With the changing seasons, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunny, warm weather that Georgia has from May through October.
There are many choices when it comes to finding plants for your garden including The Home Depot, Lowe’s or local nurseries like Pike’s(https://www.pikenursery.com/) which has locations throughout Georgia. Apartment living calls for container gardens or even some hanging plants, such as air plants while homes can get more in-depth with landscaping including sodding, planting bushes or trees, and decorating with flowering plants or even antique farming equipment.
Be sure to visit some of Georgia’s most beautiful gardens, including the Atlanta Botanical Garden (which has two locations, one in metro Atlanta and one in Gainesville), Callaway Gardens, and Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground.
Nestled at White Street Park (not too far away from the Suwanee Greenway) is the Harvest Farm, a community garden overflowing with plants, flowers, shrubs, and vegetables.
It’s a great place to spend a lazy summer afternoon amidst butterflies and flowers.
Harvest Farm shows the city’s commitment to green living. Seventy-six (76) plots are apportioned on a first-come, first-serve basis, with obvious priority given to Suwanee residents. There are three sizes (small, medium, and large) available and you can grow whatever you choose. My visit in summer 2019 allowed me to enjoy butterfly gardens with bright flowers as well as vegetable gardens with tomatoes, peppers, and cabbages.
This photo shows some crepe myrtle and coneflowers.
There are also some whimsical garden design ideas, including use of teacups:
A few gardeners have used ladders to help their sunflowers, as well as other statues and orbs. There’s also a Little Free Library at the park, so feel free to pick up a book and find a spot to sit and read. There is also a fully-functional orchard, the first of its kind in the Southeast, at the park.
Pike Nurseries, with locations throughout Georgia, can help with getting the best plants or flowers for your garden.
“To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake
On the shores of Lake Rabun, Minnehaha Falls is a nice easy hike best taken in the spring or early fall.
To get to the falls, you’ll hike a wooden staircase right off Bear Gap road (which is unpaved). Limited and free parking is available off the trailhead near this road. Rhododendron covers the landscape. The trail itself is only 0.4 miles, which makes it an extremely easy hike for beginners. Another plus is that it’s dog friendly.
Muse Farm is a refurbished barn/indoor entertaining area in Bremen, Georgia, not too far from the Alabama state line. It’s perfect for any kind of event, including family reunions, wedding receptions, anniversary parties, or graduation parties.
Its decor is rustic chic inside with plenty of antiques strewn about artistically and pure country outside, with rolling hills and some local farm animals (mostly horses) that make for excellent photography. There’s even an antique truck outside that can be used as a prop.
There are Mason jar chandeliers and a seat made from the back of a truck bed:
There’s also a pool table in an adjacent room from the main dining area as well as a grill outside, for those who want to enjoy the sunny weather in spring or summer as well as the cooler fall air in Georgia.
Gainesville, Georgia, is the county seat of Hall County in northeastern Georgia. As of 2019, it had a population of about 43,000 people. It earned the nickname “Poultry Capital of the World” due to its many industrial farms (Fieldale Farms is one) and poultry processing factories.
Originally named Mule Camp Springs in the early 1800s by settlers. It retained that name until 1821, three years after the organization of Hall County in 1818. Its namesake is Edmund Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812 as well as a road builder and military surveyor.
Gainesville, like many towns in the US, has a Main Street, which in this case occupies a square section of the downtown area with shops and restaurants surrounding a small park.
Inman Perk Coffee is a great local business, with delicious blends of coffee, served hot or cold. They also have a good selection of breakfast pastries including cinnamon rolls. Lunch or dinner can come from Sliced, a New York-style pizzeria, with mouthwatering garlic knots and a tasty Greek salad. Trying to eat healthy? Check out Barkin’ Brews, an organic smoothie and coffee shop that’s dog-friendly.
Gainesville is about an hour north of metro Atlanta, and an hour south of Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls, and the town of Alpine Helen. Accessibility to Lake Lanier is provided through many small parks (some of which are no more than boat ramps) such as Van Pugh North Park.
On a cloudy Sunday, two of my friends and I met at Old Mill Park for an afternoon hike. It turned into one of the best days since this pandemic started.
Old Mill Park is located off GA 400 in Roswell, Georgia, about 20-30 minutes from Atlanta. The photo above is of the pedestrian bridge that connects the 4.7 mile trail to the ruins of the old Roswell Manufacturing Company Mills. It’s a very popular spot for photographers; we saw a few senior class photos, some engagement shoots and family portraits, and a bride in her wedding gown this afternoon.
Part of the area near the pedestrian bridge is paved, and is a haven for families and dog walkers. There’s also a Little Free Library there, so feel free donate any used books that you want to part with. The spillway near the Roswell dam was open, and water gushed into Vickery Creek, creating brownish-colored rapids and some waterfalls. The paved walking area also features remnants of the old millworks, which are surprisingly well preserved.
The hike in the woods was relatively uneventful. My friend had some retractable walking/hiking poles, which are recommended since the trail is relatively flat but does have some wooden and rocky areas the further you do into the forest. Fall color was barely touching the trees; some gold and red, but mostly green for now. I’d also recommend a decent pair of hiking boots or sneakers, like the ones Adidas makes. Sneakers will work, but the Georgian red clay that covers the forest floor was slippery.
