Monadnock Madness: Go Mad for Metro Atlanta’s Geological Gems

Explore the wonders of monadnocks during special events in March.

Explore the wonders of monadnocks during special events in March.

Monad-what? A monadnock is a special type of mountain formed when hard blobs of lava are compressed under the Earth’s crust. Talk about feeling the pressure! Now that the softer rock around the granite clumps has been eroded away, Georgians are treated to three amazing geological oddities right in their backyard – Stone Mountain, Panola Mountain and Arabia Mountain – and that’s something worth celebrating. In fact, it’s a marvel worth going downright mad over. So, this March during Monadnock Madness, lace up your hiking boots and explore the awe-inspiring wonders of vernal pools, diamorpha – with red leaves and white blooms — and more, all atop Georgia’s geological gems.

Bring your camera and curiosity

Cherry blossoms at Stone Mountain Park on March 5

Cherry blossoms at Stone Mountain Park on March 5. Photo courtesy of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Facebook.

Throughout the month of March, Monadnock Madness brings a variety of activities to the public, including photography lessons, advanced archery classes, Reptile Day, and behind the scenes hikes all made possible through the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance in partnership with the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, Panola Mountain State Park, and Stone Mountain Memorial Association.

Catch the sunset from a monadnock

Sunset from Panola Mountain during the March 5 Monadnock Madness Triple Hike Challenge

Sunset from Panola Mountain during the March 5 Monadnock Madness Triple Hike Challenge. Photo courtesy of Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Facebook.

The highlight of the month is the Monadnock Madness Triple Hike Challenge, which brings adventurers together to summit all three of Metro Atlanta’s monadnocks in one unforgettable day. All hikers earn a unique souvenir they can wear as a badge of honor. See photos from the March 5 event on Facebook. Upcoming Triple Hikes will take place on March 19, 20 and 31. RSVPs are required and this event always sell out.

For more details on these exciting events and to purchase tickets for the Triple Hike and/or Landscape, Micro and Wildlife Photography 101 Class, visit MonadnockMadness.com.

Kimberly EstepWhen not putting her savvy communication skills to use at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Kimberly Estep can most often be found wandering over hiking trails with her two dogs. Most of all, Kimberly loves sharing her knowledge of the hidden gems of Georgia with anyone who will listen.

4 North Atlanta Food Gems to Entice Your Taste Buds

Atlanta is known for its amazing food scene, but some of its best-kept secrets are just outside of the city. Travel a little north, and you will find several Atlanta suburbs famous for international cuisine. Locals know that these small cities offer access to several hidden Atlanta food gems — and now you do, too.

Buford Highway Farmers Market

Traveling the world can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, simply head to Doraville to the Buford Highway Farmers Market, Atlanta’s No. 1 source for specialty foods and international cuisine. In addition to its wide selection of ethnic and imported culinary delights, the farmers market offers a variety of classes to teach you how to cook with the exotic ingredients it sells.

The Buford Highway Farmers Market

The Buford Highway Farmers Market has an amazing variety of produce, meat, seafood and international foods. Photo courtesy of Buford Highway Farmers Market, Facebook.

Find the staff picks of the week, or observe the in-store demonstrations on cooking a wide variety of foods, including Asian cuisine (Korean, Thai and Vietnamese) and Spanish and Latin-inspired dishes.

Explorers will find a vast array of international foods, and if you’re a curious epicurean indulge on the variety of samples, all available to take home as a gift or inspiration for your next dinner party. In addition to purchasing international ingredients, visitors can grab a bite on their way out with items such as fresh tamales and bubbles teas at the front of the market.

The Buford Highway Farmers Market is located at 5600 Buford Highway, just outside of the perimeter. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tucker Farmers Market

Right next to Doraville is the city of Tucker. Tucker may seem like a typical small suburb of Atlanta, but on Thursday nights the Tucker Farmers Market becomes the place to be for great eats. More than 25 local farmers and food producers arrive each week to sell their creations. On the first Thursday of each month, they are joined by a selection of favorite Atlanta food trucks to create a taste extravaganza unlike any other.

