Step Outside - Georgia WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Georgia 144 144 Tue, 20 Nov 2018 09:52:01 -0600 SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Unicoi State Park Georgia’s picturesque scenery and abundance of outdoor activities make it a prime vacation destination for all ages. It doesn’t cost much to enjoy a few days in the great outdoors, especially when there are a multitude of state parks that offer just about everything you could ever want on-site. Once you experience the wonders of Georgia’s beautiful wilderness, you may say good-bye to pricey resorts for good.

Tucked inside the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest lies Unicoi State Park, a scenic area just a stone’s throw from the alpine village of Helen. This park gives you the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere without sacrificing modern accommodations like Wi-Fi. The park itself is brimming with activities year-round, everything from hiking and biking trails and a lake for fishing to sports facilities and picnic shelters. There’s also an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you may never need to leave the park until your vacation is over.

If you care to venture out of the state park, head to Bodensee for authentic German cuisine. This fine dining restaurant reflects the heart and soul of Bavarian-inspired Helen. They’re serving up lunch and dinner options so you can sate your appetite just about whenever you like.

For a little more universal fare, head to Cafe International and enjoy dining with a waterfront view. This tasty eatery features fan favorites like the Reuben, French dips, and classic hamburgers. Locals and tourists alike love this place because of the homey vibe, view of the river, and good selection of international cuisine.


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Train enthusiast or not, you can’t help but have fun at Charlemagne’s Kingdom. This scale model railroad exhibit mirrors the German countryside from the Alps to the sea. This work of art is about as unique as they come, and you’ll appreciate the fine details and craftsmanship put into this beautiful project.

Aside from its notoriety as a German-focused town, Helen is also known as a river tubing destination. During the warmer months, you can rent a tube from Cool River Tubing and cruise down the Chattahoochee (don’t worry, their bus will bring you back at the end of your trip!). They also feature a zip line, rock wall, and ropes course.

my dream is for u to be as happy as me 💫

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This little park is situated in the midst of downtown Helen and is open to the public to enjoy. Here you get the best views of the town, along with a playground, hiking trails, picnic areas, and a charming gazebo for picture perfect moments. It’s also within walking distance to shops and restaurants in Helen.

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5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in Georgia From far-reaching national forests to high-end private parks, the Georgia off-roading scene has a lot to be excited about. Whether you prefer roughing it out on the natural trails or enjoy the more controlled environment of a private park, Georgia has something for every level of ATV rider. Below you’ll find five of the coolest spots throughout the state that scream, “Start your engines!”

If you’re into off-roading, then you must travel to Durhamtown Resort. Established in 1991, Durhamtown has grown into the largest off-road resort destination in the country. Push the accelerator as you ride over 6,000 acres next to Jeeps, dirt bikes, 4x4 vehicles, and more. Trails vary in experience level from beginner to expert. Make your trip a vacation by renting onsite lodging, staying at an RV site, or camping. You can’t go wrong at the Durhamtown Resort. 

The Whissenhunt OHV Trails are about six miles north of Dahlonega, Georgia, in Lumpkin County and offer 11.2 miles of ATV heaven. The trails are open sunrise to sunset and require a daily fee or annual pass. Trails are designated from beginner to difficult, and riders are asked to stay squarely on the trails so as not to disturb the surrounding nature. 

Highland Park Resort in Cedartown, Georgia, boasts over 90 miles of trails throughout the Georgian mountains. The trails are rated from beginner to expert with five levels, along with a PeeWee track. With 45 unique one-way trails, riders have the luxury of choice. Never have the same Highland adventure twice. Make sure to take a look at the trail map to see which trails are open to ATVs and which are restricted to motorbikes. For longer stays, consider one of the cabins. 

Happy Birthday to my dog @irfan_g05! Have a good one old man!

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Come on down to Waycross, Georgia, for Fat Daddy’s ATV Park. Situated on 500 acres in the Satilla River region, Fat Daddy offers miles of trails right by the river. Primitive camping sites are available for anyone that wishes to stay the weekend. Fat Daddy is open weekends, Friday-Sunday, and charges differing rates depending on how many days you plan to stay. Riders under 15 years of age must wear a helmet at all times. Make sure to check the website ahead of time for updated rules and regulations.

Fun weekend with some good friends 🇺🇸@_kakess__ @matt_dyal @jfern_800 @jaydubyah02 @mike_park_32

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Chattahoochee National Forest is one of the most beautiful and expansive forests in the state, with a combined total area of over 850,000 acres spanning multiple counties. Tons of trails are sprinkled throughout the forest, but take note: riders can only go on trails that are specifically designated. Depending on which trail you choose in the forest, you may be required to pay a daily fee. Check up on all of the rules and regulations on their website before stopping by, and take a look at the forest map while you’re there.  

