Summer can be a scorcher in Georgia. As the mercury rises, residents try to come up with entertainment options that don’t involve becoming overheated. Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites offers visitors the chance to beat the heat, while still enjoying the great outdoors.
A guaranteed way to escape hot temperatures is to find activities in or near water. The park system provides many opportunities to swim, boat and fish in some of the state’s most beautiful scenic lakes, reservoirs, springs, rivers, streams and creeks. Thirty-six state parks offer pristine lakes, and more than 30 rent motorized fishing boats, pedal boats or canoes by the hour. Many also offer boat ramps and fishing access. Visitors do not have to pay an extra fee for swimming at lakeside beaches or fishing in lakes, rivers or streams (a valid Georgia resident/non-resident fishing license is required for anglers 16 or older). John Tanner State Park in Carollton is best known for having the largest sand swimming beach in the park system. Unicoi State Park and Lodge in Helen offers a 53-acre lake with fantastic mountain views. Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls also boasts a small beach that is typically uncrowded. A unique water activity –sliding down cool river shoals – awaits visitors at Watson Mill Bridge State Park in Comer.
Many parks also offer swimming pools, open typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.
Lifeguards keep watch over the fun, where admission runs from $1 - $3. One of the most popular pools is the Liberty Bell pool at F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, which is spring-fed and chillier than most neighborhood spots that often feel like bath water.
While water might seem like the easiest solution to stay cool, visitors to many of Georgia’s State Historic Sites and SAM Shortline excursion train can enjoy the sweet relief of air conditioning. The museums at many of the historic sites, as well as some in parks, offer a mixture of education and entertainment indoors during summer months. Admission to each location varies, but there is a wide variety of topical areas of interest to choose from such as presidential homes (Roosevelt’s Little White House State Historic Site in Warm Springs), ancient Indian mounds and plantations (Kolomoki Mounds State Historic Park in Blakely or Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation State Historic Site in Brunswick), to unique landmarks (Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site in Dahlonega or Lapham-Patterson House State Historic Site in Thomasville). Passengers on board SAM Shortline excursion train can enjoy being out of the heat while also enjoying scenic, natural views. Each car of the vintage locomotive is air conditioned and a day’s itinerary may include stops in the quaint cities of Cordele, Leslie, Americus, Archery and Plains, where visitors can explore nearby attractions such as Georgia Veterans State Park, The Rural Telephone Museum, Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village and former President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home and campaign headquarters. For more information and rates, call 1-877-GA-Rails or visit www.SamShortline.com.
Even those who prefer to stay more active during the summer months, despite the heat, can escape the sun’s overly direct rays with shaded hiking and biking trails at state parks. Many trails wind through lush forests with natural canopies (Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs), take visitors on higher altitude mountain paths with milder temperatures (Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City) or offer salt-marsh breezes (Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah).
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources operates the Georgia State Parks system. From the north Georgia mountains to the Colonial Coast, 48 parks and 15 historic sites are scattered throughout the state’s most scenic locales. Natural environments, comfortable lodging, affordable rates and exciting recreational activities await guests year-round. For more information or reservations, call (800) 864-7275 or visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org.
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Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites