In January 2015, I decided that we — as a family — would visit a different Georgia State Park every month for the year.
The “rules” were:
- We had to all be there.
- We had to take a family photo.
- We had to go to a different one each month.
Y’all? That is a quarter of our weekends!
It doesn’t really seem like a whole lot — until you start really planning it!
And then you realize that this goal, is a big one.
And let me tell you — it is big. And awesome. And priceless.
The memories made, are just magnificent.
We are discovering our world, together. And there really is no way for me to accurately explain how bonding that is.
Okay, so! Now that we’ve visited 12 different state parks, the most common question we get asked is: What was our favorite?
Oh my goodness, you guys, I am so bad at ranking these in terms of favorites, because I love our Georgia State Parks so very much! And it really is all relative.
But you know who IS good at it? Kevin.
The main things we will point out before we share our favorites with you are — there was no bad park. None.
They were all great in different ways.
Truly. You cannot go wrong visiting any of these parks!
Kevin’s Top 5 are all parks where we stayed the night/weekend — probably because we were able to really explore everything the park had to offer. Our best memories are the ones where we spent the most time.
So here you are! Kevin’s Top 5 from this year, agreed upon by us!
This one made the Top 5 because we had a blast (my family was there too!), and we stayed in a yurt! We loved the yurt we stayed in and the yurt village itself. We loved having my parents in a cabin there, and my sister and her family so close. We geocached, canoed, fished, cooked out over a campfire, hiked, played and had the best time! The kids both teared up when we had to leave, and this is the only state park I can say that about.
We loved staying in the lodge here! Our room had beautiful views, the room itself was super cool (sleeping loft!), and we loved that we could just eat breakfast and dinner in their restaurant downstairs. The kids thought this was the best “hotel” we’ve ever stayed in, and they still talk about it! Seeing the beautiful falls and visiting the pumpkin patch across the street just made the entire visit unforgettable.
This park was destined to make our Top 5 because it was my favorite park even before we started this journey. I’ve been coming to this one since I was a kid, so I know it well and love it! We stayed a night in my parents’ cabin, and it was the best! We picnicked, built fires, hiked, and visited Callaway Gardens — we had great weather and a wonderful time!
Our last park made it all the way to slot #2 on our list! We had the best weather, the most awesome cabin, a creek running through our backyard, beautiful views of the mountains, a magnificent waterfall, and Christmas festivities to attend! It was SO FUN. We absolutely cannot wait to go back. This one is a keeper.
And now — DRUMROLL…our number 1 state park was:
This gets our vote for our favorite because it was beautiful and unique. We absolutely loved that we got to try out different types of boats (we used a rowboat and a peddle boat) to actually boat between the trees! It was like a hike…on a boat! The kids thought it was really cool, too. (Tom calls this, “the boat one!”) The neatest part of this trip was that we arrived at our cabin on a Sunday. So that Monday? It. Was. Deserted. I’m not kidding, we had this entire state park to ourselves. Lucky us.
So those are our Top 5! And already, I want to tell you AGAIN that we loved them all! We did!
I loved Sweetwater Creek State Park so much that I’ve been back with the kids at least four times this year! Its visitor center is awesome! Its hikes are beautiful! (I want it ranked at least #6!)
Kevin said he would’ve ranked Indian Springs State Park higher, because he thought it was so awesome, except that we went in July and all he could think about was how hot he was!
We thought Red Top Mountain State Park was a blast! Except that we got flooded. Ha!
Providence Canyon State Park was the neatest looking place ever! I felt like not staying the night nearby was a mistake, and I want to go this year again and do just that. Traveling there and back in a day was too exhausting for us, but the park itself was truly amazing!
Watson Mill Bridge was beautiful, and so fun for the kids, and we cannot wait to go back! (A storm ran us off when we went.) But even though we were only there a short time (about an hour and a half!) we were really impressed!
There was so much to do at Panola Mountain State Park, and I can’t wait to do more! On my list: Their awesome-sounding tree-climbing experience! (And they even do a Zzzz’s in the trees! Sleeping in a tree? Sounds crazy cool.)
And, oh, poor Tallulah Gorge. Ha ha! It never really made it out of my “last place” distinction. I’m so sorry, Tallulah! Listen, I KNOW this place is awesome. It is. I went here many times pre-kids, and just adored it. But when we went this year, my kids were 5 and 3, and they were just not up for hiking up/down steps to the suspension bridge, and that’s what makes this place truly unique. This will be a place we can visit with them when they’re just a bit older. Or we can just stop here on our way to visit my aunt and uncle. It’s still amazingly beautiful! It’s just not a destination for us with our kids so young. We’re coming for ya, Tallulah! (In about 2 years.)
When I look back on all the amazing places we got to experience this year together, it takes my breath away. It really does.
While writing this, the word “priceless” went through my head many times. That’s just…that’s what it was.
I will have these memories with my family forever.
And that just means so very much to me.
I want to do this same goal again someday! It was just the most amazing experience.
So…now what?! 😉
For 2016, I think we’re going to try to visit six different state parks that we didn’t get to this year — and of course, revisit our favorites. I’m not going to put a monthly goal on it this time — just six new parks at some point — but I cannot wait!
The family goal is something I really love, and I plan to continue doing that for years to come. It was so awesome to accomplish this together! (You should, too! A new restaurant every month? A new experience every month? Volunteer every month?)
Thank y’all so much for all of your support and interest in this project this year! I’ve loved the questions, suggestions and ideas, and we’ve made some amazing friends (that’s you, 365 Atlanta Family) along the way. And thanks to Georgia State Parks for being awesome (and their Instagram for loving us!) Cannot thank you enough!
2015 was the best, and I cannot wait to see what 2016 brings!
Hopefully, a lot more time with these cute people.