Tucker Farmers Market

Food trucks serve up unique flavors at the Tucker Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Tucker Farmers Market, Facebook.

Atlanta food trucks from all over partake in the quest to delight visitors’ palettes. Some of our favorite food trucks from Atlanta include Mac the Cheese Truck, which features delectable macaroni-and-cheese-inspired dishes.

In addition to tasty food truck dishes, visit the market for the fresh variety of goods and locally sourced foods grown in Georgia. Mercier Orchards, a well-known North Georgia orchard, is a featured vendor, selling freshly made fried apple pies, apple butter, apple cider and more. All this and more makes the Tucker Farmers Market a uniquely special gathering spot in Atlanta.

The Tucker Farmers Market takes place every Thursday from April through mid-December from 4-8pm. It is located in the heart of Tucker, at 2333 Main Street.

Super H Mart

Hungry travelers and visitors who want a piping hot meal cooked on-the-spot should consider visiting the Super H Mart food court in Duluth. Located near Doraville, the Super H Mart is a mega international grocery store featuring cuisine from all over the globe.

Of course, the food court inside Super H Mart is a popping, bustling center that attracts shoppers and diners alike. Featured dishes include Pho with delicious bean sprouts and basil, combo meals with kimchi, steamed rice, miso soup, pot stickers, and Korean BBQ.

Fresh side dishes made daily at Super H Mart.

Fresh side dishes made daily at Super H Mart. Photo courtesy Super H Mart, Facebook.

If you get the notion, be sure to check out the entire store. Similar to the Buford Highway Farmers Market, the store also features a fresh assortment of baked goods, groceries, and various snacks available for purchase.

The Super H Mart is located at 2550 Pleasant Hill Rd. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Atlanta Chinatown

Are you seeking a truly authentic Chinese meal? Atlanta Chinatown can accommodate your tastes with a rich variety of authentic Asian cuisine and dishes. This isn’t the typical “Chinese food” that many of us are accustomed to seeing on a takeout menu. Instead, you can find a vibrant array of restaurants that will delight any adventurous epicurean with unique items like hand-pulled noodles and seafood dishes. (Read Culinary Explorer Jennifer’s tips and recommended dishes at Atlanta Chinatown.)

Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Locals rave about the sit-down restaurants in Atlanta Chinatown. If you’re looking for the complete experience, try the Oriental Pearl restaurant. Around for more than 20 years, Oriental Pearl serves traditional Chinese dishes with many items you would find off-the-menu at other restaurants.

Atlanta’s melting pot goes beyond the borders of Doraville and DeKalb County. Other counties — Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton — feature neighborhoods famous for their culture and growing diversity. I hope this has inspired you to explore Atlanta food options outside the city limits to find the unique, hidden gems of the North Atlanta area.

author-lisa-breslin-webLisa Breslin is a PR Consultant for the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center North Atlanta. Located off I-285 at Exit 32 near Doraville, the property is conveniently located 14 miles from downtown Atlanta and close to all the destinations featured in the blog post. For more information, visit www.northatlantahotel.com.

Five of Our Favorite Georgia Brands

We sat down with the owners behind some of the best brands to hear their story, how Georgia has influenced their business and what their favorite things to do around the state are. Here’s what they had to say.

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Click here to jump to:
KEVIN’S | PEACH STATE PRIDE THE OLE BULL CO. 
R.L. MARTIN & CO | 
SOUTHERN PROPER 



Explore Georgia: What’s the story behind Kevin’s?
Kathleen Kelly, Co-Owner: Kevin started the company in 1979 in Tallahassee, Florida. It was primarily a gun and hunting store that also carried general sporting goods. I joined him in 1992 after we were married and together we transformed Kevin’s into a plantation lifestyle company. With Kevin being an authority on sporting guns and our company being situated in bobwhite quail country, it just made sense.  Our company is focused on this lifestyle, from the hunt to the home.

