Summer Reading Takes a Field Trip

Make Summer Reading Fun: Bring it to Life!
Getting lost in a good book is wonderful, but sometimes, you don’t want to just read about it, you want to experience the amazing places, and have adventures of your own. You don’t have to travel far to experience your favorite book. In fact, you can do it pretty close to home with pretty much any book.  Below are three ways we’ve experienced the young adult series about Percy Jackson by Rick Riordon.

Once you see how we did it, think about your favorite book. Where do the characters go? Is there someplace near you that looks or feels similar? What do they eat? Can you have a meal or a snack similar to the characters? What adventures do they have? You may not be able to swing through an Amazon jungle, but you could swing through the trees on a local zip line.

Dualing Zipline North Georgia

Dualing Zipline North Georgia

Come face-to-face with Gaea: In the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordon, the Goddess of the Earth Gaea is causing havoc in the world and confusing the gods. Come face-to-face with Gaea at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens where she is immortalized in a giant topiary statue that looks as if at any moment she will raise her eyes and ask in a dreamy voice “what is it you wish from the Goddess of the Earth?” While there, check out the Children’s Garden. Bring a bathing suit and towel during the summer months for young kids to splash in the ‘flower shower’ as my children always called it.

Find Saltwater: In Mark of Athena, Percy and his friends arrive in Atlanta in search of salt water. Not an easy task in a landlocked city. However, their quest finally brings them to the Georgia Aquarium where they get a backstage tour from a strange creature. A behind the scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium doesn’t showcase mythical creatures, but it does give you a better idea of how the Aquarium works and what it takes to keep such a large operation going. If visiting Atlanta isn’t on your itinerary, you can also visit the Flint RiverQuarium in Albany, or the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium in Savannah.

Under the Sea (Georgia Aquarium)

Under the Sea (Georgia Aquarium)

Captain Your Ship: Also in Mark of Athena, Leo captains the Argo II using a Wii remote. You probably have a Wii remote at home, or you can visit a local arcade like we did. Across the street from the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is a restaurant arcade called Game X. You won’t find Wii’s, but you will find a pirate ship to captain, as well as pop-a-shots, a giant Connect Four game and multi-puck air hockey to name just a few games. Games X has a kid-friendly menu and a full bar for the adults.

How do you bring summer reading to life? I’d love to hear your stories via Field Trips with Sue on Facebook. Your kids can also earn prizes for summer reading through numerous summer reading incentive programs.


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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A Guide to Georgia’s Homestyle Restaurants

The Dillard House

The Dillard House

For Breakfast

Not all homestyle restaurants in Georgia serve breakfast, but when you’re looking for the combination of the two, you’ll need to visit the Dillard House in Dillard. The Dillard House serves up a bountiful breakfast of meats, eggs, potato hash, fresh fruits, homemade preserves, freshly baked pastries and so much more. My favorites are the proteins, and I always have to have seconds of the pork tenderloin. The Dillard House is one of those “food for the soul” kinds of places, and besides breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right by feeding your soul well here. Go with high expectations because you’re sure not to be disappointed.


Buckner’s Family Restaurant

For Fried Chicken and Dessert

One common menu item at all homestyle restaurants in the South is fried chicken. I doubt it’s written law that they have to have fried chicken (and lots of it) on the table, but I’m pretty sure it’s understood. Believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken at a lot of great restaurants, but the best fried chicken I’ve eaten in Georgia to date is at Buckner’s in Jackson. Buckner’s is just off I-75 exit 201, and they serve up some of the most delicious Southern classics you can find. While normally I’d go for a leg or thigh, you’ll only find breast on the table at Buckner’s. Breast meat tends to be dry, but Buckner’s keeps its white meat juicy, tender and perfectly crispy. There’s a slight sweetness to it that I’ve not found duplicated anywhere else in Georgia. To top it all off, their dessert is fantastic, too. They only serve one dessert, but they do it right. Buckner’s Georgia peach cobbler is the perfect finish to one tasty meal.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

For Sides

You can expect a wide array of incredible veggies and carbs at the homestyle table, but no one cooks sides as well as Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah. Mrs. Wilkes’ showcases all sorts of fresh veggies like green beans, rutabagas, butter beans, peas and more. They’re even getting cornbread dressing right; it’s incredibly moist and super delicious. Mrs. Wilkes’ cabbage was some of the finest I’ve ever eaten. This homestyle restaurant is one of those places where you could definitely fill up on sides alone. Expect to wait in line for up to a couple of hours, but you and your taste buds will be glad you did.

For Extras

Once you’ve had the best breakfast, the best chicken and dessert, and the best sides, what’s left on the table? Well, the Smith House in Dahlonega is taking the table extras to a whole new level. You’re going to consistently get great chicken, great sides and dessert, but you’re also going to get some great extras. One of my favorite accompaniments to Southern fare is relishes and pickles. The Smith house makes and serves up the best pickled squash you’ll find. It perfectly pairs with the savory veggies and offers a slightly tangy, sweet crunch that you just can’t find elsewhere. You’ll want to take some home, too. Look in the gift shop before you leave to make sure you can have this “secret” treasure at your home table.

Head shotLori Hennesy is a self-proclaimed foodie and author of, a Georgia only food blog.  Lori is on a constant search for unique eats, great Georgia products, delicious restaurants and anything food related.  For Lori it’s all about the bottom line, “what’s the next meal going to be?”  

