Go Ahead, Make Dad’s Day with these Georgia Trip Ideas

Georgia is full of bucket list adventures and classic relaxation that will make this Father’s Day weekend the best ever.

Tank Town USA

At Tank Town in Blue Ridge, drive tanks over cars for thrilling fun. Photo courtesy Tank Town, Facebook.

At Tank Town in Blue Ridge, drive tanks over cars for thrilling fun. Photo courtesy Tank Town, Facebook.

Let Dad feel the power of driving real tanks in Blue Ridge! This truly unique adventure begins with personal instructions that familiarize Dad with operating 17 tons of military steel. If he can drive a car, he can drive a tank at Tank Town. He’ll thunder around a course specially designed with dips and bumps for a thrilling ride. This is one adventure that’s even better when rain turns it into a muddy mess. Ramp up the thrills with a car crushing. Feel the car crumple and hear the glass shatter as Dad flattens a car with a tank! Adventure packages at Tank Town USA can include tank driving, car crushing and operating an excavator.

Camping at Georgia State Parks

Paddle to a campsite at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan.

Paddle to a campsite at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan.

Treat Dad to a getaway weekend sleeping under the stars at one of Georgia’s State Parks. More than 40 campgrounds across the state offer a range of campsites from full-service RV hookups and car-camping tent sites, to primitive backcountry seclusion. Camp Red Top Mountain and join Dad for the live Mountain Music Concert Series (every Saturday night until July 30). Explore the hidden gems of Tallulah Gorge or Cloudland Canyon, or paddle-in to a private escape at Chattahoochee Bend.

Jekyll Island

Explore Jekyll Island by bike along miles of paths.

Explore Jekyll Island by bike along miles of paths.

Escape with Dad to Georgia’s Golden Isles for a fun-filled holiday on the beach. Jekyll Island features campground and hotel accommodations, 10 miles of white sand beaches, and a beautiful coastal golf course. The island enjoys limited development, preserving its much of its gorgeous barrier island landscape while still offering an exciting water park, fishing pier and historic landmarks. A budget-friendly destination, Jekyll features family fun attractions like the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Driftwood Beach, and natural surface bike paths to traverse the island.

candycookCandy Cook is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Camping Within an Hour of Atlanta

You don’t have to go very far outside of Atlanta for terrific camping opportunities. Pack up your gear and head to these four campgrounds for a few nights under the stars.

Camping at Stone Mountain Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Camping at Stone Mountain Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Stone Mountain Park

Playing the day away at Stone Mountain Park is an Atlanta tradition. The park is an endless playground with nature hikes, exciting attractions and classic family fun. The Stone Mountain Park Campground offers nearly 500 campsites that range from full-service RV hookups to primitive tent sites along beautiful Stone Mountain Lake. “Ready, Set, Camp” is a program aimed at providing first-time campers with a brand new tent and sleeping pads set up and waiting for campers to arrive! Grab an Adventure Pass to experience all the attractions, including the Scenic Railroad, Skyhike, Summit Skyride, and more.

Leaf Watching at Red Top Mountain State Park

Red Top Mountain State Park

Red Top Mountain State Park

This popular park is ideal for weekend camping escapes. Located on Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain State Park features more than 15 miles of hiking trails, a sandy swimming beach and great fishing. Rent a kayak for a lake paddle or bring your mountain bike to tackle the Muddy Spokes Club’s Iron Hill Trail. The campground includes 36 sites with full hookups and 52 primitive tent sites.

Paddling at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Paddling at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Perfect for quick and easy nature getaways, Sweetwater Creek State Park accommodates overnight guests with rustic yurts. Glamping in the yurt village offers cozy beds, shared restrooms, picnic areas and a playground on George Sparks Reservoir. A bait shop supplies fishing needs, as well as rentals for kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding. The park’s hiking trails explore miles of natural wonders and historic ruins along the banks of Sweetwater Creek.

High Falls State Park

High Falls State Park. Photo by Candy Cook

High Falls State Park

With two campgrounds and a primitive paddle-in site, High Falls State Park offers a choice between lake or riverside camping. The 650-acre High Falls Lake is known as one of Georgia’s top spots for fishing hybrid and white bass, while hikers enjoy views of the tumbling Towaliga River on 4.5 miles of trail. Visitors can rent boats or kayaks to explore on the water and enjoy outdoor fun like swimming and geocaching.

candycookCandy Cook is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Swainsboro’s Pine Tree Festival & Mill Pond Kayak Adventure

The parade at the Pine Tree Festival is quite a sight. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

The parade at the Pine Tree Festival is quite a sight. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

Swainsboro’s Pine Tree Festival & Southern Timber Expo continues its reign as Georgia’s longest running festival with outdoor adventures, live music and family-friendly events. My affinity for Georgia’s pines and the history of our connection with this natural resource brought me to Swainsboro for this classic Southern tradition.

Shrimp and grits at Berni's on West Main in Swainsboro. Photo by Candy Cook.

Shrimp and grits at Berni’s on West Main in Swainsboro. Photo by Candy Cook.

