Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Events and Programs for December 2011

Happy Holidays from your friends at Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites! Escape the hustle and bustle of shopping malls this holiday season and head to your favorite state park for quality time with your family. Whether your troup enjoys a hearty winter hike, candlelight stroll or sipping hot cocoa by the campfire, Georgia State Parks offer an opportunity to leave the crowds behind and create a memorable family tradition in nature’s playground. Head to the parks this December for special festivities including historic candlelight tours, Christmas tree displays, holiday crafts and even visits with Santa. A complete calendar is found below or visit [Editor: this was posted late and some of the events have occurred and have been deleted from this post]
Save money and keep the kids entertained over the holidays by checking out a ParkPass or Historic Site pass from your local library. The Library Loan Program is as easy as checking out a book. Simply show your library card at a Georgia public library and you can have free access to Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites until you have to return the passes. It’s a great way to get the entire family off the couch and moving after all those calorie-laden treats.
Enjoy a cozy Christmas staycation at Mistletoe State Park near Augusta. The park’s “Cottage Christmas” package, available through December 23, starts at $135 per night and includes a cozy cabin, two free tickets to Lights of the South (a top-rated Southeast Christmas attraction), a bundle of firewood, two holiday mugs and hot chocolate, and a Mistletoe State Park keepsake. For reservations call (706) 541-0321.
Winter is the perfect time to enjoy fewer crowds and more wildlife sightings. For those who could use a mini-vacation after the holidays, a secluded staycation can be the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate and kick start the new year. Available January 2 through March 31, 2012, save 25% to 30% on nearly all accommodations. Choose from lodges with restaurants and great views, cozy cabins with fireplaces, modern campsites and even yurts. For reservations, call 1-800-864-7275 and ask for the Winter Getaway Discount.
The more you camp; the more you save. Join our Georgia State Parks RV Club and receive every 10th night for free, plus other benefits. Campers can pick up RV Club PassPorts from park offices or by registering online at You can also get the latest news by following our RV Club on Facebook.
Check for the full listing. You can also become a fan on Facebook to receive the latest news, or follow us on Twitter. GeoCache and Golf enthusiasts be sure to check out our new Facebook fan pages, designed exclusively with you in mind.

Christmas Lakeside Light Show

Friday, December 9 through Saturday, December 24, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville

On Fridays and Saturdays starting the 2nd weekend in December, enjoy a drive through a winter wonderland at the picnic area by the lake. Several lit scenes will grace the roadside as we welcome the coming of Christmas. If you would rather walk, park at the office and walk across the boardwalk into the festivity of lights. Donations appreciated. $5 parking. (706) 857-0826.


Holi-Day Camp

Thursday, December 22 through Friday, December 23, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen

Burn off lots of holiday energy at this action-packed day camp for kids ages 6-12 Register by December 16. $50. (706) 878-3087.


5th Annual Luminary Fun Night with Santa

Saturday, December 17, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Skidaway Island State Park – Savannah

Bring your kids and pets for pictures with Santa, then walk our enchanted luminary trail, do holiday arts and crafts and enjoy caroling on hayrides. There will be holiday treats and hot chocolate. Hayrides are $1/person. $5 parking. (912) 598-2300.



Christmas on the Pond

Saturday, December 17, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

General Coffee State Park – Nicholls

Join us to usher in the holiday season. Fun will be had by all as they visit with Santa, enjoy storytelling, hayrides, a marshmallow roast and homemade refreshments. Donations appreciated. $5 parking. (912) 384-7082.



What is Geocaching?

Saturday, December 17, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Want to join the geocaching bandwagon but don’t know where to start? Join a geochaching expert at the nature center. Bring your own GPS. Don’t have a GPS yet? Come anyway for demos. You will have an opportunity to find caches hidden for this class only. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.
Wilderness Survival School

Saturday, December 17 through Sunday, December 18

Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

Learn to survive in the wilderness. The Southeast School of Survival has joined up with Red Top Mountain State Park to bring Wilderness Survival Training each month. Shelter, fire, food, water, survival first aid, signaling, and rescue are only a sample of what the Southeast School of Survival will bring to you during each course. To register, visit $5 parking. (770) 406-1438.
Atlanta Audubon Society Intro to Birdwatching Hike

Saturday, December 17, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This field trip is designed for anyone interested in learning more about birds, the important habitats critical to some species, and organizations like the Audubon Society, which are dedicated to bird conservation. Meet at the park’s Interpretive Center. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.
Candle Light Hike to the Mill

Saturday, December 17, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

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 years or dogs permitted. Space is limited and is on a first-come first-serve basis. Meet and register at the Interpretive Center. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.
Saturday Mountain Hike

Saturday, December 17, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

These guided hikes depart from Panola’s nature center and are for people in good physical condition. This hike allows park visitors to see Panola Mountain up close, as the Ranger explains the reasons Panola Mountain is protected, and what we can all do to preserve the natural beauty of granite outcrops. Bring sturdy shoes, water, bug spray, and your camera! The Panola Mountain hike starts at 10am and generally lasts 2-3 hours. Rain or shine. Meeting at the nature center. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.
Beginners Winter Tree ID Walk

Sunday, December 18, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Ever wonder what all those incredible trees on the park trails are? This 1.5 mile ranger-led hike will cover different types of bark, habitat types (what trees tend to grow near water, or on ridges), and sorting out the leaves that are still left. Meet at the Interpretive Center. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.
Half-Day Hike

Saturday, December 31, 9 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Wear your hiking boots, pack a lunch and bring plenty of water for a rigorous half-day, ranger-led hike through Panola’s rugged conservation area. Meet at the Nature Center 15 minutes before hike departs. Ages 10 and older. Register in advance. $10 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

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