December News from Georgia's State Parks & Historic Sites

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
georgia header

December 2013

winter at Ga State Parks

Winter Specials Save You Money

Cozy campfires and peaceful beauty are just two reasons you’ll enjoy visiting Georgia’s State Parks during winter.  We have several specials to make a last-minute escape easy on your wallet.  Choose from these suggestions below, or check out for the latest seasonal discounts.  Dates and restrictions vary by park.  

  • Snowbird Special – Stay 30 nights at select south Georgia campgrounds and save 50% off regular rates.  Promo code SNOWBIRD50% valid through February 28.  Choose from Florence Marina, Kolomoki Mounds, Magnolia Springs, Reed Bingham, Seminole and S.C. Foster state parks.
  • $10 Camping – Chattahoochee Bend State Park near Newnan offers $10 camping, even on weekends.  Promo code: DISCOVERCHATT valid through January 20.  Choose from a variety of sites, including riverside tent platforms and RV pull-throughs.

  • Fantasy in Lights  --  F.D. Roosevelt State Park has partnered with Callaway Gardens to offer 10% off weekday tickets and accommodations, now through December 30.  Stay in the park’s cabins or campground, and enjoy holiday lights in the gardens.
  • Lights of the South – Stay in a cabin at Mistletoe State Park and enjoy two free tickets to this dazzling light display near Augusta.  Rates range from $135 to $145.
  • Dollar-A-Hole Golf -- Brazell’s Creek Golf Course at Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park will throw in golf cart rental when you play 18 holes for just $18.  Valid Monday through Thursday until February 28.
  • Stocking Stuffer Golf – Buy one greens fee for $30 from Highland Walk Golf Course at Victoria Bryant State Park and get one pass for free.  Must be purchased by December 31 and used by February 28.    


Cloudland Canyon

Share Georgia’s Beauty with Your Friends & Family

We’re Open During the Holidays

If you’re entertaining friends and family over the holidays, considering showing them around scenic Georgia.  State parks are open daily year-round, even though many offices are closed on Christmas Day.  And while historic sites are closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day; some are open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.  With an abundance of things to do and see, you’re sure to see smiles on everyone’s faces.  Here are a few ideas to get your family started:

  • Go for a nature walk.  You’ll find easy paths perfect for strollers at Panola Mountain and Skidaway Island.  For a challenge, try the staircases at Cloudland Canyon or Tallulah Gorge.  Want something in between?  Nearly every state park has moderate hiking trails from 1 to 5 miles long.     

  • Try geocaching.  Kids who can’t put down their electronics will love this techno-treasure hunt.  It’s truly a game for multi-generations because even the youngest family members can search for the hidden caches. No GPS?  No problem.  Download a GPS app on your smartphone.  

  • Step back in time.  From Dahlonega Gold Museum to FDR’s country retreat, our historic sites guarantee that everyone will learn something new.  Days of operation vary, and a few are open Christmas Eve.   


Mistletoe gift shop

Holiday Gift Ideas

We’ll help you stuff four mountains, two canyons and even a swamp into one little stocking.  Adventure-seekers on your shopping list can enjoy year-round fun with these thoughtful gifts, and you’ll have a great excuse to visit your favorite park instead of the mall.

Annual ParkPass
Frequent visitors enjoy access to all 48 state parks with no $5 parking fee.  For $50 ($25 for seniors 62 and older), recipients can return again and again for hiking, fishing, canoeing and more. To purchase a pass, visit park offices, call 770-389-7401 or email

Golf Passes & Membership
Links lovers will appreciate playing our eight well maintained courses surrounded by natural beauty. A GreensPass provides unlimited rounds, with prices ranging from $150 for youth to $1,000 for families.  A $20 Golf Club Membership Card provides discounts on greens fees, cart rentals, merchandise and food.  Learn more at

Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Membership
Enjoy a year full of outdoor fun while helping protect Georgia’s most precious places. Membership levels begin at $50 and include a free Annual ParkPass, night of camping or round of golf, plus additional perks. Visit or call 1-888-948-2092.

Books, Hiking Sticks, Stuffed Animals & More
We have dozens of gift shops filled with presents for all ages.  Camping supplies, t-shirts and hats, toys, themed décor and numerous other items will make outdoor lovers know that thought went into their gift. To find a nearby gift shop, visit


December 2013 Calendar of Events

Below is a sample of December programs held in Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites.  
For a more complete calendar, visit or each park's webpage.  

Holiday Light Displays


Lights Up on the Lake

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, December  1 - 29, 2013

James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park  - Summerville, GA  

Enjoy a drive through a winter wonderland by the lake. Several lit scenes will grace the roadside as we welcome the holiday season. $5 parking. 706-857-0826.


Tour of Lights on Seminole

November 30 – December 29, 2013

Seminole State Park  - Donalsonville, GA  

See pretty light displays throughout the park, presented by local businesses and organizations. It's free to drive through, but donations are appreciated. 229-861-3137. 