Mouthwatering meals at Berni’s on West Main go hand in hand with the The Rhythm & Pines Live Music Festival to kick off the weekend. Locally owned and centrally located, Berni’s serves up delicious Southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, steak and wild alligator tail in a welcoming atmosphere with excellent service. Stages with live entertainment are within walking distance around downtown Swainsboro.

FMX Motocross Stunts. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

FMX Motocross Stunts. Photo credit: Pine Tree Festival.

Downtown streets are closed to traffic and offer easy access to the Grand Parade followed by thrilling freestyle motocross stunts performed by Team FMX and an exciting lumberjack challenge. Festival-goers enjoy a great classic car and truck show, splash zone, kids activities, and beauty pageants all weekend. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a 5k, tennis tournament, and bike ride in the days before the big event.

Kayaking in George L Smith State Park with Mill Pond Kayak. Photo by Candy Cook

Kayaking in George L Smith State Park with Mill Pond Kayak. Photo by Candy Cook

There’s no better place to stay and explore than George L Smith State Park. Campsites at the park include full-service hookups right on the edge of Mill Pond, or a primitive hike-in experience. Experience the true beauty of the cypress and tupelo stands on the water with a tour from Mill Pond Kayak. This extraordinary journey leads visitors along 10 miles of beautiful blackwater trails you don’t want to miss.

candycookCandy Cook is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Six Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day Outdoors

Celebrate mom with Mother Nature this Mother’s Day weekend!

Panola Mountain State Park

Panola Mountain State Park

Panola Mountain Hike, Saturday, May 7

This naturalist-led hike ascends to the protected summit of Panola Mountain. Hikers enjoy scenic views along one of the most amazing trails in the Atlanta area. The monadnock shares many of the same features as Arabia and Stone Mountain, with conservation efforts that have preserved thick, colorful blankets of lichen and moss.

New Manchester Mill Ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

New Manchester Mill Ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

Sweetwater Creek Kayaking & Candlelight Hike, Saturday, May 7

Kick off Mother’s Day weekend with a morning paddle exploring Sweetwater Creek State Park by kayak. Kayaking the reservoir is exciting and easy for beginners. The park offers single and tandem kayaks. As evening falls, experience the magic of nature along a half-mile out-and-back hike to the mill.

Richard B. Russell State Park

Richard B. Russell State Park

Hidden Gem History at Richard Russell State Park, Saturday, May 7

Moms meet at the disc golf parking area at Richard B. Russell State Park for a fun, naturalist-led hike through living history of the park’s past homesteads. This hike is part of Georgia State Parks’ Hidden Gems series.

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Cloudland Canyon’s Sunset Point Hike, Saturday, May 7

One of Cloudland Canyon‘s best kept secrets, a short walk leads hikers to Sunset Point for gorgeous views of Lookout Valley as the sky puts on a colorful twilight show. Moms should meet at the West Rim Access Parking Lot to experience this hidden gem.

High Falls State Park

High Falls State Park. Photo by Candy Cook

High Falls Paws on the Falls, Sunday, May 8

A special surprise awaits each pup who comes out to hike the High Falls State Park Trail. This dog-friendly hike follows a relatively easy trail for a tail-wagging good time with Mom’s Best Friend. Share your pictures from your hike on social media using #exploregeorgiapup!

Chattahoochee Nature Center.

Chattahoochee Nature Center. Photo by Candy Cook.

Chattahoochee Nature Center, Sunday, May 8

Pack a picnic and bring mom to the Chattahoochee Nature Center for free admission on May 8 (only moms get in free). Enjoy a short film about our treasured Chattahoochee River, a Wildlife Walk, animal encounters, and register by May 5 for the Mother’s Day Canoe Paddle!

candycookCandy Cook is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Georgia State Parks Birthday Bash Geocache Game

Georgia State Parks Geocaching Gopher

Georgia State Parks Geocaching Gopher

Celebrate the 85th anniversary of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites with a fun Birthday Bash Geocache game! The treasure hunting game encourages people to get outside and explore some of Georgia’s most beautiful destinations. Players use handheld GPS devices to search Georgia’s parks for 12 hidden caches placed by the Georgia Geo-Campers.

Each geocache contains trinkets to trade and a special stamp for the gameboard. The challenge is simple, and players receive a trackable, commemorative geo-coin at the end of their adventure.

1. Mark gameboards with the stamp found in each geocache.

2. Find at least 8 of the Birthday Bash geocaches.

3. Spend the night in a participating park or attend a Georgia Geo-Campers event.

4. Mail in the completed gameboard to receive the geo-coin prize.

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Chattachoochee Bend State Park

The Birthday Bash Geocache game takes players on an unforgettable tour of Georgia featuring waterfalls, historic landmarks, scenic views and a variety of recreational activities from the mountains to the coast. Participating parks include Cloudland Canyon, Red Top Mountain, High Falls, Fort McAllister, and many more.

In addition to the 12 Birthday Bash Geocaches, Georgia State Parks host over 60 other geocaches as part of the Parks and History Trail GeoTours. Grab GeoTour Passports at any of the participating parks and begin the quest to find them all. Players receive custom Georgia State Parks geocoins after finding 15, 30, and 40 caches.

Geocaching in Crooked River State Park

Geocaching in Crooked River State Park

candycookCandy Cook is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.