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EG: What makes you unique to Georgia?
KK: We have one of the most beautiful and well known high-grade gun rooms in the country with and amazing and unique collection of guns.  We also make our own Kevin’s Plantation Shotguns which have won awards in our industry and been featured in all the main sporting magazines.

EG: What are some of your favorite items right now?
KK: We try to offer as many “Made in America” products as we can! For example, our quail bracelet is made in Thomasville and the camo belt is made in Atlanta. Our customers know they will find unique items at Kevin’s, whether it’s a basic T-shirt or a Kevin’s custom designed Italian pewter bowl, ice and wine bucket we designed and had hand-made in limited quantities in Italy.

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EG: What should travelers see in Thomasville after they’re done shopping at Kevin’s?
KK: Definitely visit Pebble Hill Plantation, dine and shop in our downtown. Our town is amazing! A fun place to stay is Paxton House, within walking distance to us.

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Follow Kevin’s on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


 

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EG: What’s the story behind Peach State Pride?
Derek Chitwood, Founder & CEO
 I grew up picking peaches each summer with my Grandpa so I’ve always had a strong love for The Peach State. When I started Peach State Pride in 2009 I wanted to create a logo that instilled pride in our great state of Georgia, and in some way give back to the state.

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EG: What makes you unique to Georgia?
DC: I don’t think what we’re doing has really been done before. We promote our state; our towns, regions, communities, artists, athletes, and businesses, and we give 15% of our profits back to Georgia. We’re a clothing line, but really so much more than that.

EG: What’s on your must-have Peach State Pride list?
DC: Our hottest item is our Georgia Mesh Back Hat. I’m also a big fan of our Classic Button Downs for a more mature look.

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EG: What should visitors do if they’re around Athens?
DC
: You have to stop by Last Resort Grill and grab a meal! When the night rolls in, catch a show at the Georgia Theatre.

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In Watkinsville, it’s easy to relax. The Ashford Manor is an amazing Bed & Breakfast and Chops & Hops downtown is a must-stop for lunch or dinner. If you’re up in Lavonia, 211 Main Street Restaurant and Bakery is right around the corner from the store. And in the summertime, swing by our roadside stand at Chitwood Orchard for some of the best peaches you ever put in your mouth!

Follow Peach State on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


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EG: What’s the story behind The Ole Bull?
Miles Tinsley, Co-Founder: The Ole Bull Co. is all about local flavor! Our mission is to connect refined men and local craftsmen across the country. There are so many amazing products being crafted by small businesses in Georgia and other states at this very moment, but these products are difficult to find and even harder to compare.

ole2 EG: What makes you unique to Georgia?
MT: The Ole Bull Co. was founded and is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. We source many of our local and handmade products in Atlanta and other places around Georgia. The Ole Bull Co. is currently working with four Georgia companies whose products all have incredible craftsmanship and integrity. They are Go Forth Goods (Marietta), Proof Cocktail Syrup (Decatur), Cord Shoes + Boots (Atlanta) and Margaret Vera (Atlanta).

EG: What’s on your must-have list right now?
MT: We have some amazing products from our friends here in Georgia!  Two of our personal favorites are The Traveler Mug by Go Forth Goods and The Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup by Proof Syrup. A lot of these businesses are right here in the Atlanta area.

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EG: What’s on your Atlanta bucket list?
MT: We’re always on the lookout for great places to grab a cold beer or to get our fill of delicious food. We spend a fair amount of time at Three Taverns Craft Brewery in Decatur. They have a refreshing assortment of beers and the brewery itself has a unique and rustic design. As far as sitting down for a classy dinner that is sure to please, we’d recommend checking out Southern Gentleman in Buckhead. They take comfort food to a whole other level, and offer an impressive list of aged whiskey.

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As massive BBQ enthusiasts, our final recommendation would be hitting up one of our three local favorites, each guaranteed to hit the spot. Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, D.B.A Barbecue, & Sweet Auburn Barbecue.

