There is no better way to cruise into summer than with a road trip. If you are looking to experience something a bit different than the great state of Texas, then Georgia should be on your mind. Known for its sweet and ever so juicy peaches it’s also home to several Grown in Georgia trails, geological wonders, the world’s largest classic car junkyard, Stonehenge (of the South), vintage train rails, gold fever, its own Loch Ness Monster, and so much more. Read on to learn about what Georgia is waiting to show you.
Agricultural Themed Trails
Georgia Grown Trails is a network of six agricultural-themed trails covering over 550 miles highlighting Georgia specialties. Each trail has unique and fun stops along its route like Southern Grace Farms on Trail 37 which is a u-pick farm run by the McMillan family for 8 generations. The McMillan’s still continue to farm in the traditional row-method like their Scottish ancestors did when they came to America in 1774.
Also along Trail 37 is Still Pond Vineyards and Distillery which got its start 130 years ago serving peach brandy to war-worn Confederate soldiers. Today, Still Pond produces wine, Farmshine, and mead – an alcoholic drink dating to Viking and Roman times. Along Trail 41 is Lewis Mill Ranch that specializes in miniature donkeys and horses in addition to Gypsy Vanner horses. Gypsy Vanner horses have long flowing manes and used to pull colorful gypsy caravans. There are many stops along each trail that showcases the flavors of Georgia.
Take a Ride to Yesteryear
SAM Shortline, a 1949 vintage air-conditioned rail car system runs along highway 280 stretching from Cordele to Archery offering you the opportunity to experience the days of yesteryear when traveling by railway was the thing to do.
During the late 18th-century Colonel Sam Hawkins and the settlers of Americus wanted to ensure that their town would continue to prosper and grow in rural Georgia. They built a train line connecting Savannah, Americus, and Montgomery.
Today the SAM Shortline offers several themed train rides such as a wine and cheese train, murder mystery dinner train, and a Halloween train as it stops at charming small towns.
There’s Gold in Those Hills
Gold fever struck Dahlonega Georgia in 1828, 20 years before California, apparently, by accident. Benjamin Parks was strolling through the forest deer hunting when he tripped over a rock that was laced with bright shiny gold. Although most of the gold has been mined out through tunnels, mineral rock hounds can still test their luck with a pan and shovel. Verifying mineral rights is highly recommended through the Blue Ridge Ranger District office.
Nestled in the hills of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, Dahlonega has numerous activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Shoppers will be thrilled with the selection of boutique, thrift, and antique shops available.
Meet Nessie’s Cousin
Settled in 1736 by Scottish Highland settlers from Inverness, Darien, originally named New Inverness, is home to Nessie’s southern cousin, Altamaha-ha, Altie for short. Altie, which strikes a remarkable resemblance to Nessie, is said to inhabit the waterways and abandoned rice fields of McIntosh County. Perhaps Altie was drawn to Darien because of the large estuarine system that is teaming with fish, crabs, and other tasty morsels locally harvested from the surrounding waters and you can dine on in any one of the numerous restaurants.
Rock City Gardens located in the town of Lookout Mountain is a geological fascination astonishing visitors with its immense boulders naturally arranged in such a way as to create passageways through and around the mountain top. From a spot on the summit mountain top, called Lovers Leap, you can see seven states, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
Radium Springs Gardens
One of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders, Radium Springs Gardens is known for its glowing clear turquoise blue water that flows from an underground cave at 70,000 gallons per minute. Testing of the water in the early 1900s led to the discovery of radium traces in the water. Although a very rare element, radium can occur naturally in certain types of earth and is the reason for the luminescent blue color of the water. Radium was discovered in 1898 by Marie Curie in France.
Swimming is no longer allowed in the springs, but you can stroll along shaded paths and stone walkways enjoying the lush exotic and local flora. On the grounds, you will discover the ruins of a historic resort and casino that were badly damaged beyond repair in a tropical storm and flooding.
Old Car City
Do you ever wonder where all the awesome old cars go at the end of their lives? Probably to Old Car City, the largest known classic car graveyard in the world located just north of Atlanta. Over 4,000 American-made cars, trucks, vans, and even a couple of school buses from the early 20th-century are sprawled across 34 wild and naturalized acres. You can stroll through Old Car City for a small fee marveling at how Mother Nature reclaims and creates her own art through nature.
For artists who create works through varied-mediums and photographers, Old Car City is a hidden gem. Family-owned since 1931, the city started as a small country general store with a gas pump. Stories and nostalgia abound throughout Old Car City twisted around its inhabitants much like the trees that are growing around the ol’ Edsel.
Stonehenge of the South
Stone circles, places of mystery, and intrigue are commonly found throughout Europe. Did you know Georgia has a stone circle? The Georgia Guidestones, also called the Stonehenge of the South, has mystery and intrigue like other circles but unlike other circles, this one came with an explanatory tablet.
In 1980 the Elberton Granite Finishing Company was commissioned by an anonymous group of “investors” to build the Georgia Guidestones. Construction instructions required that the stones be built to withstand extreme catastrophes and that they were to serve as a guide – lifestyle compass, calendar, and a clock.
The circle consists of a center stone surrounded by 5 stones and topped with a capstone. The overall height of the stones is just over 19-feet with a combined weight of 237,746 pounds. Each face of the 5 stones is inscribed with a “guide to life” in 8 modern languages and 4 ancient languages.
A few feet from the stone circle monolith is an “explanation tablet” expounding on the languages used, size, weight, date installed, the astronomical positioning of the stones, and a possible time capsule that may have been buried under the stones. So, even though there are explanations that have very kindly been provided with this stone circle, there are still many questions and mysteries that surround it.
Georgia On My Mind
This is a small juicy taste of the adventure, intrigue, and fun that Georgia has to offer travelers. There is so much more to experience, it deserves a second visit. It will definitely be on my list for this summer, and it should be on yours as well.