5 Ways to Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

Great Outdoors Month

Sweetwater Creek State Park

June is Great Outdoors Month and Georgia is celebrating with fun activities all over the state. It’s the best time to explore Georgia’s natural beauty, learn new outdoor skills, and roast marshmallows by the campfire.

Georgia’s Free Fishing Day
National Boating & Fishing Week begins June 6th and continues through the week. Georgia goes fishing all month long with special events at State Parks and Public Fishing Areas. Visit the Go Fish Education Center for some fishing tips, and head out on June 6 & 13 to give it a try. These are Georgia’s “Free Fishing Days,” when fishing licenses aren’t required.

Stone Mountain Camp

Stone Mountain Camp

National Trails Day
June 6th marks National Trails Day! Georgia celebrates our state’s beautiful trail systems with group hikes, guided nature walks, canoe trips, and volunteer trail cleanups. Discover a new trail on this list of events.

Get Outdoors Day
Visit Smithgall Woods State Park, in Helen, for a family-friendly Get Outdoors Day. Visitors will try outdoor sports, meet live animals, and learn about Georgia’s environment in the gorgeous Northeast Georgia Mountains.

Father’s Day
Beat the heat and take Dad on an exciting adventure in Columbus, Georgia! There’s no better way to thrill Dad than riding the rapids or ziplining with Whitewater Express. After the excitement, enjoy a relaxing stroll on the Chattahoochee Riverwalk.

Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Great American Backyard Campout
This super fun annual campout invites families to give camping a chance. Experienced campers can find their perfect backcountry campsite at Chattahoochee Bend or Providence Canyon. First Time Campers can reserve spots at Red Top Mountain and Skidaway Island State Parks. These two parks are part of the First Time Camper program that lends a tent and camping gear. Stone Mountain Park also offers a first-time camping experience, “Ready, Set, Camp,” offering gear and help to set up camp.


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.

5 Easy Waterfall Hikes for Georgia Families

Fall Branch Falls

Fall Branch Falls

Summer is a time for exploring in nature. Add these five easy waterfall hikes to your adventure bucket list.

Anna Ruby Falls. Two falls are visible from the observation deck, merging into a beautiful creek. The paved walk (stroller-friendly) is lined with boulders and flowering shrubs. Bring change for the fish feeder just outside the visitor center; my kids could not get enough of the jumping trout. You’re adjacent to Unicoi park, offering hikes, a beach and canoe rental.

Amicalola Falls. Little legs will likely not enjoy a climb from bottom to top, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. Drive to the middle of the falls and take a short walk to the bridge overlooking the falls. My son was about 4 years old before we decided to climb the stairs from middle of the falls to the bottom, and then back up.  I carried the baby in a sling. Advanced hikers can also climb up from the middle falls.

Helton Creek

Helton Creek

Fall Branch Falls. This gem is tucked away in Blue Ridge, Ga. The walk is wonderful, with towering trees and beautiful large stones greeting you. You’ll follow the creek all the way to the falls. There are an upper falls and lower falls here. Don’t miss the upper falls like I did. We visited the lower falls and played in the water, but didn’t learn about the upper falls until we were back home.

Helton Creek Falls. From the parking lot you are only about 1/3 mile from the lower falls. Wear your suite, there is a great water play area here. It is one of our favorite summer spots; we bring a picnic, books and shovels for a day of fun. Don’t miss a climb to the upper falls, also. I don’t recommend taking the kids out to the water in this area, but it is fun to view from the deck.

High Shoals Falls. There is a High Shoals Falls near Helen, Ga that is lovely, but this waterfall selection is in Dallas, Ga. Your GPS will take you to the parking lot of an old graveyard. Have no fear, just follow the trail about .25 miles to the falls. Have a picnic, play in the water and have a grand time. You can even climb to the top of the falls like we did!


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.

Girls Day in Alpharetta

Alpharetta Farmers MarketAlpharetta, Ga., known for its year-round family-friendly events, welcoming community, delectable foodie experiences and exceptional shopping, is the perfect place to plan an adventurous weekend getaway with the girls. I had been trying to get my friends together for awhile for a girls’ day, but with our busy social and travel schedules, it is hard to find a day when everyone is free. Thankfully, the girls were free on an action-packed weekend in Alpharetta, so we decided to take advantage of the beautiful Georgia summer day to explore. We started off the day piling in my Camry in Buckhead around 7:30 a.m. and driving up to Alpharetta, a mere 22 miles north of Atlanta.

Our first stop was the Alpharetta Farmers Market, which was already bustling with couples on leisurely morning strolls and families planning their meals for the week. The vendors had that great Georgia hospitality and were eager to strike up conversations and to let us sample their specialties. We were blown away with the variety of goodies available, including everything from fresh fruits and veggies to homemade Bloody Mary mix.

Exploring Alpharetta Art in the Park in downtown AlpharettaAfter browsing the market and making a few unexpected (and very tasty) purchases, we made our way over to Milton Avenue just around the corner to browse the pieces at Alpharetta Art in the Park. The event happens the last full weekend of every month from April to October. Each piece of art on display was created by local artists, some of whom were creating art as we were strolling through.

The streets of Alpharetta were filled with people, and the doors of the downtown shops were propped open and ready for business. We dropped into Sis and Moon’s to browse the eclectic artwork, Gallery 35 to see pieces from local artists, and the Cotton House Antiques and Consignments to get some decorating ideas. Each store was filled with shoppers looking for great deals.

