Atlanta Chinatown Mall

As a true lover of food, I’m always looking for a great meal. You may be thinking that since I’m a Chef, a great meal means lots of fancy food, served as lots courses-all costing lots of money. Nope. To me a great meal means delicious food with big flavors, lots of fresh ingredients and affordability. I also like to step out of my comfort zone from time to time and try something new. I’ve found all of that, and more, right here in Atlanta at the Chinatown Mall. It’s tucked away off I-285 and New Peachtree Road, and offers Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Korean culture all in one small community.

Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Chinatown Mall

My favorite location at the mall is the food court. No surprise there, especially considering it offers six restaurant stalls, a bakery and two dine-in restaurants. The food selections are all authentic cuisines from around China, recipes passed down from generation to generation. I’ve enjoyed Peking Duck, which is a whole duck cooked until the meat is tender and the skin crisps up crunchy and delicious. The Crispy Pork Belly with a Spicy Hoisin Sauce is another dish I like that cooks the pork belly until the fat and lean are both rich and crisp, before being dipped into a sweet and spicy sauce. And then there is my all-time favorite, a big piping hot bowl of Red Pepper Fish Stew. This stew is thick with chunks of succulent white fish swimming in a broth thick with red hot peppers and Chinese vegetables. Yum! The main thing to remember when checking out the Atlanta Chinatown Mall is to bring a big appetite, your sense of adventure and cash-they don’t accept plastic.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Summer in Rabun County

7 THINGS TO DO DURING THE SUMMER IN RABUN COUNTY

Rabun County sits high in North Georgia, situated comfortably just south of the North Carolina and South Carolina state lines surrounded by the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. When you’re looking to beat the late summer heat, Rabun County has great places to stay and play.

Stay and dine at The Dillard House. Generations of Rabun County visitors have stayed at The Dillard House and tasted their signature Southern dishes as part of a menu that changes daily. Accommodations include standard and luxury rooms, cottages and cabins while spa treatments and horse riding are also offered.Dillard House

Visit a state park. The county’s state parks offer a peek into the state’s diverse topography and are both family-friendly, easily accessible, and offer a wide variety of activities to visitors.

Black Rock Mountain State Park is Georgia’s highest state park and features streams, waterfalls, a richly forested landscape and expansive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Tallulah Gorge State Park highlight’s Georgia’s ecological diversity with must-see waterfalls and lush hillsides. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes for the hiking portion of your visit. Even if you don’t hike, a stop at the family-friendly visitors center offers an education on the area’s history and a chance to see live native animals.Tallulah Gorge Bridge

See a drive-in movie. Step back in time by taking in a movie at the Tiger Drive-In. The outdoor theater originally opened in 1954 and today’s incarnation of the attraction features a digital projector and a snack bar.

See the goats on the roof. No visit to Rabun County is complete without a stop to Goats on the Roof. The quirky attraction features live goats living and playing on the roofs of several buildings that house shops and snacking opportunities. Kids will love the opportunity to  feed the goats using the various unique mechanical devices around the site.Goats on the Roof - Tiger GA

Attend the Dillard Bluegrass Festival & Georgia State Championship Barbeque Cookoff. The annual festival showcases the best barbecue not just in Rabun County but across the neighboring areas. Be sure to bring cash and your appetite.

Visit a local vineyard. Tiger Mountain VineyardsStonewall Creek Vineyards and 12 Spies Vineyards are all nearby offering tasting opportunities.

Go whitewater rafting. There are numerous whitewater rafting opportunies throughout Rabun County and the heat of the summer is the perfect time to explore the region’s rapids.

EileenEileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Mountain Biking at Boundary Waters Park

BOUNDARY WATERS PARK: PERFECT PLACE TO BEGIN MOUNTAIN BIKING

Set alongside the Chattahoochee River, Boundary Waters Park is dedicated to active recreation like swimming, sports, fishing, and mountain biking. This Douglas County park is home to the paved Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway, as well as natural surface trails. Beginning behind the park’s Aquatic Center, the Greenway cuts a 3/4-mile out-and-back path through the woods.Boundary Waters Park

The mountain biking fun begins when bikers leave the pavement and hit the dirt. About 12 miles of natural trails are broken up into three off-shoots from the Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway. Originally designed for equestrian use, these shaded trails are characterized by mostly flat terrain perfect for beginner mountain biking practice. The multi-use natural trails are marked with red, yellow, and blue blazes. Bikers encounter some gear-changing hilly sections on the red trail and learn to cross simple root systems on the blue and yellow trails. Boundary Waters Park

Experienced mountain bikers might enjoy the speed of this easy ride. But, the real benefit to new mountain bikers is the combination of paved and natural trails. This gives beginners the opportunity to move between the paved greenway and natural trails as often as they need. The entire trail system is open to pedestrians and bikers, with the natural surface trails also being used by horseback riders. Mountain bikers, please remember to yield to equestrians.

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.