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Georgia When it comes to location, Georgia’s got it made: from beautiful beaches to impressive mountain scenery and everything in between, there’s no shortage of the great outdoors in the Peach State. Which also means it’s one of the best states in the country to enjoy Mother Nature’s annual show of fall foliage. Take a drive or train ride through Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and you’ll see a never-ending landscape of yellows, oranges, and reds just begging for a photograph. Or, get out on foot and explore all the natural beauty up close in these five stunning foliage hikes in Georgia. 

About an hour’s drive north of Atlanta you’ll find the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast that sets the backdrop for the most beautiful fall foliage in the Peach State. Spend a night in the lodge or embark on a guided day hike to the falls. The views are spectacular, plus you’ll have every opportunity (and desire) to fill your Instagram feed with some of the best scenes you’ll see this fall.

This popular hiking destination is a favorite year-round, but particularly in October when the leaves start to change. The trail system here takes you directly across the gorge, where you’ll find an impressive view of Tallulah Falls from up high surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage. The hikes here aren’t as difficult as they are tiring, since there are hundreds of stairs to the suspension bridge and hundreds more to reach the bottom. However, if you prefer to skip the steps, the trails offer several rim-side overlooks that give you amazing views without the effort.

No matter what your skill level, there’s a hiking trail here that will give you an amazing up close view of the fall colors. As one of the largest parks in the state, this park plays home to beautiful canyons, caves, waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and plenty of wooded areas that are set ablaze with color in October. Along the trail system are plenty of overlooks for photo opportunities of the sweeping expanse of brilliant fall foliage.

Also known as the “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon is well known for its naturally sculpted rock facings and colorful soil. In addition to being a mini tourist attraction, the canyons are a prime viewing spot for those who enjoy fall foliage. There are several overlooks around the rims of the canyons that offer magnificent views of the fall-colored flora, each of which are accessed by the network of trails in the park. 

Also home to one of the biggest and most anticipated Oktoberfests in the country, Helen also plays home to some of the prettiest fall foliage you’ll see anywhere. Head to Unicoi State Park, where you can jump on a three-mile trail that leads from the park to downtown Helen. Along the way, you’ll get your fill of lovely fall sights. Or, opt for the longer Smith Creek Trail that leads you directly to Anna Ruby Falls. 

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ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Houston Valley OHV Trails ATV off-roading isn’t just a fun activity, it’s a southern tradition. Throughout the Peach State you’ll find plenty of vehicle-friendly trails and parks that can give you a ride of a lifetime. However, no off-roading day in Georgia is complete without soaking up a little local flavor before you hit the homeward trail. Make the most of your next off-roading adventure in Georgia with this perfectly planned trip. 

Start your journey with a morning stop at Town Square Cafe. This cozy little eatery has some of the best breakfast in town, including all your favorites like biscuits, pancakes, and omelets. Guests love the quick, friendly service here, and the prices are reasonable, too.

Before you start your off-roading adventure, stretch your legs at Prater’s Mill, one of Dalton’s most beloved historical sites. The structure itself dates to 1855, when it was a functioning mill for cornmeal. Situated on the waterfront, the structure has been fully restored to delight future generations.

Unless there’s been significant rainfall, head to Houston Valley OHV Trails, a system offering more than 25 miles of safe yet challenging trails. Unlike typical ATV parks, this site is dedicated strictly to riding. There are variety of loops that merge with longer trails so you can plot your course and make your journey as long—or short—as you want. If you want to make an entire weekend of off-roading, there are three primitive campsites here that are free to use.

Once you’ve had your fill of hilly trail riding, head back to Dalton to enjoy a delicious barbecue dinner. They also feature other sure-to-please favorites, such as hot dogs, chicken, and Brunswick stew. This locals favorite is a bit of a drive from the trail park, but once you sink your teeth into their smoky-flavored meats you’ll agree it was well worth it. 

Just a few minutes’ drive from the rib shack lies your evening’s refuge. Right off the interstate, you can expect clean, comfy rooms that make the perfect place to unwind after a long day of off-roading. There’s plenty of free parking for your oversized vehicle, as well as free Wi-Fi and a pool to help you melt away the day’s stresses.  

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5 Awesome RV Campsites in Georgia Camping in Georgia is a true delight. Whether you prefer RV camping, modern tent sites, walk-in tents, backpacking, group camping, or “glamping,” the nature majesty of the Georgian scenery will make you forget all of your worries and stand in awe. Georgia has tons of excellent RV campsites and national parks to choose from, but below you’ll find five of our favorites! 

Skidaway Island State Park has 87 campsites, including three camper cabins, five picnic shelters, one group shelter, and three pioneer camps. According to the website, “Trails wind through maritime forest and past salt marsh, leading to a boardwalk and observation tower. Visitors can watch for deer, fiddler crabs, raccoon, egrets, and other wildlife.” Many of the RV sites have sewer hook-ups. With over six miles of hiking trails, birding opportunities, playgrounds, geocaching, and more, Skidaway Island State Park has everything you need for a successful camping trip.

The Long Ridge Campground near Hiawassee, Georgia, boasts nearby waterfalls, spas, fine dining, vineyards, horseback riding, and scenic spring blooms. The on-site amenities are plentiful, and include bath houses for men and women, showers, toilets, full hook-up sites with 30 and 50-amp service, water, and sewer. Enjoy pull-through sites, security, a catch and release pond, and Wi-Fi. Feel free to extend your stay for as long as you like. 

Gatewood Park, just east of Cartersville, Georgia, has a little bit of everything. Enjoy lakeside sights with electrical hook-ups or choose from primitive campsites. Since everything is on a first-come-first-serve basis, we recommend you come early. Amenities include a boat ramp, grills and tables, playground, shoreline fishing, swim area, and water access. This park offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and escape your every-day life.

Camp atop the north Georgia mountains without giving up your water, sewer, electric, cable, or Wi-Fi access. Pets are welcome. Keep in mind that this RV park does not offer any tent or dry camping, and the park fills up on a first-come-first-serve basis. Enjoy the nearby fishing, tubing, and hiking. Rates are reasonable, starting at $20 a night with a discount for GA Unit 32 members. 

Trackrock Campground near Blairsville, Georgia, is situated on 250 acres of meadows, woodlands, and hayfields. All around you’ll see the Chattahoochee National Forest, allowing for the perfect retreat from any commercial developments. The site is an Appalachian Botanic Sanctuary. Camping options include tents, popups, and RVs with pull thru and back-in sites. Water, 30 and 50-amp electricity, and sewer service is included. Sign up for horseback riding, horse camps, riding lessons, swimming, playgrounds, hiking, hayrides, and much more. 

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5 Perfect Fall Camping Spots in Georgia Georgia is well known for its outdoor scene, offering plenty of parks, lakes, coastline, and mountains to suit any outdoorsman’s style. When the leaves turn colors and the days start to cool, people from all across the country flock to the Peach State for fall camping and other activities. Whether you prefer to camp along the shores of a lake or river or like the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, these five perfect fall camping spots in Georgia are not to be missed. 

Surround yourself with majestic mountain views covered in fall foliage at this gorgeous campground. Situated between Blairsville and Hiawassee, this site is far from the hustle and bustle of city life and makes you feel as though there’s nothing else on earth than what’s in front of you. The campground itself is spacious, offering 95 campsites with plenty of privacy. It’s an ideal spot if you’re looking to unwind, either at your campsite or on one of several hiking trails. 

Located at the foot of Blood Mountain, this lovely state park with its glassy lake offers prime fall foliage viewing in the perfect camp setting. You can take your pick of camping cottages, RV sites, or backcountry sites that will let you camp the way you want to. And even though it might be too cold to take a dip in the lake, campers can enjoy a host of other amenities and activities, including hiking, geocaching, fishing, and mini golf.

A family favorite year-round, this amazing park is culturally engaging and perfect for a fall camping spot. Nestled against a waterfront vista, campers can rent an RV or yurt, or pitch a tent at one of their primitive camping sites. The campground is adjacent to the famed Stone Mountain, which features several popular attractions for the whole family, including their famous laser light show when the sun goes down. 

The waterfalls here are reason enough to visit, but this state park is also a prime camping destination for fall getaways. Rich foliage abounds, and is only brightened by beautiful cascades and the park’s lake. Campers can choose from a yurt on the waterfront or a spacious campsite to satisfy their lodging needs. Take advantage of the trail system here that winds its way through the majestic forests and lets you experience the best sights of Georgia in the fall.

Home to the legendary Okefenokee Swamp, alligators, and other wildlife are the main draws to this locale. As the country’s largest blackwater swamp, there’s plenty of mystery lurking beneath the surface. Campers love coming here in the fall because wildlife sightings are almost a guarantee. It’s also a premier fishing destination, with bluegill, catfish, warmouth, and bowfin just waiting to grab your line. Consider taking a guided pontoon boat tour of the swamp, or rent your own vessel for a daring expedition.

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Start Your Trek: 7 Unbeatable Hiking Retailers in Georgia From oceans to mountains and everything in between, Georgia’s got hiking trails for all kinds of outdoor scenes. Having the right hiking gear as you set out to see it all can make a huge difference in your trip’s success. From shoes and apparel to backpacks and hydration, a walk in the woods is anything but unless you’re fully prepared. Given Georgia’s burgeoning hiking community, it’s no wonder there are myriad retailers that are just as dedicated to hiking as you are. They’ll have everything you need to fuel your passion for the outdoors, and maybe even a few little luxuries you never knew you needed. Your adventure starts here at these seven excellent hiking stores in Georgia. 

