Just Off the Highway: Serenbe

428540_10150305868559949_1341953892_nJust off I-85, south of Atlanta and Windows Server 2012 Product Key tucked into the serene shade of Chattahoochee Hill County is the incredibly beautiful land that makes up the Serenbe community. Buildings ooze farmhouse charm while maintaining a nationally recognized eco-friendly footprint that makes a trip to the community a must for any visitor to Georgia.

Only 30 minutes from Atlanta, visitors are greeted by fresh air, farm life and a village among the 1,000 acres, including renowned restaurants The Hil and The Farmhouse at Serenbe. Within minutes of your arrival at Serenbe, you’ll understand why the area has been dubbed the “Sonoma for the New South” by the New York Times.

Serenbe isn’t just a few farmhouses, a village and some great restaurants. It’s a community with schools, stores, festivals, a theater and a hotel. Here are a few of my must-visit stops on a trip to Serenbe:

374098_10150728970173329_644448988_n1.) Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop (9065 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia)- Led by pastry chef Cindi Pitman, the 2012 winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, the shop is the smallest Silver LEED-certified building in the United States. Cupcake flavors vary daily, so visit their Facebook page before you go.

2.) The Farmhouse at Serenbe (10950 Hutcheson Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia)- Atlanta Magazine’s Best New Restaurant in 2007 has become known for its fried chicken lunch, which is served Saturdays and Sundays. The menu changes weekly depending on what is in season on the farm. Be sure to make reservations before you go.

3.) Peachtree Bikes (9119 Selborne Lane, Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia)- Looking to explore Sernebe like a local? Rent a bike from Peachtree Bikes and enjoy a new adventure around town.

251000_10151652364242220_1235212912_n4.) Serenbe Playhouse (9110 Selborne Lane Suite 210, Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia)- With programming to serve a wide variety of age groups, the Serenbe Playhouse currently has The Velveteen Rabbit on stage through July 27 and offers season tickets for as low as $50.

Want more out of your visit? Perfect for weekend getaways and romantic overnight stays, The Inn at Serenbe has several different types of accommodations to choose from, including the main house, guest house, cottages and village suites.

For an escape from the hustle and bustle of reality, escape to the eco oasis that is Serenbe.

eileenEileen 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.

Reconnect in LaGrange, Georgia

Unplug and actually have fun with your family

Find summer fun in LaGrange, Georgia – just about an hour south of Atlanta. A cool spot for entertainment on a hot summer day, the LaGrange Art Museum showcases the talents of world-renowned artists and now offers a new gallery for children which includes art hung at the eye-level of little ones as well as posted questions designed to engage kids and parents in dialogue about the masterpieces. Dedicated to the history of West Georgia, admission is also free to Legacy Museum on Main.

Pine Mountain lr

Jump right in! Families love the pool at Pine Mountain RV Resort. Credit: LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

In search of true R&R, enroll little ones in the Bible Land Adventure summer camp at Explorations in Antiquity Center and relax while the children are in a boredom-busting and educational setting. Call 706-885-0363 to make a reservation; numbers are limited.

26,000-acre West Point Lake, Highland Marina is the go-to place for renting watercraft. Toodle along in a pontoon boat or create a splash with a wave runner. For rental pricing and details: www.HighlandMarina.com.

Tour Hills and Dales Estate, the 1916 Italian-inspired home of the Callaway family, opened to the public in 2004. Pick up the Earle the Squirrel Tour guidebook for the young ‘uns – a free activity booklet. Call 706-882-3242 for more information or check the website: www.HillsandDales.org.

4th of July

Bikes and wagons make for an adorable celebration of all things Americana at the can’t-miss July 4th LaGrange Sweet Land of Liberty Parade for Youth. Credit: LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

When you get hangry (that’s when you’re so hungry you start to get angry), plenty of places abound to turn your mood around. Try Mighty Joe’s, where pizza by the slice or whole calzones are to die for and, for the healthier set, fresh salads are offered, too. Trammell’s Smokehouse Grille at Highland Marina offers outdoor waterside dining as well as an indoor option.

LaGrange’s downtown area is full of hidden gems like Stephens Exclusives, popular with teenage girls and the old-school army and sports supply store, Edelson’s Army and Sporting Goods – for the boys. The whole family will find a souvenir worth taking home at Solomon’s Department Store where traditional style mingles with the latest in clothing and shoes.

When you go:

Camp in the comfort of air-conditioned yurts at Pine Mountain RV Resort.  The tent-like structures are affordable and several sleep a crowd of up to 12 people; pool and playground onsite.

The Baymont Inn and Suites offers comfortable, family-friendly lodging and an indoor pool.

Sleep at the Best Western PLUS LaFayette Garden Inn and Conference Center and spend days perfecting your tan, lounging by the best outdoor pool in the area.

LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, www.LagrangeChamber.com, 706-884-8671.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Eco Adventures in Georgia

group fishing trip for kids

Coastal Georgia is a pristine, unique paradox for Georgia. When thinking about Southern travels, most folks picture sweet tea, peaches, our vast rolling Appalachian Mountains and the signature historic antebellum homes.

