Columbus, Ga is the Ultimate Educational Adventure

Whether you homeschool your kiddos like we do, or you want to turn a fun weekend adventure into an educational opportunity, Columbus, Ga is a great destination. We enjoyed multiple attractions that offered incredible insight into science, nature and history (Shhhh! The kids were having too much fun to realize how much they were learning!) Here is a small sample of the excitement we enjoyed while in Columbus.

Science – Coca Cola Science Center. You’ll find several interactive galleries, the Challenger Learning Center mission simulator, an observatory and Omnisphere Planetarium Theater. It also houses Georgia’s most extensive Space Shuttle artifact collection.Oxbow Meadows in Columbus, Ga

Nature – Oxbow Meadows. This environmental learning center offers opportunities to see turtles, snakes (including a python!) alligators, tortoises and more. Don’t forget to check out the Discovery Trail Guide at the front desk; it’s a great way to extend the learning opportunities of your visit. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.

History – National Infantry Museum. This museum is the only museum in the country dedicated to the American Infantryman, and it holds one of the greatest collections of military artifacts. Infantry history is traced from colonial times to the present via a series of galleries. This large facility is filled with amazing artifacts, but if you only have a moment, the Last 100 Yards Ramp is a heart-wrenching overview of our Army’s history. For a hands-on experience visit the kid-sized room where little ones can try on Soldier uniforms and learn about humanitarian missions Soldiers carry out.National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga

There are a series of free events for the whole family available year ‘round at the Infantry Museum so be sure to visit their website. Upcoming events include The Battle of Yorktown (1791) Living History event on Oct 17 and Kelly’s Zeroes World War II reenactment “You’re in the Army Now!” on Dec 5, where living historians Ernie and Linda Stewart will open their Traveling Trunk of toys, clothing, tools, etc from the Revolutionary War era for kids to touch and learn from.

Phys Ed – WhiteWater Express. In its third year, but attracting accolades from all over the world, your kids will not want to miss a white water rafting experience down the Chattahoochee. WhiteWater Express also offers bike rentals and other ways to explore the city. Read more about our WhiteWater Express adventure (including a video) here: 365atlantafamily.com/whitewaterexpress

Read more about Columbus, Ga on 365AtlantaFamily, including where to stay, free things to do, kid-friendly restaurants and more.

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.

3 Hauntingly Beautiful Georgia Cemeteries

Georgia Cemeteries: Myrtle Hill Cemetery

Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Photo by Sue Rodman, Field Trips with Sue.

As Halloween creeps up on the calendar, our thoughts turn to the spooky. This time of year is perfect for visiting one of Georgia’s many hauntingly beautiful cemeteries. Most are more historic than scary, but there is something about being in a cemetery at Halloween that adds a bit of gooseflesh to the experience. Here are three Georgia cemeteries worth a visit any time of year.

Linwood Cemetery, Columbus: Best known as the burial site of John Pemberton, the founder of Coca-Cola. Linwood offers guided brochures for download and tours on request. Each October, the Historic Linwood Foundation hosts a special guided tour as a fundraiser for the organization.

Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Rome: Myrtle Hill Cemetery sits on top of Myrtle hill at the confluence of the Etowah, Oostanaula and Coosa rivers, and offers one of the best views of downtown Rome, Ga., as well as the Appalachian foothills and Etowah Valley. The cemetery offers a mobile tour that includes text, audio, video and historical photos. The mobile tour is free and can be downloaded to your smartphone.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga.: Bonaventure Cemetery was made famous in the movie (and book) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but if you are looking for the bird girl statue from the book cover, it has been moved to the Telfair Museum. What you will find is the gravesite of songwriter Johnny Mercer, who wrote Moon River. Visit on the second Sunday of each month for free walking tours from the Bonaventure Historical Society. On other days, stop by the Visitors Center for a copy of the Historical Society Guide which gives a history of the property and residents.

For more fall fun, visit the Field Trips with Sue Fall Guide.

