Go for the Holidays at Georgia State Parks

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Georgia State Parks are making it easy and affordable for you to enjoy family time this holiday season.  Come celebrate in Georgia’s great outdoors with a cornucopia of festive events, diverse recreational opportunities, and hotel-style lodge rooms with special winter rates.

Looking for budget-friendly activities to do with the kids during school break? Head to the parks for everything from visits with Santa to Christmas tree displays.  Below is a sampling of the holiday festivities, and a complete calendar is listed at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.

Appalachian Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 26, 11 a.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville

Experience a traditional Thanksgiving buffet with old-fashioned fun. Displays and Appalachian cultural demonstrations will be presented at the lodge. Reservations for the Thanksgiving buffet are required (space fills quickly). Ask about lodge room availability. $5 parking. (706) 344-1505.

2009 Festival of Trees

Friday, November 27 through Saturday, December 12,

Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen

View beautifully decorated trees throughout Unicoi Lodge. This event is hosted by White County Chamber of Commerce. $5 parking. 800-573-9659 ext. 305.

Christmas Open House

Saturday, December 5, 4 p.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville

Enjoy musical performances and gingerbread house creations, and then go for a winter hayride. Afterwards warm up by the fire and visit with Santa. Save time for a meal in the park’s mountain-view restaurant.  $5 parking. (706) 265-1969.

Deck the Halls of Unicoi

Saturday, December 5, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen

This celebration includes making holiday crafts, hayrides (weather permitting), visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a special meal in the park’s restaurant, and an evening of live music in the beautifully decorated lodge. $5 parking. 800-573-9659 ext. 305.

Christmas on the Pond

Saturday, December 12, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

General Coffee State Park – Nicholls

Storytelling, hayrides, refreshments and Santa himself will usher in the holiday season. $5 parking. (912) 384-1581.

Plantation Christmas at Jarrell Plantation

Saturday, December 12, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Jarrell Plantation Historic Site – Juliette

Take an afternoon stroll through two of the Jarrell family homes with traditional decorations and natural greenery. Stories, music and refreshments included. $3.50-$5. (478) 986-5172.

Luminary Fun Night with Santa

Saturday, December 19

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, hot chocolate and warm cider while you explore our nature museum with wildlife, fossil exhibits and live animals. $3 picture with Santa, $5 parking. (912) 598-2300.

Stay Overnight

Families travelling for an extended holiday can choose from a variety of lodging options at Georgia’s State Parks. Accommodations include modern campsites, fully equipped cottages, memorable yurts and even hotel-style lodges. Lower winter Lodge-ical Rates begin at $59 at George T. Bagby State Park on Lake Walter F. George, Little Ocmulgee State Park in McRae and Red Top Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona, and $69 at Amicalola Falls State Park near Dawsonville and Unicoi State Park near Helen. Some blackout dates apply. Call 1-800-864-PARK (7275).

Reservations

For help in planning a holiday staycation, visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org or call 1-800-864-PARK (7275).  Georgia’s 48 state parks are operated by the Department of Natural Resources.

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