I don't know if it's the cooler weather, the promise of changing leaves, or the simple fact I'm cooped up in an office for 8 hours a day, but I've been battling incurable wanderlust for the past few days! Though I can't travel physically (I was denied a week off in October, even though I requested it in early August), I figured I'd ramble around via the Internet. Lo and behold, what did my wandering eyes see this morning but an email in my inbox filled with travel ideas. Coming from Southern Living Magazine, the weekend getaways and road trips were all for the south, which suits me just fine, considering I live in Georgia.
Now this got me to thinking: maybe I'm not able to go away for a week, but why not a weekend? Or, dare I mention it, a day? So I pulled on my boots, logged on to Google, and decided to do a little travel hunting for my area. I honestly didn't expect to find much. I mean, sure, North Georgia has the mountains and South Georgia has Savannah, but what about we poor souls stuck in the middle? Well, lookey what I found:
First off, who knew there were this many fall festivals in Georgia?
It's nothing spectacular, but my new home town of Hampton has the Bear Creek Festival every September.
I grew up going to Callaway Gardens but I've only recently discovered how much fun the rest of Pine Mountain can be!
And of course, what's a trip to Georgia without a trip to Stone Mountain? For the past five years, my husband and I have been going to the Indian Festival and Pow Wow that's held every November in the park. Not that you'd know it by looking at us, but Jon and I both have Native American blood and it's so wonderful to see first hand how these beautiful people are keeping their traditions alive. They are also huge supporters of veterans and since my father was a Vietnam Vet, part Native American, and lost his life thanks to exposure to Agent Orange, this festival is especially dear to my heart.
Up the interstate we go, to the North Georgia mountains! They ain't the Rockies, and I used to bemoan that fact, until I learned that the Smokey and the Appalachian Mountains are much, much older than the West's lofty peaks. Huh...who knew?
This place is gorgeous! Even without a lot of rain fall to get it going, Amicalola Falls is a spectacular site! The hike to the top is strenuous (especially in the snow!) but it's completely worth the sore knees :)
Dahlonega is just another one of those places I grew up going to without truly appreciating the history of small town life.
In the mood for a little wine tasting?
Tiger Mountain Vineyards : "Tiger Mountain Vineyards is nestled on a hillside high up in Rabun County, on the rocky, sunny slopes of the North Georgia mountains. Our vineyard is small, the vines individually tended and the grapes hand-picked for quality. Our red wines are barrel-aged 18 to 24 months. Visit the vineyards and enjoy barrel-room tastings!"
Frogtown Cellars : "Frogtown is a 57 acre wine estate located at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains equal distance between Dahlonega and Cleveland Georgia. Frogtown encompasses 40 acres of vineyards and a tri-level gravity flow winery specifically designed to produce the unique wines made from Frogtown grapes.In 1998, native Atlantans Craig and Cydney Kritzer founded Frogtown in a location carefully selected for quality wine grape production and outstanding mountain views, the Frogtown District of Lumpkin County, Georgia. After researching Frogtowns soil, diverse climates and terrain, Craig divided the land up into separate vineyards. He planted different wine grape varieties based on the characteristics of each vineyard site. Frogtown is now home to 40 acres of vineyards planted to 17 different wine grapes varieties, both red and white."
Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery :"Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery is a small family farm situated on a hundred and eighty acres in the heart of the Frogtown District in historic Lumpkin County, Georgia. Located eight miles northeast of the site of the first major US gold rush, Dahlonega, the farm's name was inspired by the property's spectacular view of Lumpkin County's Three Sisters Mountain. While no one knows the origin of the name of Three Sisters Mountain, local residents refer to its three distinctive peaks as Wild Cat, McBrayer, and Rattlesnake. Established in 1996 and bonded in 2000, Three Sisters Vineyards is Lumpkin County's first vineyard since prohibition and holds the distinction of being 'Dahlonega's First Family Farm Winery'."
Of course, I can't leave out Chateau Elan, North Georgia's Spa, Vineyard and Golf Course getaway. One of these days, I'm going to have to treat myself :)
Once upon a time, Sautee was a dot on the road map and an accidental find on the way to the bustling Alpine town of Helen. It's grown up, just a bit, but the charm I remember from my childhood days rambling the hills with my parents and sister is still there, in overflowing quantities. Just don't drive too fast, or you'll miss it!
Two of my favorite places in the whole world are The Homestead House and Hearts and Flowers. To a less discerning eye, they don't look like much, just old log cabins sitting on the side of the road. But for me, they hold more memories than I can stand of a childhood filled with pumpkin spice candles, running wild in rivers and streams, and painting my face red with lipstick so my sister and I would be real, bonafide Indians! Not to mention my mother frequents them at least once a season and, being the good daughter I am, I certainly can't let her go without a chaperon ;) It's practically impossible to go in either of these shops and leave without at least a spice scented candle in your grasp! Or a stuffed raven. Or a sachet filled with Sweet Annie. Or...
That should be enough to get me started. There's so much more out there than you imagine. Too many times, on the quest for new and exciting, we overlook our own home towns and the surrounding areas. What gems have you discovered on the back roads and byways of your home state?