If you think all hiking and outdoor stores are the same, think again. Kevin’s continually brings new, unique items to the shelves. Their fun, upscale store ambiance adds to the overall shopping experience. And even though they’re a small, single location store, you can still find top brands like Yeti, Nebo, and Patagonia

Dubarry and Kevin's favorite dress shoe maker, come design your own! #dubarry #trunkshow #mensfashion

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Whether you hike alone, with the kids, or bring your canine friend along, you can find everything you need to outfit your next hiking trip at Blue Sky. They carry a little bit of everything for nearly every woodland adventure, including backpacks, water bottles, and gear for your dog. Choose from trusted brands like Marmot, Patagonia, and the North Face, to name a few. 

Sorel Boots and Smartwool socks will always keep your toes warm!

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The entire North Georgia region is a hiker’s paradise, so it’s no wonder the area features one of the best hiking stores in the state. The folks here do whatever it takes to make sure you’re prepped for your adventure, everything from providing the right apparel and gear to offering directions to the trailheads. Inside you’ll find some of the best names in hiking, including Keen footwear, KAVU bags, and ENO. You’ll come as a shopper, but leave as a friend. 

As it goes with Georgia, large urban sprawls aren’t far from stunning wilderness which makes High Country Outfitters an excellent place to visit for all your hiking essentials. Inside you’ll recognize brands like Marmot, Chaco, Osprey, and MSR, to name a few. From packs to knives to apparel and more, you’ll find everything you need and more.  

Visiting my uncle Greg at work and checking out @highcountryoutfitters collection of ruffwear. I like what I see.

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If you want the best in hiking gear, it pays to go to the experts who have first-hand expertise of what you can expect. Talk to the folks at Alpharetta Outfitters, who can help you find what you need the first time without having to make a second trip somewhere else. As fellow outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll benefit from their knowledge of the area and they can direct you to some of the best trails around. From area maps and watches to water bottles and clothing, you’ll find brands like Orvis, Patagonia, and Yeti, among others.

Say hello to your newest, no nonsense camp cup. @yeti #flyfishing #flyfishga #yeti #campvibes #coffeemug #alpharettaoutfitters

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Their name says it all: they’re experts on our outside world. From clothing and hiking boots to backpacks, dog leashes, and dry bags, you’ll get everything you need for a quick trail, day hike, or backcountry camping adventure all under one roof. Choose from beloved brands like KAVU, Sealline, and Black Diamond

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s no better guide to hiking in the area than the team at Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters. If you’re hiking nearby, they’ve been where you’re going and know what you might need to make your hike both enjoyable and safe (there are bears in the mountains, ya know!). Patagonia is a cornerstone brand here, offering reliability, functionality, and quality in every item.

Outdoor gear! You'll love this place! @blueridgemountainoutfitters McCaysville #optoutside #wandernorthga

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in Georgia Georgia’s hunting season includes an abundance of bow-only days, so it’s no surprise that the state is brimming with fans of the sport. Here you’ll find no shortage of archery shops dedicated to helping hunters nab their prize, along with all the expertise you need to make your purchases work right. To help get you field-ready even faster, prioritize a trip to one of these 10 best archery outfitters in Georgia. 

You won’t find a better place for archery gear and expertise. Their fans love them for their deep level of product knowledge and above-and-beyond customer service. They carry a wide selection of Mathews and Mission bows, and also offer service for Mathews and other brands. 

Offering some of the best archery gear and service, locals love the Foxhole because of their reasonable prices and impeccable attention to detail and service. For hunters who aren’t strictly by the bow, you get the best of both worlds all under one roof.

Let’s be honest, good bows don’t come cheap. If you’re looking to own the best, the guys at Diamondback Archery Shop can help you finance your purchase. Their customers appreciate how easy they make the financing process and how the shop delivers on what they promise.

Come on out, we'll be here till 5 #bowtecharchery #diamondbackarchery

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For gear, repairs, or just advice, you’ll learn from the best at Archery Learning Center. Every trip here is an experience, giving you top0notch service from fellow bow hunters who share your passion. They also offer a variety of classes for kids and adults alike.

It’s not a large shop, but there’s plenty to be found inside. From service to sales, the pros here know their stuff when it comes to bows. Archery is all they do, so you can rest assured that they do it right.

One of the best things about Wildcat Archery is their indoor range. Fans love coming here for target practice on a rainy day (or any other time) to hone their skills and get expert advice. They also specialize in all the goods for bow hunters, competitive archers, and recreational archers.

Tucked just above Atlanta, this place is the mega store of archery. With over 10,000 square-feet of store space, there’s no way you can’t find what you’re looking for when it comes to gear and accessories. In addition, they also carry a full range of firearms to complete your hunting or outdoors experience.