Weekend Family Fun in Rome, Georgia

Family Fun in Rome, GeorgiaRome, Georgia is amass with family friendly activities. Spend time on the trails or walk back in time. Head to the ballgame or cool off in a natural spring. We couldn’t cover everything in a weekend, but here’s how to whet your appetite in this Northwest Georgia town.

Day 1

Walk the Historic “Between the Rivers” district. Tour Myrtle Hill Cemetery and take the free Tree Tour. More than 35 different tree species are rooted here, many of which are rare or non-native. See the Capitoline Wolf, the Town Green Interactive Fountain, the Clocktower and Rome Area History Museum. The museum offers free admission, and visitors can climb to the top of clock tower March – October, the first Saturday of each month from 12:00 – 1:15 p.m.

Lunch on Broad Street in Downtown Rome. Enjoy lunch at Harvest Moon Café, then head next door to Honeymoon Café for a special treat. Gelato, cupcakes and pastries fill the air with heavenly aromas. Kids can watch a cakemaker designing a special treat through the looking glass while enjoying a baby gelato cone or mini cupcake.

There are plenty of clever local shops on Broad Street, so take your time enjoying them.

Visit Chieftains/Major Ridge HomeBe humbled as you tour this National Trail of Tears Certified Historic Site, dating back to 1796. It was once the home of Major Ridge, a prominent leader in the Cherokee Nation.

Eat at Brewhouse Music & Grill. Enjoy brews, burgers and live music in a family-friendly American pub setting.

Rome Braves Baseball. From April – September you’ll want to grab tickets to a Rome Braves Baseball game. The Rome Braves are a Class A Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

Labyrinth in Rome, Georgia

Rome Labyrinth

Day 2

Tour Oak Hill & the Martha Berry Museum . See a short film about Berry College then tour the Martha Berry Museum with artifacts such as the first diploma ever given by the school and Martha Berry’s personal typewriter. Follow that with a tour of the Oak Hill Home, Aunt Martha’s cottage and the award winning gardens.

Explore Berry College. Berry College is the world’s largest college campus, covering 26,000 acres. Kids love seeing the wildlife roam freely throughout the campus. Explore over 40 miles of trails, walk the grounds of Ford Castle, see the second largest working overshot waterwheel in the world, watch the swans at Swan Lake, hike to the house of dreams, visit the original settlement at Possum Trot and view the world famous Berry Eagles.

Lunch at Martha’s Skillet. The menu changes daily, but it’s always southern country cooking at Martha’s Skillet.

Cool off at Cave Spring. The town is named for the cave and natural mineral spring in the center of town. Bring an empty jug to fill with mineral water. Enjoy a cave tour, then swim in the spring fed Rolater Lake.

If you’re looking for more family fun ideas, check out 8 Free Things To Do In Rome, Ga on 365 Atlanta Family.

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.

Exploring Atlanta’s Neighborhoods

Municipal MarketDowntown Atlanta is a well known for tourist destination with the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium (voted number one aquarium in the US by Trip Advisor), College Football Hall of Fame and the newest addition to the skyline, the Center for Civil and Human Rights. But Atlanta isn’t all about attractions. To truly get the flavor of this city, visit a few of Atlanta’s distinct neighborhoods. Here are three Atlanta neighborhoods worth exploring:

Sweet Auburn: The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a mile and half stretch along Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. At the turn of the century, this area was one of the wealthiest African American streets in the world. During the 1960’s it was the center of the civil rights movement and home to Rev. Martin Luther King. The Sweet Auburn Curb Market has 24 individual businesses, including a full service bakery and 11 of the most popular eateries in the city; my favorite is Venezuelan Arepas from Arepa Mia.

Little Five Points: Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s oldest and most unique commercial districts. Known as L5P, this neighborhood has an alternative feel with several independently owned and one-of-a-kind shops. Junkman’s Daughter carries a variety of items and has attracted costume designers from Atlanta’s burgeoning movie scene. Criminal Records offers old school vinyl, as well as CDs and hard to find comics. L5P has a vibrant music scene with several live venues and funky bars like Star Bar with its shrine to Elvis. You have to be over 18 to visit The Vortex, but anyone can marvel at the giant skull entryway. The edgy L5P Halloween Parade in October is a must see event for all ages.

Castleberry Hill: Recognized as a federal historic district, and a City of Atlanta Landmark District, Castleberry Hill was once a factory-warehouse area but is now best known for its growing arts scene, restaurants and loft residences. The community sponsors the 2nd Friday Art Stroll that includes numerous galleries, restaurants and retail events. This event was the readers pick for best neighborhood art walk by Creative Loafing, the city’s alternative newspaper. Our visit to the art stroll made me feel like I was in a totally different city than my hometown. After viewing a wide variety of art, and participating in a wine tasting, we grabbed a bite and margaritas at No Mas! Cantina.

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.

Click here to order Sue’s book, 100+ Things to Do in Atlanta.

Click here to follow Sue on Facebook.

Click here to follow Sue on Twitter.

Click here to follow Sue on Pinterest.

Click here to follow Sue on Google+

Click here to follow Sue on Instagram.