Is your resolution to travel more? Here are 16 places you should consider visiting during 2016…all within driving distance of Vinings!
PLACES TO VISIT IN GEORGIA
1. Drive the Georgia Brews and Q’s Trail (Historic Heartland Region). Spanning 14 counties from Athens to Perry, Georgia’s first barbecue and beer trail highlights the best in saucy eats and thirst-quenching drinks. From barbecue that has blasted into space to places visited by and featured on The Oprah Winfrey show, it’s a road trip that will make your taste buds thank you. Learn more on ExploreGeorgia.org.
2. Jekyll Island (Coastal). Once a day-trip favorite for St. Simons Island vacationers, upgrades have made this an inviting destination unto its own. New hotels such as the Westin Jekyll Island, coupled with the recently completed Jekyll Island Beach Village and beachfront Convention Center, as well as the storied Jekyll Island Club Hotel, have given a renewed feel to this Georgia coastal treasure.
3. Dunaway Gardens (Newnan). Celebrities such as Walt Disney frequented these gardens that also served as a theatrical training ground for the performing arts from the 1920s to 1940s. Eventually forgotten and overgrown, the gardens were restored and gates reopened in 2005 and are now one of the Southeast’s largest natural rock and floral gardens.
4. Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Conyers). Home to over 40 monks, this monastery is open to public. Join the monks for mass, feed the ducks at the Monastery Lakes, take a self-guided tour through the museum and Visitor Center, or learn about the art of Bonsai. Don’t miss their homemade biscotti!
5. Henry County (McDonough). Just 30 minutes south of downtown, Henry County is perfect for a day trip. See swimming pigs and sample the best strawberry ice cream ever at Southern Belle Farm. Ride in a Vietnam-era Huey or Cobra Helicopter at the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.
PLACES TO VISIT IN THE NEIGHBORING SOUTH
6. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee). Dollywood has now become its own destination with the addition of the DreamMore Resort. Special park privileges and amenities make it an exceptional value for the stay, while rocking chairs and fire pits invite moments of relaxed family time.
7. Cades Cove (Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee). Located within the most visited National Park is an 11-mile paved loop you can drive, bike or hike. This valley surrounded by mountains offers opportunities to spot bear and deer, go horseback riding, and even explore restored eighteenth and nineteenth century churches and homesteads.
8. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail (Marion to Montgomery, Alabama). Visitors can drive the trail route from Marion to Montgomery. Follow the trail to Selma Interpretive Center and visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Street Walking Tour. From Selma, visitors can follow the actual march route all the way to the Alabama State Capital. Half way between Selma and Montgomery, be sure to stop at the second interpretive center on the trail, Lowndes Interpretive Center, and view the film “Never Lose Sight of Freedom”.
9. Drive Coastal Highway Route 17 (Florida to Virginia). Roll your window down and take in the healing smell of the salty air. You’ve done the Georgia section from Jekyll to Savannah, now explore through the coastal towns of South Carolina. Mount Pleasant and Pawleys Island offer Southern sights, stick-to-your-ribs food and ecological wonders.
EVENTS TO PUT ON YOUR CALENDAR
10. Mount Dora Antique Extravaganza (Mount Dora, Florida). Offered several times a year, this is one of the largest gatherings of antique dealers in the South.
11. Shamrock City (Lookout Mountain, Georgia). The famous waterfall and the fudge take on the hue of green for this celebration every March.
12. International Cherry Blossom Festival (Macon, Georgia). From March 17 to April 3, 2016, this 10-day festival celebrates the pink blossom of over 300,000 Yoshiko Cherry Trees. It features parades, concerts, and amusement park rides in a quaint small-town setting.
13. Pageland Watermelon Festival (Pageland, South Carolina). Why not head to South Carolina in July for this 2-day festival, in the Watermelon Capital of the World? (Who knew?) Spend some of summer paying homage to the season’s favorite fruit.
14. Dirty Dancing Festival (Lake Lure, North Carolina). In August in Lake Lure, no one puts “Baby” in the corner. Experience dance lessons, watermelon games, and even a lake lift competition to ensure you have the time of your life. And yes, there will be an outdoor screening of the movie.
15. Kentucky Bourbon Festival (Bardstown, Kentucky) In September, head to Kentucky for bourbon, music, food and entertainment all centered around Kentucky’s signature product.
16. CiderFest NC (Asheville, North Carolina). If bourbon is not your thing, check out North Carolina’s first hard cider tasting festival. It has become an annual event with music, apple products, tastings, and other artisanal food items.