Above: Georgia State Parks offer a variety of activities and learning opportunities. Photos courtesy of Georgia State Parks.
Thanks to the many easily accessible Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites locations and the variety of outdoor activities suitable for all ages and skill levels, it doesn’t get much better than summer break in Georgia’s great outdoors.
From locations listed as one of the “Top Places to Visit in the U.S.” by Buzzfeed, to parks considered to be one of the “20 Wild and Beautiful State Parks in the U.S.” by National Geographic, options are endless, affordable and allow families to check off their Georgia bucket lists.
Below are 10 ideas for a memorable summer that’s affordable and close to home.
1. Geocache: History Trail GeoTour
Love a treasure hunt? Give geocaching a try. You will use posted coordinates to find hidden containers. The revamped History Trail GeoTour offers new challenges, new locations, and a new reward. This mystery cache GeoTour offers geocachers of all levels a chance to travel back in time to state historic sites and earn an exclusive trackable coin. Download and print a Time Travel Ticket prior to participating.
For more information, visit GaStateParks.org/Geocaching.
2. ‘Glamping’ Yurts
For a unique and affordable getaway, book a “glamour camping” yurt. These funky wood and canvas structures are a blend between a tent and cabin, with furniture inside and fire rings outside. Guests can even walk to nearby hot showers. Yurts are available at Cloudland Canyon, Red Top Mountain, High Falls, Fort Yargo, Sweetwater Creek and Tugaloo state parks. To rent a yurt, visit GaStateParks.org/UniqueAccommodations.
3. Trek the Trails
Explore the trails with your children to discover the wonders of nature through their eyes. Georgia’s State Parks offer a variety of hiking and biking paths, from easy paved loops to challenging backcountry trails. Families will experience Georgia’s diverse landscape as well, with canyons and waterfalls, salt marshes and streams. Energetic explorers can join the Canyon Climbers Club or Muddy Spokes Club to earn a members-only t-shirt. Bring Fido along for a full circle adventure via state parks Tails on Trails Club. Learn more at GaStateParks.org/ParkActivities, GaStateParks.org/ParkClubs and GaStateParks.org/TailsOnTrailsClub.
4. Camping Under the Stars
Pack the tent and build cherished memories while toasting s’mores. Camping encourages the entire family to enjoy the simple pleasures of swapping stories while looking up at the stars. All campgrounds have water and electric hookups, hot showers and site-specific reservations. Visit GaStateParks.org/Camping for more information.
5. Cozy Cabins
For an affordable and cozy staycation, book a cabin or cottage surrounded by beautiful scenery. Ranging from one to three bedrooms, state park cabins come with fully equipped kitchens, screened porches and a wide range of activities right outside the door. Choose from mini golf, nature trails, ranger programs, archery, disc golf and more. Bring the four-legged family members along when you reserve a dog-friendly cabin in advance. To book a cabin, visit GaStateParks.org/Cottages.
6. Junior Rangers
Children ages 6 to 12 will have fun learning in the outdoors as they work toward earning a Junior Ranger badge. By following guidelines in the activity book or attending ranger-led camps, they will experience nature first-hand and explore Georgia’s fascinating history. The experience builds as children work their way through three badge levels. Download the free book at GaStateParks.org/EducationalResources.
7. Travel Back in Time
Mix entertainment with education when you step back in time at Georgia’s state historic sites. Children can explore colonial times at Fort Morris and Fort King George, or Civil War bunkers at Fort McAllister. To learn about Native American history, visit Kolomoki Mounds, New Echota, Chief Vann House and Etowah Indian Mounds. Even more historic sites are listed on GaStateParks.org/History.
8. Go Paddling
Explore Georgia’s waterways through a variety of paddling adventures. Canoes, kayaks, stand- up paddleboards and aquacycles may be rented seasonally, or visitors may bring their own boats. For a challenge, join the Park Paddlers Club which takes explorers to six state parks as they show off their members-only t-shirt. Find out more at GaStateParks.org/Paddling.
9. Tee Off
Tee off at one of Georgia’s eight state park golf courses offering a family-friendly atmosphere surrounded by sparkling lakes and scenic forests. Lessons, putting greens, pro shops and cabin packages are available. Green fees are as low as $20. More information is available at GaStateParks.org/Golfing.
10. Go Fishing
Grab your rod and reel and head out for a day of fishing at parks like High Falls or Reed Bingham. There is no fee for casting a line, but a license is required for ages 16 and older. For families who would like to take their adventure up a notch, many state parks rent boats by the hour. For more information, visit GaStateParks.org/ParkFishing.