Several of Georgia's parks preserve attractions known as the state's Seven Natural Wonders, including the picturesque Okefenokee Swamp, the impressive Tallulah Gorge, and Providence Canyon. Excellent fishing opportunities abound throughout the mountain lakes and manmade reservoirs, while hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails provide unique vantage points to observe the scenery of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain regions.
1. A.H. Stephens Historic State Park
A.H. Stephens Historic State Park is a National Register of Historic Places-listed state park in Crawfordville, named in honor of former Georgia governor and Confederate vice president Alexander Hamilton Stephens. The park, which is conveniently accessible from Augusta via Interstate 20, is home to one of Georgia's most comprehensive collections of Civil War artifacts, housed within its Confederate-focused museum. The National Historic Landmark Liberty Hall, which was constructed in 1834 and served as Stephens' home until 1875, is also preserved in its original 19th-century condition, along with Stephens' gravesite and adjancent book library. Visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for horseback riding on more than 21 miles of bridle trails, with equestrian-friendly campsites available for overnight stay. Fishing and boating are also popular on the park's several preserved mill ponds.
456 Alexander Street NW, Crawfordville, GA 30631, Phone: 706-456-2602
2. Black Rock Mountain State Park
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Black Rock Mountain State Park is the highest-elevation state park in Georgia, located within the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Eastern Continental Divide at elevations of up to 3,640 feet. The 1,743-acre park, which is located in Rabun County west of Mountain City, is named in honor of its black-colored biotite gneiss cliffs, which offers panoramic views of sites up to 80 miles away in neighboring Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, including the Great Smoky Mountains' iconic Clingman's Dome. Five hiking trails are offered for visitors to explore the park's unique ecosystems, including the 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail, which leads to its namesake rock formation. Anglers can catch rainbow trout, largemouth bass, catfish, bream, and yellow perch at Black Rock Lake from the Turtle Rock Fishing Pier. Other attractions include the Marie Mellinger Center, which showcases naturalist-led programming and country music concerts. Visitors should note that the park is closed seasonally between mid-December and mid-March.
3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway, Mountain City, GA 30562, Phone: 706-746-2141
3. Cloudland Canyon State Park
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Cloudland Canyon State Park is one of Georgia's largest and most beautiful state parks, spanning 3,485 acres throughout the Trenton and Cooper Heights area. The park, which is located along the western side of Lookout Mountain, was established in portions beginning in 1938 as Sitton Gulch and developed as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the park is best known for its spectacular hiking and mountain biking opportunities, with trails such as the 4.8-mile West Rim Loop Trail offering opportunities to view nearby mountain vistas and peer into the thousand-foot canyons cut by Sitton Gulch Creek. The moderately strenuous Waterfalls Trail also showcases several beautiful falls along Daniel Creek, including Cherokee and Hemlock Falls. Other attractions include an 18-hole disc golf course, seasonal show caves, horseback riding trails, and a fishing pond. Visitors looking to stay at the park overnight can choose from 62 tent or RV sites, 10 backcountry campsites, or 16 rental cottages located within the park's boundaries. Each year in the spring, the park hosts an annual wildflower program and a Kids' Catfish Rodeo special event.
122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA 30738, Phone: 706-657-4050
4. Cumberland Island National Seashore
Cumberland Island National Seashore is a spectacular National Park Service-managed national seashore located along Cumberland Island, the largest barrier island within Georgia's beautiful Golden Isles. The seashore, which was originally established in 1972, is only accessible via boat from the park's visitor center in the nearby mainland town of St. Mary's, with ferry reservations strongly recommended to ensure daily access. Stunning sand dune, salt marsh, and freshwater lake habitats are preserved throughout the seashore area, which also includes the 9,886-acre Cumberland Island Wilderness and several historic sites related to the Carnegie family. Seashore visitors may bring their own bikes to the island or rent bikes from the Sea Camp Dock for daily exploration. Overnight camping is offered at the park's public campsites, including a full camping area with restrooms and facilities. Back on the mainland, the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum showcases exhibits on the region's indigenous history and Antebellum-era plantations.
Plum Orchard Dr, St Marys, GA 31558, Phone: 912-882-4336
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5. Don Carter State Park
Don Carter State Park is the newest state park in Georgia, named in honor of Georgia Department of Natural Resources board member Don Carter, an influential figure in the establishment of Lake Lanier. The lovely Gainesville-area park, which is anchored around the 38,000-acre manmade reservoir, is a popular spot for summer recreation for metropolitan-area Atlanta residents, offering a large seasonal swimming beach with public bathhouse facilities. Boat ramps are offered for visitors to access the lake's waters and the waters of the nearby Chattahoochee River for fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Hikers and bikers can explore 12.5 miles of multi-use nature trails throughout the park's hardwood forest areas, which are also open to equestrian riders. Other amenities include an overnight tent and RV campground, rental cabins, a children's playground, a fish cleaning station, and outdoor fitness equipment.
5000 North Browning Bridge Road, Gainesville, GA 30506, Phone: 678-450-7726
6. Elijah Clark State Park
Elijah Clark State Park is one of the gems of Georgia's freshwater coast, spanning 447 acres near the city of Lincolnton along the shoreline of Lake Strom Thurmond. The park is name in honor of American Revolutionary War hero Elijah Clarke, a leading pioneer militia figure in Georgia during the late 18th century, and preserves Clarke's reconstructed historic log cabin, which is fully furnished with period-appropriate furnishings and tools. Clark and his wife Hannah's gravesites are also showcased at the park, which is a popular spot for boating and fishing throughout the summer months. A swimming beach is open at the park seasonally, offering a bathhouse and other amenities. Overnight campers can stay at their choice of 160 tent and RV campsites, 20 rental cottages, or two group sites. Other amenities include a miniature golf course, a children's playground, and day-use picnic shelters. Each year, the park hosts the city's annual Bluegrass Festival in May.
2959 McCormick Highway, Lincolnton, GA 30817, Phone: 706-359-3458
7. Fort Mountain State Park
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Fort Mountain State Park preserves the indigenous history of the Cohutta Mountains region, located along the mountain range's southwestern end near the Chattahoochee National Forest and the expansive Cohutta Wilderness. The park, which spans 3,712 acres near the Fort Mountain communities of Ellijay and Chatsworth, was designated in 1938 and developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps to preserve significant natural sites related to the region's Cherokee history, including its namesake 885-foot zigzagging rock wall. Park visitors can enjoy more than 60 miles of recreational hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails and observe its unique natural scenery, including hardwood and pine forest areas and lush blueberry thickets.
181 Fort Mountain Park Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705, Phone: 706-422-1932
8. George L. Smith State Park
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George L. Smith State Park is a lovely historic park in Emanuel County, named in honor of former Georgia House of Representatives speaker George L. Smith. The 1,634-acre state park is best known as the home of the Parrish Mill and Pond, which converts a gristmill, sawmill, dam, and covered bridge constructed in 1889 into a living history museum. More than seven miles of nature trails traverse the park's protected tortoise habitat and bird sanctuary, making it a prime spot for birdwatchers to spot species such as the white ibis and great blue heron. The park's 412-acre mill pond is a popular destination for canoeists and anglers, offering three paddling trails and seasonal boat rentals.
371 George L. Smith State Park Road, Twin City, GA 30471, Phone: 478-763-2759
9. George T. Bagby State Park
© George T. Bagby State Park
George T. Bagby State Park and Lodge is a recently-privatized retreat in southwestern Georgia, located along the banks of Walter F. George Lake. The park, which is operated under the management of Florida-based Coral Hospitality, is home to a beautiful 60-room lodge set against the backdrop of Georgia's rolling hills landscapes, featuring luxurious overnight accommodations and Southern-style cooking served up daily at the Pilot House Grille restaurant. The 18-hole Meadow Links Golf Course has been acclaimed by Golf Digest as one of America's best publicly-affordable championship courses, while the park's picturesque 48,000-acre lake is home to a full-service marina and boat access ramp. Other amenities include a three-mile nature trails, a private swimming beach, and overnight rental cottages and cabins.
330 Bagby Pkwy, Fort Gaines, GA 39851, Phone: 229-768-2571
10. Hamburg State Park
Hamburg State Park is a delightful park located along the banks of the 225-acre Hamburg Lake, located near the cities of Warthen and Jewell. The park, which is named for South Carolina's former nearby industrial town of the same name, spans 741 acres and showcases technologies common to historic rural Georgia at its preserved 1921 water-powered gristmill facility, which is still operational today. A museum showcases a collection of agricultural tools and appliances common to rural Georgian farm life in the 19th and 20th centuries, open to the public during special event times. Park visitors can enjoy great opportunities for fishing along Hamburg Lake and the Little Ogeechee River, which are stocked with crappie, bream, and largemouth bass. An overnight campground also offers 32 tent and RV campsites, as well as day-use picnic sites and group shelters.
6071 Hamburg State Park Road, Mitchell, GA 30820, Phone: 478-552-2393
11. Hard Labor Creek State Park
Hard Labor Creek State Park is a National Register of Historic Places-listed 5,804-acre state park, accessible via Interstate 20 near the cities of Rutledge and Fairplay. The park is named after its namesake Hard Labor Creek and is best known as the filming site for the feature films Little Darlings, Poison Ivy, and Friday the 13th Part IV. More than 24 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails are offered throughout the park, along with a seasonal swimming beach and the Creek Golf Course, an 18-hole golf course with one of the most acclaimed and difficult starting holes in the state. Visitors can camp at two group campsites, Camp Rutledge and Camp Daniel Morgan, which were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and are anchored around the 275-acre manmade Lake Rutledge. The park is also home to the Hard Labor Creek Observatory, used by Georgia State University for astronomical observation.
5 Hard Labor Creek Rd, Rutledge, GA 30663
12. Indian Springs State Park
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Indian Springs State Park is one of the United States' oldest state parks, accessible via Interstate 75 near the cities of Flovilla and Jackson. The park, which spans 528 acres throughout central Georgia, is known for its unique artesian hot springs, which have been used for therapeutic purposes by indigenous tribes for thousands of years. Throughout the 19th century, the park was a popular resort town throughout the American Southeast, an era documented at the park's seasonal museum. Today, visitors can wade through Sandy Creek or fish at the park's 105-acre lake during the summer months. A 0.75-mile nature trail is also offered, along with opportunities for bike connections to the nearby Dauset Trails.
678 Lake Clark Rd, Flovilla, GA 30216
13. Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge
Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge is one of Georgia's best public golfing spots, home to the championship 18-hole Wallace Adams Memorial Golf Course, which has been acclaimed as one of the American Southeast's best public courses. The 1,360-acre park, which is located along the Little Ocmulgee River near the town of McRae, was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and is home to a 60-room lodge offering family-friendly rooms and cabin rentals and a full-service Southern-style restaurant. The park's 256-acre lake offers a seasonal sandy swimming beach and opportunities for fishing, while its 2.6-mile Oak Ridge Trail provides chances to spot gopher tortoises and indigo snakes. Other amenities include lighted tennis courts, a private swimming pool, a children's splash pad and playground, and day-use picnic shelters.
80 Live Oak Trail, Helena, GA 31037, Phone: 229-868-7474
14. Magnolia Springs State Park
Magnolia Springs State Park is known throughout Georgia for its beautiful crystal-clear springs, which flow over seven million gallons of water each day. The 1,070-acre state park, which is located within Jenkins County near the towns of Millen and Perkins, was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 on the site of what served as Camp Lawton during the American Civil War. The park's Camp Lawton museum showcases Civil War-era artifacts unearthed as part of a major archaeological expedition in 2010 by Georgia Southern University, housed within a building at the National Register of Historic Places-listed fort. Visitors can fish on the park's small lake or stroll along its boardwalk to observe alligators and turtles in their natural habitats. A 16-person group lodge is available for overnight stay, along with 26 tent and RV hookup campsites and eight fully-furnished rental cottages.
1053 Magnolia Springs Rd, Millen, GA 30442, Phone: 478-982-1660
15. Mistletoe State Park
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Mistletoe State Park is one of the best spots in the United States for bass fishing, located along the banks of the 71,000-acre Lake Strom Thurmond near the city of Augusta. The 1,972-acre state park is named for the regional Mistletoe Junction area, a popular natural site in the Augusta area for mistletoe picking throughout the holiday months. Boat ramps provide convenient access for anglers to explore the lake's waters, with canoe rentals available seasonally. A seasonal swimming beach is offered throughout the summer months for family-friendly swimming and sunbathing. Visitors can also meander through eight miles of nature trails or complete biking miles in affiliation with the regional Muddy Spokes Club. Overnight accommodations include 10 fully-furnished cottages, a peninsular campground with lake views, and a four-bed rental cabin.
3725 Mistletoe Rd, Appling, GA 30802, Phone: 706-541-0321
16. Moccasin Creek State Park
Moccasin Creek State Park is a lovely 32-acre state park located along Lake Burton's western shores, accessible from Georgia State Route 197 near the city of Clarkesville. The park, which was originally established as a campground in 1963 by the Georgia Game and Fish Commission, was rebranded as a state park in 1966 after three years of operation by the adjacent Lake Burton Fish Hatchery. Youth and senior visitors can use a fully-accessible fishing pier open to children under the ages of 11 and adults over the age of 65, as well as adults with Georgia disability fishing licenses. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are available for rental throughout the summer months, with ample lakefront space for RVs to pull directly up to the water. Several campground areas are offered at the park, along with the Fulton Lovell Assembly Shelter lakeside pavilion. The park also provides access to the nearby Chattahoochee National Forest, which connects to the Appalachian Trail.
3655 Georgia Hwy 197, Clarkesville, GA 30523, Phone: 706-947-3194
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17. Panola Mountain State Park
Panola Mountain State Park is a National Natural Landmark located within the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, one of three National Heritage Areas within the state of Georgia. The park, which is located a mere 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta, is a favorite spot for outdoor recreational activities for visitors of all ages, known for its unique natural beauty and geographic features. It is anchored around its 100-acre granite monadnock formation, which rises 946 feet above sea level and offers panoramic views of the South River. Park visitors can enjoy opportunities for archery, birdwatching, tree climbing, and geocaching or participate in ranger-led nature hikes educating participants on the region's unique native species. A paved multi-use trail is open to walkers, bikers, and dog walkers, while several forested fitness trails are open to hikers and runners.
2620 Highway 155 SW, Stockbridge, GA 30281, Phone: 770-389-7801
18. Providence Canyon Outdoor Recreation Area
Providence Canyon Outdoor Recreation Area is home to one of Georgia's great Seven Natural Wonders, spanning 1,003 acres throughout the state's southwestern Stewart County. The park is best known as the site of Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon," which was created in part by poor farming practices that created erosion as deep as 150 feet throughout the 19th century. Despite its odd backstory, the canyon is one of the state's most renowned photographic opportunities today, showcasing stunning eroded clay and clay loam sediment layers overlaid with red, orange, and purple loamy sand topsoil layers. Park visitors can view populations of the region's rare native plumleaf azalea, which blooms each July and August. The park is also home to a preserved abandoned early 20th century homestead, which showcases nearly a dozen rusted 1950s-era vehicles. More than 10 miles of hiking trails are offered at the park, including a rim trail and backcountry canyon hikes.
8930 Canyon Rd, Lumpkin, GA 31815, Phone: 229-838-6202
19. Red Top Mountain State Park
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Red Top Mountain State Park is one of Georgia's most-visited state parks, easily accessible from the metropolitan Atlanta region via Interstate 75. The park, which is located near the city of Cartersville in Bartow County, is named in honor of the iron-ore-rich red soils in its region, which made the area an important mining district throughout the 19th century. It sits on the shores of the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona, which is a popular destination for anglers and water skiers and offers a public swimming beach throughout the summer months. Over 15 miles of hiking trails meander through the densely-forested park, including an ADA-accessible paved trail near the park's office that leads to a reconstructed 1860s homestead. Overnight accommodations at the park include rental cottages, lakeside yurts, and a spacious campground with tent and RV hookups. The park also preserves the nearby Allatoona Pass Battlefield, the site of a seminal American Civil War battle.
