5 Must-Try Georgia Beers Perfect for Fall

Nothing says fall like the changing of the leaves and seasonal Georgia beers. Welcome the cool weather with these hot Georgia breweries.

Declaration Imperial Stout, Reformation Brewery, Woodstock

Declaration Imperial Stout from Reformation Brewery, Woodstock

Reformation Brewery takes pride in adding a little adventure into each of its beer styles, and their Imperial Stout is no exception. Perfect for the cool days of fall, Imperial Stout has rich and roasted flavor made by specialty dark malts. Brewery tours: Thursday – Sunday.

Pumpkinfest, Terrapin Beer Co., Athens

Terrapin Pumpkinfest

Beer drinkers all over Georgia look forward to this annual brew from Terrapin. You’ll think of Thanksgiving when you taste this pumpkin and spice flavored beer that’s brewed in the German style with a strong malt backbone and low hop bitterness. Brewery tours: Wednesday – Sunday.

Koko Buni, Creature Comforts Brewery, Athens

Creature Comforts Brewery

This new kid on the block, Creature Comforts Brewery, prides itself on being founded by people passionate about beer and Athens, a town they believe will be the craft beer hub and destination of the Southeast.

Their Koko Buni beer’s flavor is as exotic as its name. This milk porter has flavors of toasted, coconut, coffee, cocoa nibs and vanilla, making it an ideal after-dinner treat. Brewery tours: Tuesday – Saturday.

Moonlight Drive Coffee Stout, Southbound Brewing Company, Savannah

Seasonal beers from Southbound Brewing, Savannah

Launching its first brew in 2013, Southbound Brewing Company is the first production microbrewery located in Savannah. With plans of bringing the American beer revolution to Savannah, they are off to a great start with their Moonlight Drive Coffee Stout. This seasonal brew has notes of chocolate and caramel, while getting its distinct coffee flavor from Bali Blue Krishna coffee. Brewery tours: Wednesday – Saturday.

Seven Bridges Oktoberfest, Jekyll Brewing, Alpharetta

jekyll-seven-bridgesJekyll Brewing gets its inspiration (and name sake) from the first brewery of the Deep South, which was founded on Jekyll Island in 1738. Jekyll Brewing is proud to offer uniquely flavored beers, like their seasonal Seven Bridges Oktoberfest. A true German style larger, this fall beer is sweet and yeasty, using Munich malts and Tettnang hops. Brewery tours: Tuesday – Saturday.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer Hill Booker 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.

Big Beats, Big Ambitions – Two Major ATL Dance Festivals

Atlanta’s music festival season tends to heat up just as the physical heat is trending down and vacation schedules give way to more predictable routines and the desire to blow off some weekend steam. This year is no exception, and the fun kicks off with Imagine and ONE, a pair of happenings that have stepped up their already impressive games.

Imagine Music Festival – Three Days of Electronic Dance Music

The electronic music festival Imagine will be Aug. 26-28, 2016, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Photo credit: Imagine Music Festival.

The electronic music festival Imagine will be Aug. 26-28, 2016, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Photo credit: Imagine Music Festival.

The Imagine Music Festival proudly bills itself as “one of the country’s last remaining independent festivals.” After a two-year run at Historic Old Fourth Ward Park that saw attendance double to 15,000, Imagine is adding a third day of revelry and setting up shop August 26-28 at the 887-acre Atlanta Motor Speedway. Even with another near-doubling in crowds expected by organizers, this means ample room to spread out — after all, AMS regularly accommodates more than 100,000 for big races.

This year’s bill includes EDM heavyweights like Steve Agnello, Dillon Francis and Adventure Club. Although DJ sets dominate the lineup, live band performances from the likes of Disco Biscuits, Beats Antique and Break Science are on deck as well — not to mention more than 50 Georgia acts, including the Ying Yang Twins, Leah Culver and Herobust.

