Georgia Camping for the Non-Camper


Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Camping is a great way to explore Georgia on a budget, and there is nothing better than telling stories around the campfire while enjoying some freshly toasted marshmallows. However, gathering all the gear and pitching a tent can be a bit intimidating to the novice. Here are three ways to enjoy Georgia camping, without all the hassles.

Georgia State Parks First Time Camper Program: The Georgia State Parks first time camper program gives newbie campers everything they need for two nights under the stars. For $50, campers receive a six person tent, two chairs, four self-inflating sleeping mats, a camp stove with fuel, lantern and marshmallow roasting sticks – you need to bring your own s’more fixings though.

Glamping at North Georgia Canopy Tours: No need to bring a tent. Instead enjoy the comforts of an authentic Native American teepee with a few modern conveniences, like air conditioning (or heat in the winter), lighting and electrical outlets. If you’d rather, North Georgia Canopy tours also has 15 rustic campsites. The best part is getting first dibs on a zip line canopy tour the next day.

Glamping at North Georgia Canopy Tours

Glamping | Photo courtesy of North Georgia Canopy Tours

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch: The wagons are circled on a Georgia farm with cows grazing nearby rather than amid buffalo on the plains, but everything you could need is set up nearby. The Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch have four sets of bunk beds, so just pack a sleeping bag or some sheets. Firewood is stacked on a flatbed, and a table with paper towels, cups, hand washing water, drinking water, lanterns, paper and matches is nearby. If you don’t want to bring dinner, just order the Hot Dog Dinner and everything you need, down to the cooking skewers will be waiting for you upon arrival.

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.

Click here to order Sue’s book, 100+ Things to Do in Atlanta.

Click here to follow Sue on Facebook.

Click here to follow Sue on Twitter.

Click here to follow Sue on Pinterest.

Click here to follow Sue on Google+

Click here to follow Sue on Instagram.

Georgia Outdoor Blast


Steve Scruggs, Snake Master at Outdoor Blast

Steve Scruggs, Snake Master | Photo courtesy of Georgia Outdoor News

Presented by Georgia Outdoor News and Georgia’s Best Chevy Dealers, Outdoor Blast returns July 24-26 at Gwinnett Center. One of the best shows of the season, this weekend for sportsmen features hundreds of hunting and fishing vendors, prizes, and a kids zone. A strict policy of allowing only outdoor-related products and services prevents the crowd of vacation marketing or flea market booths found at other shows. This is a great opportunity to check out the latest gear for the upcoming season, and book trips with professional outfitters.

This year’s highlights include a massive collection of Georgia’s biggest bucks from 2014, deer scoring for the GON All-Time County-by-County Records, and gun giveaways every hour. Outdoorsmen also compete for a truck in the annual Truck Buck Shootout, and learn to identify venomous snakes with Snakes Alive star Steve Scruggs.

Don’t leave the kids at home! The Blast Kids Zone features a Wipeout sweeper obstacle, kiddie mechanical bull, gun safety and more. Kids can take aim at the BB shooting range and complete a free DNR-certified hunter education course. Best of all, kids under 12 are free!

Location: Gwinnett Center, free parking
Admission: $8/adult, kids 12 and under are free.
Dates: July 24-26, 2015

Outdoor Blast Kids Zone

Outdoor Blast Kids Zone | Photo courtesy of Georgia Outdoor News

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.

Hiking Tallulah Gorge for Canyon Climbers Club

Canyon Climbers Club, set forth by Georgia State Parks, challenges hikers to conquer four scenic trails in a quest to earn a commemorative t-shirt. Tallulah Gorge State Park is a great starting point for beginning the quest. The Canyon Climbers hike at Tallulah follows along the North rim, before descending into the gorge on plunging staircases. Hikers begin the journey with a short walk from the Interpretive Center to a couple overlooks that offer amazing views of L’Eau d’Or Waterfall. This is the perfect opportunity to snap some before hike photos, because what comes next is the descent into the gorge.Canyon Climbers Club

The trail keeps hikers in a cool, damp shade for most of the hike. It’s made up entirely of stairs and platforms until visitors reach the slightly bouncy suspension bridge. The bridge spans the gorge and hikers have the options to either turn back, continue down 200 more stairs to view Hurricane Falls, or climb the 300+ steps to hike the south rim. Before heading back up to check out the interpretive center, we munched a picnic on a bench we found hidden beneath the north side of the bridge. Climbing the 300 steps out of the gorge is the most strenuous part of this adventure. But, there are plenty of benches to stop and take breaks if needed.Tallulah Gorge

The interpretive center at Tallulah Gorge is a must see and a great place to cool down after the hike. A self-guided tour of the building is designed to resemble the gorge, with ramps that lead visitors to different floors of the building and a rocky model of the gorge floor on the lower level. You will need to visit the interpretive center after your hike to either purchase a Canyon Climbers membership card or have your current card marked for completion of the hike.Tallulah Interpretive Center

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.