50 Lodge Rd SE, Cartersville, GA 30121, Phone: 770-975-0055
20. Stephen C. Foster State Park
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Stephen C. Foster State Park spans 80 acres throughout the Charlton County region, anchored around the gorgeous Okefenokee Swamp, known as one of Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders. The park, which is located within the broader 402,000-acre Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016 to protect its unique and sensitive swamp ecosystem. Park visitors can canoe, kayak, and boat on the Spanish moss-lined swamp's waters or embark on guided fishing and boating tours. Wildlife watchers can enjoy chances to catch glimpses of the park's population of more than 12,000 American alligators, along with species such as black bears, deer, herons, wood storks, and red-cockaded woodpeckers. Exhibits on the park's wildlife are showcased at its Suwannee River Visitor Center, which also offers interpretive programming. Visitors should note that due to the park's location within the National Wildlife Refuge, National Park Service fees and closing times apply.
17515 GA-177, Fargo, GA 31631, Phone: 912-637-5274
21. Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park is one of the closest Georgia state parks to downtown Atlanta, located approximately 15 miles from the city's center in eastern Douglas County. The park was established in 1972 due to efforts by the Georgia Conservancy, which was established in 1967 at the park's namesake Sweetwater Creek. Historic ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company textile mill, which burned to the ground during the American Civil War, are showcased at the park, along with an award-winning visitor center offering exhibits on the region's indigenous history. Anglers can enjoy great fishing opportunities at the park's 215-acre manmade George Sparks Reservoir, with canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and pedal boat rentals offered during the summer months.
1750 Mt Vernon Rd, Lithia Springs, GA 30122, Phone: 770-732-5871
22. Tallulah Gorge State Park
Tallulah Gorge State Park preserves one of the American Southeast's most spectacular natural wonders, a two-mile erosion-carved gorge which plummets more than 1,000 feet to the surface of the Tallulah River. The park, which is located along the Habersham and Rabun County lines, is best known as an access point to see the spectacular Tallulah Falls, a collection of six smaller waterfalls that create a drop of 500 feet over the course of a mile. Several rim overlook hikes are also offered, along with permit hiking opportunities to reach the gorge's floor on days when water conditions are safe. Park visitors can also observe the river from an 80-foot-tall suspension bridge, which provides panoramic views of the gorge's rocky bottom. The park's Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center offers exhibits on the region's ecosystem and history as a turn-of-the-century resort town.
338 Jane Hurt Yarn Drive, Tallulah Falls, GA 30573, Phone: 706-754-7981
23. Vogel State Park
Vogel State Park is a 233-acre state park that was one of Georgia's first two state parks at its founding in 1931. The park, which is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest at the base of the impressive Blood Mountain, is also one of Georgia's highest-altitude parks, sitting at elevations of over 2,500 feet above sea level. Four hiking trails of varying difficulty offer opportunities to observe spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains scenery year-round, most popular during the autumn months as leaf-watching routes. A public visitor center museum focuses on the park's history and construction by the Civilian Conservation Corps, with features detailing the park's connection to the Great Depression. A 22-acre lake is also open for boaters, along with a seasonal swimming beach available to visitors of all ages throughout the summer months.
405 Vogel State Park Rd, Blairsville, GA 30512, Phone: 706-745-2628
24. Watson Mill Bridge State Park
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Watson Mill Bridge State Park is a lovely park near the cities of Carlton and Comer, stretching for 1,018 acres along the Broad River's South Fork. The park is one of Georgia's most picturesque state parks, named in honor of its 1885 Watson Mill Bridge, a National Register of Historic Places-listed landmark that was constructed by Washington W.W. King, the son of famed bridge architect Horace King. Today, the lattice truss bridge is one of less than two dozen covered bridges remaining in the state of Georgia, stretching for 229 feet across the Broad River. Visitors can enjoy beautiful scenery for warm-weather picnicking or descend to the cool river shoals below the bridge for splashing and swimming. A scenic nature trail also meanders throughout the park, open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.
650 Watson Mill, Comer, GA 30629
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More Ideas in GA: Splash in The Boro
Splash in the Boro is a city-run water park in Statesboro, Georgia offering family-friendly attractions, swim lessons and group programming.
