9 Reasons We Love Springtime in Georgia

Williamson, Georgia. Photo by @lizibailey via Instagram.

Williamson, Georgia. Photo by @lizibailey via Instagram.

Georgia is on our mind year-round, but we especially love the Peach State during the spring months. From the blooming flowers to the delightful temperatures, there is plenty to love about springtime in Georgia!

Festival Season: Nothing says spring quite like chowing down on a turkey leg while meandering through booths selling organic soap, handmade jewelry and bottle cap artwork. Georgia is home to such popular spring festivals as the Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the famous Macon Cherry Blossom Festival. No matter where in Georgia you go, your chances of finding a spring festival between March and June are high. Our advice? Pack up the car and spend a weekend exploring Georgia.

Dogwood Festival in Atlanta

Dogwood Festival in Atlanta

Mild Temperatures:  Georgia’s spring weather is perfect for backyard barbeques, front porch sitting, driving with the windows down on the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway or visiting Georgia’s Golden Isles. Georgia’s spring weather is so perfect, in fact, we think even Goldilocks would find it to be just right.

Pick-your-own Farms: Grab a bucket and head to one of Georgia’s many pick-your-own farms for a true Southern springtime tradition. Pick fresh peaches at Gardner Farms in Locust Grove or stock up on strawberries when you visit Strawberry Station in Dublin. The whole family will have fun picking their favorite springtime treats fresh from farms throughout the state.

Seminole State Park 2 - GDECD

Seminole State Park

 

Georgia State Parks: Take advantage of the perfect spring weather with a trip to one of Georgia’s state parks. Whether hitting the hiking trails, paddling the waterways, or sleeping under the stars, Georgia’s state parks have programs the whole family will love.

Spring Break: When Spring Break rolls around, students of all ages are restless for outdoor fun. Luckily for them (and their parents), Georgia is filled with theme parks, attractions, outdoor adventures and more. Treat your little one to a day at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, a hike up Stone Mountain in Atlanta or have an adventure on the water in Columbus. No matter which activity you choose, your child will return to school with a story to share!

Braves Baseball:  When April arrives, fans across the Southeast don their jerseys, paint their faces, and do the tomahawk chop in honor of the Atlanta Braves. A game at Turner Field, affectionately called “The Ted,” is a must-see when in Georgia.

Piedmont Park. Photo courtesy of Lauren Cleland.

Piedmont Park. Photo courtesy of Lauren Cleland.

Patio Dining: We’re of the firm belief that food always tastes better when eaten on a patio. Whether you’re sipping a cocktail at Atlanta’s Park Tavern or enjoying an intimate sunset dinner at the Meritage Café in Columbus, Georgia’s springtime weather makes for the perfect patio dining experience.

Lake Season: When the temperatures warm up, folks everywhere flock to Georgia’s lakes for weekends full of water skiing, tubing and more. Rent a pontoon boat on Lake Sinclair, camp on the shore of Lake Oconee or book a weekend at the luxurious Lake Lanier Islands Resort to get your lake fix this spring.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens

Flowers in Bloom: Our springtime list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our beautiful blooming flowers, including azaleas, peach blossoms, magnolias and more. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the season with a visit to one of Georgia’s famous gardens, such as Guido Gardens in Metter, Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground and Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. You’ll discover displays of floral beauty like you’ve never seen before when you explore Georgia!

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Lauren 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!

10 Ways to Celebrate the First Weekend of Spring

Callaway Gardens. Photo courtesy of @lizibailey via Instagram.

Callaway Gardens. Photo courtesy of @lizibailey via Instagram.

Celebrate the start of spring at these Georgia events!

March 18 – 22: Witness world class show jumping at the Atlanta Spring Classic in Conyers. Admission is FREE.

March 20: Peruse local art and soak up the sunshine at the Spring Art Walk in Newnan.

March 20 – 21: Enjoy extended hours, special sales, inflatables and photos with the Easter Bunny during Dalton’s Spring Holiday Open House.

March 21: Breathe in the fresh spring air during the Spring Sprint in Jonesboro. Registrations is only $25 in advance, $30 the day of.

March 21: Take advantage of the spring weather during Springs Fling at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla.

March 21: Kick off spring with wine and live music during Hightower Creek Vineyards’ Vino & Vibes Spring Kick-Off.

March 21: Honor the Burmese chickens that are a fixture of the Fitzgerald landscape at the Wild Chicken Festival.

March 21: Get those Irish eyes smiling as hundreds of floats take to Jackson Street and Bellevue Avenue during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin.

March 21 – April 25: Celebrate Spring and the beginning of azalea season at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain.

March 21 – 22: Proudly sport your pink clothing at the 34th Annual  Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival

5 Hotels Fit for Foodies

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Photo courtesy of Polaris

Photo courtesy of Polaris

It’s been nearly two months since Atlanta restaurateur Gerry Klaskala opened his third restaurant, Atlas—diners can expect the same great farm-fresh fare, only this time, Klaskala, who also owns Canoe and Aria, opted for a hotel location.

