Explore Georgia’s Heartland for Free or Cheap

The Earth Lodge at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia.

The Earth Lodge at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia.

Looking for a fun way to explore Georgia’s Historic Heartland region – affordably – this summer? Here are eight ways to pinch a penny without sacrificing any fun with the family.

Dauset Trails Nature Center (FREE). Visit the animal trail and the barnyard animals. Enjoy hiking or mountain biking on over 20 miles of trails (dogs welcome.) Don’t skip the Wonder Room of animals located under the visitor center. More info on our visit here.

Go Fish Education Center ($5 per person – less for kiddos). See trout, bass and more in the large freshwater aquariums. Watch alligators and turtles, try out the interactive exhibits, and catch fish in the stocked pond.

High Falls State Park in Jackson, Ga.

High Falls State Park in Jackson, Ga.

High Falls State Park ($5 per car or FREE with a Friends of Ga State Park Pass). Hike the trail along the falls, or follow the History Falls Trail for beautiful views of the ruins. Our favorite part? Staying in one of the yurts with a view of the lake. More pictures from our stay here.

Lane Packing Line Tour and Peach Ice Cream ($2 per person). From May through August, you can tour Lane Southern Orchards, which has been growing peaches and pecans for over 100 years. Don’t miss their delicious peach ice cream.

Ocmulgee National Monument (FREE). This park and museum are dedicated to preserving the mounds of the Mississippian Culture, built around 900. Families can climb stairs to see views from the tops of several mounds and walk the trails, which include a boardwalk section over the wetlands filled with wildlife wonders.

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga.

Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga.

Museum of Aviation (FREE). Do you have a want-to-be pilot in your life? The Museum of Aviation at Warner Robins will elicit a full day’s worth of grins and giggles. It is one of the largest aviation museums in the U.S. See over 90 different aircraft, spread over four hangers and 51 acres. More pictures from our first visit.

Covington Self-Guided Movie Tour (FREE). From Dukes of Hazzard to In The Heat Of The Night, you can tour numerous television and movie locations by picking up a map at the Clark Street Visitor Center.

Uncle Remus Museum ($5 per person – less for kiddos). My kids love Uncle Remus; we carry his books in our pack to read on the trails when we hike. If your littles love them too, then head to this museum honoring author Joel Chandler Harris. While you’re there, take a hike at nearby Rock Eagle.

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.

The Town Behind the Georgia Peach

Even though Georgia is nicknamed The Peach State, there are probably still people, even in Georgia, who have never tasted a deliciously fresh Georgia peach. Fortunately for me, I live in the small rural town where the peach industry in Georgia started.

Marshallville Depot by Mark Tisdale

Marshallville Depot by Mark Tisdale

Marshallville was settled around 1820 in what is now Macon County (not to be confused with the city of Macon in Bibb County).  The town itself has a population of approximately 1,400 and is located about 13 miles from Perry across Interstate 75, at the intersection of Highways 127 and 49.  About 100 miles south of Atlanta, it is a gateway from the east into the middle of the beautiful Presidential Pathways region of our state.

Samuel H. & Elberta Rumph

In the latter half of the 19th century, Samuel H. Rumph, whose family was one of several that settled in Marshallville from Orangeburg, S.C., planted some peach seeds that had been unwittingly cross-pollinated from a Chinese Clingstone variety by his grandfather years earlier.

Photo by In a Southern Kitchen

Photo: Elberta peach tree, In a Southern Kitchen blog

He planted them around 1870, and in about five years they produced a peach so delectable that he decided to name it after his wife, Elberta.  It was flavorsome and juicy, yet firm enough to ship to eastern markets in special refrigerated (ice) railcars of his own design. The rest is history.

A commercial peach boom started that supplied up to 18 peach packing houses in and around Marshallville.  You can read more about the story in the book White Columns in Georgia by Medora Field Perkerson.

Today, you can still find the home Mr. Rumph built in Marshallville noted by the historical plaque in front of the home. And, there are still many, many peach orchards around Macon County and surrounding counties such as Peach, Taylor, Crawford and Houston County.


To get your own Georgia peaches, stop by William L. Brown Farms north of Montezuma on Highway 49, Pearson Farm north of Fort Valley just off Highway 341, Taylor Orchards in Reynolds and Lane Southern Orchards on Highway 96 south of Fort Valley.  You won’t regret it!

PicMonkey Collage

CLICK HERE for a complete list of Georgia Grown peach orchards, farms and farmers markets.



Tim Gerard
, born and raised in Iowa, currently retired from a career of many chapters, moved to Marshallville in 2013.


Swainsboro’s Pine Tree Festival & Mill Pond Kayak Adventure

The parade at the Pine Tree Festival is quite a sight. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

The parade at the Pine Tree Festival is quite a sight. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

Swainsboro’s Pine Tree Festival & Southern Timber Expo continues its reign as Georgia’s longest running festival with outdoor adventures, live music and family-friendly events. My affinity for Georgia’s pines and the history of our connection with this natural resource brought me to Swainsboro for this classic Southern tradition.