Those scenarios all have their place in our great state. But when tourists hear about the Georgia coast, they typically squint their eyes in a disbelieving stare. Georgia has beaches? Like, sandy shores and oceans?

The answer is yes, very much so. Our coastline is a gem for the state. A golden gem, if you will. The Golden Isles features several lovely islands and a historic mainland that attract guests year-round.

What’s more, the outdoor eco-educational opportunities that exist in the region are immense. For both the kiddos and the grown-ups, there are multiple ways to get out, get active and get informed about the intricate nature of, well, coastal nature.

GSTCGeorgia Sea Turtle Center: Rehabilitate. Research. Educate. Those are the overarching goals of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. Established in 2007, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center is the coast’s premier marine life rehabilitation, research and education facility. Located in the island’s historic power plant building, the Sea Turtle Center brings in thousands of eager visitors from across the country every year. While visiting the center, guests can experience hands-on exhibits, witness sea turtle operations and interactively learn about the conditions of the delicate coastal ecosystem.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is open for individual and family visits, as well as school field trips, public programs, birthday parties and special events. All admission fees and donations to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center go to the daily operations, upkeep and maintenance of the center, as well as exhibit development, maintenance, equipment, and, of course, all aspects of turtle care.

Tidelands Nature Center: While visiting Jekyll Island to “sea” the happenings at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, be sure to stop at the University of Georgia 4-H Tidelands Nature Center. At the center, guests will find hands-on exhibition tanks and educational displays, as well as opportunities to canoe, paddle boat and kayak on the nearby pond. On-the-water opportunities are offered year-round, and camps, exhibits and workshops change monthly, so be sure to visit the website before setting your final plans.

kayakingSoutheast Adventures: From the ocean and streams to marshes and rivers, the Golden Isles is a haven for water-based activities, including canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. More than two decades ago, Southeast Adventures tapped into this aquatic theme by introducing guests and residents of the Golden Isles to these water-heavy activities.

Daily, the guides at Southeast Adventure takes guests out on kayak tours, as well as paddle-boarding excursions, fishing tours and nature boat cruises. Need more than a few hours on the water? They can handle that too, with the multi-day charter tours that take visitors throughout the region.

dolphinDolphin and Fishing Tours: Throughout the Golden Isles, guests can find several options for dolphin-watching tours and fishing excursions. Jekyll and St. Simons Islands offer several seasoned captains who can accommodate groups of varying sizes.

Whether looking to get far out in the ocean for some deep-sea charter fishing, or wanting a more inland experience with the shoreline in view, guests itching for a day on the water will not leave the Golden Isles disappointed. We suggest giving Captain Phillip or Cap Fendig a buzz. Both operate throughout the Golden Isles, presenting visitors with an assortment of charter boat rides (including dinner and wine cruises). You can also find a long list of options here.

Of course, the islands are not the only places to learn about Georgia’s great outdoors. Here are a few other Peach State eco-education ideas to get you started:

okeefenokeeGeorgia Aquarium in Atlanta; Black Forest Bear Park & Reptile Center in Helen; Georgia Buffalo Ranch in McIntosh County; Okefenokee Swamp in Folkston ; Cumberland Island in St. Mary’s; Banning Mills Zip Line Adventure in Banning; Alpaca Tierra in Young Harris; and the Go Fish Center in Perry.

These are just a small handful of the multitude of eco-educational and outdoor adventures that await you and your family throughout the state. Visit ExploreGeorgia.org for plenty of ways to shake off that indoor dust and get a hands-on look at Georgia, its ecological wonders and its environmental elements.

headshot1With two journalism degrees from the University of Georgia, Anna Hall is proud to be a double-dawg curious about her home state. Daily, Hall uses her passion for Georgia in her role as communications and social media manager for the Jekyll Island Authority. Whether its shark fishing in the coastal waterways of her Golden Isles home, or trekking a mountain in the northern region of the state, Hall actively seeks out new opportunities to showcase and share the beauty of the Peach State. 

 

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Dahlonega, Georgia. Photo submitted by Sussman Imaging via Facebook.

Dahlonega, Georgia. Photo submitted by Sussman Imaging via Facebook.

Skidaway Island. Photo by @dusta. Submitted via Instagram.

Skidaway Island. Photo by @dusta. Submitted via Instagram.

Canton, Georgia by larri073. Submitted via Flickr.

Canton, Georgia by larri073. Submitted via Flickr.

 

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

photo by @akatjohnson16. Submitted via Instagram.

photo by @akatjohnson16. Submitted via Instagram.

Cumberland Island. Photo by Darryl W. Moran Photography. Submitted via Flickr.

Cumberland Island. Photo by Darryl W. Moran Photography. Submitted via Flickr.

Bostick, Georgia. Photo by Rick Stepp. Submitted via Facebook.

Bostick, Georgia. Photo by Rick Stepp. Submitted via Facebook.