Imagine clearly aspires to offer an overall “experience,” built on an aquatic theme encompassing a splash pool, misting domes, fountains and 3D water hologram production on the main stage (oh, and throw in performances by Cirque USA and amusement rides for good measure). On-site camping and RV hookups are available, but several hotels are near the AMS site, just 15 miles south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

ONE Musicfest – Progressive Hip Hop, Classic R&B and More

Lakewood Amphitheatre is located just 3.8 miles south of downtown Atlanta and 3.5 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Lakewood Amphitheatre is located just 3.8 miles south of downtown Atlanta and 3.5 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Back for its seventh year, the ONE Musicfest also has its roots at Historic Old Fourth Ward Park, having made the leap to Lakewood Amphitheatre in 2014. Its September 10 lineup is so deep you’ll likely do a double-take to confirm it’s a one-day throwdown. Although there are plenty of national acts (do Ice Cube and Erykah Badu do it for you?), this year’s lineup particularly shines for its assemblage of Atlanta hip hop royalty on a single stage.

Big Boi photo by Rick Diamond

Big Boi photo by Rick Diamond

The long-awaited Dungeon Family reunion is the jaw-dropper, but let’s not shortchange Cee Lo (both with and without Goodie Mob), Big Boi, Killer Mike, and a DJ set from Organized Noize – the production team behind TLC’s “Waterfalls” and several OutKast classics, among others. Get a room – even if you live within driving distance, you’ll be way too danced out after 11 hours of “classic and next generation hip hop, and soulful R&B,” as the organizers aptly put it, to make the trek home.

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.

6 Perfect Ways to Celebrate Fall

Fall is just around the bend! When it comes, you need to be ready to enjoy the BEST of the season in Georgia. Grab your map because we’ve got a bucket list for you!


Fausett Farms Sunflowers in Dawsonville are in full bloom in October. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Fausett Farms Sunflowers in Dawsonville are in full bloom in October. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Dawsonville’s Fausett Farms Sunflowers planted more than 900,000 sunflowers this spring, and they will be showing their sunny faces by the first of October. They are open seven days a week, and the cost is $10 per car. More sunflower info here.


Apples are ripe for the picking in North Georgia in the fall. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Apples are ripe for the picking in North Georgia in the fall. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

The North Georgia mountains are filled with apple orchards, including you-pick, hayrides, petting zoos and so much more. Don’t miss the Ellijay Apple Festival. We love the weekend events at Mercier Orchards, and the weekday you-pick options at BJ Reece. More apple info here.


Leaf Watching at F.D. Roosevelt State Park

F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Georgia State Parks are fantastic family escapes for watching the leaves change color. Wondering which parks have the best showing? Try Amicalola, Cloudland Canyon or Black Rock Mountain. Find a complete listing here.


Waterfall at Cloudland Canyon. Photo by Candy Cook.

Waterfall at Cloudland Canyon. Photo by Candy Cook.

There is something magical about fallen red and gold leaves on the rocks of a tumbling waterfall. Wondering where to take the family this autumn? Try Raven Cliff Falls, Fall Branch Falls or Dukes Creek for wonderful views. More waterfall info here.


Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens Labor Day Weekend

Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens Labor Day Weekend

From hot air balloons in Callaway Gardens to Oktoberfest in Helen, and from the colors of Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground to the Fall Folklife Fest at the Atlanta History Center, autumn is amass with festive frolic options the entire family will enjoy. Find more fall festival info here.


Fall camping at Red Top Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona

Fall camping at Red Top Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona

Fall is made for camping under the bright stars. We love Swinging Bridge in Blue Ridge and Andrews Cove in Helen for the best in fall camping. Find more fall camping info here.

Looking for more fun for the family? Here are 18 can’t-miss fall events around the state.

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.

5 Places to Catch Butterflies in Georgia

Imagine being surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of butterflies. These butterfly exhibits, festivals and events in Georgia promise to shower visitors with the vibrant colors of beautiful butterflies throughout August and September.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens, Kennesaw

See six species of butterflies at Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Ga., through Sept. 10.

See six species of butterflies at Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Ga., through Sept. 10.

