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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

Georgia Aquarium Review: Awe Inspiring Day Trip to the Largest Aquarium in the US!

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Have you experienced the overwhelming wonder of the Atlanta Georgia Aquarium? It is truly awe-inspiring, being the largest aquarium in the US! We were able to visit with the Georgia Aquarium Residence Pass, however, you can visit any time by purchasing a day pass. Find everything you need, including Georgia Aquarium reviews, photos, and even parking and hotel information, so you can make your trip an epic adventure.

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia

Where to Stay Near the Georgia Aquarium

Planning an overnight trip? Use the map below to find the perfect lodging near the Georgia Aquarium.
Through an affiliate relationship with Stay22, Kidding Around earns when booking through the map and links in this section.

During a previous visit, we stayed at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel, which we recommended because of the hotel’s great location and comfort. Another great option is Home 2 Suites Midtown. The CNN Tower, World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Park, the Peachtree Center and a new Ferris wheel attraction are all located within easy walking distance of both of these hotels.

Watch! Our Visit to the Biggest Aquarium in the US!

Our Day Trip to Georgia Aquarium

For our day trip to the Georgia Aquarium, we brought along our five-year-old and two-year-old, because we knew this would be a fantastic memory for them. We purchased our tickets ahead of time with our residence pass, but you can purchase tickets in advance for cheaper than same day tickets through the online portal! Ticket prices for pre-booked dates start at $39.99, but ticket prices fluctuate depending on the day you want to attend, if it’s a holiday or weekend, or if they anticipate large crowds, so keep that in mind!

We also made reservations for the dolphin show and the sea lion show on the same day as our visit. If you are looking to do these two free shows or any backstage events, make sure to pencil those in when figuring out how long you want to stay at the aquarium!

What is at the Georgia Aquarium?

Being the largest aquarium in the US means there is A LOT to explore. You’ll want to carve out at least two to three hours of your day to experience everything, but you could honestly spend longer here. When you arrive at the aquarium, you first will be asked to take a photo by staff that you can later purchase as a souvenir. Then, you’ll immediately follow a quarridore that is lined with a wall of glowing jellyfish! My kids were just ecstatic to see them glowing purple, bouncing around the elongated tank. It was the perfect start to our visit. Finally, you’ll have your tickets scanned at the entrance of the large atrium. 

Entrance of the Georgia Aquaruim: Jellyfish wall.

Galleries and Exhibits: Georgia Aquarium

Now, the hard part is usually figuring out what you want to see first! There are 8 major galleries at the Georgia Aquarium, and each is sectioned by theme. So, what animals can you see at the Georgia Aquarium? Over 500 species and over 1 million animals to explore! They have sharks, penguins, beluga whales, dolphins, and even massive whale sharks. It’s not just another aquarium. It’s like stepping into another world. And if you think that sounds melodramatic, consider some of these stats:

  • With more than 600,000 square feet and 10 million gallons of fresh and salt water, the Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United States.
  • The Ocean Voyager exhibit is the largest indoor fish habitat in the United States. It measures 284 feet long by 126 feet wide by 30 feet deep. It contains 6.3 million gallons of water.
  • The viewing window into the whale shark exhibit measures 60 feet long by 27 feet high.
Hammerhead shark swimming by at the Predators of the Deep exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia

When we arrived in the huge atrium, we decided to work our way clockwise through the galleries so we wouldn’t miss anything. We started at SHARKS! Predators of the Deep, which was my daughter’s absolute favorite. There were tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, silvertip sharks, and a sand tiger shark that swam around the 1.2 million gallon tank and through the circling false pilchard fishes. We even saw a hammerhead shark going into the circling and trying to catch one, which we were told was because of electromagnetic signals being released from one of the false pilchards that was older or sick.

Before our scheduled show at Dolphin Coast, We worked our way through the several exhibits on the bottom floor, which took us a little over an hour. You’ll want extended time at the Ocean Voyager Built by Home Depot exhibit. Here, you can ride down a conveyor belt under a 100-foot tunnel. This part is exciting, but make sure little feet stay off the edges of the belt so they do not fall. You can choose to walk beside it as well, which is nice if you want to stop and take a closer look at the rays and fish swimming overhead.

The epic part of Ocean Voyager is the large seating area you’ll find toward the end of the gallery. You can lounge on the stairs under the glow of the huge aquarium, watching the whale sharks swim by. This is a great place to park it for a little bit after a long day of walking around. We sat here for almost 20 minutes listening to the presenter give us facts about what is inside the tank, while also playing a game of who could spot Gulper.

Here is a full list of the exhibits and key features at the Georgia Aquarium, so you can decide where to start!

  • Aquanaut Adventure– Newer exhibit with alligators, lizards, eels, and a Discovery Zone touch pool
  • Cold Water Quest – Home to beluga whales, sea otters, African penguins, Pacific octopus, and more.
  • Dolphin Coast – Dolphins (including the theatre), spoonbill, spiny lobster, and scarlet ibis.
  • Ocean Voyager– The largest exhibit, offers whale sharks, rays, sharks, tons of fish, and a place to relax.
  • Predators of the Deep– A variety of sharks with large glass walls to observe from different angles.
  • Southern Company River Scout– Only freshwater gallery at the Aquarium
  • Tropical Diver– Coral reef exhibit and gorgeous marine life display.
  • Truist Peer 225– Arcade, animatronics, and the sea lion show!

Live Shows

Georgia Aquarium Dolphin Show and Sea Lion Presentation

One wonderful thing about the aquarium is that you can get up close and personal with many of the animals, all included in your admission ticket! We had such a fun time at the dolphin and sea lion shows, which are free and run at various times throughout the day.

My 5-year-old and I opted to sit in the splash seats for both shows, and we were giggling the entire time waiting to get splashed, especially when the dolphins sent a wave of water right at us. But don’t worry, the majority of the seats are out of the splash zone.

During both shows, we learned about how they train the animals and what the animals are like in the wild, and we saw a spectacular showcase of their skills. During the sea lion show, we sat closest to Katie, the oldest sea lion resident and watched her and her trainer show off their dancing skills and tricks. My two-year-old was squealing when each sea lion showed off how loud they could be, it was hilarious!

Both the dolphin show and the sea lion show take about 15-20 minutes each, so make sure your little ones go to the bathroom ahead of time so you do not lose your seats. You will also want to arrive about 10 minutes early to get the best seats, they fill up very quickly!

You will want to make reservations the day of to confirm seats for the Dolphin Coast dolphin show and the sea lion show, though they are free to attend.

Dolphin Coast at the Georgia Aquarium

Quick Facts: Things to Know Before Your Visit

Hours of Operation

The Georgia Aquarium is open year-round, but hours do vary. Visit the aquarium website for specific hours on the day you plan to visit. You are welcome to leave the aquarium after you enter, just make sure you get your arm stamped at the customer service counter before you leave.

Georgia Aquarium Tickets

Ticket Prices

The aquarium uses a timed ticketing system, which means you will be given a time at which you can enter the aquarium. This keeps the facility from becoming overcrowded.

Right now, the Aquarium is offering the Resident Pass to South Carolina residents through May 28, 2024. It means you get unlimited entry (there are some blackout dates, see link) for $64.99 + tax.

Tickets cost more at peak times like weekends and holidays. Be sure to check the website for the date you plan to visit.

General Admission Tickets

When you purchase tickets ahead of time, you get a discount, so remember that! Ticket prices vary by the day you want to attend with the lowest, least busy days having $39.99 admission tickets. You can purchase most Plan Ahead and Save tickets for $39.99, or purchase Anytime General Admission tickets for $64.99. We recommend purchasing ahead of time and looking at their booking calendar to get the best price. You can also purchase an annual membership if you plan to visit more than once.

If you want to do special animal encounters or events, you can purchase tickets to those ahead of time. They do sell out sometimes because of limited ticket availability, so book early. Prices for animal encounters start at $80 per person, and there are age restrictions.

Georgia Aquarium Parking

Parking is available in the attached parking deck and costs $20 per day. The World of Coca-Cola and CNN Tower are within walking distance, so you could plan an entire day of attractions for one parking price. There’s also a nice playground area in Centennial Olympic Park if the kids just need some downtime. 

Coastline Cafe: Cafe at the Aquarium

On the second floor you’ll find the new Coastline Cafe, where you can dine in. Most of the food is American food, like chicken nuggets and burgers. It can be pretty expensive to dine here, so we chose to bring along sandwiches to enjoy during our break outdoors on the grass between World of Coca-Cola and the aquarium.

Wheelchairs, Strollers, and Babies

The entire aquarium is wheelchair and stroller accessible. However, strollers are NOT permitted in the Dolphin Coast theater. There is a “stroller parking” area available for use during the show. 

You’ll find a private nursing pod for mothers available on the second floor.

Sensory bags are also available at Guest Services if you would like them for you or your child.

Restaurants near the Georgia Aquarium

You are able to leave the aquarium and come back, so why not check out some of the best restaurants near the Georgia Aquarium that are within walking distance? The Atlanta Breakfast Club is just down the street, and has some of the best Southern breakfast food around! Have a kid who will only eat pizza? Then Head to Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria. They have delicious pizza, plus vegetarian and vegan options. You will not want to miss out on the crispy chicken and fries from Rocks!

Sea dragons at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia

Tips for visiting the Georgia Aquarium

  1. Bring a stroller or carrier if you have little ones, because there is a lot of walking involved.
  2. Be sure to reserve a dolphin show or sea lion show, it is worth it and great for younger kids.
  3. Pack your lunch and leave it in a cooler in the car to save some money.
  4. If you want to leave and come back to the aquarium, be sure to get your hand stamped.
  5. Don’t forget to use your Georgia Aquarium military discount on their Military Free Days to get free entry and 30% off for your family!
  6. The gift shop has some great stuff, and you have to exit through it, so make sure to budget for a souvenir. Pro gift shop tip: Collect something small from gift shops you visit throughout all your travels like a magnet, postcard, or Christmas Tree ornament. Everyone in your family will know they are on the hunt for the perfect item to add to that collection and you’ll stay far away from the expensive toys, stuffed animals, and apparel.