As the only archery pro shop in Harris County, Columbus Archery recognizes its obligation to the outdoors community to provide top-notch gear and second-to-none service. They cater to competitive archers and bow hunters alike, offering bow tunings, custom arrows, and all the accessories. They also feature archery leagues and instructional courses to help you get more out of the sport.

Thursday night league night @columbusarchery 🏹

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If you’re looking for a customized archery experience, you’ll want to make the trip to Treetop Archery. They’ll make sure you get the best equipment for your needs and skill level, along with bow setup and other services. You won’t find a better set of professionals to work with.

Specializing in all things outdoors, the team here takes a particular interest in archery. They have a full archery product line along with two skilled techs with over two decades of experience. As a result, you get some of the best technical service in the state, along with a one-stop shop for all your outdoor gear. 

New hats are in ready for spring!

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Georgia From the largemouth bass of Lake Allatoona to the red snapper of the state’s coastal waters, Georgia attracts visitors from all over for its fishing opportunities. Of course, to catch your share you’ll first need to suit up with the right gear, which you’ll be able to find at these 10 best bait and tackle shops in Georgia.

If you’re heading out for a day on Lake Lanier, you’ll want to stop at Oakwood Bait & Tackle first. This full-service shop can provide all your fishing needs and point you in the right direction for a successful day of fishing. They’re the area experts, and love putting their firsthand knowledge to work for you.

Offering the best in live bait and tackle in the area, Buccaneers knows fishing like no other. They’ve always got a good selection to cater to your offshore and inshore fishing needs. Combine that with friendly hometown service and you’ll never want to go anywhere else.

Not only do they offer a huge selection of live and artificial bait, they’re also right next door to a filling station for the human appetite. You can stock up on snacks, beer, and deli items to prevent you from abandoning your fishing spot in search of food. This one-stop shop’s convenience is valuable to its customers, which keeps them coming back every time.

This drive-thru bait shop is truly one of a kind! Close to Lakes Allatoona and Carters, you can expect the best bait for the fish here. The experience alone is worth the trip.

Bait, tackle, and dry ice are what you’ll find at Angler’s Corner. You can stock your cooler with groceries while you get your gear to save you from making another trip elsewhere. They offer discounts on bulk bait purchases of $100 or more, perfect if you have a large group for your fishing trip.

This hometown bait shop is an icon of its community. Aside from their friendly service and area knowledge, you can expect a good variety of bait and other gear in one of the cleanest, most well organized bait stores you’ll ever step foot in.

You’ll come for the bait, but you won’t be able to ignore the beautiful view of the waterfront you get while shopping. This Tybee Island favorite features all the bait you need for a successful day of fishing in the area, backed up by experts who know the area well and can put you on the right path.

get some bait shrimp here 🦐

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Customers love coming to St. Simons Bait & Tackle because they know they can get quality frozen bait and gear at affordable prices. You can’t help but feel like family when you visit, as the staff makes sure to serve up a dose of southern hospitality the Peach State is known for.

In business for over 30 years, Hammond’s has built its reputation on trust, quality, and value. They’ve proven themselves to be the Lake Lanier experts when it comes to fishing and can help you get exactly what you need. They’re open every day year-round (minus Christmas Day) to offer you every possible chance to pursue your passion.

Truth be told, there isn’t much to do in Bainbridge outside of fishing. That’s why the area is lucky to have a dedicated bait and tackle shop that can cater to the fishing community here. Get your license, ice, supplies, gas, and other necessities all in a single stop.

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5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Georgia In Georgia, it’s not uncommon to see several different species of birds on a daily basis. The Peach State is brimming with hundreds of bird species at various times of the year. Birdwatching is more than simply spotting birds as they fly overhead, it takes the right timing, knowledge, patience, and planning if you want to catch sight of something spectacular. For many travelers and locals in Georgia, birdwatching is the real sport of champions. Head to one of these five best birdwatching spots and test your skills! 

With nearly 350 species of birds coming to nest and roost, your chances of sighting one of Georgia’s most diverse bird populations is pretty high here. Woody Pond is home to the endangered wood stork. The refuge itself contains a variety of salt marshes, wetlands, freshwater ponds, hardwood forests and fields that continually attract birds to the area. Bonus points: their website offers an eBird tracker that can notify you about recent bird sightings.

#harrisneckwildliferefuge #Georgia #visitgeorgia #nature #nofilter

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Home to nearly 200 species of birds, this 35,000-acre wildlife refuge offers plenty of viewing opportunities for serious birdwatchers. Inside the refuge, you’ll find a network of several hiking trails, along with the six-mile Wildlife Drive and 45 miles of gravel roadways that take you through the area for prime viewing. Most commonly seen here are varieties of warblers, woodpeckers, wood ducks, herons, hawks, chickadees, flycatchers, and wild turkey, to name a few. Neotropical songbirds are in abundance in April and May, while winter waterfowl are most likely seen during the cooler months.