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.



Surprising Suburbs: Sunbury

Sunbury shares history and pleasure in new ways.

Sure, Savannah is a grand Georgia destination, but the Georgia Coast has many other communities to explore just a short drive away. Head south on Interstate 95 and embrace a new notion in Sunbury, where people passionate about the woods, waters, gardens, marshes and trails protect the ecosystem in their family since 1755.

Sunrise at Dunham Farms

Sunrise at Dunham Farms

It is rarely possible to overnight in a home on land given to a family as a king’s grant before America was America, but you can at Dunham Farms, where Laura and Meredith Devendorf are the mother-daughter proprietors. This nine-guest-bedroom home is actually a barn! Try to figure out how because the renovation is elegant, the linens exquisite and the furnishings, antiques and reproductions fill the home with immense charm. The meals are gourmet, and attention to detail is abundant through the Dunham Farms 9,400 acres. Kayaking, even by moonlight, hiking 35 miles of trails winding through oaks, pines, wetlands and marsh banks, birding and dreamy relaxing define reason enough for a holiday.

The Devendorfs seem to be protecting these fragile ecosystems in ways to safely share them abundantly. Melon Bluff was the name of 2,300 acres of theirs, which they donated to the Springfield Legacy Foundation for research, education and outreach.  Look for 82 of their acres closest to the Interstate, donated in 2013 to become a replica of the Santa Clara Mission, which we should be able to experience next year.   That will be a suburb within a suburb, spanning centuries.

Soldier at Fort Morris

Soldier at Fort Morris

Dunham Farms is the continuing site for significant archeological research ever since a coin dated 1526 was found there. Over the next eight years, we might see archeologists at work in test sites throughout the farm, each plot identified first with GIS locators. Send the grandchildren when they’re grown up for a Dunham Farms holiday, because the Devendorfs expect the full archeology might take 75 years! While visiting Sunbury, watch the documentary at Fort Morris, the state historical site, explaining the early days of the community. Fort Morris played a role in the War of 1812 and the Civil War; a visit includes the museum and theater, blacksmith shop and earthworks.

Seabrook Village

Seabrook Village

Also nearby is Seabrook Village, a real community from 1865 -1930, that today is an authentic living history village, with restored and furnished buildings, abounding with cultural artifacts from the families living here. These are stories of slavery and Sherman’s scorched earth, early freedom and land ownership. Consider a three-hour guided tour, with a picnic and entertainment if you like. Self-guided visit? Allow at least an hour.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at

10 of Georgia’s Famous Final Resting Places


Famous writers, actors, sports figures, musicians and creators are interred in Georgia’s cemeteries. Here are 10 of our state’s most famous final resting places.

1. Ty Cobb– A professional baseball player that was both loved and hated, Ty Cobb dominated major league baseball in its early years. He died July 17, 1961, at Emory University Hospital after a battle with prostate cancer and is interred in his family’s mausoleum in Royston.

Margaret Mitchell2. Margaret Mitchell – The writer best known for her novel Gone With The Wind was hit by a drunk driver on Peachtree Street in Atlanta the evening of Aug. 11, 1949. She died five days later at Grady Memorial Hospital without ever having regained consciousness. She was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta where her husband was buried beside her only a few years later.


3. Joel Chandler Harris – The author best known as the author of the Uncle Remus died July 3, 1908, from acute nephritis and cirrhosis of the liver. He is interred at Westside Cemetery in Atlanta.

Bobby Jones4. Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones Jr. – Perhaps the greatest golfer to ever live, Jones was restricted to a wheelchair in his final years after developing syringomyelia. He died Dec. 18, 1971, three days after converting to Catholicism. He is buried in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.

5. Otis Redding – The man who has “The King of the Soul Singers” inscribed on his tomb was killed Dec. 9, 1967, when the plane he was flying in crashed in Lake Monona, Wis. He was entombed on Dec. 19 at his home in Red Oak, 20 miles north of Macon.

6. Duane Allman – In 1971, the man that Rolling Stone would rank as the No. 2 guitarist if all time and the co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band was killed at the age of 24 in a motorcycle accident. Following his death on Oct. 29, Allman was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon.

7. John Herndon (Johnny) Mercer – Among his other professional singer and songwriter accomplishments, Mercer was a co-founder of Capitol Records. He died on June 25, 1976, in Bel Air, Calif. Mercer was buried in Savannah‘s historic Bonaventure Cemetery.

8. Uga – Since 1992, each of the University of Georgia’s mascots has been interred in a mausoleum near the main entrance to Sanford Stadium upon their death.

Path9. (Mary) Flannery O’Conner – One of the best known Southern writers in history, O’Conner developed lupus at a young age and died at 39 at Baldwin County Hospital. The woman whose book Complete Stories won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction is buried in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.


10. Juliette Gordon Lowe – The founder of the Girl Scouts of America developed breast cancer in 1923 and died four years later on Jan. 7, 1927. The 66 year old, buried in her Girl Scout uniform, was laid to rest in a plot in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is a digital marketing professional based in Atlanta who first visited Georgia in 1994 and decided that when she graduated from college she would make Georgia her home. Since 2007 that dream has been a reality. She is the founder and executive director of Occupy My Family.