My Honest Opinion of the Georgia Aquarium: Review

The Georgia Aquarium as a mom of two young kids is so worth it! There is so much to do and see that the trip is absolutely a core memory maker. There are animals at the Georgia Aquarium that you will most likely never see in your lifetime. Plus, the vast amount of scientific research and conservation efforts that is conducted is helping us learn more about these animals to aid in reversing their wild population decline. My kids were in awe, and so was I.

The aquarium staff are friendly and helpful, and we had zero issues throughout the entire day there. It’s a great family vacation idea, because the city of Atlanta has so much to offer. It is worth the 2.5-hour drive from Greenville, SC, and makes the perfect day trip!

Plan your own visit!

Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

What was your family’s favorite part of the Georgia Aquarium?

Things to do with kids in Atlanta GA

There’s a lot more to do in Atlanta!
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Things to Do With Kids in Atlanta, GA!

A Full Day of Excitement Awaits at Six Flags Over Georgia

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Do you have a family adventure to Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, GA planned for this summer? We checked it out to create this Six Flags Over Georgia review, and we have all the information you need to have a fun day there with your family. Complimentary tickets were provided for this review.

Six Flags Over Georgia is one of the few theme parks not far from Greenville, SC that provides thrilling rides with heart-pounding excitement mixed with more gentle rides for smaller kids, concessions, events, and shows. Here’s what you need to know when planning a trip there with your family. This review is a compilation of two trips to Six Flags Over Georgia.

Six Flags roller coaster
Roller coaster at Six Flags Over America

Stay Near Six Flags Over Georgia

Use the map below to find great lodging near Six Flags Over Georgia.
Through an affiliate relationship with Stay22, Kidding Around earns when you book through this map.

Watch! The sights & sounds of Six Flags Over Georgia

About Six Flags Over Georgia

The theme park is located a little less than three hours from the Upstate, depending on traffic, in the Atlanta metro area. It’s a massive park with 40+ rides. Hurricane Harbor is the water park inside of Six Flags Over Georgia that opens Memorial Day weekend.

Like other theme parks, Six Flags Over Georgia offers a Flash Pass, a way to get to do more rides without waiting in lines. These are add-ons to your one-day ticket and start at $60.

Getting to Six Flags Over Georgia

The first thing to remember about Six Flags Over Georgia is that it is basically in Atlanta, which means traffic. We suggest getting there a little before the park opens so you have enough time to get on the rides on you want. If you’re doing this as a day trip, you need to allow around 3-3.5 hours to get there.

We followed the directions from the Six Flags site; and they recommend taking 85S to 285W, then 20W, which takes you right to the park. Make use of your GSP though in case of backups and look at alternate routes. And bring your patience.

Parking at Six Flag Over Georgia

Parking was a breeze. There are multiple ticket booths where you can have your parking pass scanned or purchase parking. We recommend purchasing parking beforehand just to save time. They do offer Speedy Parking and Preferred Parking for an extra fee. The lot is large but there is zero shade so be sure to bring one of those reflector things for your car if you don’t want to open an oven when you get back. And pay attention to where you park so you can find your car after a long day of coasters.

Sky Screamer at Six Flags Over Georgia
Sky Screamer at Six Flags Over Georgia

There are also three tram pick-up locations in the parking lots that will shuttle you to the front entrance. We walked from Lot 1 and were to the entrance before people that we saw waiting for the tram. De[ending on where you park, it’s not a long walk.

Be sure to have your tickets ready to be scanned for easy entrance. It is a thousand times easier to buy tickets beforehand and have them on your phone than it is to wait in the Will Call/Ticket line. We went in the early afternoon and the line took a really long time, almost 30 minutes.

Plan of Attack for Rides at Six Flags Over Georgia

We recommend downloading the Six Flags Over Georgia app because it’s awesome. You can easily pull up locations of rides, shopping, and dining options. You can see how tall you must be to ride the rides and the wait times for each ride. There’s also a really handy map, which had a blue dot so you can see where you are in relation to where you want to be.

If you have more than a few people in your family, look at the app before you go or the Six Flags website to figure out what rides you want to ride on and height requirements and make a list of the ones you really want to do and go to those first. We found that the longer we were at Six Flags, the longer the wait times were. There are also screens around the park to check the wait times.

Great American Scream Machine
Great American Scream Machine

Also, look at a map beforehand because you’ll need it when you try to figure out which rides to go on and where they are in relation to the other rides you don’t want to miss. Also, check out the app to see if any rides are closed.

The Food at Six Flags Over Georgia

Six Flags offers different Dining Passes that you can add onto your tickets, which I honestly love. I think these are just good options when it comes to planning out your day if its in your budget. The 2024 Dining Pass options are: One Meal/One Snack/One Beverage is $20.99/person and the Unlimited All Day Dining Deal where you get one meal of your choice every 90 minutes and get an All Day Drink Bottle is $44.99/person.

They also offer a one day drink bottle with unlimited refills for $19.99/each. If you want to do this option, go right when the park opens or you get there otherwise you could end up waiting in long lines or wandering around for a long time trying to find someplace that isn’t sold out of them. Honestly, this is the clincher because Georgia summers are dreadfully hot and we saw no water fountains. I even brought refillable water bottles in my tiny bag for that purpose but didn’t see anywhere were I could fill them. That refillable day bottle is worth it.

There are a lot of different options for dining like taverns, cheesesteaks, burgers, BBQ, a even a diner. Try to go on off times, like not right at Noon or 1pm for lunch because lines are long. And look at the festivals they offer every year where you can try different food, like Brews & Bites every weekend April 20-May 19, 2024.

Also, try to plan your food adventures around your most thrilling rides. For example, maybe do the more heart-pounding in the morning before you go eat a chili cheese dog for lunch. Just a thought.

If you want to bring a lunch to eat in your car to save money, you can definitely do that. Be sure to get a re-entry wristband on your way out so you can get back in.

Rides at Six Flags Over Georgia

I have one more adventurous daughter and another more timid one when it comes to roller coasters, which certainly made the day challenging. We ended up riding a fun, smaller roller coaster, the Dahlonega Mine Train. It’s a good intro into the faster rides and is perfect for younger kids who are not quite ready to try the big ones, and has a height requirement of 42 inches.

We also rode the country cars, which I let my youngest drive. Of course, driving any car for kids is going to be fun. There are so many fantastic roller coasters that I wanted to really get in on the scream fest but will have to wait for another time!

Six Flags Over Georgia car ride
Six Flags Over Georgia car ride

I’m a complete adrenaline junkie when it comes to roller coasters and have not met a roller coaster I didn’t love. The ones I really wanted to try were: Goliath, Superman, Georgia Scorcher, Batman, and Twisted Cyclone. Most of these had long, long waits – around 60 minutes at minimum – by the afternoon on a Saturday. This is why you need to plan what you want to really want to ride on and go there first unless you can swing a Flash Pass.

There are lots of great kid-focused rides like smaller Ferris Wheel-types, swings, and a beautiful carousel. Monster Mansion is a great one because the dark boat ride is a nice break out of the heat.

Water Park at Six Flags Over Georgia

At Hurricane Harbor, the water park found inside Six Flags Over Georgia, we rented a large locker. There are small, large, and jumbo, with the bigger the locker, the higher the cost. Then we headed for the wave pool to cool off. There are plenty of life jackets for kids that may need them and they have multiple sizes. My son had a great time in the wave pool, but the large Paradise Island structure was calling his name, and we went there to watch him play.

Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags Over Georgia

Now, anyone that has lived around this area for a while knows that the weather is very unpredictable in the early evening hours. And while the entire day had been virtually cloudless to this point, all of a sudden a thunderstorm came through. The water park was immediately shut down, so we changed back into our regular clothes.

Unfortunately, in the time, we were changing a severe storm warning was issued, and all of the rides in the park were turned off. We quickly left the water park area and stopped in a t-shirt shop for about 15 minutes. When the weather broke, we took off again, and got ice cream while the rain started again.

Ultimately it was getting rather on into the evening, with no indication that rides would start up again anytime soon. From the time they shut down the water park at 5 pm, and we got back to our car at 6:30 pm, no rides were running. It was a nice cool down, though.

Six Flags Over Georgia’s rain policy according to their website is: “There are still a ton of activities that are amazingly fun in any kind of weather––including indoor shows, restaurants, shops, games, and arcades. If rain, wind, or electrical storms force us to close certain rides for your safety, they will re-open as soon as safe operations can be assured. Refunds or rain checks for inclement weather are not offered.”

So, our day was cut somewhat short. We had a great time prior to the storm, and my son said he really liked Six Flags a lot. I think we will probably wait until he’s a bit older to go again, however, as the biggest attractions at Six Flags Over Georgia are the roller coasters. There are a lot of them.

Parent Tips: Six Flags Over Georgia

While we mentioned many tips in this story, here are a few others:

  • Bring/ear sun protection. It’s hot and you’ll get sunburned if you don’t have sunscreen or rain protection.
  • Download the Six Flags Over Georgia app for helpful info on rides, wait times, and a map.
  • The park is huge so plan which rides you want to go on and do them first. If you can afford it, get a FLASH Pass so you can enjoy even more rides.
  • Get the refillable water bottle. Dehydration is not fun.
  • While the park does have a lot of kid and family-focused rides, I think it’s best for kids closer to age 10 and up who love adventure and roller coasters. For most of more moderately intense rides, kids need to be at 48 inches for the medium coasters and 54 inches for the bigger ones.
  • Go early! Plan to spend the day there if it’s a day trip and leave the Upstate early.
  • If your kid wants to see some Looney Tunes characters, be sure to check the schedule of appearances when you get there.
  • Get tickets ahead of time online. You’ll save both time and money.
  • Look at the dress code before you go, especially for the waterpark: “All guests must wear proper attire, such as bathing suits or board shorts. Thongs, G-strings, or transparent swimwear are not permitted.”
  • You can bring bags and small backpacks into the park but not on the rides. You can either get a locker for a fee or leave them on the platform.
Roller Coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia

Visit Six Flags Over Georgia

Tickets start at $42 online (or $79.99 at the gate) and change depending on the date you want to go. It’s absolutely better to get the tickets online versus when you go. You can purchase a refillable water bottle, FLASH passes, and parking ($35+) online as well when you purchase your ticket.