Shrimp and grits at Berni's on West Main in Swainsboro. Photo by Candy Cook.

Shrimp and grits at Berni’s on West Main in Swainsboro. Photo by Candy Cook.

Mouthwatering meals at Berni’s on West Main go hand in hand with the The Rhythm & Pines Live Music Festival to kick off the weekend. Locally owned and centrally located, Berni’s serves up delicious Southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, steak and wild alligator tail in a welcoming atmosphere with excellent service. Stages with live entertainment are within walking distance around downtown Swainsboro.

FMX Motocross Stunts. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

FMX Motocross Stunts. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

Downtown streets are closed to traffic and offer easy access to the Grand Parade followed by thrilling freestyle motocross stunts performed by Team FMX and an exciting lumberjack challenge. Festival-goers enjoy a great classic car and truck show, splash zone, kids activities, and beauty pageants all weekend. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a 5k, tennis tournament, and bike ride in the days before the big event.

Kayaking in George L Smith State Park with Mill Pond Kayak. Photo by Candy Cook

Kayaking in George L Smith State Park with Mill Pond Kayak. Photo by Candy Cook

There’s no better place to stay and explore than George L Smith State Park. Campsites at the park include full-service hookups right on the edge of Mill Pond, or a primitive hike-in experience. Experience the true beauty of the cypress and tupelo stands on the water with a tour from Mill Pond Kayak. This extraordinary journey leads visitors along 10 miles of beautiful blackwater trails you don’t want to miss.

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 Delicious Food Festivals to Kick Off Your Summer

Although summer doesn’t officially start for a few more weeks, don’t let that technicality get in the way of eating your way through these 5 delicious Georgia food festivals.

Eggfest in Hiawassee

Eggfest in Hiawassee

6th Annual Georgia Mountain EggFest, Hiawassee, May 13-14, 2016

Are you an “Egg Head?” Then the 2016 Eggfest is just for you. This foodtastic gathering is for Big Green Egg fans and experienced cooks alike to showcase their grilling skills. Held at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, cooks and tasters will enjoy a full day of amazing food hot off the grill.

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in Atlanta

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in Atlanta

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival, Atlanta, May 21, 2016

Atlantic Station welcomes the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival with 60 beers, 40 bourbons and lots and lots of BBQ to sample during this popular 10th annual event. Come early and sit in on seminars by Master Distillers, Brewmasters, and Pit Masters — and get a free BBBQ collectable bag.

East Atlanta Beer Fest, Atlanta, May 21, 2016

This year’s 13th annual East Atlanta Beer Festival will be held in Brownwood Park. Featuring over 200 craft beers, love music, local food vendors and a souvenir glass, this festival promises to be the perfect way to welcome summer.



Bavarianfest, Helen, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day weekend starts this celebration that parties well into the fall. A live Oompa band, dancing, and a festive Bavarian atmosphere in the Festhalle is the perfect backdrop to enjoy imported beer, traditional wines, wursts, sauerkraut and other German favorites. Active military and veterans receive free admission. All other adults are only $7 each.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Atlanta, June 2-5, 2016

Created in 2010, this multi-day food festival includes cooking, cocktail, pairings, and technique classes; unlimited samples in their International Tasting Tents; and specialty dinners and events, like the Wine Lunch and Sunday Brunch. You can buy your festival tickets a la carte or purchase the premier three-day Connoisseur ticket.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Ways to Save on Indoor Fun in Georgia

Georgia has had a pretty cool spring, but we all know the hot weather is coming. If it gets too warm to play outside, there are plenty of places around the state to beat the heat by heading indoors. However, admission fees can add up. Here are some strategies to save money on indoor fun.

Tellus Science Museum's Fossil Gallery in Cartersville

Discover how life on Earth began in the Tellus Science Museum’s Fossil Gallery in Cartersville.

Get a Bank of America Card: The Bank of America Museums on Us program is your free ticket to museums, science centers, botanical gardens and more. There are four participants in Georgia, and more than 150 nationwide. In Georgia, you can visit the Atlanta History Center, Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, and SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah. How does it work? Show your Bank of American credit or debit card at the entrance to any participating institution on the first weekend of every month for free admission for the cardholder.

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Marietta

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Marietta

Visit the Website: Go to the attraction’s website and look for a tab on specials or online deals. If there isn’t a specific tab, look under the pricing information. Sky Zone is a trampoline park with locations throughout Georgia. A quick search on their website returned a buy 10 visits for the price of eight, as well as several buy one, get one free deals. Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Marietta has a Wild Wednesday special for adults 18 and up with half off activities and free arcade games.

Shamrock Bowling Center in Dublin, Georgia.

Shamrock Bowling Center in Dublin, Georgia.

Sign up for Free Programs: There are several industries that court kids during their summer break. Bowling lanes such as Stars and Strikes in Sandy Springs and Shamrock Bowling Center in Dublin offer two free games of bowling each day during the summer months for school-aged children. Parents can purchase a family pass for the adults that let them bowl with the kids, making it a family affair.

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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