A long Sunday afternoon drive into the country brought us to Gibbs Gardens located in Cherokee County, Georgia. Carved into the rollings hills are over 200 acres of gardens designed and executed by Mr. Jim Gibbs. A degreed landscape designer and horticulturalist, Mr. Gibbs looked for many years to find the perfect piece of land to make his dream of expansive gardens come true. Mr. Gibbs traveled throughout the country and the world viewing gardens and studying the philosophy particularly of Japanese gardens construction.
In addition to a Welcome Center, Gift Shop, and the Arbor Cafe there are 16 distinct gardens to visit. In spring alone there are 50 acres planted in daffodils of which there are 60 varieties. Many gardens are a very long walk from the Welcome Center so there are trams to help ferry you to gardens you might like to visit. Pick up a map at the Welcome Center to orient yourself.
We used the tram to visit the Japanese Garden entered by strolling beneath the Torii Gate which covers 40 acres and which features ponds, special rock structures, Japanese statuary and stone pagodas. Another unusual feature in this beautiful garden is the Zig Zag Bridge, the design of which is thought to perhaps deter the loss of good luck or perhaps help to shed bad luck. This garden certainly encouraged feelings of peace and serenity.
A tram is available for the 150 foot ascent up to the Manor House, the Gibbs personal residence, which is featured for its rock pool, arbor garden and the paths leading down to the Grandchildren's Sculpture Garden and the rest of the gardens.
The Waterlily Garden and the Wedding Gazebo, aptly used for weddings, were other areas I really enjoyed but I have to say that the impression left on first seeing the entry bridge with its bounty of flowers still in full bloom is what I'll remember about Gibbs Gardens.
It was a special pleasure to speak personally to Mr. Gibbs himself! He greets customers as they arrive at the Visitor's Center. He is very willing to answer any questions about his gardens that you may have.
Looks for special events at the Gardens on the website calendar.
Closed Monday & Tuesday
9:00 am to 5:00 pmWednesday thru Sunday
* Last admission every day is 4 pm
Admission Fees (2013 prices):
Adults (18 to 64 years old): $20 per person
Seniors (65+): $18
Children: (ages 4-17) $18 (Children 3 and under are free.)
Group rates are $18.00 per person for an unguided group of 10 or more.
Use of trams is $5 additionally
If you live within driving distance of the Gardens, consider a season ticket if you are interested in visiting more than twice per year. With the gardens changing in every season, a visit 4 times per year wouldn't be unreasonable. If you love gardens or would be interested in attending any of their several events each year, a season ticket would undoubtedly save you money.
Atlanta the county seat and State capital of Georgia was named Terminus in 1842 and later changed to Marthasville, in honour of Governor Wilson Lumpkin's daughter, and then to Atlanta in 1848. Incorporated as a city December 29, 1845, Atlanta was named the state capital on April 20, 1868. Must see sights include: the ruins of the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, the Carter Centre the CNN Centre and Grant Park to name but a few.
See My Travel Page for more information.
A relative newcomer to Atlanta's landscape is the "Georgia Aquarium" which opened its doors in late 2005. This fantastic aquarium exists due to the enormous generosity of Bernie Marcus, a co-founder of The Home Depot. His desire to give Atlanta a world-class aquarium was announced to the public in 2003 and only 2 years later, his vision became reality. Mr. & Mrs. Marcus donated $250,000,000 to create this aquarium for the people of Georgia and others from around the world. With over 8.5 million gallons of water and 150,000 animals, this is the largest aquarium in the world. [The next time you hear someone complain about rich people, think for a minute of all that they have donated both past and present such as this aquarium.]
I've visited aquariums before, but I must say that I thought that the Georgia Aquarium was the best I've seen to date! Not only is the layout and interior design pleasing but the excellent exhibits are very distinct from each other. There are 7 different 'galleries':
Georgia Pacific's "Cold Water Quest" ~ featuring creatures from cold, ocean - Beluga whales were my favorite inhabitants but Weedy Sea Dragons from Australia, Pacific Octopus, and Japanese Spider Crabs were really interesting too.
AT & T's Dolphin Tales ~ A show for all ages features those lovable dolphins everybody loves! We really enjoyed the show and could have watched them perform for a longer time.
NOTE: When we purchased tickets on the day of our arrival, we automatically received timed tickets for the Dolphin show!
Southern Company's "River Scout" ~ Interesting animals & fish living in or around rivers found in Georgia, but also in Africa, South America and Asia. The otters were adorable too. See my photo of the albino alligator!
SunTrust's "Georgia Explorer" ~ The 3 touch pools at this exhibit were fun for all ages as well -- the shallow pools held many young sting rays and even young sharks, sea stars, anemones, and more -- all used to being touched. Have you ever heard of Grey's Reef off the coast of Georgia? Neither had I until I visited this aquarium. This exhibit also featured a lighthouse and trawler. There's also a brief film about the endangered right whales often seen off the coast of Georgia.