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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The Grand 2.0 Columbus Whitewater Paddle

Grand Columbus Whitewater PaddleThis Saturday, August 8th, the Georgia Conservancy and partners Uptown Columbus and Whitewater Express will return to the Chattahoochee in Downtown Columbus for the second annual Grand Columbus Whitewater Paddle.

Last year, more than 1,100 paddlers ran the rapids of the world’s longest stretch of urban whitewater. This year, we look to impressively surpass that number!

Rafters will hit the water beginning at 9 AM and will be guided by the experts at Whitewater Express. Groups will continue to raft throughout the day until 6 PM.

Also, rafters and spectators are invited to join us for our after-paddle music showcase beginning at 3:00 PM in downtown’s Woodruff Park. Southern-indie record label This Is American Music will present incredible tunes from Blue Blood, Fire Mountain, Sailing to Denver and The Bohannon’s.Grand 2.0 Columbus Whitewater Paddle

Our friends at SweetWater Brewing Company will be there, of course! Every Grand 2.0 paddler will receive a complementary wristband, souvenir cup and drink ticket (good for one SweetWater beer or Coca-Cola Company soft drink.)

The after-paddle party will also include a SweetWater Brewing Company beer garden, food trucks, outdoor restrooms, and Grand 2.0 merchandise.

Tickets for rafting and the after-paddle party start at just $25.

For those not rafting, a wristband for the after-paddle party is just $8 and includes a free beverage of your choice!

After the sun goes down, Whitewater Express employees (and any adventurous whitewater kayakers) will put on a “Saturday Night Lights” demonstration at the new section of whitewater illuminated by stadium lights.

Georgia ConservancyThe Georgia Conservancy will also host a Kick-Off Party on Friday, August 7 at The Loft in Downtown Columbus. Join us for live music, a SweetWater Brewing Company tap takeover and learn more about the incredible effort to restore the Chattahoochee River and create a world-class whitewater course.

Thank you to presenting sponsors, PricewaterhouseCoopers and TSYS.

For more information and to register, please visit: www.georgiaconservancy.org/thegrand

Brian Foster

Brian Foster is the Communications Director for the Georgia Conservancy, a citizen of Atlanta and a proud native of Rome, Georgia. (Bio photo courtesy of Sarah Dodge.)

3 Ways to Keep Cool in Columbus for Less

Columbus, Georgia is a perfect weekend getaway. There are a variety of locally owned restaurants, theatre productions, intriguing museums and lots of activities for the outdoor enthusiast. Here’s how to keep cool and still have money left over for a great meal at 11th and Bay.

Go Tubing. Whitewater Express is known for their whitewater rafting expeditions, but they also rent inner tubes for a lot less than a guided raft trip. Put in at the Eagle and Phenix Mill and take a leisurely float down the river. Rentals include a shuttle ride back. NOTE: All tubing must be done before 3 pm each day. That’s when the dam lets out, sending a surge of water rushing down the river and raising the water levels significantly.Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Splash in the Spray Grounds. At the end of 10th street along Bay Ave is the Columbus Splash Pad. Mom and Dad can sit on the large rocks carved into a seat, while the little ones run around in the water. Or better yet, bring someone to watch the kids play in the water while Mom and Dad go rafting.

Columbus Splash Pad

Photo courtesy of Sue Rodman, Field Trips with Sue

Grab a Popsicle. If you don’t want to get wet, cool down with a visit to Planet Pops, a local artisan popsicle store on 12th street. On select days, you may also find a cart located right on the RiverWalk. I can highly recommend the raspberry lemonade. There’s no way to suck the juice out of these pops. Each bite is flavorful and refreshing. Next time I’m going to try the Girl Scout Thin Mint popsicle.

Planet Pops

Photo courtesy of Sue Rodman, Field Trips with Sue

Looking for more fun in Columbus Georgia, see Built to Thrill: A Columbus Georgia Adventure Weekend on Field Trips with Sue.

