Category: Tourism

The Mountain That Looks Like a Space Dome

It’s no secret by now that I am a strong proponent of promoting the natural beauties that Georgia has. On a recent trip to one such sight, my husband and I borrowed our friends’ RV and hit the road. I couldn’t help but marvel at the magnificence of Stone Mountain, so I decided to put on my tourist glasses and share what I saw with y’all, even though I’m a proud, native Georgian.

Nestled on the periphery, 13 km away from downtown Atlanta, lies this huge non-vegetated dome-like mountain that totally looks like it fell from space. Though, the geological findings have found that this is not the case, despite me secretly hoping that it was an extraterrestrial object. That still doesn’t take away from its beauty, as this inselberg is truly a sight to behold.

At its highest point, it’s 514 m above sea level, so it’s not a big mountain by any stretch of the imagination, but given the low elevation of its surroundings, it really sticks out.

What’s so unique about it is that Stone Mountain is unlike any other mountain in terms of vegetation. It’s a plain protruding stone dome with little to no trees. The lower slopes are wooded, but beyond that, it’s much more barren than your average mountain due to its distinct geological make-up.

When we got to the top, we were star-struck by the breathtaking view of the Atlanta skyline, Kennesaw Mountain to the north-west and since it was a very clear day, we could even see the Appalachian Mountains in the distance! The summit can be reached by a trail on the western side, or by cable cars.

Another attraction, besides the geography, is the rock relief engraved in the mountainside. It depicts several confederate generals, but we won’t get political – it’s objectively a remarkable work of art, done by the same person who created the famous Mount Rushmore sculpture.

Anyway, once we made a tour of all the landmarks, we returned to the campgrounds and our friends’ RV to relax after a very eventful day. I immediately hit the shower and I didn’t for the life of me realize that I had spent over twenty minutes recollecting everything I saw that day. Then it hit me. How is hot water still running? In my experience, showers in an RV are a frantic feat.

The next day I called my friend to tell her about our little excursion and, of course, to ask her about the shower. She then explained to me that they had installed an on-demand tankless water heater. Afterward, I hopped on the web and I found this great article about tankless water heaters at tanklesscenter.net and it was all clear to me. The way that these things function is pure genius. I wonder how the idea hadn’t come to me earlier. But, as they say, experience is the best teacher.

Treasures in Savannah

Some places just own your spirit the minute you set foot in them. Even if it is your first time there, it feels like home. Savannah is that place for me. This gorgeous slice of heaven captured my heart years ago when I went to visit Juliette Gordon Low’s home as a young Girl Scout, and it remains my favorite place to spend a weekend or a vacation.

The history of this place will astound you. Well-preserved homes in their southern glory, framed by trees drenched in Spanish moss. If you’re as big a history fan as I am, take the tour at the Owens-Thomas house. You will truly get a glimpse of what life here was like long ago. If you’re a historian and a film or literature buff, go by The Mercer House, setting for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If you’re just looking for that beloved Savannah darling Little Wendy the Bird Girl, head over to the Jepson Centeron W York Street. You should go there anyway, but please don’t miss our girl when you’re there.

If you’re a souvenir shopper, you need to make two stops. First, check out the city market. A nod to the city’s old marketplace, this section of the Historic District has restaurants, gift shops, artists and galleries, and local crafts. Also please check out River Street. It is a great place to eat, shop, and watch the ships go by.

Where are my transportation buffs? Savannah has some treats for y’all! For those who love all things nautical, I recommend a trip to The Ships of the Sea Museum, located at the William Scarbrough House and Gardens. You will get to see more models, artifacts, and other mementos than can be found in Davy Jones’s locker. Personally, I think it is worth a look just to see the Titanic model. There’s also the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force with its model planes and combat gallery. It is an incredibly enriching and informative walk through World War II. If trains are more your thing, believe it or not, Savannah is also the home to the Georgia State Railroad Museum. You can see railcars of different eras—including a handcar—and even take a train tour on either a steam or diesel train!