The Owl’s Roost Tower gives visitors a 360-degree view of the swamp and surrounding areas, perfect for bird spotting. Wading birds are no strangers to the area, and you’ll likely find plenty of sandhill cranes, egrets, herons, and the endangered wood stork. Kingfishers, woodpeckers, and bobwhites are also heard in abundance here.

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Situated on the outskirts of Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek is a hidden gem in this major metro. The reservoir in the park is a prime fishing spot, which also makes it attractive to ducks. The park’s trail system takes visitors up rocky bluffs above the rapids and through fields and forests teeming with birdsongs. Over 300 species have been spotted here, including bald eagles, ruby throated hummingbirds, wood storks, and egrets. Migratory birds rely on this park as a resting and refueling spot, so prime viewing is in full swing in the spring and fall months. 

Located on Cockspur Island, this park is home to much more than a national monument. During your visit, you have a strong chance of sighting one or more of its bird species, including bald eagles, wood stork, or terns. Pelicans and other wading birds and waterfowl are regular visitors here, as well as raptors, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and finches. The park plays an important role to painted buntings, whose neotropical homes have largely been lost. If you catch sight of this beautiful gem, consider it a treat.

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Best Places to Fish in the East This Fall A smorgasbord of baitfish is served up to striped bass in the fall as they make their way south along the Atlantic coast from Maine to their wintering waters in the mid-Atlantic.

Hot Spots To Fish: Deservedly, Montauk, NY at the eastern end of Long Island is considered a storied mecca for striped bass fishermen. If you’re not going surf fishing on the beach or fishing from a jetty, Gone Fishing Marina (631-668-3232, can set up a charter trip for you. If it’s booked up, try Star Island Yacht Club (631-668-5052, or Montauk Marine Basin (631-668-5900,

Find the best fishing spots near you:

Down south, talk to the folks at Captain Hogg’s Charter Service (757-876-1590, about fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Overdrawn Charters  (252-202-4623, in Manteo, N.C. can help as well.

Tackle You’ll Need: Stick with 30- to 50-pound braid or monofilament and a 60-pound-test shock leader of fluorocarbon, with saltwater-ready spinning tackle heavy enough to handle 10- to 14-foot rods. Penn, Quantum and Okuma specialize in fairly inexpensive surf-fishing rods, and reels to match. If you have a reel, but no rod yet, the new Black Inshore Rods from Lamiglas are up to the task. The five spinning and five casting models range from a 6-foot, 10-inch light finesse spinning rod to a 7 ½-foot casting rod rated for lures from 3 to 12 ounces in weight.

Quick tip: The most successful anglers are those who spot gulls or other wheeling seabirds feeding on baitfish driven to the top by stripers and who then cast into the melee without dispersing the bass. From a boat, the trick is to approach schools carefully and take advantage of wind or tide to drift to within casting range. The stripers will stay up as long as the baitfish are hemmed against the surface.


Best Lures/Baits: The 4 1/2-inch Acme Kastmater XL spoon, the 1 ½-ounce Odin Popper, and the 5-inch pencil popper from Tsunami are popular artificials up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Other popular options include the 6- or 7-inch Savage Gear Sandeel Swimbait, 9-inch Sassy Shad swimbait and the 6-inch Rapala X-Rap SubWalk.

Find the best bait and tackle shops near you:

For anglers who’d rather soak baits from a boat or in the surf, live or cut bait, such as Atlantic menhaden (peanut bunker), herring, porgies, eels, bloodworms, anchovies and mullet, can flip the switch on chaotic striper blitzes.

Photograph Courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism The classic approach to surf fishing is still a great way to take advantage of the striper run along the Atlantic coast. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Best Places to Fish in the South This Fall Redfish are starting to move inshore and set up at the mouths of bays, inlets and deltas as their annual spawning run commences. The bottom line for fishermen is outstanding fishing from late September through November in the northern Gulf.

Likewise, bass fishing is starting to pick up again as the weather begins to cool. Huge schools of threadfin shad are starting to filter away from open-water ledges into bays and tributaries where feeding conditions and water temperatures are more optimum.

Bass follow the food, first setting up on ledges at the mouths of inlets and creeks to waylay shad, then migrating back toward shallower water to keep up with their quarry.

Fall Script for Southern Bass

Bass rule in Dixie and cooler weather brings out an army of anglers who go after them. Whether largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, they’re available in most waters and sometimes all three varieties are present in a fishery, ready to aggravate or gratify those who seek them.