Atlas sits on the second floor of the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead, which is pretty revolutionary in Atlanta’s hotel dining scene—despite the plethora of amazing lodging options here, few hotels boast restaurants that are worth a visit if you’re not actually staying there. But Atlas isn’t entirely alone. These four area hotels are also fit for foodies. Take a look:

  • There are few meals more indulgent than a luxe steak dinner at BLT Steak at the W Downtown.  Start with a delicacy from the impressive raw bar before slicing into an American wagyu steak, best alongside their legendary popovers and truffled mac and cheese.
  • Though the Hyatt Regency’s Polaris is best for pre- and post-meal bites and cocktails (think small plates chockfull of produce from the hotel’s rooftop garden and apiary), this swanky rooftop hotspot (you’ll likely recognize the iconic blue dome, which has been spinning since 1967) is a destination restaurant if there ever was one.
  • Many celebrity chefs have opened restaurants Atlanta—Tom Colicchio, Emeril Lagasse and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, to name a few—but only one has endured: Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey. His concept, Southern Art, takes up residence at the InterContinental Buckhead, complete with an artisan ham-and-charcuterie bar, vintage pie table and lively Bourbon bar with 70-plus varieties.
  • After a million dollar reno, Nikolai’s Roof, the elegant American-meets-Russian hideaway situated on the 30th-floor of the Hilton Downtown, reopened last year to great fanfare. Floor-to-ceiling windows revealing postcard-worthy views are the perfect complement to dishes like red beet and beef borscht consommé, lamb chops with brown butter salsify and grand marnier soufflé.

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

3 Places Where History Comes Alive on the Georgia Coast

When people think of Georgia’s coast, they usually think of sun and sandy beaches, not history, but the coast has a rich past. Georgia was the last of the thirteen original colonies to be founded. James Oglethorpe envisioned it as a refuge for debtors, but the English Crown saw it as a buffer for Spanish controlled Florida.  Later it was the plantation economy that defined Georgia prosperity. Make history come alive with a visit to one of these three places along the Georgia coast. You can defend a fort, walk through a Colonial town, and see for yourself what it was like to live on an authentic Southern plantation.

Fort King Georgia. Photo courtesy of http://edrowley.net/

Fort King Georgia. Photo courtesy of http://edrowley.net/

Fort King George: Fort King George is located in Darien. The pre-revolutionary fort has been completely rebuilt, and includes a three-story blockhouse, and bunkhouse, as well as out buildings and a small museum. The best part of our visit to Fort King George was the wooden guns we borrowed from the museum to play army throughout the grounds.

Fort Frederica. Photo courtesy of Georgia Encyclopedia.

Fort Frederica. Photo courtesy of Georgia Encyclopedia.

Fort Frederica: Fort Frederica is located on St. Simons Island. In pre-colonial days, soldiers at the fort guarded the coast from the Spanish who occupied nearby St. Augustine. Although the buildings are only ruins now, Fort Frederica engages kids (and adults) with a small, but interactive museum and one of the best Junior Ranger programs I’ve seen. Kids borrow a haversack of materials and use a booklet to hunt through the town of Frederica to find Mr. Demere and give him an important letter from General Oglethorpe. Along the way they learn about interpreters, tavern keepers, candle makers, soldiers and being a kid in colonial times.

Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. Photo courtesy of SoutheasternPhotography.com

Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. Photo courtesy of SoutheasternPhotography.com

Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation: A real life Tara, Hofwyl-Broadfield was a typical antebellum rice plantation. After the Civil War, rice was a difficult crop. Even so, plantation owners grew the crop until the early 1900s before turning to dairy cows to make ends meet. A museum and tour chronicle the plantations heyday through modern times. When you go, bring a picnic from nearly award winning Southern Soul BBQ and enjoy it under the magnificent magnolia trees.

Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation and Fort King George are part of the Georgia State Park system. To visit for free, check out a Georgia State Parks pass from any Georgia Public Library.

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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3 bites under $15

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Photo courtesy of Fred's Meat & Bread

Photo courtesy of Fred’s Meat & Bread

Atlanta has no shortage of destination-worthy restaurants (from Restaurant Eugene and Bacchanalia to Aria and Kevin Rathbun Steak)—but these fine dining dinners can cost you a pretty penny. When you’re looking for something equally delicious that won’t break the bank, consider these three dishes under $15 for your next meal:

  1. Though the quality at this Inman Park gem would suggest sky-high prices, in reality, everything on BoccaLupo’s menu is under $20. My personal favorite dish is chef-owner Bruce Logue’s fried cauliflower ($9). The crispy veg is tossed with mint, capers and meyer lemon making it easily one of the most flavor-packed plates in the entire city.
  2. A trip to Krog Street Market will reveal a plethora of affordable options, especially if you stick to the counter-service side of the food hall, where you’ll find James Beard semifinalist chef Todd Ginsberg’s sandwich shop, Fred’s Meat & Bread. The entire menu weighs in under $15, though I’m partial to the Burger Stack ($9) and Crispy Smoked Catfish Po’boy ($10) alongside an order of uber-crispy Southern BBQ fries ($4.50).
  3. Buford Highway isn’t just a mecca for ethnic eats—it’s also one of the most affordable dining destinations in Atlanta. When I’m craving Chinese food, I head to Gu’s Bistro, where the entire menu comes in under $20. Mix and match a few small plates at lunch (the dinner menu is slightly more expensive)—I recommend the Dan Dan noodles ($7) and Ma Po Tofu ($6.50)—or spend all $15 in one place at dinner with the most mouthwatering, tongue-tingling chicken in town, the Chongqing Spicy Chicken ($15).

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate