5 Ways to Explore the Chattahoochee River

Beginning in North Georgia’s mountains and flowing hundreds of miles to Georgia’s southern border, the Chattahoochee River offers adventure and recreation all along the way. Here are five ways to enjoy our beautiful Chattahoochee River.

HIKING

Thousands of acres along the Chattahoochee River are preserved by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Hikers enjoy miles of scenic trails winding through the northern suburbs of Metro Atlanta. Come explore the historic significance and natural beauty of the Chattahoochee at 15 unique locations.

FISHING

Fishing for bass and catfish is a great year-round experience on the Chattahoochee River. It’s also a great place to find trout! For 48 miles, from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek, Chattahoochee River is a designated trout stream giving anglers some of the best trout fishing in North Georgia! Click here to plan a fishing trip.

ShootTheHooch_ChattahoocheeTubing

TUBING

A classic summertime tradition, families and friends have a splashing good time floating down the river on inner tubes. Mere minutes from Downtown Atlanta, Shoot The Hooch rents tubes, paddleboards, and canoes as well as offering a shuttle service! River trips range from 1.5 to 8 miles of relaxing recreation.

NATURE

Explore the Chattahoochee on guided hikes and canoe paddles with the friendly folks at Chattahoochee Nature Center. In addition to hikes and activities, explorers learn about native plants and animals through the Discovery Center’s interactive exhibits, gardens, and nature exchange.

WhitewaterExpress_ChattRafting

RAFTING

Did you know the Chattahoochee River is home to some of the biggest rapids east of the Colorado? There’s no rush like whitewater rafting! Whitewater Express, in Columbus, takes thrill-seekers and families on exciting rafting adventures, “as wild as Colorado and warm as Costa Rica!”

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.

Find Out How to Get Unlimited Access to Georgia State Parks

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Georgia has more than 50 state parks spread all over like peach jam on a country biscuit. Park visitors experience all the wonders of our state, from waterfalls and majestic mountain views to blackwater paddles and coastal campouts, There’s one membership that offers them all to tourists and local explorers, while supporting a worthwhile mission to promote and preserve these treasures.

A Friends of Georgia State Parks membership is the only membership that offers unlimited annual access to over 50 fun destinations in the state. In addition to showcasing Georgia’s most beautiful places, Georgia State Parks invite visitors to participate in a variety of recreational activities and schedules hundreds of outdoor programs. Nature lovers and families enjoy exploring Georgia on birdwatching tours, guided hikes, Junior Ranger days, and more. Adventurers, travelers and locals all get a kick out of paddling kayaks through the salt marsh, camping out, and climbing canyons. There’s so much to do in our beautiful Georgia State Parks that it’s impossible to list it all. Become a member of Friends of Georgia State Parks and try them all.

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In addition to the unlimited park access at over 50 locations, the membership tiers offer many other benefits. A Membership grants free camping stays or rounds of golf. Members also see discounts on lodging, merchandise, and train tickets for SAM Shortline! The included subscription to the Friends’ magazine, Georgia’s Great Places, helps members plan trips and discover more of Georgia’s hidden gems.

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 FREE Things to do on St. Simons Island

Photo courtesy of @brantdavis_ssi via Instagram

Photo courtesy of @brantdavis_ssi via Instagram

As the weather gets warmer, thoughts turn to spending time at the beach, but creating an affordable beach vacation isn’t always easy.  St. Simons Island is part of the Golden Isles on the coast of Georgia, and offers lots of budget friendly entertainment. Here are four free things to do on St. Simon’s Island.

  1. Play in the Sand. Of course, who comes to a beach town without going to the beach. Erosion has taken a lot of St. Simon’s Island’s sand and deposited it on the East Beach area of the island, so no matter what the tide, you’ll find beach here. This mostly residential area has several public beach accesses, but you’ll be hard pressed to find parking. The Coast Guard Station on First Street has a good deal of parking, as well as public bathrooms, a small maritime museum and in season, a snack bar.
  2. Find Natural Treasure. Look carefully around the island and you’ll see tree spirits carved within the majestic live oak trees. At one time, the large ships that sailed these waters were made with wood from the live oaks around the island. The tree spirits pay homage to the salty sailors that lost their lives aboard these ships.
  3. Count the Fish. A visit the St. Simon’s Island pier is a must during any vacation. Walk the pier and see what the fisherman pull in, or say hello to the pelican’s that wait for left over fish. If you’d like to get into the action, the St. Simon’s Island Bait Shop is just down from the pier and sells fishing license, crab nets and whatever else you need for an afternoon angling. While you are there, say hello to the resident parrot. If you’re lucky, he may sit on your shoulder.
  4. Climb a Whale. At the base of the St. Simon’s Island Pier, there is a small playground. Walk less than 100 yards toward the Lighthouse and you’ll find an even bigger playground that sits just outside the gates to the public pool and a mini-golf course. You’ll also find a sculpture of a mother whale and her baby. It will likely have lots of other people’s babies climbing and crawling on it as well.

For discounts on hotel accommodations within the Golden Isles, visit Explore Georgia’s Deal page.

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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Guide to Camping on the Georgia Coast

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Camping Cumberland Island National Seashore is one of our favorite outdoor adventures. For a couple glorious days and nights, the island becomes our personal playground. Our Cumberland Island days are filled with playful escapades in the crashing waves, hiking under the canopy of live oaks and watching the wild horses roam. We’ve been the only couple on the beach for brilliant sunrises, romantic sunsets and nights full of twinkling stars.

A Cumberland Island camping trip is a treasured experience for outdoor enthusiasts. But, the camping adventures, along Georgia’s coast, don’t begin or end there. Georgia’s thirteen barrier islands, with hundreds of miles of shoreline, offer amazing camping experiences unlike anywhere else.

Jekyll Island Campground

A popular getaway for families, Jekyll Island is home to some of Georgia’s most popular beaches. The Jekyll Island Campground offers 208 campsites near Driftwood Beach. Campsites range from primitive tent sites to full-service RV hookups including electricity, cable tv and wi-fi. Jekyll’s coastal greenway is a network of bicycle trails that make it easy to get around the island! Click here to see a video of the Jekyll Island trails.

Sapelo Island – Cabretta Campground

Gather your group, of 15-25 campers, for an unforgettable adventure camping at Sapelo’s Cabretta Island Campground. Shaded by live oaks, this pioneer campground is short walk from the beach.

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Tybee Island – River’s End Campground 

Nicknamed, “Savannah’s Beach,” Tybee Island offers a great option for campers who want to be close to the beach and downtown Savannah. River’s End Campground has a hundred campsites that offer everything from primitive tent camping to full-service hookups for RVs.

Little Tybee Island Camping 

The only way to get to this uninhabited land is by boat, or kayak, ensuring a special camping experience to explore the undisturbed nature preserve!

Cumberland Island National Seashore – Campgrounds & Backcountry

In addition to, “Sea Camp,” and “Stafford Campground,” which offer restrooms and showers, there are several backcountry sites. Hiking 5-10 miles will land backpacking campers incredible seclusion with opportunities for exploring different ecosystems and possible sightings of dolphins and manatees. Read more about camping Cumberland Island as a family..

Ossabaw Island Camping 

Come explore unspoiled maritime forest, tidal wetlands and beaches while learning something new about Georgia’s coast. Keep an eye out for scheduled overnight camping events or propose your own group experience to visit Ossabaw’s natural wonders.

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.

Guide to Georgia’s Literary Landmarks

Jump into the pages of your favorite books at these Georgia literary landmarks.

Photo courtesy of The Wren's Nest

Photo courtesy of The Wren’s Nest

The Wren’s Nest: Located in Atlanta’s historic West End, the Wren’s Nest is Atlanta’s oldest house museum and is currently in its 100th year of operation. The mission of the Wren’s Nest is to preserve the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris and the heritage of African-American folklore. Docents provide tours Tuesday through Saturday, and storytellers tell every Saturday at 1 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is $8.

Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home: From 1925 to 1938, O’Connor lived on 207 Charlton Street. In 1989 the property was restored and turned into a museum with a book collection, toys, family pictures of O’Connor and a tiny desk that was especially made for her as a child. Admission is $6.00.

Mercer Williams House/Creative Commons

Mercer Williams House/Creative Commons

Mercer Williams House: When journalist John Berendt visited Savannah, he was inspired to turn a local murder case into the acclaimed novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.”  The Mercer Williams House, the location of the murder, is open to tourists 7 days a week. Admission is $12.50.

Georgia Writers Museum: The Georgia Writers Museum in Eatonton focuses on promoting the rich, literary heritage of the state. Permanent exhibits honor the three most famous local authors, Alice Walker, Flannery O’Connor and Joel Chandler Harris. Works and artifacts of the other authors are featured in the museum on a rotating basis.The museum is open Friday – Sunday.

Margaret Mitchell House/Photo by Lauren Cleland

Margaret Mitchell House: Tour the apartment where Margaret Mitchell penned “Gone with the Wind” in Atlanta. Guided tours of the Margaret Mitchell House are offered daily and include visits to her Crescent Avenue apartment, which she affectionately nicknamed “The Dump.” On your visit, you can also explore two exhibitions, “Margaret Mitchell: A Passion for Character” and “The Making of a Movie Legend: Gone With the Wind.”

Uncle Remus Museum. Photo courtesy of Lauren Cleland

Uncle Remus Museum/Photo by Lauren Cleland

Uncle Remus Museum: Gather around the fireside for the adventurous tales of Brer Rabbit, and learn about the life and writing of Joel Chandler Harris at the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton. The museum is open 7 days a week and adult admission is only $5.

Photo courtesy of Andalusia

Photo courtesy of Andalusia

Andalusia: Explore the picturesque farm where Flannery O’Connor lived with her mother for more than a decade in Milledgeville. It was on this 544-acre estate that she wrote her last book. Andalusia is only open Sunday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Admission is free but donations are welcome. Click here for a virtual tour of Andalusia.

LaurenLauren 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!