Georgia’s Tastiest Adventure: BBQ

Old Clinton BBQ

TripAdvisor.com rated Georgia the number one state for BBQ in 2014. In 2015, Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge captured the honor of Best BBQ in America. Sufficed to say, Georgia’s got some great ‘que.

How to Find the Best BBQ in Georgia
The problem with great BBQ joints however, is they aren’t always the easiest to find. The best ones are usually a little off the main drag. When on a road trip, our family generally consults Yelp to find a place nearby. After consulting the reviews, the final decision on whether to visit usually rests with the sign outside. If it doesn’t have a pig on it, we question the food quality.

The Brews and Q’s Passport to Flavor
There’s always the Best of Lists too. We’ve found tasty establishments, like Joe’s, based on those lists, and then seek them out when we are in the area. Georgia’s Historic Heartland has gone a step further. They’ve created a Brews & Q’s BBQ Trail. What a brilliant idea! The trail features 30 locally owned locations in 14 counties and each restaurant is listed in an easy to use brochure that serves as your passport to flavor. Many of these country kitchens have been featured on various TV shows and have won awards from numerous outlets. Get it stamped at each place and once you’ve visited a third of the sites (or 10 locations), you can mail in the passport to receive a free Brews & Q’s t-shirt. Download a brochure and get started on a delicious tour through Georgia’s heartland.

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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 Thrilling Georgia Adventures for Less

There is lots of adventure in Georgia, and summer is a hot time for discounts on heart pumping attractions. As the mother of a tween and two teen boys, we’re always up for an intense experience. Here are three thrilling Georgia adventures and some ways to save and keep your wallet cool.

Historic Banning Mills: Historic Banning Mills is an eco-canopy adventure with course names and thrills that make the roller coasters at nearby Six Flags theme park look like kiddie rides. Don’t miss the aerial adventure park. It’s a fun way to break up the zip lines by doing a high ropes trek. For the extreme adrenaline junkie, there’s the 100-foot free fall. The first step is the hardest.

  • Historic Banning Mills Deal: Through 12/22/2016, get 10% off level 2 – 4 zip line tours. Just mention the Georgia Tourism discount for Banning Mills.
Historic Banning Mills

Historic Banning Mills

Durhamtown Plantation, Union Point, Ga.: Durhamtown Plantation is to my teens what Santa is to a preschooler. They get all giddy with excitement at the mere mention. My kids aren’t skilled dirt bike riders, but they enjoy riding the ATV’s and exploring America’s largest off-road resort’s 14 one-way trails.  We haven’t tried the hunting or skeet shooting yet.

  • Durhamtown Plantation Deal: Bring your kids to Durhamtown on July 25 for the 1st Annual Massey Kid’s Day. Kids 15 and under ride free with a paid adult rider. Get there early for a parent-kid race on the peewee track or stay late and do the mud obstacle course. Burgers, dogs, ice cream and watermelon will be served. Can’t make it in July? Get 50% off cabins & RV sites Aug. 1 – 31.
Durhamtown Off Road Riding Resort

Durhamtown Off Road Riding Resort

Whitewater Columbus: USA Today named Whitewater Columbus one of the Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the World. They have rafting, as well as kayak and stand up paddleboarding. If you aren’t one for getting wet, there is also a new zipline course, or you can rent bikes and pedal the 11-mile pathway around the city.

  • Whitewater Columbus Deal: Answer a 10 question survey on the Whitewater Columbus website and get 25% off. Visit Whitewater Columbus online for weekday discounts available all summer long. Spend the night in Columbus with these hotel discounts.
Whitewater Rafting in Columbus

Whitewater Rafting in Columbus

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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Family Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Chattahoochee Bend Observation Tower

Chattahoochee Bend Observation Tower

When this outdoor family celebrates a birthday, we invite our friends to a campout. Our most recent family camping party took place at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan. The park’s camping options meet a wide variety of adventure needs, including separate campgrounds for RVs and tent campers. I also love the seclusion of the paddle-in primitive sites on the Chattahoochee River and the hike-in platform sites. But, for this party, we chose to make camp at a shady tent site in Campground 2.

Chattahoochee River

Chattahoochee River

The park offers canoe rentals and several miles of hiking trails that meander along the river. We spotted many deer, turtles, frogs, and lizards while exploring the trails. Our hike of the Riverside Trail led us through a chorus of frogs to an observation tower overlooking the river. But, the one-mile Flat Rock Trail is the must-see hike of Chattahoochee Bend. Winding through the pines, this easy trail lets hikers explore the rock outcrops and colorful wildflowers of the region.

Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Tent Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Chattahoochee Bend is prepared for families with unique playgrounds, picnic areas, and a collection of fun things for guests to borrow. When checking in at the visitor center, make sure you check out some of these items to liven up your camp, for free.

Board and card games – We snagged the Apples to Apples card game for a roaring good time around the campfire. Other selections include UNO, playing cards, Candyland, and more.

Binoculars – Chattahoochee Bend is a birdwatcher’s paradise! Get started by borrowing a pair of binoculars and talking to the friendly staff about which birds are currently flying around the park.

Telescope – The darker skies, away from city lights, make Chattahoochee Bend the perfect place to set up a telescope. You can even borrow one for your campout!

Fishing gear – The park offers fishing rods and tackle boxes to help families give fishing a chance. My boys borrowed the gear and headed to the riverbank to catch catfish. Guests can also rent a kayak or canoe to get out on the water.