Season passes start at $49/person. If you go more than once, a season pass is certainly a good deal, especially if you purchase the Platinum Level ($95/person), which includes parking.

275 Riverside Parkway SW, Austell, GA
Six Flags Over Georgia

See Six Flags website for days and hours of operation.

Has your family ever visited Six Flags Over Georgia?

Georgia Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Georgia? We’ve got your Ultimate Guide to Family Trips to Georgia.

37+ Amazing Things to Do in Atlanta with Kids

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Looking for things to do in Atlanta with kids? As someone who grew up in Atlanta, my heartbeat is strong for this Southern city. There’s so much to do for every age and every person. And as a family with kids? You’ll never get bored in Atlanta, GA.

So whether you’re a native Atlantan or someone looking to visit the ATL, we’ve rounded up all the best things you can do in Atlanta with kids. Consider this your ultimate guide to visiting Atlanta with your family.

Things to do with kids in Atlanta GA

Plan a Trip to Stunning Blairsville, GA

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Thinking about planning a trip to Blairsville, GA? This small Georgia town is full of fun things to do, amazing restaurants, and beautiful scenery. Kidding Around team members have been to Blairsville, GA many times, and we’ve combined our experiences in this guide just for you. Check out all our recommendations for where to stay, what to eat and things to do in Blairsville, GA!

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination with the perfect mix of southern charm and amenities, this is it. At just about 3 hours from the South Carolina Upstate, Blairsville makes the perfect weekend destination from Greenville, SC and Atlanta, GA.

First Impressions of Blairsville, Georgia

The drive to Blairsville takes you through national forests and state parks. It was a peaceful, beautiful drive and if I’d been able to leave earlier in the day, a roadside picnic would have made a perfect lunch.

Once I arrived, the first thing I wanted to do was take photos of all the beautiful mountain views I saw while driving. You’ll be glad know I abstained, for safety reasons. Plus there would be plenty more opportunities for photos in the coming days.

Where To Stay in Blairsville, Georgia

This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Shady Rest

My accommodations for this trip were just outside of Blairsville in a neighboring town called Hiawassee. Shady Rest is a rental home on Chatuge Lake, owned Barry and Tricia White. The story behind this home and how this couple came to own it is a beautiful and touching tale of high school sweethearts who were blessed by the generosity of loving friends.

The house is beautifully decorated and has all the things you would need to be comfortable away from home. The rental has three bedrooms with three king size beds, each with their own master bathroom. The walkout basement floor-plan includes one of the bedroom/bathroom combos and a private living room area. This would be perfect for a multi-generational trip, when giving grandparents the privacy of the ground floor accommodations. Shady Rest also includes a fully equipped modern kitchen, dining room, washer and dryer and private boat dock. The views of the mountain of the back porch are incredible, no matter the time of day.

Shady Rest
50 Lakeview Circle
Hiawassee, Georgia 30546

The Ridges Resort

I also got to tour The Ridges Resort, located in Young Harris. The resort is located on Chatuge Lake, with boat rentals and an inflatable obstacle course located next to the resort. With an on site restaurant, saltwater pool, fire pits and nightly S’mores by the fire – this option is a better fit for when you want to kick back and let someone else do everything for you.

The Ridges Resort and Marina
3499 US-76
Young Harris, Georgia 30582

Places To Eat in Blairsville, GA

I was very pleasantly surprised to so many delicious and unique dining options in Blairsville. I definitely did not think that the options in this small town were typical. A BBQ place that could have very easily been part of this year’s Sunday Brunch at Euphoria, a home cooking restaurant that has a seasonal menu, and gets most if not all of its ingredients locally. I could go on and on, but I’ll just say this would definitely make for a fun foodie couples weekend get-away!

The Sawmill Place

The Sawmill Place

1150 Pat Haralson Drive

If I had to choose a favorite dining option in Blairsville, which would be no small feat, this would be it.

Owners Shawn and Amy Kight have created something really special here with The Sawmill Place. The way Chef Shawn Kight lovingly showed off the locally procured hydroponic lettuce they use, I thought he had gotten in his start in LA or Atlanta. The Sawmill Place takes pride in everything they send out of the kitchen, and it shows. I got a VIP tour of the walk in cooler, to see the fresh seasonal produce they receive and how it’s processed. It was impressive to see a farm to table restaurant like this thriving in such a small town.

Their menu offers salads, wraps, sandwiches, locally raised beef burgers, meat and three options, a kids menu and an extensive breakfast menu. They even have a coffee bar located in the attached market. I’d be doing readers a disfavor if I didn’t mention the morning glory muffins they make. They are freshly made and incredible, just like everything else served. Chef Shawn saw how much I liked them and ran back to throw some in a box for me take on the road.

Thought and concern even goes into the items offered that aren’t made in the kitchen, like the drink offerings. They serve Coke brand fountain drinks, for those that favor more traditional flavors. However, I discovered a craft brand of soda there, that I just realized, I never sought out once I returned to the Upstate (I need to get on that ASAP). Grape Waynesville Soda was the perfect thing to go along with my Southwestern salad at lunch. It was made from real grape juice and, there were also other seasonal flavors that looked interesting!

I can’t say enough good things about this restaurant, and I hope you decide to visit the Kights when you make your way to Blairsville.

Jim’s Smokin’ Que

4971 Gainsville Highway

People are always saying what a small world it is. I don’t think that ever felt more true until I met the owners of Jim’s Smokin’ Que. In talking to them while I was there, they mentioned they had moved to Blairsville from the same place in Florida that I grew up in. Ok, plenty of people have moved away from Florida, no big deal. The reason this is even noteworthy, is because Jim Guess worked about a mile from my childhood home and for a business that I would frequently ride my bicycle past. It has nothing to do with how the food tastes (Spoiler-it’s awesome!), but I think it’s a fun example of how funny the world works.

Back to the reason I was there, the food.

One of the first things the Guess’ will tell people is that things sell out, and you should call ahead to reserve what you want or risk not getting it. I’m here to tell you it’s true. But in my opinion, that’s just a testament to how well received the food is by guests, and that everything is fresh. Two hours before closing and all that we had left to order was the pulled pork. It was amazing, and only made me upset I couldn’t try everything else. The sides are all made in house, and I opted for the coleslaw. The macaroni salad looked really good, and I’m still lobbying for places to do side dish flights, so I can try a little of everything.

If you go during the warmer months, leave time to play mini golf across the street. Pigs Gone Amok is open May through October, and is $5 per person.

Jim’s Smokin Que

The View Grill

129 Union Co Recreation Road

Overlooking the beautiful Union County golf course, the View Grill offers everything from sandwiches to steaks on its menu, along with a full bar. We enjoyed a dinner at sunset on the outdoor patio and it was picture perfect. The chicken salad croissant sandwich with onion rings hit the spot, with a drink from the bar.

The desserts are made by a local bakery and the cake slices they brought out could easily be shared by two people. If you enjoy golf, this course should be on your itinerary. If not, it’s OK you can still enjoy a meal at The View Grill.

Hole In The Wall

12B Town Square

Wrapped around the historical society are a handful of restaurants and shops that make up the town square. One of the dining options with the most history is Hole In The Wall. There’s so much history, in fact, that a book has been written about it. Rumors of hauntings and more are included in the history of the nearly 100 year old building partially occupied by the restaurant.

While I do love myself a good ghost tale, do you know what I love more?

Cheesecake for breakfast.

Yup, you heard me correctly.

The Hole In The Wall serves up a stuffed french toast. They take two slices of bread and stuff it with fruit and cheesecake. It is glorious. If for some unknown reason cheesecake for breakfast isn’t your cup of tea, they have more traditional menu items, too. Eggs Benedict, banana nut pancakes and steak and eggs are just some of the savory options on the menu. But, I’m guessing you’ll just want the cheesecake for breakfast.

Cabin Coffee Company

44 Town Square

Located in the re-purposed Chevron gas station on the square, this coffee shop is where locals get the fuel they need to get through the day. Fresh roasted beans translate into some really great cups of coffee. They have all the traditional coffee drinks you are used to, along with frappes that are insanely good. Lets just be honest, they are more like a caffeinated dessert in a cup.

I enjoyed the most indulgent of the bunch, the Mississippi Mud Frappe.  A mixture of Chilled espresso, Ghiradelli dark chocolate, hazelnut flavor blended with ice, and topped with MORE chocolate and espresso powder.

You can pair one of their drink offerings with a breakfast sandwich, bakery item, sandwich or soup. I chose the breakfast bagel sandwich and enjoyed it a lot! You can even purchase the house roasted coffee to bring back home with you.

Michaelee’s Italian Life Caffe

6C Town Square

This mother and son run restaurant is the perfect place for a date night while in Blairsville.  Michaelee’s imports ingredients from Italy, like olive oil and coffee. The Isle of Capri appetizer included fresh burrata mozzarella and roma tomato slices on a bed of arugula with basil pesto. It is served with sliced warm crusty bread and an aged balsamic vinegar. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

A menu item that owner Lisa Collins said took locals a while to warm up to, is the Chocolate Shrimp appetizer. Pan sauteed shrimp are encrusted with shaved white chocolate, served with a chocolate balsamic sauce. My travel companions were raving about this dish!

That shrimp dish isn’t the only place that chocolate shows up on the menu! The chocolate chicken salad includes a chocolate encrusted chicken breast drizzled with the same chocolate balsamic sauce used on the shrimp.

I enjoyed Pasta Sorrento as my main course and it was so good, I continued to eat it way after I was full. Be sure to save room for the dessert, like the cheesecake we enjoyed.

Places to Grab a Drink in Blairsville, GA

Paradise Hills Winery, Resort and Spa

366 Paradise Road

Secluded on a mountainside sits the husband and wife-run Vineyard of Paradise Hills. Among the award winning varietals here is something unique that I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else. “Jacked Up Red” is aged in barrels straight from the Jack Daniels Distillery after the whiskey has been emptied out.

You can visit the distillery and enjoy a tasting accompanied by live music on the weekends or have it shipped to your home via the website. Paradise Hills offers more than just a glass of wine to visitors. You can enjoy a relaxing spa treatment there, and even stay the night in one of their rental cabins.

Enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the vineyard was the first stop on our trip, and I highly recommend enjoying the view and a glass of wine there.

Grandaddy Mimm’s Moonshine Distillery

161 Pappy’s Plaza

Tommy Townsend, a Grandson of Grandaddy Mimm aka Jack McClure, began commercially producing corn whiskey in 2012. Jack McClure was a Moonshiner from 1930, until the day he succumbed to cancer in 1969. Not being raised in the deep south, Moonshine is a new experience for me. Nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool right off the bat! My very first taste of moonshine was straight out of the still at Grandaddy Mimm’s. In retrospect, I probably should have worked my way up to the 160 something proof stuff that was dripping out of the still. But, you only live once right?

For the less adventurous drinker with $5 to spend, you can step up to the tasting bar and sample their retail offerings. The moonshine they offer ranges from stronger unflavored corn whiskeys (140 proof – 100 proof), to lower proof flavored moonshines in fruit flavors (96 proof – 40 proof).  That bar that your leaning on just happens to be from the movie “Coyote Ugly”, and no, sadly they don’t allow you to hop up and dance on it.

Grandaddy Mimm’s Moonshine Distillery

The Wine Shoppe

6 Town Square

The nice thing about shopping a small business, is that the people working there are very familiar with the items on the shelves. That’s important when you are looking at buying a bottle of wine. The Wine shoppe has a great selection of wines and the knowledge about each of them to help you find something you’re going to love.

We were treated to a wine tasting and I highly recommend it if you are making the trip to Blairsville sans kids. A wine tasting there and then dinner at Michalee’s Italian Life Caffe would make for a perfect date night. You can even purchase a bottle of your favorite to bring next door to Michaelee’s.

Places To Shop in Blairsville, GA

Sunrise Country Store

This little county store located on the side of the highway, has been there for almost a century. The owners keep it stocked with local produce, jam and more. Do yourself a favor and buy more than one of those locally made hand-pies located by the register. They are delicious and you’ll wish you had more when you come to the last bite.

I love bringing home a locally made item as a souvenir, and this trip I chose a bar from the Wick And Wash collection of handmade soaps in the store. Jessica Clemmon’s is one of the owners and her line of soaps greets customers as they enter the building.

Outside the store you will find huge bubbling pots full of peanuts for sale, along with fresh local produce.

From Me 2 U

This little shop is in the town square is chock full of cute souvenir options. They have a really nice selection of children’s books that would make the little person in your life very happy! Grab a piece of jewelry, a soy candle or home décor to remember your trip with.

Things To Do in Blairsville, GA

Lake Chatuge provides all different types of fun during the warmer months. Boat rentals, swimming, aquatic obstacle courses and more. Blairsville offers so much more than lake life for visitors though.

Vogel State Park

One of my family’s favorite stops, we love the easy hike around the lake and down to the waterfall at Vogel State Park. In the summer you can swim in the lake at the sandy swimming beach. The mountan views are magnificent. We make sure to stop here everytime we’re in the area and we think you’ll love the peaceful trails just as much as we do!

Pro-tip: Stop for a coffee at Cabin Coffee Company on your way to the park and enjoy it with your walk on the trail.

Trackrock Stables

I was excited and scared to see horse back riding on my itinerary this trip. It’s been more years than I care to admit since I regularly rode a horse. So long in fact that I checked off “novice” on the waiver form. I asked my horse to be “a good boy” and I climbed into the saddle. I immediately remembered what I loved about riding, and it was just like they say about riding a bicycle. It all came rushing back to me.

Trackrock Stables

Everyone at Trackrock was so patient and nice, it helped to ease everyone’s jitters about hopping on a horse. Our hour long ride stretched way longer than planned because we were just enjoying the view on the trail. At the point where you double back, the trail opens in to a field that overlooks the mountain range. It’s a breathtaking view and a great spot to stop for photos.  It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, you’ll have a great time at Trackrock Stables.

Trackrock Petroglyphs (temporarily closed)

The local national forest is home to more than just trees. Among the trees of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest hides the ancient Trackrock Petroglyphs. These patterns are carved into the soapstone. We passed this trailhead on the way to the stables and its definitely worth a stop when the site is open.

Lasso The Moon Alpaca Farm

Lasso The Moon is a unique experience where you can spend time with some cute and fluffy alpacas and see what artist Holly Williams does with the wool the alpacas provide.

If you are a regular fan of Kidding Around, you know we have a weakness for cute and fluffy animals. All these cute alpacas in one place was almost too much to handle! We got to spend time with, pet and feed the animals, then we headed upstairs to the artist workshop. Holly makes beautiful things from the wool, and you can even take a class to learn how to create things like she does.

Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm

Meeks Park and the Appalachian Sculpture Project

This small town is blessed to have such a beautiful park at it’s disposal. It has everything you could want in a park! Hiking trails, a playground, batting cages, skateboard park, swimming pool, tennis courts, a dog park and the beautiful Butternit Creek and Nottley River. This park is also host to the Scottish Festival in June and the Sorghum Festival in October.

Al Garnto, the artist responsible for the Appalachian Sculpture project chose Meeks park to place several of his kinetic sculptures. His sculptures are made from reclaimed and recycled materials, that he sources locally. His sculptures can be found all over town, and you can arrange a tour of his studio through his website contact info.

I can not wait to return to this unique little town in the North Georgia Mountains, to re-visit the places from this trip and explore new places. If you are looking for a place to escape and explore, this is it!

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Looking for more places to spend the day with your family? Here’s our list of Day Trip Towns, just a short drive from the Upstate.

23+ Fun Things to Do on a Trip to Decatur, Georgia

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Planning a day trip and need a great destination? Sitting in the shadow of downtown Atlanta sits one of its suburbs, Decatur, Georgia. It’s great for a day trip as it’s close enough to the Upstate that you can have a day full of fun but not have to worry about being too tired to get home.

There are no shortage of restaurants, shops, and other neat little finds. Plus Decatur has free WIFI!

My Parents Basement
My Parents’ Basement

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Things to Do in Decatur, GA

Your Dekalb Farmers Market

3000 East Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur GA 30030

Believe me when I tell you this is no ordinary farmers market. Whenever I get the chance to take someone there, I do. No matter how I try to explain that they are in for a surprise, they are never prepared. Since 1977 this market has been providing ingredients to local residents, restaurants, and caterers. Nothing I say will prepare you for the spectacle that awaits, so I’ll just tell you this – If you love, cook, or eat food, you should put this place on your bucket list. Just Go!

Secret Doors Decatur

Downtown Greenville has mice, and Decatur has tiny doors. Hidden around the downtown area are 30 doors decorated by local artists. See how many you can find!

One of these secret doors can be found next to some of the best doughnuts in Atlanta.

Revolution Doughnuts

908 West College Avenue, Decatur GA 30030

This doughnut and coffee shop offers hand-made doughnuts that are almost too beautiful to eat! But we encourage you to just take a photo and then chow down. A place that makes 10 billion doughnuts a year must be doing something right.

Decatur Toy Park

133 Nelson Ferry Road, Decatur GA 30030

This open-to-the-public park is located at First Christian Church, and super popular with the locals. Tricycles, scooters, little tykes-type play structures, and more, all donated, are what draw locals to this unique park.

Decatur Beach Party

Speaking of toys, towards the beginning of summer the streets of downtown Decatur are filled with tons of sand (80 tons) and kids and kids at heart are allowed to play and have fun at this huge beach party!

Waffle House Museum

2719 East College Avenue, Avondale Estates GA 30030

In 1955 the very first waffle house opened at this location. They give tours that include free waffles, however only on certain days. To schedule your tour, call 770.326.7086.

My Parents’ Basement

22 North Avondale Road, Avondale Estates GA 30002

This family-friendly gastropub is hiding a super-cool secret. It also has a comic bookstore inside that houses old pinball and video games. It’s a really neat spot, and honestly, I’m surprised there aren’t more places like this. It’s kid-friendly and where else can a young kid learn the fine art of pinball!

Steel City Pops

312 Church Street, Decatur GA 30030

Can you imagine anything as comical as a Popsicle turf war? Well it happened, right here in Decatur. If you’ve had King Of Pops brand in Greenville, try Steel City Pops and see what you think. We won’t tell you who the winner was, you’ll have to guess that on your own.

Alpaca in Decatur, GA

Alpaca Treehouse in The Bamboo Forest

1162 Fayetteville Road Southeast, Atlanta GA 30316

If you do decide to make a weekend of it, might we suggest a stay with one of the most desired  Air BnB locations around? Just around the corner from Decatur.

Even if you don’t want to make a weekend of your trip, you can still visit this urban farm by taking a 60-minute tour. We visited the Alpacas, llamas, and their treehouse and it’s a really magical place. All the information can be found on our site. Kidding Around’s visit to the Alpaca Treehouse

Enjoying Nature in Decatur

Fernbank Forest and Rec Center

2086 North Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast, Atlanta GA 30307

Part of the Fernbank Museum, this forest is included in the admission fee. This location combined with the Wildwoods attraction of the museum equals 75 acres of outdoor fun to explore.

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

2580 Pine Bluff Drive, Decatur GA 30033

This 28-acre nature preserve with a variety of different ecosystems. Have the kids bring binoculars and go on a scavenger hunt. The preserve has geocaching activities too! There is no fee to visit, although donations are always welcome.

Lullwater Park

1463 Clifton Road Northeast, Atlanta GA 30329

This is a 154-acre nature preserve on the campus of Emory University. There are miles of walking trails where all sorts of animals can be observed in their natural habitat. A lake and suspension bridge provide plenty of photo opportunities for your family. Bring a tripod and get those holiday card photos checked off your to-do list!

Woodlands Garden of Decatur

932 Scott Boulevard, Decatur GA 30030

This is a beautiful garden with a recently completed expansion. The gardens are free to visit and they offer lots of special events. In October, visit the gardens to find the fairy houses hidden along the path.

Mason Mill Park

1340 McConnell Drive – Suite B, Decatur GA 30033

This community park has a nice playground with nearby restrooms. There is a family friendly trail that leads to a historic mill ruin. If your family plays Pokemon Go, this park has plenty to keep trainers busy.