If you’ve got kids, take them to Forsyth Park. There is a farmer’s market, lots of recreation, playgrounds, concerts, and lots of open space. The fountain is definitely one of those must-take family photos to document your trip. I have pictures of me standing in front of it that my parents took over the years and you can definitely see how much I grew from year to year. Any bench in the park is just about my favorite place in Savannah. And of course, if you or your daughters have ever been Girl Scouts, stopping by Juliet Gordon Low’s is definitely something that you MUST do!

There you are, readers. A little piece of my heart. Come on down to Savannah and see what it’s all about.

Have a Wet and Wild Time in Georgia

Georgia aquarium

I just had the best time at the Georgia aquarium and had to come home and share it with y’all! First, a little background: the Georgia Aquarium is huge, just how we like everything here in the south. But I’m warnin’ you now that just a day’s visit won’t do it justice. It’s the largest aquarium in the entire Western Hemisphere. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and if you go when it’s crowded like I did, you might not get to see everything you want to. The shows fill up fast, and you really don’t want to miss out!

My absolute favorite was the Ocean Voyager exhibit. It was absolutely incredible, especially the tunnel. It is genius that they have it as a people-mover because I was so fascinated by everything, I would never have taken a step! I loved seeing the whale sharks and the rays swimming by. Next time, I would definitely like to do the whale shark swim. I know, I know. It sounds scary (cue the Jaws theme music) but it really isn’t. Whale sharks eat plankton, not people! They are the largest fish in the sea, and the cost of the swim goes toward research and funding for the aquarium, which I love. I get a once in a lifetime experience while also helping out an incredible hometown organization at the same time? Sounds like a win-win to me, folks. People get all up in arms about animals like these being in captivity but these whales would have been EATEN if they hadn’t been sent here. You know what these incredible whale sharks are called where they were purchased from? Tofu sharks. Because of what they taste like. Can you believe it?

My second favorite exhibit was the Cold Water Quest. There are some adorable creatures there. The peaceful and other-worldly looking beluga whales. I also saw the biggest octopus I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was weirdly beautiful and spooky. I fell completely in love with the adorable otters that you can see from both under the water and above. But, by far, my favorite was the African Penguin exhibit. They have a little plastic dome so that you can get super close up to them and yet they—and you—remain safe. It is a unique and fantastic way to get an incredibly rare view of these fascinating creatures. Watching their antics from such a cool viewpoint was a real treat. I loved their little rock caves.

And that’s just the stuff I was able to do in mytwo hour visit! I’m already planning what I am going to do when I go back. Next time, after my swim with the whale sharks, I want to see the bottlenose dolphins and the sea lions! Maybe I’ll see you there, what do you think?

Winter Fun in Atlanta

What can you do in Georgia? Innumerable activities all year round. Certain regions within the city of Atlanta or just outside are known for sites and entertainment. Take your pick from art and culture, shopping in Perimeter Mall, and nature. You might even want to attend a ball game. Atlanta is a vibrant city for indoor events, but sometimes nature calls and you want to be outdoors. Each region of the state has its own attractions. For adventure, there is Treetop Quest, a zip lining site that includes an interactive obstacle course. It is located in Brook Run Park and is suitable for the entire family. In the winter, you can be less active and go for a pampering at one of the stellar local spas or you can go on a wine tasting tour or take in a show at Stage Door Players in Dunwoody among others.

