut fries topped with horseradish cream, scallions, and crispy all-natural Applewood smoked bacon. The Leprechaun-approved fries will be available from Friday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 17. Guests will also be able to celebrate the holiday with a cup or cone of rich and creamy Mast Brothers chocolate mint frozen custard, available from Monday, March 16, to Sunday, March 22. 

True Food Kitchen Kale Aid - Photo Credit Fox Restaurant ConceptsTrue Food Kitchen

Get lucky with True Food Kitchen’s selection of power greens! Scale back on the green beer and opt for some liquid lean, green fighting machines like True Food Kitchen’s “Kale-Aid” made with kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger, and “Green Arnie” featuring a blend of matcha green tea and honey lemonade. Other vitamin-rich ingredients to get your green fix can be found across the menu including black kale, mizuna, bok choy and spinach.

Twenty-Two Storys

Venture downtown to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Twenty-Two Storys, Hyatt Regency Atlanta’s gastropub. Festive specials include Irish spring rolls filled with corned beef, cabbage, potato and malted whole grain mustard, $8 Guinness beer and “Lucky Leprechaun” cocktails featuring Midori, Malibu rum and pineapple juice. All Irish liquors will be one dollar off and guests are welcome to make any beer a shandy for free.

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!

RECIPE: Chef Shane McIntosh’s Spicy & Southern Pickles

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After visiting the famous Katz Deli in NYC and devouring one of their pricy pickles, Chef Shane, also known as the “ Southeast’s Julia Child with Tattoos,” returned to Atlanta with a mission: create an even better recipe.


  • Approx. 40 Pickling Cucumbers cut in spears and soaked in water over night
  • 1Gal water
  • 6 cups cider vinegar
  • 6 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup pickling salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 yellow onions chunked
  • 36 cloves fresh garlic
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup mustard seed
  • 1/2 cup black peppercorns
  • 24 south Indian round chili
  • 1# fresh dill


  • Bring water, vinegars, salt and sugar to a boil to dissolve. Let cool
  • Wash Mason jars in dish washer (or by hand) and let dry
  • Layer spices and garnish in mason jars
  • Strain water from cucumbers and place in bucket
  • Pour hot liquid over cucumbers leaving an 1/4 inch of space at top of jar.
  • Cover with lid and tighten band.
  • Line large stock pot with mason jars. Fill with water until over the top of jars and bring to a boil. Let boil for 8-10 minutes and turn off heat. The jars should come down to room temperature naturally.
  • Remove jars from water and let cool.
  • Wait for 2-3 weeks and enjoy. Pickles can be stored unrefrigerated on pantry shelf until opened.

EileenEileen 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.

RECIPE: Chef Art Smith’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken


Chef Art Smith’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken

For the brine:

1 gallon cold water

½ cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 sprigs rosemary

5 sprigs thyme

4 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves


For the chicken:

2 whole chickens, cut into 10 pieces each

1 quart buttermilk


For the egg wash:

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

For the dredge:

2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour

3 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily flour, or gluten-free flour)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne

2 teaspoons dried thyme

For frying the chicken:

Canola oil


To prepare the brine: In a large soup kettle, dissolve the salt in 2 cups water over medium-high heat. Add the remaining water, stirring to blend in the salt. Add the black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, and bay leaves.

To prepare the chicken: Place the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and submerge in the buttermilk. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

To prepare the egg wash: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Drain the chicken from the buttermilk and put in the bowl with the egg wash. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the egg wash.

To prepare the dredge: Mix together the all-purpose and self-rising flours, garlic and onion powders, salt, paprika, cayenne, and thyme. Add more salt if needed. Remove 2 pieces of chicken at a time from the egg wash, letting the excess liquid drain off. Roll in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour and lay the chicken on a wire rack until ready to fry. (It is crucial that any excess flour is shaken off before frying the chicken.) Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken: Pour canola oil into a large cast iron pan to a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium heat until it registers 325˚F on a deepfrying thermometer. Place 4 to 6 pieces of chicken into the oil. Take care to use long tongs to move the chicken and do not crowd the pan. Turn each piece about every 2 minutes. If the chicken begins to darken, turn the flame on the stove down slightly to adjust the temperature. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 180˚F. Be sure to give the oil 5 minutes to reach the proper temperature before dropping in the next batch of chicken. Place the fried chicken on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Assembly: Place the fried chicken on two large serving platters and serve.

RECIPE: The Ritz-Carlton Lodge’s She Crab Soup

soupThe Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation‘s She Crab Soup

Yield = 5 8oz. Cups

2/3 Cups Onions, small dice

2/3 Cups Celery, small dice

¼ Cup + 1 Tbsp Flour

3.5 Tbsp Sherry Wine

3 Cups Clam Juice

½ Tbsp Crab Roe

1 tsp Worcestershire

½ tsp Tabasco

1 tsp Onion Powder

1 tsp Garlic Powder

½ tsp Celery Salt

½ Cup Heavy Cream

Lemon Juice to taste

Salt & Pepper to taste

Crab meat, as desired


Sweat onions and celery in olive oil and butter until tender.  Add sherry wine, cook until alcohol has burned off.  Add flour and cook for one minute.  Slowly add clam juice, and crab roe stirring constantly to break up clumps to create a smooth mixture.  Add Worcestershire, tabasco, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt and heavy cream.  Simmer for another 45 minutes.  Finish with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to preferred taste.  Add crab meat as desired.