With metro area students’ winter break approaching for the Presidents Day holiday Monday, Feb. 17, it is a great chance for families to jump in the car for a three-day weekend adventure. This road map for fun highlights unique and interesting places to see right here in Georgia, and offers opportunities to pick and choose what works best for you.
Start your road trip on Saturday by heading southwest about 90 miles from Atlanta to the beautiful town of La Grange. There are many attractions to see there, including Callaway Resort and Gardens, Hills and Dales Estate and the Biblical History Center, an archaeological museum where you can explore what daily life was like for people in ancient times. You can experience sitting in a goat-hair tent, learn about customs and do an archaeological dig.
When you get hungry, head over to Charlie Joseph’s, home of the “world’s best hot dogs” since 1920. The restaurant provides a family-friendly atmosphere, and the menu includes hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches and soups. Next stop is Columbus, to see one of the most unique museums in the world — the Lunch Box Museum. The museum is home to more than 3,500 metal lunch boxes, including rare and vintage boxes with TV and superhero characters in this zany collection.
From Columbus, drive a short 30 miles east near Buena Vista to Pasaquan, a fantastical 7-acre art site filled with bright and colorful murals, structures, walls and designs from Native American artists, Pre-Columbian Mexico and Africa. The art site was designed and built by self-taught Southern artist Eddie Martin and took him more than 30 years to complete. Pasaquan is on the National Register of Historic Places and is managed by Columbus State University.
Jump back in the car and head to Plains, the birthplace and home of Jimmy Carter, our 39th and oldest living president, at 95 years old. Honor this former president on the holiday weekend by visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site to learn about Carter’s boyhood farm, school, residence and the train depot that housed his campaign headquarters for the 1976 presidential election. Make sure to see the Jimmy Carter peanut statue nearby. Carter was a peanut farmer, and peanuts are still one of the biggest crops in Georgia today. At the Plain Peanuts Store, located in the Carter family’s original peanut warehouse, you can try a local specialty — an ice-cold, delicious peanut butter ice cream. Take your time. Stroll Main Street. Enjoy!
End your first day by driving about 10 miles from Plains to Americus, and check in at the Best Western Windsor Hotel for the evening and a good night’s rest. This Victorian-style hotel was built in 1893 and has gorgeous towers, turrets and an exquisite three-story open atrium lobby.
Get up early on Sunday and head about an hour west to see Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin. Providence Canyon is called Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” and is considered one of the state’s seven natural wonders. Its canyons and gullies are not natural formations, but were created by erosion from poor farming practices in the 1800s. Enjoy views from the rim of the canyon, view the museum
and visitors’ center and take a short walk and lots of photos of the canyons. Pack a picnic lunch, snacks and water for your trip.
On your way back from Providence Canyon State Park, visit Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm in Archery, then on to Plains, to see anything you missed the day before. Drive through Americus and on to Georgia’s Veterans State Park near Cordele (approximately 25 miles east of Americus) to see the Historic SAM Shortline excursion train. The 1949 vintage train runs on a weekly schedule from the Georgia Veterans State Park to Plains, making numerous stops along the way to learn all about Carter’s life and presidency. The total trip time is about seven hours, so plan a train ride for your next visit. After a fun day, enjoy a dinner in Americus.
Before you leave on Monday, visit the Global Village and Discovery Center in Americus, where the Habitat for Humanity International charity was started. Then, take a quick 12-mile drive east of town to Leslie to visit the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum, home to the largest collection of vintage phones and phone memorabilia in the world.
From Leslie, Warm Springs is about 90 miles away. In Warm Springs, you can visit the Little White House State Historic Site, the personal home retreat of another U.S. president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Tour our 32nd president’s home, as well as the museum, exhibits and grounds, and learn about Roosevelt’s life, legacy and challenges with polio.
Now, it’s time to head back for home. You’ll be home in just a few more hours with lots of fun memories and photos together. Your trip includes hands-on learning about two of our presidents over the Presidents Day holiday and a chance to enjoy some fun, zany and one-of-a-kind Georgia experiences. Happy travels!
As a tour operator and owner of GA Farm & Garden Tours, Inc., Charmaine Jackson creates unique and captivating tour experiences for your group. Connect with her at Charmaine@gafarmtours.com