We did see a white-tailed deer and other hikers with dogs, as well as a trail runner. We also sang Broadway show tunes, thanks to my friend’s playlist. After we completed 3.5 miles, we decided to head back to our cars and look for food. We discovered a great little Cuban restaurant called Lazaro’s Cuban Cuisine and were entertained by our waitress, Barbara. She was really friendly and funny; we had a fried yucca appetizer and Bohemia beer along with water. They have indoor and outdoor seating, which helped since I had brought my husky, Emma, with me on the hike.
The food was amazing. I had a spicy shrimp creole dish with a tomato-based sauce along with plantains and black beans and rice. We had flan, guava pastries, and tres leches cake for dessert. All in all, for a day that I could have spent indoors with Netflix or books, it was great to get outside and enjoy spending time with my friends and with nature.
Ever taken a walk in the woods where the only sounds were your breathing and the crunching of leaves underneath your feet? That describes Sunday, when I took my trusty husky, Emma, out for a walk at Chicopee Woods in Flowery Branch, right off Atlanta Highway.
The sun was high and fall was barely in the air, with only a few trees showing gold and red colors. All trails are marked, and there are three: the easiest is the paved Geiger Trail, which leads directly from the Nature Center. It’s perfect for parents, as there are signs with illustrations from a children’s book along the trail.
The trail we took is the Dodd Loop, which is 0.64 miles and marked red on the trail map system. It winds through Walnut Creek Valley and there are a couple of places with stones steps that take you to the water’s edge.
The longest trail is the Bridge Loop, which is nearly 3 miles and marked green. It’s a moderately hard trail that’s accessed from the Elachee Visitor Center parking lot and travels through Piedmont forest. There are five bridged stream crossings on the trail, including a 140-foot-long suspension bridge.
You can download and use the Avenza Maps app to see your location on the trails by using their GeoPDF map on your device. You can also use US Topo Maps (get the app here: https://amzn.to/31Sb21h).
If you’re interesting in learning more about Georgia hikes, pick up this guidebook (https://amzn.to/2Tmnm5a) by Tim Homan.
The Michael C. Carlos Museum is located in Atlanta on the campus of Emory University. Employees of the university have utilized conference rooms for work retreats as well as various departmental meetings.
The museum is small in terms of square footage, but it’s a neat place to visit. Both school and public tours are available, and their calendar includes lectures on various types of art as well as reading programs.
Collections curated at the museum include ancient Greece and Rome:
Buddhist and Hindu art from South Asia, such as this sculpture of the Hindu goddess Vishnu:
Ancient Egypt, including mummies and sarcophagi:
There are also smaller collections of Mesopotamian and Assyrian art and artifacts. Be sure to visit the museum’s bookshop, which has many books available for curbside pickup, as well as jewelry inspired by the art collections. The Ebrik Coffee Room offers visitors coffee, pastries, and snacks.
Parking for the museum is available at two of the university’s parking decks: Fishburne Deck (located on Fishburne Lane) and Oxford Road Visitor’s Deck (1390 Oxford Road, Atlanta). Prices for parking depend on the number of hours spent on campus or at the museum.
If you’re planning a company retreat or conference, check out the edible arrangements from Sweet Cheats bakery and coffee shop. Catering is also available from the university.
Collections in the museum can be viewed online via the link above.
When you’re in Savannah, you can visit Skidaway Island State Park, which offers hiking trails and camping grounds. It borders Skidaway narrows, part of the Intracoastal Waterway in Georgia. Hiking trails wind through both maritime forest and salt marsh. There is a boardwalk and observation tower, and some of the wildlife in the park include deer, egrets, herons, fiddler crabs, and raccoons.
We hiked Big Ferry Trail and Sandpiper Trail, both of which are nearly level. There are live oak, palm trees, and pine trees, many of which have Spanish moss draped across their branches. Saw palmetto plants also grow along the trails. Big Ferry Trail leads to a boardwalk where the observation tower is located. It’s a moderately easy hike of about 2.6 miles total.
The plants pictured above are Saw palmetto, a palm-like plant that grows like a tree or shrub in warm climates and can reach heights of up to 10 feet with clusters of leaves spreading out to 2 feet or more. You can also start with the Big Ferry Trail and loop around for 4.2 miles via the Sandpiper and Avian Trails. All are dog-friendly, but be sure to use sunscreen if you’re hiking in the summer and bring plenty of water and snacks. Plan on bringing insect repellent if you’re hiking in the summer as well; I’ve always liked Avon’s Skin So Soft.
Of course, the main attraction on any island is the beach (or beaches). Tybee is no exception. The north end of the island tends to be quieter than the southern end, but both offer amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean as well as places to rent kayaks, paddleboards, or take fishing trips. We saw a pod of dolphins on our visit, and dolphin watch tours are also available.
Along the beach, you’ll see many rock formations with tidal pools, where you can see fish, barnacles, crabs, and mussels. These pools are found at the intertidal zone, where land and sea meet. At high tide, water collects in these depressions and, at low tide, the water recedes and the tidal pool is formed.
If you head down to the south end of the island, you can find the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, where you can view ocean life in aquariums of various sizes, or register for a walking tour of the beaches with a guide.
Whether you have a long three-day weekend or a full seven-day week to spend here, you’ll enjoy spending your hours on the beach.