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Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites Celebrate Traditional, Old-fashioned Holidays

If shopping-mall Santas and crowded parking lots have your family feeling “bah-humbug,” plan an outing to one of Georgia’s State Parks or Historic Sites. Dozens of parks across Georgia are hosting old-fashioned holiday celebrations that will remind you of yesteryear. Below is a sampling of events, and the latest calendar can be seen Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites are operated by the Department of Natural Resources. To reserve cabins, campsites and yurts, call 1-800-864-7275 or visit


Christmas at the Cabin
Saturday, December 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Red Top Mountain State Park – Acworth, GA
Yuletide celebrations of the 1800s come to life as demonstrators take you back in time to Christmas at the Vaughan cabin. Santa will be available for families to take their own photos and for special Christmas visits. $5 parking. 770-975-0055.
Northern Georgia

Lights Up on the Lake
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.December 5 – December 28
James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville, GA
Enjoy a drive through a winter wonderland at the picnic area by the lake. Several lit scenes will grace the roadside as we welcome the coming of the holiday season. If you would rather walk, park at the office and cross the boardwalk into the festivity of lights. $5 parking. 706-857-0826.

Holiday Tours at Hardman Farm
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.December 7 – December 14
Hardman Farm – Sautee Nacoochee, GA
Tour the “Big House” at Hardman Farm, gently dressed with simple holiday decor from the natural world. Tours are available at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. An additional 5:00 p.m. tour will provide an opportunity to see the candle-lit house at twilight. $8 Adults, $7 Seniors 62 and over, $5 Children 6-17, $3 Children 5 and under. 706-878-1077.

Christmas by Candlelight
Friday, December 12 until Saturday, December 13
Chief Vann House Historic Site – Chatsworth, GA
In 1805, Cherokee Chief James Vann opened his new brick mansion to the Moravian missionaries to hold one of the first Christmas celebrations in the Cherokee Nation. To honor this tradition, visitors are invited to enjoy the sights and sounds of a 19th century Christmas in one of America’s best-preserved Cherokee Indian homes. $4 – $6. 706-695-2598.

Victorian Christmas
Saturday, December 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Traveler’s Rest Historic Site – Toccoa, GA
Visits Georgia’s last standing stagecoach inn while halls are decked with decorations reflecting the Victorian Era. Historical interpreters dressed in period style clothing will be on hand to help you experience the inn as an 1830s visitor. Free hot cider and teacakes will be served. $3-$5. 706-356-4362.

Caroling Through Victoria Bryant
Saturday, December 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Victoria Bryant State Park – Royston, GA
What’s better than Christmas parties? How about caroling, hayrides, homemade ornaments and cookies? $2 for the hayride, $5 per photo for Pictures With Santa. $5 parking. 706-245-6270.

Christmas Tree Lighting
Saturday, December 13, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Vogel State Park – Blairsville, GA
Join us for the 11th annual L\lighting of a 35-foot live Blue Spruce. There will be caroling, hayrides, Santa Claus’ visit, bonfires and refreshments. Please bring an unwrapped gift for a child 0-12 years of age; no toy guns or knives. The donations will help the Union County Sheriff’s Office toy drive. 706-745-2628.
Middle & South Georgia

Christmas at A.H. Stephens
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.December 5 – December 28
A.H. Stephens State Park – Crawfordville, GA
Tour the new 10-acre event field and visitor center area which has been beautifully decorated by a host of site partners, volunteers and local businesses. $5 parking. 706-456-2602.

Christmas On The Lake
Saturday, December 6, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Florence Marina State Park – Omaha, GA
Make Christmas decorations out of natural ornaments such as pine cones, sweet gum balls, magnolia seedpods and seashells. We provide all the materials you will need. Then bring your wish list as pictures will be taken with Santa Claus. $1 – $5 plus $5 parking. 229-838-4706.

A Jarrell Plantation Christmas
Saturday, December 6, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Jarrell Plantation Historic Site – Juliette, GA
Greenery from the woods decorates the 1847 plantation house and 1895 farm house. Learn to make simple paper decorations. Enjoy homemade spiced cider cooked on the wood burning stove and old style cookies, and warm up by the fireplace for music and stories. $4-$6.50 478-986-5172.