Each area of Georgia is a separate community and you can enjoy the offerings such as parades and special events that occur throughout the year. Dunwoody is just one example. There is no shortage of winter fun. There is a lot of green space if you want a walk in the park—one like Brook Run. Many have children’s playgrounds, skate and dog areas, and hiking trails. Even though it is winter, on a nice day you can still play tennis, go biking, or have a picnic if weather permits. You might want to take an outdoor heater. It will make the event that much more comfortable. A little warmth will allow you to enjoy the outdoors without freezing to death. Get a light weight portable gas-fueled unit and see how pleasant winter can be. You don’t need to hide indoors all season long. You can’t exactly take it to a ball game, but you can use it during tailgating time. A heavy blanket will carry you a long way through the winter for most seated outdoor activities. If you are going to be walking around, a sturdy jacket or coat will do. The point is not to miss out on all the fun going on in Georgia during the winter, the same as the other seasons. Don’t get the winter blues. Look at all the listings in the paper for recreation and special events and pick a new one each week end. It is an open-ended realm of possibilities. While people often pine for summer, many prefer the crisp clear air of winter.

Don’t be afraid of an outdoor heater. They are perfectly safe and even an older child can operate one. You will be having your picnic nearby no doubt so you can keep your eye on it. You will just have to add propane now and then. If you have never had a February or March day in the park, now is the time to put it on your to do list. There are heaters for sale in hardware stores and online. Watch for the good deals!

Hometown Pride

I am going to be honest here, seein’ as this is my blog and all. I’ve never lived anywhere other than Georgia. I was born here and grew up here. Even though I had the chance to go elsewhere (full scholarships and all that to boot), I stayed and went to college here.When I graduated, I got my first real job here and stayed. Like many folks around here, my roots in Georgia run deep. I’ve lived in, and visited, a good portion of this great state. Which makes me truly confident that I’m not missing much when I say that I’ve never actually had the desire to go elsewhere. Maybe that is not the most sophisticated, or even popular, opinion. However, I’ve got everything I need right here. My family and friends are all close by.I have a great job that I love, with a commute that doesn’t make me want to scream.And within driving distance, I have access to beautiful cities and gorgeous beaches. I have my pick of fantastic entertainment, cultural opportunities, and 5-star dining. What possible reason would I have to leave all of that?

Don’t feel bad; I couldn’t think of a single reason, either.

As a kid who spent most summers at Allatoona Lake to my college years in Athens (GO BULLDOGS!) and now living just a little outside of Atlanta, Georgia is my home and I’m so proud of it. We’ve got spooky ghost hunting in Savannah, world-class beaches like Tybee Island, internationally acclaimed resorts on Sea Island, national teams in many sports, and great attractions (of both the educational and fun variety) all over the state. I don’t think I could see it all even if I had several lifetimes to try and take it all in. I certainly am fixin’ to try, though! I like to plan little day trips, staycations, and mini-vacations within a few hours’ drive, and Georgia never disappoints me! Sure we have things that we need to work on, we’re not perfect after all, but I don’t think there is a place on this earth without its share of drama. So I’d rather sit on my back porch with my sweet tea after another great day at work and think about what I want to do this weekend instead of worrying about what I’m missing out on by not having a bunch of stamps in my passport.

So now I am wondering if I am the only one under a hometown spell. Do y’all feel that way about where you live? I really hope so. If you do (or maybe if you don’t), drop me a note and tell me why. I’d love to hear about where you’re from and what is so great about it. Maybe I’ll branch out a little and take an out-of-state vacation for once!

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Atlanta

On any trip to Georgia,you absolutely have to make a stop inAtlanta.Our capital is so chock full of southern hospitality that it could charm the socks off of darn near anybody. I could brag all day about what a great place it is, but I decided to settle on just three lesser known-facts that also make great reasons to visit:

Many places can claim that they have the busiest airport in the world, but they are sorely mistaken.That title belongs to our ownHartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.This gigantic airport is a busy hub, and for several good reasons: location, location, location. Delta uses it as their home base, but it is also a common transfer spot for other large airlines like Southwest, Spirit, and Frontier. We’ve got better weather than that other central hub, Chicago, which makes us preferable for seasoned travelers and those in the know. You can get to many major U.S. cities in 2 to 4 hours, making it the perfect spot for layovers from either coast.  So maybe extend your time here and take a swing by one of our other largest claims to fame—the world’s largest drive-through at The Varsity Downtown. When they boast that they serve a ton of onion rings every day, they are not kidding.

