Fort Mountain State Park

Fort Mountain State Park

Camping, Hiking, Biking, Kayaking, Fishing

Fort Mountain State Park has it all for a family camping trip.  Situated in North Georgia between Elijay and Chatsworth, you can enjoy a choice between pull-in camping, cottages, or pioneer camping sites.  The lake offers swimming and playing on a sandy beach, fishing, canoeing / kayaking, and lots of great trails for biking and hiking.

 

Big Rock Nature Trail

This 3/4 mile loop takes you to a fantastic cascading water fall.  The kids had a blast playing around the falls.  It was a good trail for the family, moderate in hiking difficulty.

Fort Mountain Lake

Come prepared to cool off by the lake.  The kids will love the sandy beach and playgrounds.  We were lucky enough to have a couple kayaks on hand to enjoy the water; and although we didn’t get a chance to fish, we witness a fisherman pull a huge largemouth bass from the lake.

Biking Trails

There are plenty of fun, curvy, paved roads for biking, and also several off-road biking trails through the woods.

The View

Don’t miss out on the overlooks.  The views are amazing!

Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards

Year Round Fruit Picking

We hit up Mercier Orchards this year at the end of peach season (mid-August) and learned that apple season was just about to open.  The peaches were big, juicy, and delicious.  It was a great experience for the family… but what we didn’t know is that Mercier is open year round for fruit picking.  You can come pick apples, peaches, blue berries, strawberries, and probably other fruits depending on what is in season.

Bear Creek Trail

Bear Creek Trail

Bear Creek Trail Camping

Just North-West of Ellijay, Bear Creek Trail is a popular loop in the North Georgia mountains for mountain bikers, campers, and fishermen.   I took Liam with some friends on a boys’ camping trip and it was a perfect place for our group.  The dirt road up to the campsite is a bit bumpy, and goes right through the stream before you get to the main parking area, so be sure to drive an SUV or truck (I wouldn’t recommend driving a low-profile vehicle).

The camp sites are not bays like you would normally expect in a campground.  It is a wide-open area in the forest where you can select your own place and pitch a tent, so even though it was busy, we were so spread out that we felt like the only ones there.

The stream ran right by our campsite and has some great trout fishing.  I think most were catching trout on worms, but one fisherman caught them on a spoon.

The Biggest Tree in Georgia

A short drive further up the road brings you to a trail where you can find the biggest tree in Georgia (dubbed this by its circumference).  It is a nice hike on a well groomed trail about a mile in.  The trail is very popular with mountain bikers, so you will likely have to move out of the way a few times to let bikers pass.

 

Zip-lining in North Georgia

Zip-lining in North Georgia

Check one off the Bucket List

I’ve always wanted to go zip-lining on a course like this, and every year I’ve made this as a suggestion, its been around our anniversary.  But mid-June usually has sweltering heat, so as a Valentines Day gift to ourselves, Steph surprised me with Groupon Vouchers for this tour.  It was phenomenal.

Highlights:

  • Our tour was nearly 3 hours, so there was plenty of zip-lining time, but not too much.
  • Going in February is not a bad idea.  The tour guides told us there are often people who quit half way through the course when it is 90 degrees in the summer
  • On some of the zip-lines you can hit speeds of 40 to 45 MPH
  • One of the zip-lines is over 750 feet long going over trees and a small lake (great views)
  • Zip-lines are between tall tree-houses, one of which is 75 feet above the ground
Dukes Creek Falls

Dukes Creek Falls

Five Star Waterfall Hike

Dukes Creek Falls is a really, really nice hike for a family.  About 1:45 away from Woodstock, it makes for a nice weekend day trip.  The hike is about 1 mile in and 1 mile out, fairly level and easy walking.  Part of the path is paved, then turns into a wide dirt trail leading up to the falls.  There are several falls in the area that you can see from the trail as you get to the main overlook.

 

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

We love Savannah, GA!  From the River Walk to the Spanish moss, this city has such a unique atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else.  Here are some of our favorite things in Savannah.

River Street

River Street parallels the Savannah River lined with old buildings, cobblestone roads, and ships going in and out of the port.  Stroll down River Street to find great dining, shops like River Street Sweets (which is a must for old-fashioned candy and southern pralines) and on weekends a farmers’ market.

 

Historic Carriage Ride

It is worth paying for a Historic Carriage Ride at least once on a trip to Savannah.  The kids had a blast, and we were able to see the city along with interesting stories we never would have known otherwise.  Along with some of the history, if you are the kind of person who likes ghost stories, Savannah is known as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. and there are plenty of ghost tours you can check out.  From historic ghost tours (which are the more interesting ones to me) to actually ghost hunting inside the haunted mansions at 1:00 am in the morning!

City Market & Savannah Squares

Savannah is scattered with public squares with green space that served as commons areas in the old days.  Walking through the city lets you explore these old parks with monuments, Spanish moss, and history around every block.  City Market is a great place with dining, live music, unique boutique-style shops, horse and ghost tours, and more.  Even Paula Dean’s store and restaurant is located here.

River Street Sweets

The most famous candy shop in Savannah!  Stop by on River Street and taste samples of their pralines.  The kids always love a fun treat from River Street Sweets.

Tip 1: Staying in Savannah

Staying inside the City of Savannah is pricy, and because we keep our travels frugal, we’ve discovered a great place to stay when visiting Savannah.  There is a Super 8 just outside of the city (about 15-20 min drive to River Street).  Normally a Super 8 isn’t our hotel of choice, but when we found this one on TripAdvisor.com, we had to try staying here.  It is the highest rated Super 8 we’ve ever seen!  So with reviews like this one has, we found they were spot on.  Not only do you save money, but your stay is pleasant in this very modern, clean Super 8.

Tip 2: Parking in Savannah

Knowing where you are going to park ahead of time saves a lot of headache.  Parking can be hard to find on the narrow cobblestone streets.  There are several parking garages around, but we’d recommend the Whitaker Street Garage, which is closest to the City Market, just down the street from The Lady and Sons Restaurant (by Paula Dean), and a couple blocks from River Street.  You’ll also find it is between two nice green squares (Ellis Square and Johnson Square).

Tip 3: Eating in Savannah

Savannah has an abundance of great places to eat… and that sometimes makes it hard to decide where to eat.  If you can only pick a few good places on your trip, here are some we’d recommend.

  • Zunzi’s Take Out:  This is where the locals eat!  And by the reviews on TripAdvisor, you will likely love it too!  It is a spin on South African dishes, that offers vegetarian and gluten free options… but is remarkably good.  It is outside dining, so only go when the weather is nice.

 

  • Vinnie Van Go-Go’s: For the pizza lover, this place will satisfy.  With inside and outside dining, and close proximity to the City Market, you can’t go wrong eating at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s.  it is also on the more affordable side of dining.  Just know, they are cash-only.
  • Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room: A must try!  I’ll admit, we haven’t yet eaten here, but one look at the reviews, and based on personal conversations we’ve had with locals, this is one place you have to go to… and we will eventually.  The reason it is hard to get there is that it is basically only open from 11 am – 2 pm Mon-Fri.  So if you don’t plan ahead, and be ready for a feast of a lunch, then it is easy to pass until a later time.
  • Goose Feathers Cafe: An adorable little cafe with healthy options, close to Ellis Square.  We stopped here for a warm sandwich.  Very good, and one of the easier-on-the-wallet places to eat in Savannah.
  • Huey’s On The River: For some quality seafood and a little nicer dining atmosphere, also right on the River, Huey’s is a great place to eat.  A bit more expensive, but worth the money in my opinion.  This place is the reason I like grits.