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Georgia On My Mind: Things to do in the Land of Peaches and Peanuts
There's a little bit of an old fashioned world left in the United States. It's a place where young folks still say "yes ma'am," everyone waves and says hello to everyone, and you can find any number of houses dating back to the Civil War or before. It's the land of front porch rockers, tea houses, and antiques, with summer days spent wading in a creek and swatting flies in the house.
While most of my growing up was done in Colorado, there are lots of memories of summer days spend in Georgia with relatives. So perhaps I do romanticize things a bit, and my view of it has a good coating of nostalgia, but there are still plenty of great things to do there. It's a state rich with geographic, historic, and modern attractions, so no matter what you like to do there's something there for you. Here are some of my favorites-- Enjoy!
A gigantic piece of exposed granite, Stone Mountain is famous for not only it's geology but also it's history. On the smooth gray surface of the mountain is a huge carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson mounted on their horses. The engraving, covering three acres of the mountainside, was begun in 1916 by Gotzum Borglum (who didn't complete it but went on to create Mount Rushmore), and was carried on by various other stone workers until it was completed in March of 1972.
In the summer, the mountain is used for an impressive laser light show choreographed to music and ending with the carving being outlined and brought to life. Just in front of the mountain is an old-fashioned replicated town, complete with blacksmith, dining, a glass-blowing shop and lots of other attractions. There's an Antebellum style plantation house with authentic furnishing and decor, a ferry, and amusement park style rides. There's plenty to keep you busy, and with the laser show after dark, it's a fun, family-friendly day.
There's a great virtual tour here. Go and check it out to see all the fun you could have!
World of Coca-Cola
Who would've thought that a soda bottling factory could be so much fun? But this one is. It's modern and interactive, with a great combination of history, factory, culture, and of course, taste testing.
Inside of that really interesting piece of architecture there is hours worth of education and entertainment. There's an artifact gallery, theatres showing films of how the products are made, commercials from the past decades, and the secret formula that is Coke. Even the bottling apparatus is fun and unique, relying on the retro, classic Coke feel and invoking the modern as well. There's also a museum with full of decades worth of Coke products and another full of pop culture (no pun intended). Don't forget to stop at the Taste It! station, where over 60 different sodas are available for sampling. Just plan to leave very well caffeinated.
Here's a whole city to keep you busy, filled with Southern charm, history, and hospitality. Savannah is known for it's friendliness, having welcomed guests since 1733 and remaining a very popular tourist attraction. The Riverfront is one of the favorite places in the city, with a lovely view of the Savannah River lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. Trolley tours, walking tours, carriage tours, old cemeteries, and museums give guest a choice and variations in activities.
Don't forget to stop and visit the famous fountain at Forsyth Park, as well as the beautiful beaches on the river!
Sweetwater Creek State Park
A perfect place to spend a day hiking, wading, and having a picnic, Sweetwater Creek is a beautiful and peaceful state park. The various hiking trails are mostly shaded, making for enjoyable exercise even in the summer, and of course there's always the creek nearby. Don't be fooled by the name-- the creek is a very good size, and fairly deep. There are perfect places for wading or rock-hopping, as well as a 215 acre lake, giving lots of opportunities to cool off. Kayak and canoes can be rented seasonally, and if fishing is your thing that's an option also.
As and added bonus at the end of the trails, there's an old textile mill that was burned during the Civil War, very run down and picturesque. With facilities to accommodate large groups or private vacations, this is a perfect place to stay that keeps you close enough to Atlanta without being in the middle of the city.
Every city has a downtown, and everyone knows how to entertain themselves in downtowns. So I won't bore you with the attractions to be found in Atlanta, but you should know about the Varsity. There are six Varsity locations, but the most famous one is right next to the Georgia Tech campus. An old diner that covers more two acres, it can accommodate 600 hundred cars of and over 800 people inside. It's the perfect retro college diner with a fun, upbeat atmosphere. Lots of people love it for it's throwback feel and all the memories it has been part of.
Have fun with the traditional American fare, with a menu featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, sandwiches, and various other options. Make sure to wrap it up with one of the Varsity's sixteen flavors of ice cream. And most of all, have fun!