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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Women’s Sports in Georgia

Women’s sports teams often focus on providing to those communities that they call home, and empowering women and girls through the power of athletics. Fans so often go out and support their local school or college or little league teams, but don’t always realize Georgia has leagues and teams for adults. Here are some of the professional and semi-professional women’s sports teams that call Georgia home:

Atlanta Dream

Atlanta Dream

Basketball
When the Atlanta Dream made it to the WNBA Finals in 2013 for the third time in four years, the team’s fans were ecstatic. While they have yet to claim that elusive title, the Dream are still one of the most successful teams in the Eastern Conference, reaching the playoffs every season since 2009. The Dream play at the top level and thrill fans with season promotions ranging from their Heritage Series to Kids Day, from Dream Pink to Faith & Family Night.

And in Augusta, the semi-professional Georgia-Lina Lady Hurricanes compete in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL). Many of the players originally played school ball in the Augusta area and played college hoops in the South, competing with and against each other. The team hosted their first annual Season Kick-Off Tournament this year, featuring teams from the community.

Atlanta Silverbacks Women

Atlanta Silverbacks Women

Soccer
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup currently occuring in Canada, women’s sports are on the world’s biggest stage. And while none of the Atlanta Silverbacks Women were called up to their national sides for this tournament, they are still providing quality entertainment for fans here in Georgia. The Silverbacks play in the highly competitive W-League, which they most recently won in 2011.

Georgia also has a presence in W-20, which is the adult-amateur under-20 women’s league associated with W-League. The Georgia Revolution in Conyers have increased their program to include a W-20 team this year, and the Atlanta Metros FC regularly field a side, though are focusing on local leagues for the 2015 season. Both programs offer extensive opportunities for player development in youth local and travel leagues.

Savannah Sabers

Savannah Sabers

Football
Georgia hosts several women’s football teams across three different leagues. The North Atlantic Division of the Women’s Football Allliance (WFA) features the Atlanta Phoenix and Savannah Sabers. The Phoenix have experienced great success in the North Atlantic Division and enjoy a dedicated fangroup known as the Phoenatics. The Sabers were unable to field a team this season, but look forward to returning to competitive play in 2016. The Sabers say their “vision is a community of strong, independent, confident women and girls where the game of football with empower females.”

Focused on a drive to “empwer women through athletics and serve the greater Atlanta community,” the Atlanta Heartbreakers compete in the Women’s Spring Football League (WSFL). Between playing in the WSFL, and having orginally played in the WFA, the Heartbreakers have won three division titles.

The 2014 Legends Football League (LFL) Eastern Conference Champions also play in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta Steam began playing in 2013 and within two seasons were already playing in the title game. They join several other Georgia sports teams playing out of the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Soul City Sirens

Soul City Sirens

Roller Derby
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), a leading organization for roller derby in the US and abroad, has a heavy presence in Georgia. The Atlanta Rollergirls were one of the founding leagues of the WFTDA and hosted the Champioinship in 2012. The league fields four home teams as well as three travel teams. The Classic City Rollergirls field two travel teams out of Athens and host biannual boot camps for anyone interested in learning to derby. In Augusta, the Soul City Sirens have partnered with local partners to benefit the community, all the while throwing down on the rink of the Columbia County Exhibition Center. And the Savannah Derby Devils feature two travel teams, as well as a junior team for theose female skaters aged 10-17 who are intersted in trying out the sport.

Outside of the ‘big-league’ derby teams, the WFTDA sponsors an apprenticeship program for aspiring member leagues. Here in Georgia, the Marietta Derby Darlins in Cobb County and the Muscogee Roller Girls in Columbus compete as apprentice leagues. Additionally, teams such as the Middle Georgia Derby Demons in Macon, Rome Rollergirls and War Town Bombshells in Warner Robins compete individually according to WFTDA rules.

Atlanta Harlequins

Atlanta Harlequins

Rugby
The sport of rugby is quickly growing in popularity, and Georgia is no exception to the craze. Several mixed teams and an all-female team are members of the Georgia Rugby Union (GRU), the local branch of USA Rugby. Teams compete in tournaments here in Georgia – from Atlanta to Augusta, from LaFayette to Savannah – as well as all over the country. The Atlanta Harlequins, a member club of GRU, compete in the Women’s Premier League and hosted the 2014 Nations at Life University.