Hot Spots To Fish: When it comes to the South’s best lakes for fall fishing, the big TVA impoundments fit the bill. Because this is bass tournament country, dozens of YouTube videos and Facebook sites of pro anglers offer useful advice on where and how to catch autumn largemouths. Likewise, guide services are plentiful; just Google “fishing guides” for the lake you’re visiting or type in the town nearest the lake you wish to fish on the interactive map on this page.

Tackle You’ll Need: A 7-foot medium/heavy rod such as the St. Croix Premier Cranking, a baitcasting reel like the Abu Garcia Revo Winch and 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament makes a good combination to fish downsized lures.

Quick tip: This is strictly a match-the-hatch deal. Use lures that are about the same size as wandering shad. If young-of-the-year threadfins are on the bass menu, try small swim baits fished on drop-shot rigs.


Best Lures/Baits: Shad-colored, shallow- and medium-diving square-billed or coffin-billed crankbaits are autumn standouts. Popular lures include the Strike King 6XD, Bandit 100 or 200, Duo Realis M65, Livetarget Magnum Shad BaitBall Squarebill, Megabass S-Crank, Lucky Craft Squarebill 2.5, Storm Arashi and Rapala Shad Rap.

Fish them around shoreline cover and on the flats between creek drop-offs and the bank. Other fallback baits include spinnerbaits like the Booyah Super Shad, Stanley Vibrashaft and Nichols Pulsator. Good buzzbait options can be found from Lunker Lure, Damiki, Santone and Dirty Jigs.

Rendezvous With Redfish

Along the northern Gulf Coast from Carrabelle, FL, to Grand Isle, LA, the redfish season begins in late September and continues in stages through December. Some anglers fish in the surf with cut bait, while others station themselves on area piers or in boats on relatively shallow flats near channel cuts.

Hot Spots To Fish: For boating anglers, a couple of spots stick out. Pensacola Bay Pass is a must-fish for boaters. Anchor up on the broad flat between old Fort Pickens and the channel, set out lines as the tide changes to incoming, and hang on. Need more help? Redfish University Pensacola Fishing Charters (850-748-4368, specializes in the big drum.

At Grand Isle, LA, book a trip with Gotta Go Fishing Charters (225-921-3642, The marshes and inshore waters around Venice, LA, are primo redfish haunts as well. Captain Mike Frenette (504-782-0924, or ( is a top guide here.

Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company 
Louisiana’s coastal waters are ground zero for the hottest autumn redfish action along the northern Gulf Coast. A variety of natural baits and artificials get the job done.

Tackle You’ll Need: “Rat” reds of 3 pounds and up, or real bruisers weighing in excess of 20 pounds require a range of tackle options. Bass fishing tackle – whether spinning or baitcasting – is perfect for handling smaller fish and for casting jigs or swimbaits that weigh less than an ounce. A Shimano Stradic spinning reel and 7-foot medium-action Shimano Compre rod with 14-pound-test monofilament.

For bigger fish, consider a Penn Battle II BTLII5000 with 20-pound-test monofilament or 40-pound-test braid, and a 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. A 7-foot medium-heavy spinning rod (such as the Penn Battalion BATIN1220S70) should handle any bait rigs or lures and wear down a bull redfish in short order.

Quick Tip: Incoming tides in late evening or at night are primo times for reds as the fish free-spawn then in the mouths of coastal bays and estuaries. If you can’t fish any other time, make sure you fish the incoming tides.


Best Lures/Baits: Redfish aren’t particular about their dietary requirements and will eat anything from blue crabs to halved mullet. Swimming spoons such as the Johnson Sprite (, swimbaits and jigs or even topwater poppers, such as the Heddon Saltwater Spook, will elicit strikes.

Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company Photo By Garrick Dixon Shallow- to medium-running crankbaits probably account for more bass than any other lure in the fall when the fish are on the prowl for shad in feeder creeks and coves. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
9 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Georgia Georgia’s cascading falls, majestic gorges, and sprawling mountains are all the more beautiful come fall. In fact, one could argue that fall is the best time of year to get outside in the Peach State. From RV camping to rigorous mountain climbing to ATV adventures, there’s something for everyone here. Check out the best fall activities in Georgia. 

There’s never a bad time of year to visit Tallulah Gorge, but the fall brings this area to life with gorgeous foliage and crisp mountain air. The park features several campsites for tents and RVs where you can start your journey to view the majestic gorge and Tallulah Falls. With 20 miles of trails, rock climbing opportunities, geocaching, and other fall-friendly activities, you’ll want to make a trip here a fall tradition.

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Situated between Helen and Blairsville in the Northeast Georgia mountains, Helton Creek Falls is a short but sweet hike with a rewarding view at the end. Clocking in at just 0.2 miles each way, the trail is ideal for beginners and up. Since Helen is a hotbed of fall activity, especially during their famous Oktoberfest, squeezing in a quick hike here makes good sense. 