Date Day-Trip to Decatur

If you are looking for a fun day-trip excursion with your main squeeze, there are a ton of grown-up places to enjoy in Decatur.

SOS Tiki Bar

Decatur Square

Decatur Square is the centerpiece of downtown Decatur and a venue for local music performances. It’s also a Marta Station, if you decide to hop a train into the heart of Atlanta for an adventure.

The Iberian Pig

121 Sycamore Street, Decatur GA 30030

This restaurant is great for a romantic meal. I’ve been several times and it’s by far my favorite restaurant in the Square. Be sure to try the B.W.D.! They are bacon-wrapped medijol dates and they are so good! Everything is good, but these we order first every time we go.

Victory Sandwich Bar

340 Church Street, Decatur GA 30030

Famous with locals for the Whiskey & Cola slushies they serve. Pair it with a slider sized sandwich and the peanut ramen noodles for a nice afternoon snack.

The SOS Tiki Bar

Located behind the Victory Sandwich Bar, this little tiki bar has some really yummy drinks and a cozy atmosphere.

Decatur Ghost Tour

101 East Court Square, Decatur GA 30030

The south has seen it’s fair share of atrocities. This makes it a hot bed for (alleged) supernatural activity. Whether you are a believer of the paranormal or not, this tour led by a psychic medium comes highly recommended.

Date Weekend in Decatur

You can do a self-led brewery walking tour in Decatur.

Save this for a weekend away from the kids – because an Uber home from Decatur to the Upstate would not be a wise fiscal idea.

Wild Heaven Beer

135 B Maple Street, Decatur GA 30030

This brewery is offers weekly events that can be found on their social media account, from Yoga to sports game viewing. This brewery is family friendly during tasting room hours.

Three Taverns Brewery

121 New Street, Decatur GA 30030

Tours of this brewery are offered several times a day Fridays through Sundays, and do not require a reservation. The brewery is family-friendly and on weekends has food available via food trucks to go along with your craft beer.

Independent Distillery

731 East College Avenue- Suite D, Decatur GA 30030

This distillery produces small-batch rum, dark rum, whiskey & bourbon. You can enjoy flights and cocktails starting at $6.

We look forward to updating this with more fun things as we return to Decatur and seek new adventures!

Do you have a favorite place that we don’t know about yet? We’d love to know!

10+ Fun Things to Do with Kids in Alpharetta, Georgia

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Are you looking for the perfect place to spend a weekend of fun with kids close to Upstate, SC? You should consider Alpharetta, Georgia. Tucked between the Georgia mountains and downtown Atlanta, Alpharetta is a city with close proximity to many attractions and also with a number of local significant events, delicious dining options, and plenty of things to do for the whole family.
To prove it, here’s our list of over 10 fun things you can do with kids in Alpharetta.

We visited Alpharetta as guests of Awesome Alpharetta, Alpharetta’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. This article includes both our suggestions for activities based on our visit as well as suggestions from our readers. Prices and fee information are subject to change.

Find a place to stay in Alpharetta, GA. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Big Creek Greenway


The Big Creek Greenway offers 8 miles of paved trail that connects Forsyth, Alpharetta, and Roswell. We entered the Greenway at the entrance near North Point Mall (6698 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022).

At this entrance point, you can choose to rent a Zagster bike. To rent a bike, you will need to download the free Zagster app and enter a credit card. The first three hours of your rental are free. Be aware though that you can only rent one bike per app downloaded and that only adult-size bikes are available. You will also need to bring your own helmets.

The trail had plenty of space for bike riders and walkers and offered many scenic views of the river. We also discovered a couple of side paths for pedestrians only that entered the surrounding marshland.

Learn more about the Big Creek Greenway.

Big Creek Greenway in Alpharetta, Georgia

Painting with a Twist Alpharetta

Painting with a Twist Alpharetta is a family-owned painting studio that offers family painting classes, birthday parties, adult classes, and more. You can bring your own snacks or purchase snacks during your visit.

Even if you have never taken a painting class before, you won’t have any trouble settling right in. Painting with a Twist takes each step and makes it simple enough for a child (or non-artsy adult) to recreate. We were surprised by what our family could create with a little bit of encouragement and also by how relaxing and fun painting is in a group.

You will need to sign up for a class or come during an open studio time to paint at Painting with a Twist.

Find the schedule at Painting with a Twist

11770 Haynes Bridge Rd, #801, Alpharetta, GA

Odyssey Escape Game

If you have never taken your kids to an escape room, you are missing out. There’s about nothing that will encourage even your teens to put away their cell phones faster than a ticking clock and a goal to prove your intelligence by solving a puzzle faster than time can run down.

Odyssey Escape Game Alpharetta is one of only two Odyssey Escape Game locations and offers unique escape room themes including Titanic, Prison Break, Jack the Ripper, Towering Inferno.

We peeked into all of the rooms. Jack the Ripper was particularly gruesome and I bet a bit spooky to solve, but Titanic — The Final Hour was the room that we set out to solve. We were impressed from the beginning by the accuracy of the room decorations and the history that the clues taught our kids.

For those that are not as familiar with escape rooms, you are not actually locked into the room but you do have at least one or more doors in each room that you must unlock by solving puzzles in order to escape.

The Titanic was particularly challenging due to the amount of puzzles. We did escape with a little extra help and a couple of extra minutes of time. Considering the room is built for up to 12 people and we only had 2 adults, we considered that success even with the extra help.

If you are an escape room fan, Odyssey Escape Game is definitely worth the drive. The rooms are unique and fun and it’s a great family bonding activity.

Be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time as rooms do fill. Find the schedule on Odyssey Escape Game’s website.

1111 Alderman Dr, Suite 210, Alpharetta, GA

For an additional escape room option, check out Urban Escape Games in Alpharetta.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Our family really loves ice cream, so we were really looking forward to visiting the famous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Avalon but even with high expectations, we were still blown away.

The ice cream spread included so many artisan and popular flavors that it was almost impossible to choose. We were also delighted to learn a bit about the history and quality of the ice cream from our server.

If you can’t make a decision, the menu does offer a 10 half scoop ice cream flight for under $20. I tried to talk my kids into trying it to no avail. They wanted their own ice cream cones and as much as I like ice cream, I can’t eat 10 half scoops on my own.

From our choices, we voted that the Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter ice cream were favorites of ours. The waffle cones were also unusually delicious. We might visit Alpharetta again just for the ice cream.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is located at Avalon in Alpharetta. Avalon is a walkable community that includes shopping, residential, entertainment, and dining. In addition to Jeni’s and the other shops and dining, you will find a massive green turf where the kids can play, plenty of seating, and a large Regal Theatre.

800 Avalon Boulevard, Alpharetta, GA

This shopping center is so well thought of. You feel like you’re abroad. Family friendly, gorgeous landscaping,lots of nice shops and boutiques plus Container Store, Crate and Barrel to name a few. I’d go back in a heartbeat!

Zachaira in reference to Avalon

Four Fat Cows

For another popular local ice cream option, check out Four Fat Cows. Four Fat Cows offers hand-crafted ice cream, homemade waffle cones, and other desserts. Flavors include specialty ice creams such as strawberry balsamic, huckleberry cobbler, and chocolate pecan. You can also order dairy-free and gluten-free ice cream.

64 North Main Street, Alpharetta, GA

Main Event Entertainment

Main Event Entertainment is an arcade plus entertainment venue that offers laser tag, a ropes course, billiards, bowling, and more in addition to a large arcade collection.

The laser tag room had two floors and space for a large group to play. The ropes course spanned over the arcade room and was challenging. You could also eat lunch at a full-service restaurant.

We always like deals and we were excited to find that Main Event Entertainment offers several seasonal deals that you can find on their website. We took advantage of a deal that allowed our kids to play as much laser tag, ropes course, bowling, and billiards as they wanted for under $15/person. The website also has deals on arcade games and more.

10700 Davis Dr, Alpharetta, GA

Wacky World Playground at Will’s Park


This large wooden playground resembles a castle and includes slides, monkey bars, bridges, towers, and swings. Pack clothes that can get dirty because this play area also has sandboxes.

11925 Wills Rd, Alpharetta, GA

Da Vinci’s Donuts

This reader recommended donut shop bakes fresh cake donuts that are hand-dipped at the counter.

131 S Main St Suite F, Alpharetta, GA

Places to Eat with Kids in Alpharetta

Here are some suggested places for dining in Alpharetta based on our trip and reader suggestions.

Secreto Southern Kitchen & Bar

Secreto Southern Kitchen & Bar offers high-quality dishes with farm-to-table ingredients. We ate there for lunch and both sandwiches and entrees were available. There is not a kid’s menu, and the food options may be adventurous for some children. The food was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented and our children really enjoyed it.

6195 Windward Pkwy Suite 102; Alpharetta, GA

House of Hummus Mediterranean Cafe

House of Hummus Mediterranean Cafe serves traditional Mediterranean entrees such as gyros, falafel, hummus, lentil soup, and more. We liked how it was easy to order small portions of different types of foods so that our kids could easily try different things without having to eat a full portion. We loved everything we tried.

5950 North Point Pkwy #127, Alpharetta, GA

Antico Pizza

We did not get to personally try Antico Pizza but after hearing the locals recommend it enthusiastically, we won’t miss eating there next time. We hear that the Margherita Pizza is to die for.

Antico Pizza is also located at Avalon, so be sure to save room for dessert at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

3185 Avalon Boulevard, Alpharetta, GA

Smokejack BBQ

Smokejack BBQ was another local spot that was highly recommended to us by locals. The meats are smoked for 12 hours and you can order everything from nacho appetizers to pork, sausage, beef brisket, smoked turkey, chicken, baby back ribs, and spare ribs. We hear though that if you eat there, you must try the burnt ends. These pieces of brisket are smoked overnight, cubed, wood grill charred, and sautéed in Smokejack’s KC sauce. For dessert, try the Coca-Cola cake and banana pudding.

29 S Main St, Alpharetta, GA

We love Crust and Smokejack. When we visit my sister in Alpharetta, we go there over and over again. We love to play at Cogburn and Webb Bridge Parks.


