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.

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Georgia’s Unique Museums

From Antebellum Southern tradition to Gullah Geechee culture; from presidential houses to prestigious golf tournaments – Georgia has something to meet everyone’s interest. And Georgia’s museums reflect that diversity. Here are five of Georgia’s most unique museums to explore while seeking out all that is interesting and offbeat:

Road to Tara Museum: In Jonesboro you can discover all you’d ever want to know about Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was based in no small part off of her grandparents’ tales from a plantation just outside the city. The museum offers a glimpse into the story, combining the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro with Margaret Mitchell’s fictional tale and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind. From tribute dolls of every character to Scarlett O’Hara’s underpants, this museum is the perfect stop for any fan of this timeless story of the South.Road to Tara Museum

Georgia Rural Telephone Museum: Housed in a renovated 1920s cotton warehouse in Leslie, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of telephones and telephone memorabilia. Here you’ll find the rarest examples of telecommunication stretching back to 1876, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s two 1970s switchboards used during his campaign, the phone used to announce President McKinely had been shot in 1897 and even a jukebox phone!

Crawford W. Long Museum: Did you know the first use of ether as an anesthetic was by a Georgia surgeon? This Jefferson-located museum commemorates Dr. Long’s role in the development of one of the most important advances in medical procedures. Head to Jackson County to experience how this country doctor-turned-surgeon for the Confederacy became the ‘father of painless surgery.Crawford W. Long Museum

The Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis: Why travel to Graceland or spend outrageous amounts of money seeing impersonators in Vegas when you can have everything Elvis here in Georgia!? Located on the third floor of the Loudermouth Boarding House (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Cornelia, this experience celebrates Elvis’s successes and well as his flaws. If you love The King, you have to check out Everything Elvis – it is, after all, the only museum to house a body part of his: the Elvis Wart.

Billy Carter Gas Station Museum: While Jimmy Carter was busy running the country, younger brother Billy was busy running a local gas station. The Plains establishment features some of the First Brother’s unique wardrobe choices, as well as many empty cans of the short-lived beer named for him: Billy Beer. The next time you’re visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, take a quick detour to experience the life of one of the best known presidential siblings.Billy Carter's Service Station Museum

Georgia Pecan Oil

TRY GEORGIA PECAN OIL FOR THE PERFECT COOKING EXPERIENCE

Georgia Pecan Oil

Pecan oil and more from Oliver Farm

Imagine the aroma of fresh Georgia vegetables like sweet corn, crunchy peppers and spicy onions, being sautéed in a hot pan drizzled with oil. I know you’re thinking, ‘she must be talking about olive oil.’ Well guess again. I’m talking about Georgia pecan oil. It’s full of antioxidants like vitamin E and flavonoids, it’s high in protein, but also in oleic acid-which is the same type of healthy fat found in olive oil, and as an added bonus is bursting with flavor.

When placed side by side with olive oil, Georgia pecan oil comes out the clear winner. It contains 9.5% saturated fat, which is less than in olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats. Although pecan oil is nothing new in the word of healthy oils, it is new to most cooks. Pecan oil’s mild nutty flavor is neutral  enough to take on the flavor of whatever seasoning is being used with it, has a high smoking point of 470*F, and is versatile enough to use for frying, baking, and as the base for salad dressings, marinades, and infused oils. Making this Georgia grown oil the perfect every day oil to cook with.

To give you a little peek into how versatile Georgia pecan oil actually is, I’m including a Southern spin on hummus. Using black eyed peas instead of chick peas, cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, and-you guessed it-pecan oil instead of olive oil, this Black Eyed Pea Hummus will make you a believer:

Black Eyed Pea Hummus
Original recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
Yields: 5 cups

Ingredients:
2-14.5 ounce cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1-14.5 ounce can chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pecan oil, I like Oliver Farm Pecan Oil
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish:
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
Pecan oil

Directions:
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor with the blade attachment.
Pulse for 2-3 minutes or longer for a smoother hummus.
Adjust taste with salt and pepper and additional vinegar, as needed.
Garnish with chopped pecans, scallions, and a drizzle of pecan oil.
Enjoy with pita chips, crackers, or fresh cut veggies!

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.

Georgia Camping for the Non-Camper

3 GEORGIA CAMPING TRIPS WITHOUT THE HASSLE

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch

Camping is a great way to explore Georgia on a budget, and there is nothing better than telling stories around the campfire while enjoying some freshly toasted marshmallows. However, gathering all the gear and pitching a tent can be a bit intimidating to the novice. Here are three ways to enjoy Georgia camping, without all the hassles.

Georgia State Parks First Time Camper Program: The Georgia State Parks first time camper program gives newbie campers everything they need for two nights under the stars. For $50, campers receive a six person tent, two chairs, four self-inflating sleeping mats, a camp stove with fuel, lantern and marshmallow roasting sticks – you need to bring your own s’more fixings though.

Glamping at North Georgia Canopy Tours: No need to bring a tent. Instead enjoy the comforts of an authentic Native American teepee with a few modern conveniences, like air conditioning (or heat in the winter), lighting and electrical outlets. If you’d rather, North Georgia Canopy tours also has 15 rustic campsites. The best part is getting first dibs on a zip line canopy tour the next day.

Glamping at North Georgia Canopy Tours

Glamping | Photo courtesy of North Georgia Canopy Tours

Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch: The wagons are circled on a Georgia farm with cows grazing nearby rather than amid buffalo on the plains, but everything you could need is set up nearby. The Conestoga Wagons at The Rock Ranch have four sets of bunk beds, so just pack a sleeping bag or some sheets. Firewood is stacked on a flatbed, and a table with paper towels, cups, hand washing water, drinking water, lanterns, paper and matches is nearby. If you don’t want to bring dinner, just order the Hot Dog Dinner and everything you need, down to the cooking skewers will be waiting for you upon arrival.

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.

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Georgia Outdoor Blast

OUTDOORSMEN’S WEEKEND FEATURES VENDORS, PRIZES AND KIDS ZONE

Steve Scruggs, Snake Master at Outdoor Blast

Steve Scruggs, Snake Master | Photo courtesy of Georgia Outdoor News

Presented by Georgia Outdoor News and Georgia’s Best Chevy Dealers, Outdoor Blast returns July 24-26 at Gwinnett Center. One of the best shows of the season, this weekend for sportsmen features hundreds of hunting and fishing vendors, prizes, and a kids zone. A strict policy of allowing only outdoor-related products and services prevents the crowd of vacation marketing or flea market booths found at other shows. This is a great opportunity to check out the latest gear for the upcoming season, and book trips with professional outfitters.

This year’s highlights include a massive collection of Georgia’s biggest bucks from 2014, deer scoring for the GON All-Time County-by-County Records, and gun giveaways every hour. Outdoorsmen also compete for a truck in the annual Truck Buck Shootout, and learn to identify venomous snakes with Snakes Alive star Steve Scruggs.

Don’t leave the kids at home! The Blast Kids Zone features a Wipeout sweeper obstacle, kiddie mechanical bull, gun safety and more. Kids can take aim at the BB shooting range and complete a free DNR-certified hunter education course. Best of all, kids under 12 are free!

Location: Gwinnett Center, free parking
Admission: $8/adult, kids 12 and under are free.
Dates: July 24-26, 2015

Outdoor Blast Kids Zone

Outdoor Blast Kids Zone | Photo courtesy of Georgia Outdoor News

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.