The Home Depot's "Ocean Voyager" ~ The stars of this exhibit are the giants --- enormous whale sharks, manta rays, and giant groupers. We were lucky to see the feeding of krill to one whale shark. The question is often asked why these sharks don't eat other small fish in the same tank. The docent told us it is because their throats are only about the size of a quarter so what they do eat has to be extremely small.
Southwest Airlines' "Tropical Diver" ~ This gallery had tanks, both large and small, holding some of the most brilliantly colored tropical fish you'll see anywhere. In one of the major tanks a Pacific coral reef has been recreated to act as a home for these spectacular fish. Also in this exhibit you can walk through a transparent, acrylic tunnel where you can see marine life from nearly a 360 degree perspective.
A T & T's "Deepo's Undersea 3D Wondershow" ~ This is the only exhibit we did not see as some in our party had no interest in it. The aquarium's brochure describes it as " ... a high definition 3D film and unique special effects, the Georgia Aquarium's 4D Theater allows guests to experience the underwater world from a marine animal's point of view."
Just before attending the "Dolphin Tales Show", we stopped for a quick break and light lunch at the Cafe Aquaria Food Court which was actually suprisingly good and well worth the stop.
(2013) Adult admission price $29.95; Senior - $25.95; Child - $23.95
Tuesday - Thursday: $21.95 regardless of age!! Website is a little confusing about whether these special discount tickets must be ordered online or not.
The aquarium is open 365 days per year. Hours may change by season and month so check the website for any particular day.
Regular operating hours:
Sunday - Friday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Parking is available in many nearby lots. Discounted parking passes can be purchased online.Related to:
New Echota was the western style Capitol of the Cherokee Indian ( known as the civilized tribes). Shortly after the construction of this capital the Cherokee were forcibly removed from Georgia to Oklahoma. A journey known as the Trail of Tears. The site has a small Museum and numerous recreations of the original buildings of the capitol city.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Ocmulgee National Monument
This large Missippian town was home to 1,000's of inhabitants at the time of the DeSoto expedition but was decimated by disease by the time that British traders arrived and made permanent contact. Neither the less this would have been one of the largest pre-Columbian cities in the US southeast.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Take a step back in history
This is an interactive museum of daily life in Biblical times with fullscale archeological replicas from antiquity including dislays of time tunnel houses of worship, Biblical meals, tomb reconstructions, life of shepherd & farmer, ancient Roman theater, and multi-media theater.
Suitable for adults and children. Allow at least one hour or more.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
- Museum Visits
Peachtree Street is Atlanta's "grand avenue," stretching north for miles from downtown, through Midtown and Buckhead, and ending in the far northern suburbs. Many of Atlanta's prime attractions, bustling business centers, most chic shopping venues, and best neighborhoods are on or adjacent to Peachtree Street. Despite its name, no peach trees grow along the street, since Atlanta is a little too far north, and a little too high in elevation, for peaches to thrive.
Midtown is one of Atlanta's most vibrant areas, and is bisected by Peachtree Street. Located about one mile (1.6 kilometers) north of the downtown area, many corporations are based here in one of the many new skyscrapers that have sprung up recently. In addition, many of Atlanta's cultural and historical attractions are located in Midtown, such as the Fox Theatre, the High Museum of Art, the Woodruff Arts Center, and the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.
Family Friendly Zoo
My family first heard about North Georgia Zoo while watching Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe about 4 years ago but was saddened when we learned that they weren't open to the public at that time. Three years ago I was searching something to do with my daughter that related to animals and we learned that the Zoo had opened its doors to the public. We went as a family for our first visit in 2009 and fell in love! We loved how healthy and happy the animals looked, how clean and well kept the grounds were maintained and how friendly the staff was. I filled out my volunteer application that day and I haven't left. Ok, so I did go home to go to sleep :) Three years later I am staff at the zoo and still love it as much (ok more) as I did then. I call this my "happy place". This is a great place for families, couples and singles to enjoy an array of animals, from farm animals to exotic species. My 12 y/o daughter volunteers while I work giving tours; I also do tons of behind the scenes stuff. The staff and animals have become an extension of my family. Ok, so I am a bit biased :) but come experience this gem of the North Georgia Mountains and see for yourself. Make sure you say "hi" to me.Related to:
- Family Travel
Bank of America Plaza
Built in 1992, the 55-story Bank of America Plaza is Atlanta's tallest building at 1,023 feet (312 meters), and is the tallest building in the South and the eleventh-tallest building in the United States. The building is topped with an open pyramidal structure which is spectacularly illuminated at night, and which has been referred to as Atlanta's Eiffel Tower.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
This is another of AAA's GEMs (Great Experience for Members).
Robert E. Lee was here as an engineer right out of West Point, and put in the drainage ditches to stabilize the fort. Because he was so familiar with the strengths of the fort, he advised the young Confederate fort commander to pull his troups back from Tybee Island because he thought they would be safer inside the supposedly impenetrable 7.5 foot thick walls of the masonry fort..
