10 Reasons We Love Fall in Georgia

When you feel that first crisp breeze and watch the colors begin to change, you know that summer is gone and fall is in the air! Although we think every season in Georgia is just peachy, autumn has a particular beauty to it. Here are 10 reasons we love Georgia in the fall:

Fall foliage: Fall in Georgia always provides a kaleidoscope of colors. Whether you’re driving down the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway in Northeast Georgia or hiking Cloudland Canyon, you’re sure to be amazed by the stunning display of red, gold and orange leaves. Insider tip: Early to mid-November are the best times to see fall foliage in Georgia.

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Apple season: As the temperature cools down, apple season heats up! Fall is the perfect time to head north for a fun-filled day of apple picking. We suggest stopping by Hillcrest Orchards or the Red Apple Barn – both located in beautiful Ellijay.

Pumpkin patches: Why buy a pumpkin at the grocery store when you could enjoy a day of pumpkin pickin’ in Georgia? Pack your family in the car and hunt for the perfect pumpkin at any of these Georgia pumpkin patches.

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Haunted houses: Georgia is home to some seriously scary haunted houses, including the No. 1 haunted house in the nation Netherworld. These walk-through attractions are filled with live actors, amazing special effects and incredible monsters that are sure to scare even the toughest of visitors! Check out our Get Spooked in Georgia Pinterest board for haunted attractions in your area.

Fall festivals: We’re a sucker for a festival – especially a fall festival! Where else can you watch the leaves fall, eat candied apples and shop for handmade Halloween decorations? Find a fall festival near you here.

Oktoberfest: Grab your lederhosen and your beer stein because Oktoberfest is coming! One of Georgia’s most popular annual events, Oktoberfest takes place in the recreated alpine village of Helen. Attendees can feast on schnitzel, tour the town and even listen to live yodeling! Click here for more information on Oktoberfest.

Corn mazes: Exercise your brain and your body when you visit one of Georgia’s many corn mazes. Each maze has its own unique design, including a “Duck Dynasty”-themed corn maze at Corn Dawgs in Loganville. Visit our Corn Mazes in Georgia Pinterest board to find a corn maze near you.

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Football Season: Football is a big deal in the South. When fall begins, football fans don their jerseys, pack their cars with tailgate supplies and road trip to cheer on their favorite teams. Follow our Fall Means Football Pinterest board for ideas on where to stay on gameday, special events, tailgate recipes and more.

Georgia State Parks: Head to Georgia’s State Parks this fall for outdoor adventure! Whether you’re interested in kayaking, caving, geocaching or camping, Georgia’s State Parks have got you covered.

Cooler temperatures: Fall provides a much-needed respite after Georgia’s sweltering hot summer. It’s not too hot, not too cold and just right for front porch sitting.

1025498_10200401820144233_1171921963_oLauren 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!

 

 

15 Unforgettable Military Attractions in Georgia

Veterans Wall of Honor in McDonough

Veterans Wall of Honor in McDonough

  1. Fort Stewart Military Museum in Hinesville is the largest military post east of the Mississippi. Inside the museum, Liberty County’s military heritage is showcased in ever-changing exhibits featuring objects from WW11, Desert Storm, and present-day military activities.
  2. Currahee Military Museum in historic downtown Toccoa’s restored train depot, is home to the WWII history of approximately 17,000 soldiers that trained at Camp Toccoa to become paratroopers.
  3. American Legion Military Museum and Post Cafe in Trenton features artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with special emphasis on personal displays of local residents during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
  4. Chickamauga National Military Park in Fort Oglethorpe was the first major Civil War battlefield set aside as a memorial to the soldiers who fought there. Take a self-guided tour of the 5,200-acre battlefield and hear an audio tape tell of the three-day conflict that claimed 34,000 Union and Confederate casualties.
  5. Korea Monument at American Legion Post 201

    Korea Monument at American Legion Post 201

    Walk of Memories Alpharetta American Legion Post 201 in Alpharetta pays tribute through a walkway composed of more than 7,000 bricks, to all Georgians who served in the military and died.

  6. U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum in Augusta is a permanent historical and educational institution, providing training and education to soldiers, military dependents and the general public on all aspects of the history of the Signal Corps, the development of Fort Gordon and vicinity, and the U.S. Army.
  7. The Veterans Wall of Honor in McDonough is an 80-foot-long granite monument that sits on a 2 ½ acre hilltop site in the historic Heritage Park. The wall honors all veterans, living and deceased, for their service and sacrifices to secure our freedom.
  8. The Heritage Park Veterans Museum in McDonough tells a story – from the array of uniforms, some of which date back to World War I, to the rations, equipment and supplies – all of it is displayed to give the public a true sense of the life of a soldier.
  9. Gwinnett's Fallen Heroes Memorial

    Gwinnett’s Fallen Heroes Memorial

    Gwinnett’s Fallen Heroes Memorial in Lawrenceville pays tribute to all Gwinnett residents who died in the line of duty in military or public safety service.From native Americans “who were the first to love this land,” to the most recent casualties, the memorial honors about 700 individuals, organized by categories of service.

  10. 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe preserves the rich military history of the “Fighting Sixth” Cavalry, stationed at The Post at Fort Oglethorpe 1919 – 1942. The museum houses artifacts, uniforms, weapons, accouterments, photos, a Patton Tank and authentic WWII vehicles.
  11. Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville pays tribute to all American prisoners of war. The park has three features: the National Prisoner of War Museum, the site of the Andersonville prison, and the Andersonville National Cemetery.
  12. The Drummer Boy Civil War Museum in Andersonville is home to Civil War uniforms, guns, flags,revolvers, carbines, muskets and Civil War swords.
  13. National Infantry Museum in Columbus

    National Infantry Museum in Columbus

    National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus salutes soldiers in a 190,000-square-foot facility nestled where Columbus meets Fort Benning. It is the only museum in the country dedicated to the American Infantryman and preserves one of the greatest collections of military artifacts.

  14. Kingsland Veterans Memorial Park in Kingsland  stands as a reminder to all Americans that we will never forget the brave men and women who have serve, and are currently serving, in all branches of the United States Armed Forces.  The Memorial Park pays tribute to the American servicemen and women who have fought and lost their lives in service for the protections of our freedom.
  15. National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler is dedicated to preserving the history and stories of the Eighth Air Force. Hear the unforgettable stories of bravery, experience a bomber mission and briefing, and see the ongoing restoration of the World War II B-17 Flying Fortress “City of Savannah” inside the Museum’s Combat Gallery.

13 Great Places to Eat & Drink in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Blue-Ridge-GA-Cabin-Rentals_9900

Situated about 90 minutes north of Atlanta off Interstate-575, Blue Ridge, Georgia, satisfies the soul with a growing menu of options when it comes to dining. A closer look reveals a common ingredient shared by local business owners – a passion for the outdoorsy, earthy, upscale, fresh, historical town – a mixing bowl of opposing flavors that meld just right to create the place these establishments are proud to call home. It’s an ambiance set forth by nature and enhanced by the local people that lures proprietors here; some are retired execs from the ATL beginning a second career and others are establishing roots and raising a family in a simple yet sophisticated community. It’s that kind of opposition – yin and yang – that Blue Ridge embodies, converting visitors to locals again and again as the story goes. If you’re lucky enough to experience Blue Ridge, indulge in these top 13 picks to satisfy the taste buds and soothe the soul.

  1. Harvest on Main uses seasonal products whenever possible to support the local economy, farmer and artisan. Harvest was listed as one of 11 best restaurants outside Atlanta recently and was also featured in the August issue of “Blue Ridge
    Harvest on Main

    Harvest on Main

    Country.”

  2. At Farm to Table Camp for Kids, the dynamic duo from Harvest on Main builds on community efforts by teaching local children and visiting kids where their food comes from. The farm is open to the public, but there are no set hours; call (706) 946-3276 for more information.
  3. So successful, Harvest on Main expanded their offerings in 2013 with the addition of Harvest’s Blue Ridge Grocery offering a from-scratch bakery, deli and café, coffee bar and menu for take-away meals. Again the restaurateurs will soon expand their portfolio with a Mediterranean-style restaurant.
  4. Cucina Rustica, a local favorite that’s rustic, casual, yet elegant, puts the utmost importance on preserving the traditions of Northern Italian cuisine and delights guests with Osso Buco, shrimp scampi and stuffed veal loin, to name only a few of the must-try temptations. The popular Italian locale also features Cucina Pizzeria for those in search of the perfect pie.
  5. With thousands of vacation rental cabins in and around Blue Ridge, it’s no surprise Chef Douglas Olsen of Cabin Cuisine has found popularity in his services, creating meals in the comfort of a serene mountain setting.
  6. Relax, unwind and prepare for one of Blue Ridge’s newest restaurants, Black Sheep, serving Southern comfort food in a historic residence once visited by Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind.”
  7. Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille welcomes guests with outdoor fire pits, live entertainment and a menu with temptations like bacon wrapped scallops and cedar plank salmon.
  8. Top off your feast with confectionaries from The Sweet Shoppe where owners Nikki Gribble and Susan Catron can boast of their win on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
  9. For unbeatable hickory smoked meats, including fall-off-the-bone ribs, seek out Joe’s BBQ, featured on TripAdvisor’s list of Top BBQ Joints in the USA.
  10. Apples at Mercier Orchards

    Apples at Mercier Orchards

    New to Mercier Orchards, the popular U-Pick produce destination now features a tasting room offering hard ciders and wines, including locally-produced varieties. Sit for a spell on the deck while enjoying sips and live entertainment on the weekend. Stay for lunch – or, come early for a breakfast fit for a king, complete with local sausage, grits, apple fritters and more.

  11. Try the Blue Ridge Blood, at Blue Ridge Brewery, along with other handcrafted suds – the Hiawassee Golden Ale, Sandy Bottom and Toccoa Brown. Seasonal beers are featured on a regular basis. Pair sips with upscale eats like shrimp mac and cheese and catch live entertainment on the weekends without ever worrying about a cover charge.
  12. At Grumpy Old Men Brewing, Blue Ridge’s premier nanobrewery, co-owners Jim McKnight and Steve Weber – fraternity brothers at Georgia Tech in the 70s, embody their business name and tout the motto, “If we don’t like it, we don’t drink it. If we don’t drink it, we don’t sell it.” Signature brews include: Aska Pale Ale, Moon over Blue Ridge Wheat Ale, and the soon to be released Hell’s Holler Porter.
  13. Fannin Brewing Company

    Fannin Brewing Company

    Fannin Brewing Company’s motto sums up just about all you need to know: Fresh Air, Fresh Water, Fresh Beer. Started in association with the Blue Ridge Brewery, here you’ll find some of the same sought-after sips like Hiawassee Golden Ale and Toccoa Brown Ale. Fannin Brewing Company’s owner, Tom Fennell, spent a good bit of time in Germany where many of his trips involved a visit to a biergarten or two, sampling a host of German beer styles. He was bitten by the craft beer bug in 2012, when he partnered with Pat Walker at the Blue Ridge Brewery, and by December, the first beer was on tap at the Brewery where the brews,  crafted with fresh Blue Ridge water, have been top sellers ever since.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Top 5 Things to Do in Athens, Georgia

Photo Credit: @picturesbecrazy via Instagram

Photo Credit: @picturesbecrazy via Instagram

This fall when you and thousands of others head to Athens, Georgia to cheer on the Dawgs in the Sanford Stadium, be sure to check out all that the Classic City has to offer beyond the hedges. With so many available activities, the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau has compiled a “Top 5 Things To Do in Athens on Football Weekends” list!

  • dtExplore downtown Athens: Just a short walk from Sanford Stadium, downtown Athens is bursting at its seams with stylish and quirky shops, a variety of bars and music venues, unbeatable dining, and more. The Victoria-era architecture creates an inviting atmosphere for both visitors and locals to take a leisurely stroll and explore the local shops. While you’re checking out the town, keep a look out for the world’s only Double-Barreled Cannon on the corner of College Ave. and Hancock Ave and the Tree That Owns Itself, which is a few blocks away on the corner of Dearing St. and Finley St. Bordering downtown, the University of Georgia’s beautiful North Campus, which also makes for a beautiful walk, begins at The Arch on Broad Street.
  • Feast on Local Fare: No football fan will be underfed this season with dozens of delectable restaurants lining the streets of downtown Athens. The Classic City’s food scene is booming and has recently caught the attention of national media. Among the most recognized eateries are Five and TenTop Chef Hugh Acheson’s restaurant, and The Last Resort Grill on Clayton St., which is always a family favorite. Mama’s BoyHeirloom CafeThe GritPorterhouse Grill, and East-West Bistro are also popular choices for weekend brunch. There is no shortage of traditional “tailgating food” such as pizza, burgers, and wings, which can be found downtown at Amici Italian CafeThe Volstead, and Dirty Birds. A complete list of Athens restaurants can be found here.
  • Enjoy a Cold Brew: While in Athens, fans will want to try local Athens beer. Known for its unsurpassed flavor and character, Terrapin beer is quickly winning over the nation. Adding to their collection of awards, Terrapin Beer Co. recently claimed a spot on The Best 25 Craft Breweries in the U.S. list, and visitors will understand why. The whole family, including leashed four-legged friends, is invited to tour the brewery on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Live outdoor music, free tastings, lawn games, and brewery tours every half-hour make for a pleasant, relaxing environment for all. A $10 souvenir beer glass secures eight four-ounce tasting tickets for visitors ages 21+. Athens’ newest brewery, Creature Comforts Brewing Company, opened in April 2014 in downtown Athens, in the old Snow Tire building on Hancock Avenue, and continues an Athens tradition of the exceptional reuse of historic spaces. Creature Comforts is open for tours Tuesdays through Saturdays. Check their Facebook page prior to home game weekends for any revisions on hours.
  • meltingRock Out: Named the “Number One College Music Scene in America” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Athens is gushing with awesome music!  The local venues attract rising stars, old favorites, and everything in between. Not only have world-renowned bands such as R.E.M., the B-52’s, and Widespread Panic originated from the Classic City, but hundreds of new and upcoming bands make their debut in Athens each year. Between famous Athens venues such as the Georgia TheatreThe Melting Point, and 40 Watt Club, and intimate venues such as Caledonia LoungeLittle Kings Shuffle Club, and the Green Room, there is always a great show to be seen. Check out the performance schedule here!
  • Take a Tour: For visitors interested in learning about the historical components of Athens, guided tours are available. The Classic City Tour of Athens is offered daily through the Athens Welcome Center, along with free self-guided brochures/maps, audio tours, and pod tours. Details can be found at hereAthens Food Tours are a delicious and exciting option for those wanting to learn about and taste local and regional cuisine. Lastly, the self-guided Athens Music History Walking Tour focuses on the history of Athens music and the locations that made the music scene into such a success. The tour brochure is available at the Athens Welcome Center or online.
For more information about Athens, Georgia visit http://www.visitathensga.com/.