Christmas Events


Christmas on The Lake

Saturday, December 7,   10 a.m. to 3 p.m.   

Florence Marina State Park  - Omaha, GA  

Make Christmas decorations out of natural ornaments such as pine cones, sweetgum balls, magnolia seedpods and seashells. We provide all the materials you will need. Then from 1 to 3 p.m., be sure to bring your wish list as pictures will be taken with Santa Claus. $1 - $3 plus $5 parking. 229-838-4706.


A Jarrell Plantation Christmas

Saturday, December 7,   10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.   

Jarrell Plantation Historic Site  - Juliette, GA  

Celebrate a country Christmas from around 1900. Greenery and grapevine wreathes make the houses festive, along with a tree adorned in homemade decorations, stockings and simple gifts.  Also enjoy spiced apple cider, cookies and fireside stories. $4-$6.50. 478-986-5172.


Christmas Candlelight Tour

Saturday, December 7,   6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.   

New Echota Historic Site  - Calhoun, GA  

Luminaries will light the pathways, and decorations will welcome visitors to the historic buildings. Christmas carols, hot apple cider, refreshments and Christmas cheer will kick off the holiday season at the historic Cherokee Capital. Grab your candle lantern and dress for the weather. $5.50-$7.50. 706-624-1321.


Christmas at Red Top’s Cabin

Saturday, December 7,   10 a.m. to 4 p.m.        

Red Top Mountain State Park  - Cartersville, GA  

Yuletide celebrations of the 1800s come to life at the Vaughan cabin. Experience the sights and sounds of the holiday with music, cooking, toys and games. Bring a camera to get a free picture with Santa. $5 parking. 770-975-0055.


Christmas by Candlelight - Cherokee Home Tour

Friday, December 13 - Saturday, December 14,   6 p.m. to 9 p.m.   

Chief Vann House Historic Site  - Chatsworth, GA  

Enjoy Christmas in one of the best preserved Cherokee Indian homes. The 1800s house is decorated in the Moravian-style with all natural garland, paper ornaments and more than 300 candles. $4 - $6. 706-695-2598.


A Colonial Christmas

Saturday, December 14,   5 p.m. to 8 p.m.        

Fort Morris Historic Site  - Midway, GA  

Get away from the over-commercialization of the holidays and visit Fort Morris for a more peaceful celebration. Join park staff for colonial refreshments, a yule log, bonfire, 18th century music, caroling, dance and firing of the Christmas guns. 912-884-5999.


Christmas on the Pond

Saturday, December 14,   6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.        

General Coffee State Park  - Nicholls, GA  

Visit with Santa, enjoy storytelling, hayrides, a marshmallow roast and homemade refreshments. Donations appreciated. $5 parking. 912-384-7082.


Christmas at Reed Bingham

Saturday, December 14,   7 p.m. to 9 p.m.   

Reed Bingham State Park  - Adel, GA  

Meet Santa and enjoy homemade baked goods, hot cocoa, Christmas carols, and ornament making. The beach shelter will be decorated with lights for all to enjoy. $5 parking. 229-896-3551.


A Tree of Families

Saturday, December 14,   10 a.m. to 4 p.m.   

Robert Toombs House Historic Site  - Washington, GA  

The Christmas tree takes the center stage as living history performers "Robert Toombs Family and Friends" celebrate post-colonial holiday traditions through the early 1900s. 706-678-2226.


Reading of The Polar Express 

Saturday, December 14,   10 a.m. to 2 p.m.        

Roosevelt's Little White House Historic Site  - Warm Springs, GA  

Children can ride the Warm Springs Choo-Choo to Mustian Place where a real train conductor will read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Refreshments will be served along with a visit from Santa. Children will receive a reindeer bell as a gift. Train will depart from the Memorial Fountain at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. $8-$12. 706-655-5870.


Victorian Christmas

Saturday, December 14,   10 a.m. to 2 p.m.   

Travelers Rest Historic Site  - Toccoa, GA  

The inn will be decorated with items reflecting the Victorian Era. $3-$5 plus $5 parking. 706-886-2256.


Christmas Tree Lighting

Saturday, December 14,   4 p.m. to 7 p.m.        

Vogel State Park  - Blairsville, GA  

Join us for the 10th annual lighting of a 35-foot live Blue Spruce, as well as caroling, hayrides, Santa Claus visit, bonfires, hot chocolate and cider. 706-745-2628.


Luminary Night with Santa

Friday, December 20,   6 p.m. to 8 p.m.   

Skidaway Island State Park  - Savannah, GA  

Bring your children and pets for pictures with Santa. Enjoy a walk along our enchanted luminary trail and take a hayride around the park. Sip on hot chocolate while decorating cookies and making holiday crafts. $5 photos, $2 hayrides, $5 parking. 912-598-2300.


Outdoor & History Events


Pearl Harbor Remembered

Saturday, December 7,   10 a.m. to 3 p.m.        

Roosevelt's Little White House Historic Site  - Warm Springs, GA  

World War II veterans will meet with guests. Living history with Kellys Zeroes will take place in the museum, and a re-enactment of the Declaration of War will be delivered by President Roosevelt. Operation Stars and Stripes will be collecting gift donations for troops serving in Afghanistan. $8-$12. 706-655-5870.


Constellations by Carriage

Saturday, December 7,   7 p.m. to 8 p.m.   

Hard Labor Creek State Park  - Rutledge, GA  

Hard Labor Creek is a great place for star-gazing. Relax on this guided carriage ride by the beach. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.


Toy Trot 5K Trail Run/Walk

Saturday, December 7,     

Fort Yargo State Park  - Winder, GA  

This 5K Run/Walk race is being held by Walton-Barrow Board of Realtors to benefit the "Shop With A Cop" program for needy children.  $5 parking. 706-215-3893.


Civil War Heritage Festival

Saturday, December 7   

Magnolia Springs State Park  - Millen, GA  

Enjoy a living history encampment, live cannon fire, and a skirmish of Confederate and Union soldiers. Georgia Southern will host an archaeology presentation while vendors join in the festivities in the picnic area. $5 parking. 478-982-1660.


Dirty Spokes Race

Saturday, December 7 

Victoria Bryant State Park  - Royston, GA  

The Dirty Spokes running race series includes four state parks: Red Top Mountain, Unicoi, Fort Yargo and Victoria Bryant. Dates and distances vary. Visit for more information and to register. Race Fee plus $5 parking. 706-245-6270.


Winter Muster Reenactment

Saturday, December 14,   9 a.m. to 4 p.m.   

Fort McAllister Historic Park  - Richmond Hill, GA  

On December 13, 1864, General Sherman ended his March to the Sea by ordering his troops to take Fort McAllister. Watch as we reenact this historically significant moment in our country's history. Battle at 5 p.m.. $6.50-$3.75. 912-727-2339.


Geminid Meteor Shower 

Saturday, December 14 - Sunday, December 15,   11 p.m. to 1 a.m.   

Hard Labor Creek State Park  - Rutledge, GA  

Join us on the beach to view the last major meteor shower of  . Bring a lawn chair, a thermos of your favorite warm drink, and a cozy blanket. Reflect on the past year, as we enjoy some of winter’s best constellations. Preregistration required. $5 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.


Full Moon Night Hike

Saturday, December 14,   5 p.m.   

Panola Mountain State Park  - Stockbridge, GA  

Join us for an enchanted evening as we hike to the mountaintop under the full moon. We'll head out just before sunset and enjoy the stroll as the moon begins to rise. Bring flashlights, hiking boots and water. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. 770-389-7801.


Winter Tours and Porridge at Hardman Farm

Saturday, December 14,   1 p.m.   

Hardman Farm (Hosted by Smithgall Woods)  - Helen, GA  

Learn the secrets and history of this 143-year-old former governor’s farm on what is sure to be a cold winter day. Afterwards, enjoy a warm bowl of porridge from Nora Mill Granary and hot coffee from Jumping Goats Coffee Roasters, while experiencing the winter stillness of the Nacoochee Valley.  $10. 706-878-3087.


Candlelight Hike to the Mill

Saturday, December 14,   7 p.m. to 9 p.m.   

Sweetwater Creek State Park  - Lithia Springs, GA  

This mile-long guided night hike is easy to moderately difficult and goes inside the Civil War era textile mill ruins of New Manchester. Candle lanterns will be provided. No children under 6 or dogs permitted. Sturdy, closed-toe shoes are required. Register at the Interpretive Center. $5 plus $5 parking. 770-732-5871.


Who gives a Hoot? Owl Show

Saturday, December 14,   1 p.m. to 2 p.m.        

Saturday, December 28,   1 p.m. to 2 p.m.        

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge  - Dawsonville, GA  

Join Zeus, Owl Capone, Goliath and all your favorite Amicalola Falls Feathered Friends for a fun and educational time in the Lodge Lobby. $5 parking. 706-344-1500.


Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike

Sunday, December 15,   5 p.m. to 7 p.m.   

Monday, December 16,   5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.   

Tallulah Gorge State Park  - Tallulah Falls, GA  

Join in this group hike as the evening arrives. Arrive early; space is limited. $5 plus $5 parking. 706-754-7981.


Train Rides in Cordele


Rudolph's Favorite Train Ride

Saturday, December 7,   6:30 p.m. to 8:40 p.m.   

SAM Shortline Excursion Train - Cordele, GA  

Enjoy a relaxing ride from Georgia Veterans State Park into Cordele.  Vendors will be awaiting your arrival to show you all the exciting things for Christmas.  Games, music and reading of The Polar Express await younger ones. Ticket fee. 229-276-0755.


Bells Over Plains Train Ride

Wednesday, December 11,   10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.   

SAM Shortline Excursion Train - Cordele, GA  

Enjoy a train excursion with a 1 hour layover in Plains. The town will be all dressed in its Christmas wrapping, fun for shopping. 229-276-0755.


Bookmark and Share