Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites are offering 10 ways for families to enjoy the outdoors and have fun this spring without spending a fortune.
From hitting the trails and waterways to golfing, campfires and sleeping under the stars, the parks have programs for all ages and interests. Many activities are free; parking is $5 for state parks. Historic site admission is usually $10 or less and parking is free. For more information, visit GeorgiaStateParks.
• “Glamping:” Families who enjoy being in nature but prefer a soft bed at night may want to pay a visit to Cloudland Canyon, which recently added 10 yurts atop Lookout Mountain. Yurts are a blend between a tent and cabin, with furniture inside and hot showers nearby. They rent for $70 per night. There are also yurts available at Red Top Mountain, High Falls and Fort Yargo state parks.
• Geocaching: Kids can hunt for treasure and learn about Georgia’s rich history by joining the History Trail GeoChallenge, which takes them to 14 state historic sites. The worldwide sport involves using handheld GPS units to locate hidden caches.
• Golfing: Georgia’s eight state park golf courses offer a family-friendly atmosphere and are surrounded by sparkling lakes and scenic forests. Rates start at $25 for weekdays. Kids programs are also available.
• Fishing: Fishing in the parks’ lakes, rivers and streams is free, but a fishing license is required for ages 16 and older. For families who would like to take their fishing adventure up a notch, more than 20 parks rent motorized fishing boats by the hour.
• Biking: State parks offer miles of paved and off-road trails perfect for every skill and age level. Families with smaller children will especially enjoy the bike paths at Red Top Mountain, Tallulah Gorge and Panola Mountain.
• Paddling: From the small mountain lakes of Fort Mountain and Unicoi to the coastal waterways of Fort McAllister and Crooked River, there are paddling opportunities for all skill levels. Families can bring their own equipment or rent a canoe or kayak at more than 20 state parks. For a challenge, join the Park Paddlers Club which takes explorers to six state parks as they earn a members-only T-shirt.
• Camping: Campsite rates start at $23 per night. For a complete list of campgrounds, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org/campsites.
• Get cozy: Families interested in more comfort will find cabins starting at just $85 per night. They come with fully equipped kitchens, comfortable furnishings and screened porches, plus a wide range of outdoor activities. Some allow dogs with advance notice and a pet fee. To book a cabin getaway, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org/reservations.
• Hiking: Georgia’s diverse landscape offers everything from canyons and waterfalls to salt marshes and streams. There are miles of hiking trails for every ability, plus a calendar of ranger-led hikes that introduce children to Georgia’s native animals. Energetic hikers can join the Canyon Climbers Club and earn a members-only T-shirt.
• Explore history: Georgia’s 18 historic sites teach the kids about history as they explore forts and learning about Colonial Georgia at the popular coastal sites of Fort Morris, Fort McAllister and Fort King George. Or, to learn about Georgia’s Native American history, Kolomoki Mounds, New Echota and Etowah Indian Mounds provide ancient Indian mounds, museums and Cherokee buildings.