Atlanta’s Best Scenic Beginner Hikes

Arabia Mountain Top Trail

Arabia Mountain Top Trail

 

Atlanta’s plentiful parks, tall trees and comfortable climate make it a fantastic city for outdoor activity. And with unique landscape features, from creeks and rivers like the mighty Chattahoochee to towering bald summits like Stone Mountain and Arabia, there’s an abundance of hiking adventures to be found around the city.

Explore Atlanta’s stunning outdoors on these five metro-area trails, all within 30 miles of the city (and some in town). They’re all great for beginning hikers: they’re easy to moderate in difficulty, under four miles in length, and pack a ton of outdoor beauty within a relatively short distance.  And the few that top the mileage charts are still beginner-friendly: there’s plenty of scenic outdoor beauty spread along the trail.  So if you don’t make it the full distance your first trip, don’t worry: enjoy as much of the trail as you can,  and return for more hiking fun in the future.

No hiking boots? No problem! These trails are running-shoe-friendly.  Be sure to pack basics, like printed trail directions (see each trail’s link for detailed directions and maps), water, sunscreen and your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Arabia Mountain Top Trail

(1.3 miles, unpaved / open rock expanses)

Hike through stunning geology and ecology to the summit of Arabia Mountain in the Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve near Atlanta’s east side perimeter. The Arabia Mountain Top Trail scales the mountain’s cratered, open rock expanses to stunning 360-degree views at the summit.  The best time to hike? After a rain, to catch pools of water in the mountain’s craters that reflect the wide-open sky above.

 

South Peachtree Creek Trail

South Peachtree Creek Trail

South Peachtree Creek Trail

(2 miles, paved / boardwalk)

This PATH Foundation trail near Decatur crosses a towering train trestle before descending to the ruins of the Decatur Waterworks.  And after rolling elevation through a shady forest, the South Peachtree Creek Trail runs raised boardwalk through a forest on the banks of South Peachtree Creek.

 

Morningside Nature Preserve Trail

Morningside Nature Preserve Trail

Morningside Nature Preserve Trail

(2.45 miles, unpaved)

Located on the fringes of Morningside, one of Atlanta’s upscale residential neighborhoods, the Morningside Nature Preserve Trail is a tucked-away favorite of neighborhood residents. The trail hikes across a suspension bridge spanning the sandy shores of South Peachtree Creek before winding through a terraced forest. Keep watch for wildlife on the trail: beavers, turtles, raccoons and birds are often sighted in the preserve.

 

Sweetwater Creek Red Trail

Sweetwater Creek Red Trail

Sweetwater Creek Red Trail

(2.3 miles, unpaved)

Hike the Sweetwater Red Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park to the ruins of a mill destroyed in the Civil War on the banks of a beautiful, whitewater-filled creek. Sweetwater Creek’s rushing whitewater rapids, small cascading waterfalls, and sandy banks punctuated with large boulders are a perfect backdrop to a mid-hike picnic.

 

Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail

Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail

Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail

(3.8 miles, unpaved / boardwalks)

Hike the meandering shore of Allatoona Lake on the Iron Hill Peninsula at Red Top Mountain State Park north of Atlanta. The Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail hikes through a spindly, shady forest, catching nearly continuous views of the lake’s glassy-water cove. The trail gently rolls elevation along the shore thanks to a series of raised wooden boardwalks that span the peninsula’s occasional elevation dips.

Eric ChamplinEric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, kayak and cycle Georgia’s beautiful outdoors. Eric is the author of Atlanta Trails, an online magazine that reviews the best hiking trails, running trails and outdoor adventures throughout Georgia. His mission? To inspire Atlanta residents and visitors to get fit outdoors and explore Georgia’s beauty.

PHOTO CREDIT (all): Eric Champlin