Festival of Lights and Frosty 5k Race
Saturday, December 6, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Seminole State Park – Donalsonville, GA
Celebrate the park’s 3rd annual Festival of Lights with a visit from Santa, inflatables for the kids, crafts, music and food. For the Merry Mile and Frosty 5k, come dressed in holiday attire and you may find your picture on our Facebook page. Registration forms available from Friends of Seminole, our Facebook Page and the park office. $5 parking. 229-861-3137.

Christmas Comes to Liberty Hall
Saturday, December 13, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
A.H. Stephens State Park – Crawfordville, GA
Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’ home, Liberty Hall, will be decorated with styles of the Victorian Christmas past. Come enjoy Victorian Era games, music, role players, our Confederate museum. Refreshments will be served. $1.00 – $5.00 706-456-2602.

Candy Cane Express Train Ride
Friday, December 5, 10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Tuesday, December 9, 10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Thursday, December 11, 10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Monday, December 15, 10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
SAM Shortline Train – Cordele, GA
Enjoy a popular excursion with an hour and ten minute layover in Plains. The town will be all dressed in its Christmas wrapping and ready for your visit. Free candy canes for every passenger. Santa will be aboard for the ride. Buy tickets in advance. 229-276-0755.

Lake Paddle with Santa
Saturday, December 13, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain, GA
Join Santa’s flotilla on Lake Delanor. Hot chocolate and cookies included. We provide Santa and basic paddle instruction for canoe or kayak. Register in advance. $15 plus $5 parking. 706-663-4858.

Christmas on the Pond
Saturday, December 13, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
General Coffee State Park – Nicholls, GA
Join us to usher in the holiday season. Visit with Santa, enjoy storytelling, hayrides, a marshmallow roast and homemade refreshments. Donations appreciated. $5 parking. 912-384-7082.

Christmas at the Park
Saturday, December 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Reed Bingham State Park – Adel, GA
Celebrate Christmas with lights, decorations, hot chocolate, refreshments, Christmas crafts, music, a silent auction, and a guest appearance from Santa. $1/craft $5 parking. 229-896-3551.

Holiday Crafts with Santa and Sleigh-Hayride
Saturday, December 20, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain, GA
Join up with our picture perfect Santa and his elves at their workshop. Create holiday ornaments and crafts to take home. Enjoy music, hot chocolate, and a 15-minute hayride around the campground. Pay in advance at office and bring receipt. Cash only at the door. Meet at Group Shelter below Lake Delanor dam. $6 ages 4 and up $5 parking. 706-663-4858.
Coastal Georgia

33rd Annual Plantation Christmas
Friday and Saturday, December 5 and December 6, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site – Brunswick, GA
This magical experience will demonstrate how Christmas was celebrated on a Southern rice plantation during the 1850s. Take a candlelit stroll down the old carriage road and enjoy candlelit tours of an antebellum plantation house, hot wassail and cookies, Civil War re-enactors, Christmas carols and a special appearance by Santa Claus. $5-$8. 912-264-7333.

A Colonial Christmas at Fort Morris
Saturday, December 6, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Fort Morris Historic Site – Midway, GA
Get away from the over-commercialization of the holidays and visit Fort Morris for a more peaceful celebration. Join park staff for colonial refreshments, a yule log, bonfire, 18th century music, caroling, dance and firing of the Christmas guns. Free admission sponsored by the Friends of Ft Morris, Flemington and Liberty County. 912-884-5999.

Colonial Christmas at Fort King George
Friday, December 12, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Fort King George Historic Site – Darien, GA
Join the garrison for a traditional dinner in the soldier’s barracks and an evening of colonial-style Yule Tide jollification. Menu consists of traditional colonial Christmas fare. Event ends with a cannon firing. $35 for dinner. Reservations required. 912-437-4770.