When you think of blockbuster films and Hollywood stars, you tend to think of New York or L.A. You may be unaware that lots of movies and TV shows were actually shot on location in Georgia. You never know when you’ll be watching credits and see that little peach denoting that they shot it right here! Atlanta is a perfect location because we have everything: big city highrises, classic old-world mansions, great sports arenas, gilded hotels, and plenty of southern beauty. The Hunger Games series, The Fighting Temptations, The Signal, Freejack, Kalifornia, Trouble with the Curve, and Driving Miss Daisy (just to name a few) all were filmed at least partially in Atlanta.

We are the birthplace of many things, but the most famous thing to come out of Georgia is none other than that ubiquitous beverage staple, Coca-Cola. That’s right. A curious pharmacist mixed a sweet tasting syrup with carbonated water and the world’s number one soft drink was born! Did you know that it was created and first sold right here in Atlanta? The Coca-Cola company was very possibly the first manufacturer of coupons as well, as a marketing tool to get people to try their product. Coca-Cola World is located here, and is a great place to check out when you come for a visit. Stop by for a tour and to experience the freshest glass of Coca-Cola you’ll ever have.

Whether you are just passin’ through or you plan to set with us for a spell, I promise you can find something here in Atlanta worth your time.

Magical Summers on the Georgia Coast

Did you ever have a perfect summer as a kid? You know, the kind where when you look back, you don’t remember it raining or getting sick—it was just completely filled with ice cream, friends, fishing, swimming, and s’mores? Maybe you were lucky enough for your parents to take you on an awesome vacation, or maybe it was your first summer romance… Whatever made it great, it was probably the only summer where the planets aligned and everything was awesome.

I gotta tell ya, though, a summer on the Georgia Coast is going to come in a very close second! Each beach has its own personality, so you’ll be sure to find your match made in heaven! I just want to highlight a couple of places here so y’all can see what I’m talking about:

Tybee Island is one of my favorite places. It is close enough to Savannah that you don’t feel like you are missing anything but you can still take advantage of that relaxing island pace. For history and architecture enthusiasts, there is the incredible Fort Pulaski National Monument. The lighthouse is a must for any photographers and art lovers will surely enjoy the art galleries located on the island. For nature fans, there’s also a marine science center and sea turtle nesting. And of course, there are the beaches! They are the perfect place to spend a day of swimming or relaxing.

Another wonderful place to visit is Jekyll Island. If you want a feel for what southern high class life was way back in the 1880s, you definitely need to see what they are doing over at the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark. It is a huge, ongoing restoration project designed to preserve an elite ‘winter retreat’ for titans like Marshall Field, J.P. Morgan, and Joseph Pulitzer. The work they have done there is remarkable. Another incredible sight on Jekyll Island is Driftwood Beach. Words cannot describe this gorgeous place. The trees are hauntingly beautiful. I recommend bringing a camera (or two) because it is not a sight that you probably will ever see again!

A friend of mine got married on Sea Island and it was an amazing location. This spectacular retreat is rated highly by AAA, Travel + Leisure, and Forbes year after year, and for good reason. Award winning spas, high end resorts, and luxurious beach home accommodations speak to the heavenly retreat atmosphere Sea Island cultivates. If you are craving outdoor activities, Sea Island has you covered. They boast some fantastic golfing, sailing, and even horseback riding. If you are a foodie, you will think you have died and gone to heaven (not a joke. Go to the Georgian Room. Dress nicely). If that’s not your cup of tea, take a marsh tour or relax at the spa. The best part is that The Cloister has a kid camp, so your kids can have as much fun as you do.

Those are just some of my favorites. I haven’t even told you about St. Simons or Little St. Simons, or anything about Historic Brunswick.  Maybe next time!