The El Felix

This popular Tex Mex restaurant is located at Avalon.

Buca di Beppo

Buca di Beppo serves traditional family-style Italian dishes that you can share.

335 Mansell Rd, Alpharetta, GA

Embassy Suites by Hilton in Alpharetta

We stayed at Embassy Suites by Hilton during our trip. We liked that our room had a door between the bedroom and sitting area which made putting kids to bed at a reasonable time much simpler. A full breakfast including fresh to-order omelets was included with our room.

Events in Alpharetta for Kids

Alpharetta has a number of fun family annual events each year. Here are some of our favorites.

Events may be rescheduled or postponed

Touch a Truck

Every child’s imagination will soar as they venture through the parking lot filled with trucks of all shapes and sizes! Kids can see, touch, and explore a fire truck, dump truck, school bus, 18-wheeler, limo, police vehicles, and more. This free event includes animal balloons, face painting, inflatables, and festival food for purchase.

Scarecrow Harvest, September 28-October 30th, 2023

Over 100 life-size scarecrows along the streets of downtown Alpharetta, inspiring fall spirit! A family street party that continues throughout the day offers inflatables, groovy music, hayrides, quirky face painting, artsy activities, and delicious food. More info can be found on the Alpharetta Government page.

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Take A Drive On The Wild Side At Georgia’s Drive-Thru Wildlife Safari on Lake Hartwell

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If you are looking for a wild adventure that you can enjoy from the comfort and air conditioning of your car, this Drive-Thru Safari in Georgia is the answer. Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari is a 60+ acre attraction in Hartwell, GA. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Hartwell, Georgia’s Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari.

Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari

Thank you to Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari for providing us with complimentary admission for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are those of the writer.


Adventure and Award-Winning Museums Await in Cartersville, Georgia

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For a trip full of adventure and fun learning opportunities, Cartersville, Georgia, about three hours from Greenville, SC, is where you need to go. Kristina visited Cartersville with her kids and has all the details on how to plan a great family trip there! 

Thank you to Visit Cartersville-Bartow for inviting us to experience Cartersville, GA!

Cartersville, Georgia is only about a three-hour drive from Greenville, SC and has a multitude of options for indoor and outdoor fun plus unique experiences like a museum that houses the world’s largest collection of Western Art. It’s amazing, I promise. 

Whether you like to explore nature, swim in mountain lakes, dig for fossils, go gem panning, or be mesmerized by Civil War history and Native American sculptures, you’ll find something you will love in Cartersville, Georgia. 

Fossil digging at the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, Georgia
Tellus Museum

This article includes:
What to Do in Cartersville, GA
Where to Eat in Cartersville, GA
Where to Stay in Cartersville, GA
Overall Review of Cartersville, GA

What to do in Cartersville, GA

I was blown away by all the things to do in Cartersville, Georgia. I’ll tell you what we did plus give you other places to go that we weren’t able to get to (but wish we could have).

Red Top Mountain Park 

Red Top Mountain Park is situated on the banks of the 12,000-acre Allatoona Lake and has hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, lodging, and camping available. We hiked part of the Homestead Trail, which was blessedly in the shade and had beautiful views of the lake. Our hike was cut short because it was hot and wanted to get swimming!

We checked out the sandy beach, which is pretty big for a mountain beach on a lake. We got there around 11 am on a Sunday and didn’t leave until 2 pm, when the parking lot was nearly full. There are bathrooms, changing areas, and a shower to rinse off the sand afterward plus lots of space to hang hammocks, grill out, and just chill on the beach.

I was regretting the fact that I didn’t bring my paddleboards! I had to be happy with the tubes we brought and just hung out in the lake, read a book, and enjoyed the Georgia sun. It was pretty awesome. 

There are places to rent a kayak on the lake and lots of good spots I saw where you can fish or swim. If I had more time in Cartersville, I’d make a day trip out of exploring this park. Admission is just $5 per car (bring cash) or free if you have a Georgia State Parks Pass. 

50 Lodge Road SE, Acworth, GA 

Red Top Mountain Beach in Cartersville, GA
The beach at Red Top Mountain State Park

Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site 

The Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site is part of Georgia State Parks and is the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast. There are six earthen mounds here, the highest more than 60 feet (you can climb it), a replica home used by the Native Americans who once lived there, borrow pits, and a defensive ditch (like a moat).

The site dates back to around 1000 to 1550 A.D. when thousands of Native Americans made their homes here along the banks of the Etowah River. You can even walk down to the river to see the unique fish trap they used.  

I thought the site was very peaceful. It was quiet and the exhibits really invite you to think about what it was like living there. We did the Jr. Ranger program, which I think is a great way to really dig deeper into the history and learn about it. This would be a great field trip for a homeschooling family.

You can walk to three of the earthen mounds and climb up them via a staircase. There is no shade once you get outside and while the path is wide and not too long to the mounds or the river, it is natural ground so it would be hard for a wheelchair or regular stroller (a jogging stroller would be fine). Admission is $6/adults, $4/kids ages 6-17, and $2/age 6 and under. 

813 Indian Mounds Rd, Cartersville, GA 

Etowah Indian mounds near Cartersville, Georgia
Etowah Indian Mounds

Booth Western Art Museum

I didn’t know what to expect when I checked out the Booth Western Art Museum. I was totally blown away by this place. A Smithsonian-affiliated institution, the 120,000-square-foot Booth Western Art Museum houses the world’s largest permanent exhibition space of Western Art. But what is Western Art?

We found out that it is art depicting Native Americans and places out West like the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains and art that showcases the struggles, dreams, and legends of people who lived in those lands. It has intricate sculptures of Native American chiefs, an outdoor sculpture garden of cowboys, and even a collection of signed letters from every U.S. President. It was just amazing. My kids were enamored as well. 

The “War is Hell” exhibit was remarkable. It depicts the story of the Civil War through beautiful – and realistic – paintings. It was like walking through a history lesson and because of the visible paintings, it captured and held our attention. They also had some Civil War artifacts in the exhibit hall and some of the paintings depicted battles that happened near present-day Cartersville, GA. 

The kid’s play area, Sagebrush Ranch, was also amazing. It’s an entire, interactive Western town. Kids can jump up on a horse, ride in a bumpy stagecoach, listen to storytime, play games in a saloon, and put together puzzles in the tackhouse. My kids didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave but the museum was closing and we had to go. I’d love to go back here!

They are open every day except Monday. Adult tickets are $13 and children 12 and under are free. Expect to spend at least 1.5 hours here, maybe more.

501 N Museum Dr, Cartersville, GA  

Booth Museum in Cartersville, GA
Sagebrush Ranch at the Booth Musum

Tellus Science Museum 

Another Smithsonian museum, the Tellus Science Museum is a wonder. When we arrived, four summer camps with a lot of kids also arrived, yet once we got inside and started exploring, the place didn’t feel crowded at all. It’s huge!

They have multiple permanent exhibits: an enormous mineral gallery with gems, jeweled objects, stones, exhibits on volcanos and earthquakes, and a lifesize Periodic Table (I loved this); another large gallery devoted to science and motion, which has a replica of the Wright Brothers plane, vintage motorcycles, model trains, a fighter jet cockpit, and space capsules; and Discovery Garden, which is a huge backyard-themed kids area with brainteasers, puzzles, simple machines, and rotating exhibits. 

One of the biggest exhibits is on dinosaurs. You can’t miss it – they have a huge dinosaur skeleton in the lobby plus multiple skeletons, including a T-Rex, an enormous turtle, sharks, and a strange prehistoric fish creature. They also have gem panning and fossil digs, which are included in your admission. My kids loved digging in the “dirt” for shark teeth and other fossils and gem panning for small gems. 

They also have a planetarium and observatory. Planetarium shows are daily and can be added to the cost of your admission. If you have a Roper Mountain Science Center membership for your family, you get in free (yet another reason to have this membership). Otherwise, adult admission is $17 and child (ages 3-17) admission is $13. Expect to spend at least 2.5 hours here. They have a cafe if you’d like to get lunch. 

100 Tellus Drive, Cartersville, GA

Dinosaur Skeleton at the Tellus Museum
Tellus Museum

LakePoint Station

The arcade at LakePoint Station is just one part of the big entertainment complex. They have a huge arcade, bowling, mini-golf, gem mining, indoor climbing walls, an ice cream and treats shop, and a pizza restaurant.  My kids and I love arcades so that’s where we headed.

We threw balls at clowns trying to knock them down in our favorite arcade game for at least 15 minutes and then tried a few others that my kids loved. Prices vary according to activity. They are open daily and have specials so be sure to follow them on social media and check their website before you go. 

77 Old Allatoona Road, Cartersville, GA

The arcade at LakePoint Station in Cartersville, Georgia.
LakePoint Station

Terminus Wake Park 

If my kids and I have a summer weakness, it’s floating aqua parks. We’ve tried most of these within a three-hour driving distance to Greenville and absolutely love sliding around on the inflatable courses, jumping in the water, and trying our best not to wipe out. When I saw Terminus Wake Park across the street from LakePoint Station, I went in to check it out and ultimately booked a session for later that day. Kids have to be ages 5 or older to participate.

It was such a blast! The weather had cleared earlier and it was really hot and humid so the water felt awesome. The course looks relatively new and is in great shape. The life jackets are clean and comfortable as well. If you have younger kids, you may want to go on with them if there are older kids that are on the course with you. They do have lifeguards but some of the rules aren’t enforced and younger kids may get accidentally pushed in by the older ones.

Your best bet is to book your spot online and sign your waiver so you can save time when you get there. They start every hour on the hour. You get 50 minutes on the course and prices are $24-$28 a person depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend/holiday that you choose. They also have a huge wakeboarding park but I’m not brave enough to do that. 

171 LakePoint Pkwy, Cartersville, GA 

Terminus Wake Park in Cartersville, Georgia.
Terminus Wake Park

Downtown Cartersville & African American History 

Downtown Cartersville is home to lots of cute shops, small businesses, and restaurants. There are clothing shops, handmade items, coffee, olive oil, outdoor stores, and an old school pharmacy. In fact, just outside the doors of the pharmacy is the world’s first outdoor painted wall sign for Coca-Cola. 

Additionally, the history of African American entrepreneurship runs deep in Cartersville. There is a powerful sculpture near the town center called “Pathways to Freedom” that depicts the signs and symbols used by escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad. You can also take the walkable trail to learn more about the history of Black residents in Cartersville-Bartow County.

A Coca Cola mural in Downtown Cartersville
Coca Cola Outdoor Mural

Cars & Camels

We didn’t get to these places but think our readers may enjoy them: 

  • Old Car City USA – In the small town of White, Georgia lies the world’s largest known classic car junkyard. This forest of forgotten cars is a dreamland for car enthusiasts and photographers alike, with more than 4,000 classic cars and six miles of walking trails over 34 acres of land. Fun fact: Old Car City USA is also home to the last car Elvis Presley owned. Admission is cash only.
  • Pettit Creek Farms – Just one mile from Downtown Cartersville’s Historic Square lies the largest camel herd in Georgia. But it’s not just camels; this farm is home to many exotic animals such as giraffes, zebras, capybaras, lemurs, llamas, and even reindeer when they’re not pulling Santa’s sleigh.
  • The 4 Way Lunch – This classic American diner is Georgia’s oldest restaurant without a telephone, staying true to its 1930s roots with a 14-seat counter. In addition to Southern staples like grits and biscuits, locals love to order burgers and hot dogs “All the Way,” topped with mustard, onions, and chili.
  • Savoy Auto Museum: This museum connects people to the cultural diversity of the automobile. Through changing exhibits, educational programs, and engaging experiences individuals have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and history of automobiles.

The 4 Way Lunch restaurant in Cartersville, Georgia
4 Way Lunch

Where to Eat 

Main Street Coastal Cuisine 

Right on Main Street in downtown Cartersville, Maine Street Coastal Cuisine is a casual dining place but definitely make reservations before you go. We went on a Sunday evening and even though we didn’t have reservations, they had some space for us at the large bar so that’s what where we sat. The staff was really great in accommodating us and the food was awesome.

They have several seafood-based dishes as well as burgers, tacos, and a good kids menu. My youngest got Mac & Cheese and it had Old Bay Seasoning. It was so good! What a game-changer. I got steak tip tacos and my other daughter had a burger with fries. Everything was excellent. 

24 West Main Street, Cartersville, GA

Tacos from Maine Street Coastal Cuisine.
Maine Street Coastal Cuisine Tacos

Nagel’s Bagels

Put a bagel shop in front of me and I’ll race you to the door. Nagel’s Bagels was our choice of breakfast one morning and they didn’t disappoint. An artisan bagel shop, they specialize in unique bagel flavors that are pretty incredible. My daughters got egg, cheese, and bacon sandwiches. One of the bagels we ordered was a Maple Bacon bagel and I got a Cranberry bagel – both were fantastic. The shop is really cute, too, with lots of space to sit and relax and enjoy your bagels. 

125 W Main St, Cartersville, GA 

Noble & Main Coffee Co. 

A specialty coffee shop, Noble & Main Coffee Co. is a couple of doors down from Nagel’s Bagels so you could get your coffee and then eat some bagels (which is what we did). I had a rosemary cardamom latte and it was quite flavorful. I’d certainly go back here to try other coffees. 

145 W Main St, Cartersville, GA  

Café Sundaé

This cafe is a healthier option for dining with smoothies, salads, and air-fried foods. We went for breakfast and I got a Toasted Coconut coffee that was amazing. My kids got bacon, egg, and cheese croissants that were huge. The owners are the sweetest couple you’ll probably meet and asked my name and my kids’ names and were just so welcoming. Give them a follow on Facebook for updated specials.

650 Henderson Dr Ste 501, Cartersville, GA 

Where to Stay 

We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott, only a ten-minute drive from downtown Cartersville. The rooms are really nice and spacious with a microwave and a small refrigerator. The beds are comfortable and they have a big lobby and outdoor area to hang out, catch up on some work, or just relax and play games. 

My kids loved the outdoor pool and the staff was so helpful in bringing us extra towels. While the hotel does not have a free breakfast, they do offer breakfast and Starbucks coffee as an add-on if you want to eat there. 

I really liked this hotel as the location was convenient and the place was very clean. 

5460 Highway 20, Cartersville, GA

Beds at the Courtyard Marriott.
Courtyard by Marriott

Fall Events in Cartersville-Bartow

If you’re headed to North Georgia around this area, there are some pretty fantastic events happening.

  • Swine & Wine: Barnsley Resort, located in the small town of Adairsville, is gearing up for a delightful fall celebration with Swine & Wine Weekend October 27 & 28. Throughout the entire weekend, visitors can celebrate pork and cork with award-winning barbeque pitmaster Carey Bringle of Nashville’s Peg Leg Porker and wine enthusiast personality Heath Porter, a five-star international sommelier of Heathen Wines + Wine Tours. Guests are in for a treat with an interactive signature wine tasting during the Swine & Wine Supper Club Dinner at the stunning Manor House Ruins Pavilion. The event promises to be an enchanting experience, celebrating the finest flavors of fall. 
  • West Fest at Booth Western Art Museum: Booth Western Art Museum is hosting the newly revamped West Fest from Thursday, October 26 through Saturday October 28. Visitors can grab their cowboy hats and experience exciting re-enactments of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, vendors, lively music performances, food trucks, children’s train and hayrides, chuck wagons, a petting zoo, mechanical calf roping and so much more. Kids can enjoy complimentary art projects and activities along with their admission. Once visitors have enjoyed the daytime West Fest, they can head to Museum South Lawn from 5-7:30 pm for the first-ever “West Fest After-Party”. Tickets are available for individuals and whole tables offering beer, wine, signature drinks, food trucks and live acoustic music, creating a vibrant atmosphere for those 21 and older.  

Overall Review of Cartersville-Bartow

I love being pleasantly surprised during a trip with my kids and that was certainly the feeling while exploring Cartersville. The Booth Western Art Museum and the Tellus Museum were both outstanding and I really wish I had more time to stay at both of them. The art at the Booth Museum was astounding and my kids were just as amazed as I was, which I think shows that they can really span generations of interest. 

Being an outdoor lover, Red Top Mountain Park was a favorite. I’d go back there just to paddleboard and swim. They offer a yurt and cabins to stay in and I’d totally be up for doing that for a weekend and seeing the museums again for indoor activities. My kids would tell you that they would happily sit in the car for the three-hour drive if they could do the aqua park at Terminus again! I do agree that it was awesome. 

For an affordable family trip that has elements to suit pretty much any interest and is within easy driving distance of the Upstate, Cartersville certainly is a fantastic option. 

SouthEast Travel Guide

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Family Travel: Newnan-Coweta, GA is Like Stepping Back in Time

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If you’re looking for a lovely family trip not far from the Upstate, SC, consider Newnan-Coweta, GA, a little over three hours away. The small town charm and filming location of big television hits will captivate you! 

Thanks to Explore Newnan-Coweta for inviting us on a media trip to experience their little slice of heaven.

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee lies the charming small town of Newnan in Coweta County, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s the same town where country music legend Alan Jackson grew up and no doubt was inspired by his time on the iconic river to write his chart-topping hits. 

Today, the town of Newnan is one of the must-see spots if you make the drive down I-85 to Coweta County. The other iconic town is Senoia, where “The Walking Dead” was filmed. We spent a weekend in this beautiful area and think you and your family will love it if you’re looking for a little getaway not far from the Upstate.

Alan Jackson Mural in Newnan-Coweta, Georgia
Alan Jackson Mural

This article includes:
About Newnan & Senoia
Things to Do in Newnan-Coweta
How to Enjoy the Outdoors in Newnan-Coweta
Where to Eat in Newnan-Coweta
Places to Stay in Newnan-Coweta

About Newnan & Senoia

Newnan-Coweta is part of the greater metropolitan area of Atlanta and because of its proximity to the city, has been growing rapidly. But Newnan and Senoia both retain their small town charm.

The town square is the center of historic Newnan and quite literally all the small businesses surround the square. You can find anything from unique clothing to handmade tea towels to jewelry, pottery, chocolate, coffee, and books. This is what made me fall in love with Newnan. 

Newnan was a hospital town during the Civil War since it was right off the railroad. The town was supported by the textile and manufacturing industries and you can still see some of the stately homes from that era as you drive into town. Many of the buildings date back to the mid-1800s. 

Downtown Newnan, Georgia
Downtown Newnan, GA

One of the really neat buildings is the Alamo Theater on one of the corners of the town square. Originally built in 1880, it housed a harness shop, general store, and butcher shop throughout the decades. In 1928, it was converted to a movie theater with one screen and 551 seats. I felt like I was in one of the “Back to the Future” movies looking at the Alamo Theater. 

Senoia is also super fascinating but for a whole other reason: I learned that Senoia is classified as Anytown, USA, which means it was built to basically conform to whatever a production team would need for a film or series. The streets of downtown have been laid with dirt and the buildings transformed to look like a Wild West town for one movie and the entire “Walking Dead” series was filmed in Senoia along with dozens of movies.

Things to do in Newnan-Coweta

Summer Wined Up 

The weekend I spent in Newnan happened to be the same weekend of the Summer Wined Up festival. This event is meant to highlight not only various local wines but also showcase Newnan’s small businesses.

After you show your ID and get your wristband, you get a map of the small businesses and the wines they are serving, which are all about one ounce pours. You don’t have to try every single wine available – there are about 35 small businesses participating and that’s a lot of wine. I don’t know how many tickets they sold (they did sell out) but it was the perfect number because nowhere was crowded.

Downtown Newnan, GA
Enjoying downtown Newnan, GA

I really could not have envisioned a better introduction to the town of Newnan. Not only was the wine I tried delicious but having the opportunity to walk into each of the small businesses was just fantastic.

Many of them had small hors d’oeuvres like fruit, cheese, and cookies, which my daughters (ages 12 and 8) loved but we also got to check out local bookstores, shops overflowing with handcrafted jewelry and bags, apparel stores, pottery shops, medical businesses, and restaurants.

I was completely floored at the diversity of shops around the town square. It was amazing and my girls and I had such a blast shopping and picking up some really neat items. 

