Summer Adventure: Hidden Gems

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Georgia is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be explored by adventurers of all ages. From majestic mountain landscapes to whimsical folk-art sanctuaries, our state offers a diverse array of destinations that promise unforgettable experiences for families seeking adventure. In our annual Summer Adventure Guide, we invite you to discover 10 of these gems, including family-friendly options that will captivate the imagination of kids and adults alike.

CLOUDLAND CANYON STATE PARK

122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road in Rising Fawn

Embark on an outdoor adventure at Cloudland Canyon State Park, located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain in Rising Fawn, Georgia. This sprawling park boasts rugged landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic views. Explore miles of hiking trails that wind through dense forests and lead to stunning overlooks, offering glimpses of the park’s breathtaking scenery. Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities, including picnicking, camping, and birdwatching, making it the perfect destination for a family day out or a weekend getaway. Rent a glamping yurt for a not-so-rustic camping experience, or take advantage of one of the newly added guided cave tours: https://gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon/Caving. For more information, call 706-657-4050 or visit GaStateParks.org/CloudlandCanyon.

 

HARDMAN FARM STATE HISTORIC SITE

143 Highway 17 in Sautee Nacoochee

Located just south of Helen, the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound at Hardman Farm is perhaps the best-known feature of Hardman Farm, located just south of Helen in White County. The gazebo-topped mound and cow pasture sit across the street from the Hardman Farm house, which offers guided house tours. Built in 1870 by Captain James Nichols, the house is a grand example of Italianate architecture and was originally known as “West End” because it was at the west end of the Nacoochee Valley. Anna Ruby Nichols, the namesake of nearby Anna Ruby Falls once lived in the home and its last owner was the family of Dr. Lamartine Hardman, Georgia’s governor from 1927–1931. The old barn that sits on the property was the focal point of Nacoochee Dairy that operated from 1910 until the mid-1920s. Guests will learn how milk was processed and transported, plus they will see a spring house and former horse barn. The house is also available for weddings and events. For more information, call 706-878-1077 or visit GaStateParks.org/HardmanFarm.

 

ARABIA MOUNTAIN

Dekalb County, Georgia

Discover the otherworldly beauty of Arabia Mountain, located just outside Atlanta. This granite outcrop, part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, boasts unique landscapes dotted with rare plant species and fascinating rock formations. Visitors can traverse the network of hiking trails that wind through lush forests, open meadows, and rocky terrain, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery. Adventure seekers can also enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, and geocaching, immersing themselves in the rugged beauty of this natural wonder. Learn more at ArabiaAlliance.org.

 

PROVIDENCE CANYON STATE PARK

8930 Canyon Road in Lumpkin

Known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon State Park is a geological wonder characterized by its vibrant hues and dramatic rock formations. Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails that wind through towering cliffs and colorful sedimentary layers, offering glimpses of the park’s unique beauty at every turn. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, Providence Canyon State Park is a must-visit destination for experiencing Georgia’s natural splendor. For more information, visit GAStateParks.org/ProvidenceCanyon.

 

LEN FOOTE HIKE INN

280 Amicalola Falls State Park Road in Dawsonville

Hidden away near Amicalola in Dawsonville, Georgia, the Len Foote Hike Inn offers a unique backcountry retreat for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure and solitude. Accessible only by foot, this eco-friendly lodge provides cozy accommodations and stunning views of the surrounding wilderness. Visitors can embark on scenic hikes, immerse themselves in nature, and enjoy delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful getaway or an active outdoor experience, the Len Foote Hike Inn promises an unforgettable escape into Georgia’s rugged landscape. For more information, call 706-344-1547 or visit Hike-Inn.com.

 

GEORGIA MOUNTAIN COASTER

8409 S. Main St. in Helen

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the Georgia Mountain Coaster — the first and only mountain roller coaster in the state. Located just two hours north of Atlanta in Helen, the Georgia Mountain Coaster offers an exhilarating experience for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. This alpine coaster winds through lush forests and scenic landscapes, providing breathtaking views of Georgia’s mountainous terrain. With twists, turns, and thrilling descents, the Georgia Mountain Coaster promises an unforgettable adventure for visitors of all ages. Pius, the rider controls the speed, allowing you to go as fast as you’d like, topping out at 25 mph.  For more information, call 706-878-1347 or visit GeorgiaMountainCoaster.com.

 

THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE

443 McCrackin St. in Juliette

Step back in time and visit the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia, widely known as the filming location for the beloved movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Housed in a historic building reminiscent of a bygone era, this charming cafe offers classic Southern cuisine and hospitality. Visitors can savor dishes inspired by the film, including fried green tomatoes and Southern-style comfort food. With its nostalgic ambiance and tasty food, the Whistle Stop Cafe invites guests to experience the magic of the silver screen in a quaint setting. For more information, call 478-992-8886 or visit TheWhistleStopCafe.com.

 

THE ROCK GARDEN

1411 Rome Road in Calhoun

Tucked away in Calhoun, Georgia, sits The Rock Garden, a whimsical folk art paradise brimming with creativity and charm. This volunteer-built sanctuary features miniature buildings, churches, and cathedrals meticulously crafted from stones, pebbles, and other found materials. Visitors can explore the intricate details of these tiny structures, each designed to replicate its larger counterparts. From miniature castles to quaint villages, The Rock Garden is a fun and unique example of artistic expression. Open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. The attraction is free, but donations are encouraged. Learn more at Facebook.com/CalhounRockGarden.

 

GIBBS GARDENS

1987 Gibbs Drive in Ball Ground

Gibbs Gardens is a botanical gem located in Ball Ground, Georgia. Spanning over 300 acres, this beautifully landscaped paradise boasts a stunning array of flora, including vibrant azaleas, serene water gardens, and picturesque Japanese maples. Meander along tranquil pathways lined with seasonal blooms, or relax by tranquil ponds filled with water lilies. Gibbs Gardens offers a peaceful retreat for nature lovers and photographers alike, with endless opportunities to capture the beauty of each meticulously curated landscape.  For more information, call 770-893-1881 or visit GibbsGardens.com.

CHEHAW PARK AND ZOO

105 Chehaw Park Road in Albany

Offering a blend of outdoor adventure and wildlife exploration, Chehaw Park and Zoo, located southwest of Atlanta in Albany, is a family-friendly destination that promises hours of fun and discovery. Kids can explore the Wild Animal Park, which features a number of wildlife habitats filled with emus, lemurs, cheetahs, wolves, zebras, tortoises, and more, including an array of colorful birds fluttering in the aviary. After exploring the animals, take an adventure through the African Veldt aboard the park’s scenic railway. With playgrounds, nature trails, and interactive exhibits, Chehaw Park and Zoo offers endless opportunities for family-friendly adventures. Learn more at Chehaw.org

 

 

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