DVDs – A newer addition to the park, RVers can choose from some popular movies for evening entertainment.

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.

Save Money at Georgia’s Theme Parks

Nothing says ‘summer’ like a visit to a theme park, and Georgia has quite a few. Whether you want to scream through a loop-de-loop on a roller coaster, spin around and around or just ride up and down on a merry-go-round, there’s a place for you and it’s closer than you might think. Here is what’s new this summer at three theme parks in Georgia, as well as a tip for how to save money on a visit.

Six Flags Over Georgia, Atlanta:Six Flags Over Georgia

This is probably the largest of Georgia’s theme parks and perhaps the most well known. New this year is The JOKER Chaos Coaster which rockets seven stories in the air, soaring through a bedlam of loops, suspending riders upside-down for a ravaging thrill; and Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a spinning, twisting and rolling ride through a cycle of classic family fun. Don’t forget your bathing suit for Hurricane Harbor, which was introduced in 2014.
Money Saving Tip: Do as much as you can in advance. Go to www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia and purchase your tickets, parking pass, Flash Passes, meal plans and/or season passes. You’ll save the most money for your visit by purchasing in advance. Also, plan your trip using suggestions from this post Tips for a Great Day. The advice is valid for any theme park visit, not just Six Flags Over Georgia.

Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta:Stone Mountain Park

The fun at Stone Mountain Park doesn’t need to end when the park closes. All new this year, stay in one of three Stone Mountain Park yurts, nestled lakeside in the park’s popular campground. This is glamping at it’s finest with yurts made of wood and canvas, featuring outside decks, picnic tables, charcoal grills, a fire pit and large water spigots for camping convenience. Inside each smoke-free yurt, are all the comforts of home with log furniture, heat and A/C, electric outlets, large windows, skylights, ceiling fans, lockable doors and sleep space for up to five guests. Just bring a sleeping bags and personal items.
Money Saving Tip: Visit Stone Mountain’s free attractions early in the day, like the covered bridge, outdoor granite museum, and the hike up the stone mountain. Plan to visit the paid attractions after 4 pm when prices go down with the sun. A Sunset Adventure Pass includes all your favorite attractions like the 4-D Experience, SkyHike, Geyser Towers, and the Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard, as well as terrace seating for the Laser Light show and unlimited popcorn until the start of the show, and an ice cold Coca-Cola beverage.

Wild Adventures, Valdosta:Wild AdventuresWild Adventures’ new ride, Jungle Rumble, takes guests swinging, swooping, climbing and dropping. Like a monkey swinging through the trees, the ride has no shortage of screeching and screaming. Riders swing back and forth before reaching four-stories high then plunge back down to the ground to do it all over again in reverse. The ride is designed for families to enjoy together with thrills for adults and kids. Once you’ve gotten your thrills on the roller coaster, head over to see the new squirrel monkey exhibit in a rejuvenated area of the theme park.
Money Saving Tip: Purchase your tickets at least 7 days in advance online and save $10. If you don’t have that much time, you can still save $8 by purchasing at least two days in advance. For those that can’t plan that far ahead, grab lunch at a nearby Subway in Valdosta, Albany or Columbus and pick up an $8 off coupon.

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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6 Georgia Beaches for Family Fun

Golden Isles Beaches

St Simon’s Island. St. Simon’s Island (and nearby Jekyll) are filled with family entertainment options. Ride the historic trolley, climb the lighthouse, visit the Sea Turtle Center and much more. I highly recommend a stop at 4th of May for mimosas and pimento cheese. They also have books and coloring paraphernalia for the kiddos. See more info about our St. Simon’s adventure here: 365atlantafamily.com/stsimons

Cumberland Island. With no cars and few homes on this secluded beach, it is the perfect escape. Hike to the ruins, search for sea shells and catch a glimpse of the wild horses.  Families with older kiddos can stay at the luxurious and historic Greyfield Inn. The only other option includes camping on the beach or riding the ferry back to St Mary’s for the evening. Either choice is wonderful.

Acworth Beach. Acworth Bach at Cauble Park is a public lake-beach with a roped-off area for swimming. It sits on the north shore of Lake Acworth and also houses restrooms, a playground and picnic tables. Swimming runs Memorial Day through Labor Day, but there is no lifeguard on duty.

Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area. Lake Rabun’s swim area includes a roped-off section for swimmers, restrooms and picnic tables. If you need a break from swimming, try the Beach Trail hike or dipping your pole to catch bass, trout and more. Camping sites are available here for a full weekend of beachtime fun.

TybeeTybee Island. Tybee Island beaches are quiet and peaceful, with wide sandy beaches for plenty of play time. Visit the lighthouse and museum, stop in at Fort Pulaski or enjoy a Dolphin Tour.  A bike tour and stop by the Tybee Marine Science Center are not to be missed. If you have time, try the Tybee Beach Ecology Trip, as well. My family and I attended the 4H program at Tybee last year. You can find a few photos here: 365atlantafamily.com/tybee

Robins Lake Beach at Callaway. This is the world’s largest manmade, white sand beach! Besides swimming and lounging, there is a playground, giant chess set, miniature golf, table tennis and shuffleboard. All of this is included with entry into Callaway. For an additional fee, try Aqua Island, paddle boats, the rock climbing wall, a bounce house and more. We visited with the grandparents and had a great time. See more about that here: 365atlantafamily.com/callaway

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.