A garden with wings: Butterflies & Biodiversity Exhibit through Sept. 10, 2016. Garden Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Growing in Kennesaw, Smith-Gilbert Gardens is an oasis of more than 3,000 plant species hosting a stunning collection of bonsai trees, tranquil koi pond, and vibrant flowers. The winding, natural surface paths lead visitors among impressive groves, shaded flower gardens and captivating sculptures. This year marks the first annual Butterflies & Biodiversity Exhibit. This fun and educational exhibit includes a butterfly house filled with monarchs, swallowtails, painted ladies, and more. The butterfly house is located right next to the Childrens Learn & Play Garden.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park, Pine Mountain

Bluebirds and Butterflies, August 13, 20 & 27 from 10-11 a.m., and Sept. 17 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Help FDR State Park monitor bluebird nest boxes, and visit the butterfly garden to learn more about attracting bluebirds and butterflies to your home gardens.

Dunwoody Nature Center

Butterfly Festival 2014

Photo courtesy Dunwoody Nature Center

Annual Butterfly Festival, August 20, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Dunwoody Nature Center hosts an annual Butterfly Festival showcasing hundreds of live butterflies fluttering in two huge butterfly tents. The all-day event features crafts and games for kids and discovery stations exploring butterflies in Georgia and their ecosystems. Live entertainment includes animal encounters, magicians, music, and birds of prey.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Waycross

Beautiful Birds and Butterflies, August 20, 1-3 p.m. Participate in butterfly crafts and help tidy the butterfly sanctuary after a presentation about the park’s winged creatures.

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

Hundreds of blue butterflies fill the Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens in September.

Hundreds of blue butterflies fill the Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens in September.

Blue Morpho Month at Day Butterfly Center, Sept. 1-30, 2016. One of North America’s largest tropical butterfly conservatories, the Day Butterfly Center welcomes guests to enjoy the beauty of a thousand fluttering butterflies. During September, Blue Morpho Month delights visitors with a spectacular sight as hundreds of iridescent blue butterflies fill the air.

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.

Six Must-try Fishing Trips in Georgia

For great fishing in Georgia, you can’t go wrong with these six trip ideas. Why not try them all?

Catch shark and tarpon off the Georgia coast

Captain Mark Noble shows off a catch

Captain Mark Noble shows off a catch

Want a big one to stretch your string? Employ Captain Mark Noble in St. Simons and follow along one of the shrimp boats as they harvest shrimp from the fertile waters off Jekyll Island. Mark can easily handle a charter for three fishermen with the mutual target being the spinner and blacktip sharks that feast on the by-catch as the shrimpers scourer the sandy bottoms of the bay. Using heavy tackle and live baits, you will hook a shark in the territory of 30 to 100 pounds on every cast. Every pass behind the trawling nets will yield all fishermen a hookup. Yes, every cast. These rascals are heavy-duty fighters and will truly give you an exciting day. You and your party will likely have had enough back breaking, line stretching, bulldogging by lunch time.

Did I say tarpon? Should have. Mark Noble is the No. 1 tarpon guide on the Georgia coast, and the summer months are the most reliable for the silver-sided giants. Jump six to 10 per day, hook, catch and photo 150-pound trophies. After an hour’s fight, I know you’ll be tired but still smiling.

Fish for striper in Lake Lanier

How about fresh water stripers? Call Mack Farr at Lake Lanier and enjoy a lesson in angling. What’s your ticket: spooning, trolling, live bait, top-water? The seasons dictate the tactic, and Captain Mack Farr is a master in generating many big hook-ups. Surprisingly so, the hot summer just may provide the most reliable action, but no matter when, for an easy reach for one of the biggest gamefish in the waters in Georgia, Lanier and Mack Farr can make it happen. Mack has guided on Lanier for more than 30 years, so his experience is easily conveyed and understood. This is a terrific charter to bring along a youngster. Usually, there is little casting and reeling involved, so even a youngster can handle the rod for an exciting hookup with Mr. Linesides in the territory of 6 to 20 pounds.