We will be sure to update this story before next year’s Wined Up so you can make plans to go to Newnan for the weekend! Newnan will host a similar event, Oktoberfest on Friday, October 6th from 5-10 pm, if you’d like to start making travel plans.

Senoia Farmers Market 

This farmers market is adorable. We loved strolling through the stalls and finding everything from freshly cut flowers to produce and vegetables to iced coffee to French pastries and bread. There are so many unique vendors and it was a lot of fun to wander through the farmers market before we headed over to main street in Senoia to check out where “The Walking Dead” was filmed.

Full confession: I have never seen one episode of “The Walking Dead” but can certainly appreciate cinematic aspects of any film or series and love getting to see where movies are made.

Senoia Farmers Market
Senoia Farmers Market

I picked up a lavender iced coffee from one of the local coffee vendors and cinnamon raisin bread and a danish from the French baker. She was quite convincing and I’m impressed with myself that I didn’t walk out of there with a lot – like, a lot – more baked goods. 

The Senoia Farmers Market is open every Saturday, March – December from 8:30 am – 1 pm. 

40 Travis Street, Senoia, GA

Downtown Senoia

When you walk around downtown Senoia, you’ll come across plaques on the ground that tell you about the different movies and shows that were filmed in the town. “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Pet Cemetery II”, among many other movies, were filmed there.

We walked into one unique shop that had clothes from “The Walking Dead” that they acquired when the show ended. The owners had some great stories about how the production team would film in the town and when they even used their shop for some of the scenes. The Georgia Tour Company offers walking tours of the different areas around Senoia that have been used for movies. 

There are coffee shops, breakfast and lunch bistros, a lovely bookstore, and stores that sell handmade goods up and down main street in Senoia. It’s a great place to spend some time exploring. 

Visiting The Walking Dead set
Bank of Woodbury in Senoia, GA

Full Circle Toys 

Full Circle Toys & Games place is right off the main square and we just happened to stumble upon it when we got into town. My youngest child saw the words “toy shop” and she wanted to check it out so we did.

This store is so neat because they have toys from the 80s and 90s like collectible baseball figurines, Star Wars characters, Cabbage Patch dolls, Strawberry Shortcake dolls and houses, Fisher Price toys, Elmo and Cookie Monster dolls, collectible Barbies, and old school McDonald toys. I had such a blast wandering around this shop!

How to enjoy the outdoors in Newnan-Coweta

There are some great spots to enjoy the outdoors in Newnan-Coweta. 

C.J. Smith Park 

This park has a great playground with lots of swings and rope-climbing structures. There are two big slides down a hill that were under construction when we were there but they looked super fun. 

This park also has a huge skate park. We got to watch several skateboarders show off their moves, which was a blast. I have a lot of admiration for these daredevils. A splash pad is near the parking lot but wasn’t on when we were there. 

92 Farmer Street, Newnan, GA

Skate Park at C.J. Smith Park in Newnan, Georgia
Skate Park at C.J. Smith Park

Chattahoochee Bend State Park 

Part of the Georgia State Park system, Chattahoochee Bend State Park has lots of camping, a couple of playgrounds, about six miles of trails, and a boat ramp into the river. There really aren’t any swimming spots but you can certainly fish in the river off the banks. 

If you have your own kayak, you can launch right from the park into the river. The Park also has programs available that sometimes involve kayaking on the river. Check out the park events page to see what’s going on when you are planning a visit. We did a short, shaded (thankfully) hike along the river and it was really pretty.

425 Bobwhite Way, Newnan, GA

Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Where to eat in Newnan-Coweta

There are several restaurants right in downtown Newnan and Senoia. Here’s where we ate: 

Meat N Greet

Meat N Greet was our first stop for dinner when we got to Newnan and the staff was awesome. Our waitress explained the menu and gave us her recommendations. They are known for burgers so that’s what we got. All our dishes were really good and the fries were amazing. Meat N Greet is right off the main square in Newnan so it’s a great starting point if you want to wander around downtown. 

11 Jefferson Street, Newnan, GA 

Curious Kitchen at the Senoia Farmers Market 

After our morning at the Senoia Farmers Market, we were going to head over to the Chattahoochee Bend State Park. I wanted something for lunch on the go so we got bacon and egg burritos and sandwiches from the Curious Kitchen at one of the stalls at the market. I was given a tip that these were pretty famous and that is a hundred percent the truth.

My kids devoured their sandwiches and I couldn’t even finish my burrito. The flavors were outstanding! If you go to Senoia on a day when the Farmers Market isn’t open, you can still get an amazing burrito or sandwich at the Curious Kitchen and Bar located in downtown Senoia. 

42 Main Street Suite 1B, Senoia, GA

The Cellar

The Cellar is a steakhouse located in downtown Newnan that serves a variety of both meat and seafood dishes. I had shrimp and grits and roasted vegetables, which were delicious. My kids ordered off the children’s menu and had grilled cheese and chicken tenders. I’ll admit I stole a bunch of their fries because excellent fries are my weak spot. The Cellar is more on the fine dining scale so reservations are recommended.

20 Jefferson Street, Newnan, GA 

Bistro Hilary 

This cute restaurant is located in Senoia and is a great stop for lunch. Bistro Hilary is based on French-inspired cuisine that sources their ingredients locally. 

21 Barnes Street, Senoia, GA  

Rock Salt Milk Bar

If you go anywhere in Newnan, Rock Salt Milk Bar should be it. They make all their own ice cream, sourcing as many ingredients as they can both locally and organically. And they make their own waffle bowls and cones.

I honestly could have eaten just those. I got honey lavender ice cream in a waffle bowl and I was in heaven. The kiddie size, which is a small(ish) scoop, and is perfect. I like ice cream but don’t like to overindulge and this size was perfect. My kids were also in heaven, so big win. 

 8 East Washington Street, Newnan, GA 

Waffle Bowl from Rock Salt Milk Bar
Waffle bowl at Rock Salt Milk Bar

Where to stay in Newnan-Coweta

We stayed at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott just seven minutes from the Newnan Town Square. I always look for places with kitchenettes to help save on food costs when traveling and this place had a great kitchenette with a refrigerator, sink, two burner stovetop, and dishwasher. We took advantage of the refrigerator to keep our waters cold because it was super hot when we visited (not the hotel but the weather!). 

The pool at Towneplace Suites

The hotel also had complimentary breakfast each morning with eggs (one of my kids declared these eggs some of the best she’s ever had so there’s that), waffles, oatmeal, cereal, bagels, and muffins. There’s also juice and coffee/hot chocolate/tea available 24/7. 

On the way to Newnan-Coweta, my kids wanted to know if the hotel had a pool and were delighted to find out that indeed, their dreams would be coming true when we arrived. The pool is outdoors and there is also an indoor fitness center. 

Lastly, the rooms are very spacious and clean and all the hotel staff were very helpful. There is free parking for all guests. 

4001 McIntosh Pkwy, Newnan, GA 

Fall 2023 Events in Newnan-Coweta

Don’t miss any of these great fall events happening in Newnan-Coweta!

  • Oktoberfest in downtown Newnan on Friday, October 6th from 5-10 pm. It will be set up similar to the Wined festival where you can visit local shops and sample good brews.
  • Spirits and Spice Festival: At the Spirits and Spice Festival, on October 21, from 2-7 pm, visitors can indulge in a delightful October afternoon filled with eating, drinking and bewitching fun. The downtown area will be full of nostalgic businesses serving up specialty cocktails, locals participating in a chili cook-off and talented artists showcasing their creations. It’s the perfect time for guests to have a gourd time and embrace the Halloween Spirit. 
  • Coweta Fest: Coweta Community Foundation is hosting Coweta Fest, a concert fundraiser at Line Creek Reserve on October 12. The Mad Hatters, a wonderful Tom Petty tribute band, is setting the stage for an evening experience that will have visitors grooving the night away. With swag bags, a silent auction and epic Alcohol Tree Raffle, there will never be a dull moment. Attendees can also enjoy food trucks from local eateries, including the legendary Ellison Brothers’ BBQ. All the proceeds from this event will be donated to the foundation’s local fundraising, allowing visitors to make a difference while having a blast in the heart of downtown Newnan. 

Overall Impression of Newnan-Coweta 

I’m always up for a new adventure and visiting new places but I really had no idea what to expect at Newnan-Coweta. That first night walking around the main square in downtown Newnan was unexpectedly fantastic. I absolutely loved the small town charm, the local businesses, the kindness of everyone we met, and the calm atmosphere of Newnan. It was almost like stepping back in time, which I so enjoyed. 

I love traveling with my daughters and seeing their excitement at exploring new places and they felt the same way about Newnan and Senoia. These little towns are both unique and interesting but also just give off such a calm and peaceful vibe that I couldn’t help but get caught up in the beauty of it. 

Downtown Newnan, Georgia
Downtown Newnan, GA

And Alan Jackson. I love country music from the 90s and have been a fan of his for many years. Finding out that this is where he grew up was quite exciting.

Normally our trips involve a lot of hiking and adventure and more high-strung activities so exploring Newnan-Coweta in a more relaxed fashion was certainly a newer experience but one that we really enjoyed. If you’re looking for more of a low-key trip that has elements of uniqueness and invites restfulness and family or couple time, this is the place to go.

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Helen, GA: Float Down the Chattahoochee River in this Bavarian Village

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We know our readers love floating down a river during the hot, summer months so we decided to check out Cool River Tubing in order to give you the deal on how it works and why you should check out this particular tubing outfitter two hours away from Greenville, SC in Helen, Georgia. Tube down the Chattahoochee, or, as they say, Shoot the Hooch.

Planning a Trip to this Barvarian Town in the mountains? Check out our full review of Helen, Georgia!

Cool River Tubing for some Helen tubing in Helen, GA
Look at all those tubes

I’d heard of Helen, GA for a while now while living in Greenville and had seen photos of the Bavarian-themed architecture. And tubing was synonymous with Helen just as much as German beer and brats (at least in my mind). When I finally got the chance to visit Helen, tubing was absolutely on my mind. So I gathered my two young kids and decided to try out Cool River Tubing.

Cool River Tubing is a tubing company that offers a tubing adventure down the Chattahoochee with a shuttle service.