When you’re a military family (Marine Corps for us), home is where the Marine Corps sends you. Sometimes where they send you is amazing, and sometimes, it’s not. Currently, Flash and Mookie are living in North Georgia. There are so many things that North Georgia has to offer, and though it has taken a few years, it actually does feel like home.
Let’s start with local hiking. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is only a short distance away from Atlanta. There are miles of trails of intermediate hiking, where from the top on a clear day, the Atlanta skyline can be seen. Next up, Red Top Mountain State Park. Red Top also has miles of trails from beginner to intermediate where you have views of the lake at times. It is a great place to picnic, launch a boat or kayak, fish, or take a dip in the lake. Heading further north is Amicalola Falls, and the start of the Appalachian Trail (we hiked a 12 mile loop to Hike Inn, which is a very cool experience in its own, then back down the approach trail back to the falls)… a total of about 15 miles during that one day! Mookie thought she may die, but in the end, she only lost a toenail. Mairin had a minor teen-age melt down approximately 10 miles in but rallied and made it to the end with pride. Flash dipped his legs in the cold water at the end and slept well that night.
Downtown Woodstock is one of Flash and Mookie’s favorite locations to frequent. It includes all the things they love in a small quaint town. A Saturday morning Farmers Market. Reformation Brewery which caters to families (and dogs) is a great place to hang out with a beer (or grab a cup of local coffee/latte/etc in the morning). With two parks just across the street, and the ability to walk around town with your adult beverages, you can grab a draft brew from Reformation Brewery, a margarita from Pure, or other alternative drink and head to the park with your group or kiddos and hang out for a bit. Want something sweet?? Pie Bar (our favorite local dessert!), is just up the street and around the corner. They have sweet pies, savory pies, occasional pie vault special flavor releases, and the owners, Lauren and Cody Bolden are as sweet as “pie!” Dulce Artisan Gelato is across the way, and has a variety of flavors served in a cone or cup (sooo good!). Want to grab a fun drink with the kiddos? Tiny Bubbles Tea Bar is just across the railroad tracks and across the street… get your favorite flavor of tea, with your favorite flavor popping pearls (boba), and your level of sweetness you desire (or any of the other amazing concoctions that they offer). Need food? While at Reformation Brewery, pick up some BBQ from Queenies… you won’t be disappointed! Lower to moderately priced, Century House Tavern has the most consistently good tasting food and service. Prime 120 Steakhouse is newer to the area, and offers some seriously delicious, most perfectly cooked steak, but it comes at a higher price tag (great for special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays!). There are many other local faves, but these spots are the places that Flash and Mookie frequent the most!
Like mountain biking or kayaking?! Flash and Mookie do! Just one exit from downtown Woodstock is Olde Rope Mill park… the start of 14 miles of beginner to intermediate mountain biking trails and walking trails. The park also includes a canoe/kayak launch where Flash and Mookie love to launch their kayaks and paddle their way down Little River. They often head to the Hause Shoals Waterfall for some people watching or beach their boats along many of the areas of Lake Allatoona for a cold drink, snack, and a dip in the water.
Head a little further north to wine country in Georgia! Although there are many great choices, Flash and Mookie’s favorite winery is Chateau Meichtry Vineyards. They can spend the entire day there if they want or just stop in for a glass or tasting. On the weekends the winery hosts musicians for live music and food trucks for good eats. Often, Flash and Mookie will pack up the fixings for a charcuterie board, buy a bottle of wine, and sit on the winery’s deck and enjoy the music. Most recently, they ordered wine in a chocolate cup! Yes, you read that right… wine AND chocolate all in one!! There are many wineries in the area (Cartecay Vineyards, Ott Farms and Vineyard, Engelhiem Vineyeards, Fainting Goat Vineyards (yes, there really ARE fainting goats here), Ellijay River Vineyards, Mountain Treasures, and Mountain Valley Farms) and wine tours are also offered. Each of the wineries bring a unique wine tasting experience.
Before or after wine tasting, there are many apple orchards in the area where Flash and Mookie love to pick up fresh fruit, dried apple slices, fresh apple cider, and their favorite… apple cider donuts sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar!! A few to check out in the area are BJ Reese, Mercier Orchards (the biggest store we’ve found among the orchards!), and Hillcrest Farms (pig racing? Yes, please!).
Then, head on up to the town of Blue Ridge where you can take a train ride, get some candy at the local general store, eat some authentic Polish food at Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen (not only is it the only place you can find pierogis and cabbage rolls in the area, but they really ARE the best!), and stroll the rest of the quaint railroad town before you’re onto the next adventure!
When you get this far north, you are so very close to the Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee borders, where four states Flash and Mookie love, all come together! There is so much adventuring to do that it can't all possibly be included, so get out there and see for yourselves!