Luminary Night with Santa
Saturday, December 13, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Skidaway Island State Park – Savannah, GA
Bring your children and pets for pictures with Santa. Enjoy a walk along our enchanted luminary trail and take a hayride around the park. Sip on hot chocolate while decorating cookies and making holiday crafts. $5 picture, $2 hayrides. $5 parking. 912-598-2300.

Colonial Christmas at Wormsloe
Sunday, December 21, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Wormsloe Historic Site – Savannah, GA
Participate in activities such as caroling, burning of the yule log, dancing to live period music, and other holiday observances of the colonial period, including games and refreshments. $4.50-$10. 912-353-3023.

Santa Hustle 5K/Half Marathon Coming to Wilderness at the Smokies

Santa Hustle trio of runners

Time to channel your inner Santa and sign up for the 2014 holiday season’s best race – the 4th annual Santa Hustle 5K & Half Marathon taking place in Sevierville, Tenn. on Sunday, December 14 beginning at 7:30 a.m.

This unique race course through the streets of Sevierville and neighboring Pigeon Forge offers the beautiful scenery of winter in the Great Smoky Mountains, miles of festive holiday decorations and lights in virtually every business along the race route, cookie & candy stations along the way, holiday music and elf volunteers to help along the way. All participants receive Santa hats, beards and a dri-fit hooded sweatshirt for a festive race like any other holiday sporting event, and runners are encouraged to dress in the most outrageous holiday outfits for a chance to win the best dressed award given out at the end of the race. Participants will also enjoy a fun after-party at the Wilderness resort.

The Sevierville event is sponsored locally by the Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Sugarlands Distilling, the Sevierville Convention Center, Wilderness at the Smokies resort, B97.5 radio, the Knoxville News Sentinel and WVLT-TV. A portion of the proceeds from the race benefit Toys for Tots and Keep Sevier Beautiful.

Adrenaline Sports Management created the Santa Hustle race series in 2008. In addition to the Sevierville event on December 14, Santa Hustle events are scheduled for 2014 in Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Cedar Point, OH, Galveston, TX, Buena Park, CA, and South Portland, ME. More information on all races is available at

To register for any of the Santa Hustle races, visit For information on staying at Wilderness at the Smokies for the Santa Hustle in Sevierville, call (865) 868-2170 or email


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Don’t be a stranded turkey this traveling season!


Don’t get stranded going over the river and through the woods! Get road trip ready with Sellars Goodyear. See page 11 of our November issue for details on the $39.95 Road Trip Ready special.


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Where will your travels take you in 2015?

Start planning your dream vacation at the Travel Showcase at Atlanta Country Club on Thursday, November 6, 6-8pm. Sponsored by Valerie Wilson Travel, Cheryl B. Weldon, CTC, Managing Partner.

Can’t make the Showcase? Visit their North Atlanta Office in East Cobb at 151 Village Parkway NE, Bldg 6-207 or call (770) 565-7600.


Room with a Boo! Win a Stay at a Haunted Historic Hotel.


There is still time to enter the Room With A Boo Sweepstakes for a chance to win two nights of spooky fun at a haunted historic hotel! Five lucky winners will get a chance to stay at one of the following hotels:

  • 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    Francis Marion Hotel (1924) Charleston, South Carolina
    The Wort Hotel (1941) Jackson Hole, Wyoming
    Omni Parker House, Boston (1855) Boston, Massachusetts
    Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa (1847) Point Clear, Alabama

To enter, visit the Historic Hotels of America Facebook page HERE.

Unwind this weekend at the Unicoi Wine Festival

The Unicoi Wine Festival will take place on Saturday, November 1 at the Hardman Farm on Hwy 17 in Sautee Nacoochee, across from the Indian Mound. Enjoy wine tastings, gourmet food, live music and local art!

Entertainment for the day will include:
Mat Fried – 11am – 1:00pm
Jeremiah and Chris Bahre – 1:15 – 3:15 pm
Free Steak Dinner Band -3:30 – 6 pm

Participating wineries are:

  • The Cottage Vineyard & Winery
  • Frogtown Cellars
  • Habersham Vineyards & Winery
  • Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards
  • Serenity Cellars
  • Sylvan Valley Cellars
  • Yonah Mountain Vineyards

For more information click HERE.


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Celebrate Fall in Blairsville this weekend

Vogel State Park visitors listen to ghost stories during the annual Fall Hoedown. This year’s event is Oct. 18. Source:


It’s Fall Hoedown time! Head to Vogel State Park in Blairsville on Saturday, October 18, to celebrate autumn’s arrival with chili, hotdogs and drinks for sale, followed by a 3 p.m. cakewalk, 4 p.m. hayrides, 5 p.m. bonfire and square/line dancing, 6 p.m. trunk or treats, and 7 p.m. professional storytelling. A $3 fee will be charged per hayride for 13 years and older. $5 parking. 706-745-2628.

For more information visit

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Hardman Farm Opens as Georgia’s Newest State Historic Site


Georgia’s newest state historic site, Hardman Farm, opened recently in Sautee Nacoochee in White County. The beloved landmark in north Georgia is best recognized for its gazebo-topped Indian mound and field of black-and-white cows. The farm’s main house, built in 1870 by Captain James Nichols, 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.

The last owner was the family of Dr. Lamartine Hardman who was Georgia’s governor from 1927-1931. The property was preserved by the Hardman family for many years and donated to the state in 1999. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has been restoring the property and several buildings.

Today, visitors can tour the furnished main house, as well as a dairy barn. The site has a particularly nice 19th century parlor, and many furnishings are original, including lighting fixtures.

The site is open for guided tours Thursdays through Sundays until November 9. From November 19 until December 30, it will be open Fridays through Sundays. The site will then close for the season until March 2015. Reservations can be made by calling 706-878-3087. Current fees are $8 for adults and $3 for children younger than six. Group tours are available.

Hardman Farm is located at the intersection of Hwys. 17 and 75. The temporary entrance is on Hwy. 75 just north of the intersection. To learn more, visit


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Southeastern Cowboy Festival & Symposium at Booth Museum

Celebrate the ways of the West at the 12th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival & Symposium October 23-26, 2014.

The four-days are packed with events such as gunfight re-enactments, Native American dances, a workshop and lecture by Featured Artist Krystii Melaine, concert by Featured Entertainer Suzy Bogguss, children’s activities, and so much more.

Weekend highlights include a concert by Suzy Bogguss, a Western art history symposium, artists, writer’s guild events and more. For a full schedule of events click here.


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The Rock Ranch to Honor Local Heroes this Saturday during First Fall Family Fun Day of the Season


The Rock Ranch will host “Hats off to Heroes” during its First Fall Family Fun Day of the Season on Sept. 27 from 10am-8pm. The day will honor teachers and home school educators; plus, public servants in law enforcement, fire, EMS and related fields.

  • Trucks, Helicopters, Bulldozers, Fire Trucks, EMS, Police, Sheriff, Forestry – Families will enjoy displays and equipment from these and more community heroes
  • Skydiving demonstrations
  • Public servants in law enforcement, fire, EMS and related fields will receive a free “bounce back” pass (up to 4 paying guests)with professional service badge or ID
  • Teachers and Home School Educators will receive a free “bounce back” pass (up to 4 paying guests) per school ID or proof of homeschool status
  • Military families are half-off with military ID (this week and every Saturday in the fall)
  • The Rock Ranch annual corn maze opens. This year’s maze theme celebrates 75 Years of Wizard of Oz, the movie, and it features the likeness of Dorothy, Toto, The Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion and The Tin Man (this week and every Saturday in the fall)
  • Guest photos with costumed characters from Wizard of Oz (this week and every Saturday in the fall)

The Rock Ranch is located at 5020 Barnesville Hwy. The Rock, Ga 30285. The Rock Ranch is a beautiful 1,500 acre cattle ranch located about an hour south of Atlanta in Upson County. It’s a place where families, school groups and even businesses can come to enjoy what we call “agritourism.” The Rock Ranch was founded by the late S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A and is dedicated to “Growing Healthy Families.”Visit for more information.