Lynn Coulter 2017-12-28 01:57:22
Unexpected Delights Venture away from the well-known tourist attractions and explore some of Georgia’s surprising treasures and destinations. Georgia’s byways and back roads are filled with adventures, learning, and fun. Head north to travel quiet trails through the Blue Ridge Mountains, or go south to see elegant, antebellum homes, and Civil War battle sites. If you’d rather, schedule an overnight retreat to rest and reflect, or get up close and personal with tigers and capuchin monkeys at a wildlife sanctuary. You’ll find exciting experiences and warm, Southern hospitality in small towns and cities throughout the state. Take Georgia’s highways to wander where you will, and then step off the beaten path to find the hidden gems. 1 Day One ATV/UTV Trail Rides (Sunburst Stables), Clarkesville Take the path less traveled at Sunburst Stables, where guides lead ATV and UTV riders on a five-mile loop over mountain terrain. The two-hour tours stop at a lookout tower, mini farm, aviary, and a cave that is part of an old mine, where you can pan for gold. Lunch is optional, before or after your ride. Ask about discounts for groups and additional activities such as horseback riding, boating, or zip lining. Rides may be customized by age and ability. sunburststables.com Historic Green Street, Gainesville Stroll Historic Green Street, where nineteenth- and twentieth-century homes on the National Register of Historic Places line shaded streets. Groups may request custom, guided tours with a catered lunch in the Northeast Georgia History Center. The Taste of Gainesville tour features art galleries, Elachee Nature Science Center, Freedom Garden, and a brewery in a historic cotton mill. gainesville.org/attractions/historic-green-street OVERNIGHT IN GAINESVILLE 2 Day Two Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta Explore Atlanta’s past at Historic Oakland Cemetery, the resting place of famed Georgians such as golfer Bobby Jones, author Margaret Mitchell, and others. Book a guided tour through this city park to see its Jewish burial sections (Jewish Flats and Jewish Hill), Confederate Memorial Grounds, and African American Grounds, or learn about art and architecture, Atlanta pioneers, and a variety of other topics. Inquire about catered lunches with rented chairs and tables, or bring a picnic and blanket to spread on a bench or the ground. oaklandcemetery.com Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers Founded in 1944, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit welcomes all visitors. A self-guided day tour features a video about this Trappist monastery and an interactive museum. Your group may also join the monks for midday prayers, explore the bonsai gardens, and browse the Abbey Store. Dine in the cafe, picnic by the lake, or pre-order box lunches. The Retreat House accommodates up to thirty-nine, and many retreatants stay for several days. Book early for groups of twelve or more. trappist.net Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, Locust Grove This animal sanctuary houses more than 15,000 exotic and farm animals and rehabilitates hundreds each year. Wear your walking shoes to explore the park-like setting and paved paths of the 250-acre campus. Admission to the sanctuary is free, although donations to the nonprofit are encouraged. Call ahead for a three-mile WOW (Walk on the Wild Side) tour, which offers a guided, behindthe- scenes experience for at least two, but no more than ten, visitors. noahs-ark.org OVERNIGHT IN MCDONOUGH 3 Day three Henry Ford’s Southern Town, Richmond Hill Richmond Hill, also known as “Henry Ford’s Southern Town,” was the American industrialist’s winter home. Ford brought jobs and many improvements to this once-impoverished area. Start your self-guided tour at the Richmond Hill Historical Society and Museum, using the Coastal Bryan Heritage Trail app to find historical markers and buildings from the Ford era. The trail includes Fort McAllister, which fell to General Sherman in 1864. Contact the museum to request a guided trolley tour with the option of boxed lunches. richmondhillhistoricalsociety.com St. Marys Submarine Museum, St. Marys Videos about submarine life play continuously here, where displays about submarines— and the largest collection of submarine records outside the National Archives—fill two floors. View the St. Marys River from the working periscope, see models of torpedoes, plaques, uniforms, and more. Call ahead for a group tour, and take a sack lunch to St. Marys Waterfront Park or dine at nearby restaurants. Extra time? The Cumberland Island Ferry leaves from across the street. visitstmarys.com Folkston Funnel, Folkston From the viewing platform at the Folkston Funnel in South Georgia, watch trains roll along the double tracks that go in and out of Florida. A scanner on the platform lets you hear radio traffic as about fifty trains pass through every twenty-four hours. Picnic tables, a grill, restaurants, and restrooms are nearby. Call ahead for a guided tour of the old train depot, now a museum with one of the country’s most complete radio communications displays. Folkston is an eastern gateway to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. folkston.com DON’T-MISS DINING Blue Willow Inn Restaurant, Social Circle Enjoy fried chicken, sweet tea, and other Southern favorites at Blue Willow Inn Restaurant, once a 1917 Greek Revival mansion. Many dishes are made from family recipes with market-fresh vegetables and local products like Castle Rock honey. The second floor, accessible only by stairs, seats 100. Senior discounts are available on Wednesdays. bluewillowinn.com MUST-STOP SHOPPING Downtown Senoia Fill your shopping bag with everything from boots to licensed The Walking Dead collectibles in downtown Senoia, where the popular AMC show is filmed. Georgia Mercantile Company carries a variety of Georgia-made, Georgia-grown foods and gifts, and other stores and boutiques offer soaps, stationary, antiques, candles, clothing, and vintage decor. enjoysenoia.net, georgiamercantile.com
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