4 Ways to Taste Georgia-Made Ice Cream

Whether you prefer ice cream, gelato or custard, there’s room for them all as you taste your way around the state.

Honeysuckle Gelato

Photo courtesy of Honeysuckle Gelato

1.)  At a festival. Georgia is home to numerous annual ice cream festivals including the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival, Ice Cream Festival at Crooked Pines Farm, Slow Food Atlanta Ice Cream Social, and Miss Mary’s Crankin’ Ice Cream Festival in Roswell.

2.)  From the source. Whether it’s craft ice cream you prefer or a more commercial brand, you can visit the factory when you’re in Georgia. Alton Brown’s preferred brand, High Road Craft, can be found in Marietta while Mayfield Dairy Farms offers tours in Braselton. One of the best parts of visiting High Road Craft is being able to buy their small batch and test flavors that you can’t find anywhere else.

When you’re in Savannah, visit Leopold’s, the classic ice cream parlor seen on the silver screen. They make their flavors in-house and you can’t beat their old time-y atmosphere.

Up in North Georgia, stop by Mountain Fresh Creamery for a sweet treat on your way through the mountains.

And, next time you’re near Fort Valley, plan on heading to Lane Southern Orchards. Their peach ice cream is legendary.

3.)  Where you live/work/play. Vintage Frozen Custard has set up shop at Westside Provisions District offering “premium frozen custard” inside an old fashioned ice cream parlor. Honeysuckle Gelato is set to open their first brick and mortar location inside Ponce City Market later this year. You can also find their gelato at Davio’s inside Phipps Plaza.

4.)  Where you shop. Stop by Georgia’s Whole Foods Market and The Fresh Market locations to find prepackaged ice cream, gelato and custard from Georgia’s vendors.

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.

2015 Kids Racing Events in Georgia

First, my friend who NEVER runs stunned us all by running two marathons in one weekend. Then I learned about the IronKids Alpharetta event coming to our part of town in September. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Should our family expand our hiking adventures into the running realm?

IronKids Alpharetta

IronKids Alpharetta | Photo courtesy of Alpharetta CVB

I asked a few friends who run (and whose kids run) to give me their thoughts. I think the best advice I received was to start with the tot trot, move to the family one-mile run, and then branch out from there as their skillset and desire expands (keeping a jogging stroller at hand.)

It seems that some kids go at it full gusto without much prep. One kiddo reported that he wanted to train better for the next event though, because the medals looked so cool! A common theme during my unofficial interviewing? When kids are doing this for themselves it’s a confidence booster and an ideal way to show them true heart in organized sports.

If your kids are anxious to try their hand at a racing event, this sample list of triathlons and runs around the state will get you started. You won’t see us at any triathlon events this year, but maybe we’ll wave as you pass us on the next family fun run!

July 18
Clarkesville – Chopped Oak Triathlon

July 25
Dalton – Run for God – Dalton Parks Triathlon
Kennesaw – Georgia State Games Championship Run

August 8
Marietta – East Cobb Sprint, Super Sprint and Kids Triathlon
Columbus – Y Kids Tri – Youth Triathlon

Aug 22
Flowery Branch – KidFit & Adult Fit Triathlon

Aug 23
Norcross – 2015 Atlanta Kids Triathlon

Sept 13
Dawsonville – Bootlegger Super Sprint Triathlon

Sept 19
Alpharetta – IronKids Alpharetta
Rome – Roman Rumble 5k and 2 mile Health Walk

Sept 20
Rome – RACE Rome Youth Triathlon

Nov 26
Atlanta – Atlanta Half Marathon & Thanksgiving Day 5K

Dec 12
Atlanta – Jeff Galloway Race Weekend 5K and Kids Run

Strong4Life Super Hero Event

Strong4Life Super Hero Event

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.