Follow The Ole Bull on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER



RL MartinEG: What’s the story behind R.L. Martin & Co.?
Devan Martin, Owner: R. L. Martin & Co. is the men’s department inside Only Options, an apparel store that has been serving Valdosta, GA since 1983. My husband, Justin and I purchased the store in 2014, we dedicated a large space in the store to expand the men’s selection. R. L. Martin & Co. is a nod to Justin’s father, Ronald Martin, who was a buyer for Belk Hudson for 22 years before he passed away returning from a buying trip. We hope to continue the legacy of the fine gentleman he was.Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 6.33.45 PM

EG: What makes the store unique to Georgia?
DM: We are one of just a few specialty retailers of our kind in the state. We take a “support local” approach to business, carrying many Georgia based clothing and gift lines from brands such as South Georgia Pecan Co. gifts, Savannah Bee Company honey, Laurie Jo’s pepper jellies and more!

EG: What’s on your must-have list in the store right now?
DM: It is spring time, and we are dreaming of warmer weather and weekends at the club!  The E4 Performance Collection by Peter Millar allows you to look sharp and swing the club without the wrinkles.  We carry a large selection of E4 Performance pants, sports shirts, and outerwear. This breathable, easy care fabric, will look great for a dinner after a great day on the course!

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EG: What’s your favorite thing to do in Valdosta?
DM: Having brunch or dinner at Friends Grille and Bar is a MUST in Valdosta! Using only local produce, they specialize in modern, but laid-back southern cuisine. Chef Randy DeCoudres never disappoints!

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Follow R.L. Martin & Co on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK


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What’s the story behind Southern Proper?
Ansley Kuhlke, Director of Wholesale: Inspired by the southern pillars of style, tradition, and authenticity, Southern Proper was created as the haberdashery for the Southern Gentleman in late 2005.

Emilie Claire Howard (fondly known as Emmie) and Regan Hardy Howell planted the company’s roots in Atlanta, Georgia and began building a men’s clothing line infused with their mutual appreciation for heritage and fashion, running deeper than a Southern Accent. Operating out of over 300 specialty retailers across the country and online, we continue to grow our brand while sustaining our appreciation for our homegrown roots!

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What makes you unique to Georgia?
AK:  Born and raised in Atlanta, Southern Proper has proudly maintained and celebrated it’s Georgia roots from its creation. Not only do our products display the propersouthern attire but truly represent the southern lifestyle from which we were all raised. Each collection is inspired by the life we all love to live right here in Georgia.

Whether you’re cheering on your team at a tailgate or spending a long weekend in Savannah, Southern Proper has you covered from head to toe! Remembering our heritage and resonating with our customers has always been the foundation of our company.

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What’s on your must-have list right now?
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.51.05 PMAK: We’re all eagerly anticipating warmer weather and even more excited to launch our spring collection. The must-have piece on the shelves right now is our new Dock Pullover.

On any given cloudy day or for chilly nights at the beach, this is the perfect transitional piece for spring in the south. Be sure to grab this fun and lightweight jacket in three great colors, available in stores and online now!

What’s on your Georgia bucket list?
AK: The ladies of SoPro highly recommend earning the triple crown…of Hot Dogs that is. In our humble opinion, a must-do for natives and visitors alike is to visit grab a delicious dog from each of the best places around Georgia: Atlanta’s own Varsity, Nu-Way of Macon, and Monroe’s in Americus. Your stomach will be all the happier after this mouth-watering journey around the empire state!

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Follow Southern Proper on Social: INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

 

 


B6RUpoACEAAGPPb.jpg-largePARKER WHIDBY is the Digital Content Specialist for Explore Georgia. She loves to travel, write & photograph all the amazing things Georgia has to offer. In her spare time, Parker enjoys painting, going to concerts, trying new restaurants & spending time with family, friends & her pups, Doc & Baxley.