But in April of 1862, Union troops on Tybee Island directed a NEW type of cannon - and rifled cannon fire at the fort breached the southeast angle and giving them immediate access to the gunpowder magazines. A cannon shot that landed there would blow up the fort and kill everyone in it, so the commander surrendered. The accuracy and range of the rifled cannon rendered brick fortifications obsolete.
$3.00 - 7 Days for 17 years of age and older Maximum $6 per family
SCHOOL GROUPS and Golden Age Pass holders FreeRelated to:
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
The State Capitol Building
The Georgia State Capitol Building was completed in 1889 on the site of Atlanta's antebellum City Hall. The most striking aspect of the neo-Classical building is its golden dome. The gold was a gift from the people of nearby Dahlonega, Georgia where the nation's first gold rush occurred in 1830. There are 43 ounces (1,220 kilograms) of gold leaf covering the dome. The gold leaf was first applied in 1958 and refurbished in 1981.
In addition to housing the State Legislature, the office of the governor, and various other state offices, the inside of the capitol building contains historical exhibits, a small science and natural history museum, the Hall of Valor which houses a collection of priceless flags, and the Hall of Fame which features busts of the Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence and other notable citizens from Georgia's past.
Rock City and Ruby Falls
We thought Rock City was a real highlight of our trip through Georgia/Tennessee. One stop we probably would not have made if one of our group didn't know the area and suggest we should go. Somehow the name just didn't say enough about this place.
High atop Lookout Mountain, about 6 miles from Chattanooga Tennessee, there's more to see here than the views of 7 states below. Wonderful gardens, rock formations, and the beautiful falls cascading over the cliff, as well as local history. You can take it all in in under an hour, or spend several hours really seeing and enjoying every detail of it.
Ruby Falls is about 5 miles away, and the underground cave and falls are treats for the eyes.
We traveled by 28' RV, and our group included one wheel chair bound person, and two kids 13 and 14. The kids had a great time, exploring the tunnels, rocks, and bridges. It really is more than a "garden" but a place to explore. I am guessing kids of most ages would enjoy the area as an adventure. There were some parts of the trail that were not accessible to the wheelchair. But it was able to go to the outlook and our party could take in the breathtaking views, see the falls, and tour a good amount of the trail.
Driving an RV up the road wasn't difficult, but slow going, since the grade is fairly steep and windy. But it is a pretty drive, and doable. Parking at Rock City was plentiful, Ruby Falls was a little more of a challenge.
The Rock City/Ruby Falls combination entry was about $32 for adults, We highly recommend this spot as a stop when you are in the area. If you can only do one, I recommend Rock City, at around $18 per person 13 years and older.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Zoo Atlanta provides natural habitats for almost 1,000 animals among the trees, hills, and along streams that closely replicate the animals' homes in the wild.
Among the exhibit highlights are the Ford African Rain Forest which is home to four gorilla families (numbering 22 gorillas) in a jungle-like setting. The Masai Mara is a recreation of the plains of Kenya, with free-roaming ostriches, antelopes, giraffes, and zebras. Neighboring land harbors elephants, lions, and rhinoceros. The Ketambe exhibit showcases three families of orangutans, while the Sumatran Tiger Forest provides a jungle habitat complete with a stream and waterfall for the rare tigers. Finally, the Asian Forest features the zoo's most popular attraction: a pair of giant pandas from China.
The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum
The world's second most popular book, after the Bible, was written by Atlanta native Margaret Mitchell. Since publication of Gone With the Wind in 1936, sales have totaled nearly 30,000,000 copies translated into 32 languages.
One month after publication, Margaret Mitchell sold the film rights to the book. The premier of the movie Gone With the Wind was held in 1939 at the Loew's Grand Theatre in downtown Atlanta. (The Loew's Grand Theatre has since burned down). The movie won ten Academy Awards, and has been seen more times than any other film in history.
The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum features a new 4,000-square-foot (373-square-meter) museum which contains exhibits, including letters written by Margaret Mitchell and her husband, pictures, and archival exhibits that portray the life of Atlanta's favorite daughter. The museum opened on December 15, 1999 on the 60th anniversary of the premier of the movie.
Tours also include a visit to Apartment Number 1 in the house where Margaret Mitchell lived between 1925 and 1932, and in which she wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
The High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the Southeast. It houses a permanent collection of over 11,000 works of art, including contemporary art, a decorative arts collection featuring nineteenth- and twentieth-century American furniture, nineteenth-century American landscape paintings, European paintings and sculptures from the fourteenth century through the nineteenth century, African masks and carvings, folk art, and photography.
The museum also features a wide range of traveling exhibitions throughout the year, as well as guided tours, lectures, films, and special events.
The High Museum of Art has two locations: the main facility (pictured here) is in Midtown Atlanta, and the Folk Art and Photographic Galleries are located in the Georgia-Pacific Center in downtown Atlanta.
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