Bicycle Ride Across Georgia features several events throughout the year, but this three-day fall ride from Chattanooga to Atlanta is not to be missed. Participants make the trek using Georgia’s new U.S. Bicycle Route System and can take advantage of live music and a beer tent at every nightly stop. They add in several rest stops and snack stations along the route and manage your luggage for you so you can enjoy the ride. 

If you’re riding the Bicycle Route 21 or just happen to be in Atlanta during the fall, stop by Stone Mountain for their annual pumpkin festival. Jack-o’-lanterns abound everywhere you look, and there’s even a special glow event when the sun sets. Stone Mountain is a hot spot for a variety of outdoor activities, including a ropes course, rock climbing, hiking, and camping

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In Georgia, we like to get muddy. Especially if that's on the back of an ATV. Moccasin Creek Off Road Park in Blackshear spans 500 acres and features eight miles of well-maintained trails. This family-focused off-roading destination has something for every level of skill. Stick around for concerts, camping, and so much more. 

This cozy little barrier island is a hot birding destination from fall through spring. The North Beach section of the island typically attracts over 200 species, including scoters, bald eagle, osprey, and the Red-Throated Loon. The marsh areas are also teeming with bird life, so there’s no shortage of places to stake out your viewing spot.

Mount Yonah remains one of the top fall climbing destinations in Georgia for many reasons. For starters, the North Georgia mountains offer breathtaking views of fall foliage and an ideal temperature for playing outside. Also, camping at Mount Yonah is free where permitted, making it a budget-friendly spot for a weekend getaway.

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A day’s worth of climbing calls for a trip to the best burger joint in the area. This family-owned roadside haunt is a true Georgia establishment, offering fresh-never-frozen beef, fast service, and friendly faces that make you feel right at home. Customers rave about the portion sizes and fair prices, so you can fill up without feeling guilty.

If you love the thrill of the ATV without the mudholes and chilly creek water, you’ll want to head to Durhamtown Off Road Resort for dry off-road riding.. They offer on-site camping and motorcycle, ATV, and side-by-side rentals so you can play your way for as long as you like. And the fun doesn’t stop with the trails, either: they also have skeet shooting, day hunts, a pro shop, and an on-site restaurant—you might never want to leave!

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The Ultimate Guide to Beginner Hiking in Georgia Between the sweeping vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the magnificent display of migratory birds at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia is alive with hiking opportunities. If you’re a beginner in search of some guidance, follow along. Here is the ultimate beginner’s hiking guide for Georgia. 

With year-round temperate weather, Georgia is always the perfect place to go for a hike. If it’s cascading waterfalls you’re in the mood for, Georgia has it. If it’s birdwatching for bald eagles, Georgia has that too. Here are the best hikes in the state.

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It’s all about the proper support. Don’t let your feet start to hurt shortly after you begin your hike. The right gear will make or break your hiking excursion, so check out some of our favorite boots.

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If you want to catch a glimpse of some of the most stunning foliage around, these Georgia hikes are a must.

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The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable on your hike. Follow these weight-saving tips for your backpack and have a hassle-free hike.

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Trekking poles? Sturdy boots? Breathable outerwear? Check, check, and check. Gear up before your hike at these awesome retailers.

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The quiet and tranquility of these Georgia birdwatching hikes will make you appreciate nature in a new way. So what are you waiting for? Grab those binoculars and hit the trails.

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Hurricane Florence: {local_state_full} Shelters, Safety Tips and Resources. Formed by an intense tropical wave off the west coast of Africa, Hurricane Florence is now positioned to devastate the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. 

As the storm approaches, it is crucial to properly prepare and follow protocol set into place by your local officials. 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered a mandatory evacuation of several coastal counties, click here to see if your area is being evacuated. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has also ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal counties, click here to see if you reside in one of these counties. 

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has declared a State of Emergency for all 159 Georgia counties.  

Governor Ralph Northam has issued a mandatory evacuation for Zone A in Coastal Virginia. 

Governor Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency for Maryland and Governor Jim Justice has declared a State of Preparedness for West Virginia

Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency for Washington, D.C.

Delaware has not delcared a state of emergency, but keep up with the latest on the DEMA website.  

Utilize a gas tracker to find the nearest available fuel, as some stations are running low. Be sure to follow road signs and not your GPS when evacuating.

It is important to be prepared. Be sure to check FEMA’s key safety tips. They have an app that you can download for your phone, as well. There are also a variety of other sources such as the National Hurricane CenterSave the and American Red Cross to aid you in finding shelter, food and water, emergency supply kits, and helping your children to cope with the impact of the storm. Stay updated with the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards to follow the trajectory of Hurricane Florence.

To find shelters near you text SHELTER and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). For example, SHELTER 12345. You can also find a list of shelters from the following resources:

Register yourself as being safe and well or find missing loved ones:'s Hurricane Resources:

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