 

Nine Places to Nab a Traditional Southern New Year’s Day Meal

On New Year’s Day, you’ll find people throughout the South eating greens, black-eyed peas, pork and cornbread. Serving up these hearty foods on January 1 has been a generations-long tradition for many a southern native, but do you know why we eat them or where to find them in Georgia if you don’t want to cook another holiday meal?

Photo: Steve Gordon/Taste of Southern

Photo: Steve Gordon/Taste of Southern

Black-eyed Peas

My favorite story about black-eyed peas goes all the way back to the Civil War. The tale goes that Union soldiers ate up all the Southern crops except for black-eyed peas. The hearty legumes provided much-needed sustenance for the survivors during Reconstruction thus, they became a symbol of luck. Some folks even cook a dime with them and whoever gets the dime is said to have extra good luck that year.

Greens

Greens are said to symbolize money or prosperity and true Southerners say you gotta eat a lot! Some even say you have to keep eating them all day, but I’ll leave that up to you! Any green will do, but the most common choices are collard, turnip or mustard greens.

Cornbread

Golden cornbread is often added to the Southern New Year’s meal. As a well-known phrase goes, “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold.” But I say you just can’t have black-eyed peas and greens without cornbread.

Pork

Beyond just being so dang yummy, pork is said to be a symbol of prosperity because pigs root forward. In contrast, eating chicken or turkey on New Year’s Day is considered bad luck because they scratch backward.

Where to Eat in Georgia

These four dishes, eaten on New Year’s Day, are designed to bring you and you loved ones prosperity throughout the year. So where do you go if you want to guarantee good luck in 2016? Below are nine places around Georgia that are open and ready to serve up luck and prosperity on January 1, 2016.

The Blue Willow Inn

Historic Heartland– Social Circle, GA

No one is allowed to leave The Blue Willow Inn hungry after feasting on a variety of Southern salads, meats, vegetables, breads, and desserts. Their New Year’s buffet will have all the traditional fixin’s along with prime rib, seafood, and all the Southern desserts you know and love.

Blue Willow Inn Photo: Lamar/Flickr

Blue Willow Inn Photo: Lamar/Flickr

 

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Atlanta Metro– Atlanta, GA

Mary Mac’s boasts many awards and accolades, but most recently the 70-year-old establishment was named the Best Atlanta Soul Food Restaurant by our very own Family Explorer, Lesli Peterson. They fill up fast on holidays so come early to enjoy all the traditional New Year’s Day dishes.

 

The Smith House

Northeast Georgia Mountains–  Dahlonega, GA

The AJC once called the food at The Smith House “revelatory.” You can have your own revelation on New Year’s Day with the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat, family style dining experience starting at 3:30pm. They are located just one block from Dahlonega’s historic downtown square.

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Southern Soul BBQ

The Coast– St. Simons Island, GA

We named Southern Soul BBQ one of the best barbecue joints in the state, and for very good reasons. The popular restaurant offers plenty of ‘que along with the traditional collard greens, Hoppin’ John, and cornbread. Pick up a sampler of hot sauces to take home before taking a walk on the nearby beach to burn off all those delicious calories.

 

The Country Kitchen

Presidential Pathways– Pine Mountain, GA

Tucked inside Callaway Gardens, the picture windows at The Country Kitchen reveal a breathtaking ridge top view that pairs perfectly with the down-home Southern dinner served up on New Year’s Day. While you’re there keep the holiday spirit going and experience the famous Fantasy of Lights display, which goes through January 2.

 

Smok’n Pig BBQ

Plantation Trace– Valdosta, GA

The Smok’n Pig is a place steeped in southern tradition and old time Bar-B-Q. They offer freshly prepared country cookin’ just like grandpa used to do back in the day. So relax, sit back and enjoy a New Year’s Day barbecue feast with the entire family.

 

Goolsby’s

Classic South– Evans, GA

This welcoming cafeteria-style restaurant offers up all the traditional Southern meats and side you can think of, including fresh, fried-to-order fish. As one Yelp reviewer put it, “The staff is friendly, the portions are big, and the ribs were fantastically tender and flavorful. Their collard greens are pretty much the best you can get anywhere.”