Having a fun time at Bucca di BeppoNext, we were off to lunch at Bucca di Beppo. The staff was exquisite; they led us on a tour of the kitchen (where the highly coveted “Kitchen Table” sits) and to the back room where we had our own private vintage setting to dine in. We all shared a bowl of apple gorgonzola salad and chicken saltimbocca topped with sage, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, lemon and capers. Authentic Italian fare was just what we needed to refuel for the rest of the day.

After filling up, it was time for the spa! We were greeted with warm smiles at the Youthopia Medical Spa, a world-class skin rejuvenation and total body wellness facility. We checked in easily with an iPad as we sipped coconut water and talked excitedly about what procedure we were having done. Each of the girls had a different service, including a pedicure, massage, teeth whitening and facial. We were beyond pleased with the staff’s service and have all vowed to return on our own for another spa day.

Then, we were off to Vino 100’s weekly wine tasting party, which takes place every Saturday. (They also offer complimentary wine tasting daily.) After sampling an excellent array of wines, we ventured to Alpine Bakery and Trattoria for dinner, where we were immediately greeted with friendly hosts who seated us in a quiet table toward the back of the restaurant. The lighting and soft music created the perfect ambiance. Our appetizer was a combination of a caprese salad stacked with mozzarella – my taste buds literally jumped with excitement! We continued our delectable meal with the grilled sea scallops and the lobster, alpine rustica (penne baked with shrimp, chicken, prosciutto, and gratinata sauce), lobster ravioli and baked fussili bolognese. Everything was delicious, and we were “forced” to end the meal with a slice of one of Alpine Bakery’s famous cheesecakes, which was enough to feed all four of us for a week.

Enjoying great company at Matilda'sIt was time to cap off the night at Matilda’s. There is something special about Matilda’s – maybe it’s the hospitable environment and the diverse crowd nestled around funky tables enjoying the company of friends as they share bottles of wine and goodies from picnic baskets. Or maybe it is looking up and seeing that you are comfortably settled under perfectly placed pine trees that make you feel like you are in your own little world as you sit back and sway to the funky tunes of the performing artists. Alpharetta is well known for its Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, but the smaller music venues are starting to set themselves apart and help pinpoint Alpharetta as a music lover’s destination. Matilda’s was the perfect spot to end our day. As we walked back to my car to head back to Atlanta, the planning was already in full force for the next girls outing in “awesome Alpharetta.”

See a video of our Girls Day in Alpharetta here.

Caitlyn BlizzardFlorida native turned Georgian, Caitlyn Blizzard graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Communication Arts.  She is the communications manager with the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau and loves advocating all the fun and unique things to do in awesome Alpharetta. She enjoys exploring metro Atlanta attractions and restaurants and spending time with her miniature schnauzer, Winstyn.


Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Helen, Georgia by Audie Craig. Submitted via Facebook.

Helen, Georgia by Audie Craig. Submitted via Facebook.

Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia by @micpcarlisle. Submtited via Instagram.

Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia by @micpcarlisle. Submtited via Instagram.

Gator in the Okeefenokee Swamp by William Merce Photography. Submitted via Flickr.

Gator in the Okeefenokee Swamp by William Merce Photography. Submitted via Flickr.



Where to Cool Down in Georgia


Six Flags White Water

Are you tired of making small splashes in the rain puddles this summer? Make a big splash at Georgia’s water parks this summer!

1. Six Flags White Water in Marietta: Six Flags White Water is one of the Travel Channel’s Top Family Water Parks in the United States. The park is packed with over 50 water rides from the Cliffhanger’s 90-foot free fall to the S.S. Feathersword, an interactive play ship that is perfect for kids.

Splash in the 'Boro

Splash in the ‘Boro

2. Splash Island at Wild Adventures in Valdosta: South Georgia natives can be swept down the Wahee Cyclone at Wild Adventures’ Splash Island. The cyclone will flush riders down a 45-foot funnel into the waves below. Splash Island also offers a less adrenaline-pumping tube ride down Paradise River among other rides.

3. Splash in the Boro in Statesboro:  Splash in the Boro is home to the only dual flowrider in Georgia. Surf Flowrider’s unbroken wave, and ride up the wave’s surface. If you aren’t up for hanging ten, grab an inner tube, and float down the 800-foot Lazy River at Splash the Boro.

4. SoakYa Water Park at Lake Winnepesaukah: Celebrate SoakYa Water Park’s five-acre expansion, the largest expansion in the park’s history. Splash in the pools, fly down the new slides and soak up the sun on the poolside beach.

Summer Waves

Summer Waves

5. Summer Waves Water Park in Jekyll Island: Watch out for the larger-than-life splash bucket in the Splash Zone at Summer Waves Water Park. The bucket will tip over and drench you if you aren’t careful. Also, beware of Nature’s Revenge on the Tornado and Hurricane water slides.

6. Lanier World at Lake Lanier Islands Resort: The Big Beach at Lake Lanier offers fun in the sun for kids and adults. From the kid-friendly Wiggle Waves to the twists and turns of the Twister, Lanier World has something fun for the entire family.

Collins_Goss_HeadshotA Georgia native and UGA alumnae, Collins Goss is the summer communications intern for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Currently, she is working on her Masters in Fine Arts in Arts Administration emphasizing in communications at The University of Alabama. Collins will graduate in December and hopes to return to the Peach State.