Catch crappie in Lake Oconee

Al Bassett and youngsters with their catches at Lake Oconee

Al Bassett and youngsters with their catches at Lake Oconee

Want to fill a cooler full of tasty crappie filets? Call Al Bassett at Lake Oconee. Big Al has been providing tubs of crappie for client’s live wells for decades. No matter what the season, Al has the crappie schools’ locations all figured out and will place you in the vicinity on short notice. Trolling, jigging, docks, summer time flats, shallow spawning, Al will escort you to the fertile areas and harvest a bunch. Light tackle, light line, jigs and live bait, old “paper mouth” is in big trouble when Al has a charter. Bring a big cooler and fill it. With a limit of 35 per person, a big wiggly pile of crappie is gathered in short order.


Fly fishing on the Soque River

David Zelski from Georgia Public Broadcasting's "Georgia Traveler" fishes with Blackhawk's Abby Jackson, A.K.A. Abby J.

David Zelski from Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Georgia Traveler” fishes with Blackhawk’s Abby Jackson, A.K.A. Abby J.

For a fly fisherman’s dream trip, spend a full day at Blackhawk Fly Fishing on the Soque River nine miles north of Clarksville, only an hour’s driving time from Atlanta. Soque is a pristine trophy mountain stream with easy access and is loaded with 24-inch rainbow trout and 26- to 30-inch brown trout. You’ll be fly fishing within a corridor of overhanging hemlocks into gentle pools and long fast runs rarely more than 40 feet wide. I advise fishing in the early morning, have a scrumptious “field to fork” lunch prepared by proprietor Abby Jackson, and return to the bubbling waters for more action. Want to stay overnight in a 1860s restored farmhouse and with lots of character and vintage charm? You certainly can. All the trout are cared for by your guide and returned to the cool waters alive after the obligatory photos. A typical full day will result in your catch being 20 rainbows in the 18- to 24-inch range with browns at 26 to 30 inches. Blackhawk is open all year except July and August.

Fly fishing in North Georgia lakes

Henry Cowen shows off a fly-caught striper

Henry Cowen shows off a fly-caught striper

We really shouldn’t leave out the big lake fly guys. Henry Cowen is the guy for Lakes Lanier, Allatoona and Hartwell. Spotted bass, stripers, hybrids, you name it, Henry is always in touch with the surface-feeding critters and how to catch them on the fly. What’s the key? Henry fishes every day — every single day —  and truly stays in touch. If you want to venture into the world of big lake fly fishing, Henry’s your guide; 8 pound hybrids, 25 pound stripers and 5 pound spots all on the fly. Give Henry a call, but be alert, his Brooklyn accent will startle you, but relax and enjoy a great day with a great guide.

Fish with the family at public fishing areas and state parks

Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Ga., has a 260-acre lake, perfect for fishing.

Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Ga., has a 260-acre lake, perfect for fishing.

For my final pick, there is no guide involved, nor is one needed, but you can make family memories that will last a lifetime. For many anglers, fond childhood memories involve a family fishing trip resulting in a stringer of bream. So, don’t delay – take them fishing today! Visit a nearby public fishing area (PFA) managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Wildlife Resources Division. The DNR operates and manages 10 PFAs across the state in an effort to provide the best possible fishing and access for family-friendly outings. Bluegill and redear sunfish, both part of the bream family, are stocked on nearly every PFA pond or lake. Bring along a few cans of Fisher’s Choice crickets, meal worms and shrimp. Each has been cooked and is preserved but smells, looks and works just like a fresh bait, is easy to use and lasts and lasts. Want to make the adventure fulfilling? Take your family to a Georgia State Park with a public fishing area contained, watch the light tackle floats disappear with a big old bream tugging it down and photograph your child with a never-ending smile.

oneill-headshotO’Neill Williams is host, creator and producer for the weekly O’Neill Outside television and radio shows. Born in Atlanta and a graduate of Emory University, Williams has been a television fishing personality for 35 years with shows titled “Fishing in Georgia,” “Southern Fishing” and “Reel Adventures.” He and his wife live in North Georgia, where they often broadcast the Saturday morning radio show.