 

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Partridge Restaurant

Historic High Country– Rome, GA

The Partridge Restaurant has been a major part of Rome’s downtown experience since 1933. Order up a family-style meal by circling your choices of classic southern dishes, then wait in anticipation with a tall glass of refreshing sweet tea. Don’t miss the cornbread, which comes to the table in its own cast-iron skillet.

Photo: Melissa C./Yelp

Photo: Melissa C./Yelp

 

Ole Times Country Buffet

Magnolia Midlands– Dublin, GA

Take a break from the kitchen and treat your family to a true Southern buffet restaurant. Ole Times Country Buffet’s all-you-can-eat offerings will leave even the pickiest eater in your family satisfied on New Year’s Day. Look for the unique pig decorations scattered throughout the restaurant.

Photo: Facebook

Photo: Facebook

Is your favorite place missing from the list? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!

Passion Soars at the Great Georgia Air Show

Jack Link's Screamin' Sasquatch | Photo courtesy of John Klatt Airshows

Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch | Photo courtesy of John Klatt Airshows and Jack Link’s

For aerobatic pilot Jeff Boerboon, his nine-minute performance at the Great Georgia Air Show in Peachtree City this weekend is a small part of why he loves his job. His excitement really shines when he’s showing off the Jet Waco he flies, when he watches the audience react to the incredible spectacle before their eyes, and when he inspires the same kind of excitement in a young fan.

Meet Boerboon and several more talented aviators Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, at the Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field. The Great Georgia Air Show is expected to bring 45,000 to Metro Atlanta, and while those numbers may not rival larger air shows elsewhere in the country, it allows for a more intimate and closer-to-the-action experience.

John Klatt Airshows pilot Jeff Boerboon shows off the Screamin' Sasquatch at the Great Georgia Airshow

John Klatt Airshows pilot Jeff Boerboon shows off Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch at the Great Georgia Airshow

What’s Special This Year?
Never before seen in Georgia, Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch takes to the sky, flown by Boerboon, who is a two-time Advanced National Champion in aerobatics. This one-of-a-kind biplane with the engine of a Lear Jet gives audiences the beauty of a 1920s aircraft with the wow factor of a modern-day machine. Boerboon can barely conceal his exhilaration when talking about what this plane can do, so you definitely do not want to miss his performance.

Mike Goulian and Sean Tucker, two living legends of flight, join Boerboon in the skies. Goulian was only 22 when he won the National Advanced Aerobatic Championship, and Tucker has been thrilling audiences since the 1970s. These veteran superstars will have your kids wanting to take to the skies themselves.

Without a doubt, the most exciting featured performance this year is that of the Blue Angels. Active members of the Navy and Marine Corps pilot these Boeing FA-18s at the highest speeds with the most impressive accuracy. This incredible performance hasn’t been seen in Metro Atlanta since 2010, so you do not want to miss it!

The U.S. Navy's demonstration squadron will enchant visitors with a 90 minute show at the Great Georgia Air Show.

The U.S. Navy’s demonstration squadron will enchant visitors with a 90 minute show at the Great Georgia Air Show.

What to Do?
Bring the young ones! Not only will they marvel at the incredible feats of flying, but they’ll also love the family activities available throughout the weekend. They can jump on aviation-themed inflatables in the KidZone, ride on a giant monster truck or experience the show from the zipline.

Adults, you have the opportunity to check out the flight simulators or ride along in a U.S. Army helicopter!

Visitors to the Great Georgia Air Show can ride along in a U.S. Army helicopter.

Visitors to the Great Georgia Air Show can ride along in a U.S. Army helicopter.

A local favorite, the Great Georgia Air Show is bound to amaze and thrill airplane fans of all ages this weekend in Peachtree City. Buy tickets, and find directions and parking information on the air show website.