Among the park’s newest features is a 340,000-gallon wave pool that opened in June of 2017. The shallow end of the pool includes a small playscape for little children, while the surrounding deck offers lounge chairs, shaded cabanas and a covered, shaded pavilion. Cabana rentals include lounge chairs and a table, bottled water, privacy curtains and a personal storage locker.
The park’s 800-foot long lazy river lets visitors float on inner tubes along a gently moving current around the smaller children’s play pools. Other relaxing areas include the Leisure Pool, which combines a shallow children’s pool with a splash pad playground. A Play Pool with interactive water features, the Lily Pads obstacle course, and Tot Slides are all suitable activities for the park’s smallest guests.
Among the more thrilling rides at the park are Mat Racer water slide, in which up to five guests compete along side each other as they race headfirst on special mats down a five lane water slide. Florida’s only dual Flowrider allows two guests at a time to ride a Flowboard or boogie board on a special surface that mimics ocean surfing.
Three food and drink options within the park include Splashy’s Sandwich Shop, serving salads, wraps and sandwiches, Splashy’s Snack Shack which serves “ballpark fare” such as hamburgers, hot dogs and fries, and the Tiki Hut, offering snack sized pizzas, nachos and ice cream.
History: Splash in the Boro opened in 2004 after a unique initiative proposed by the director of Parks and Recreation at the time, Mike Rollins. Rollins was concerned about the cost of operating neighborhood pools throughout the Statesboro-Bulloch County, and proposed instead that resources be pooled for the build of a water park that would generated additional income through tourism. Using funds from a special sales tax referendum that was introduced in 2002, the $4.5 million Splash in the Boro opened in 2004.
In the first year, attendance significantly surpassed expectations, with over 90,000 visits. Since then, the park’s revenue has supported a $4 million expansion in 2009, and the addition of the Wave Pool and Wave Pool Pavilion in 2017.
Ongoing Programs and Education: A full sized swim pool and heated therapy pool at the park are home to group programming and offer everything from swim lessons, to lifeguard certification courses, to water aerobics. The two pools are open year-round thanks to a heated dome that is installed from October through April. Private and group swim lessons are available for children and adults. Adaptive Aquatics programming is offered for children with special needs or limited mobility. Adult therapeutic and fitness programs include lap swims, water aerobics, Aqua Fit and Deep Aqua Fit, as well as programs for those with arthritis. Ultimate H2O is a boot camp style program incorporating land and water elements.
Lifeguard and swim instructor courses are offered for anyone age 16 and older. Programming also includes community CPR and First Aid courses. Courses are offered at the start of each summer season. Those who complete the course are eligible for employment with Splash in the Boro.
Springboard diving lessons are available for children ages 7-18. A recreational swim team, the Sharks Rec Swim Team, has both children’s and adult teams and trains swimmers in stroke technique, flip turns and dive starts in a non-competitive environment.
Discounted rates are available for groups of more than 20 guests. Birthday party packages include outdoor summer events, and events under the heated pool dome during the winter months. In addition to the cabanas, two shaded pavilions with picnic tables may be reserved for larger groups.
What’s Nearby: The city-run Splash in the Boro is located within the Mill Creek Regional Park alongside a scenic lake. The park offers walking trails, as well as sports facilities for tennis, softball, soccer and football. Although Splash in the Boro does not have lodging on site, several hotels are located within a 5-mile radius of the park. Statesboro, Georgia is the home of Georgia Southern University, also the town’s largest employer, and is known for its quaint historical downtown, which was recently awarded the title of a “Renaissance City” by Georgia Trend Magazine for its modern day revitalization.
1388 Highway 24 East Statesboro, Georgia 30461, Phone: 912-489-3000
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More Ideas in GA: Crisson Gold Mine
Located in Dahlonega, Georgia, the Crisson Gold Mine preserves a historic 19th-century gold mining facility, operated today as a tourist attraction offering pan mining experiences, wagon rides, and other family-friendly activities. Like many nearby former mine facilities, the Crisson Mine was opened for operations as a placer mine in 1847, during the Georgia Gold Rush of the mid-19th century.
Mining operations at the facility began as a tunnel mining operation utilizing hydraulic mining technologies, but following the exhaustion of original placer deposits, the mine’s tunnels were dug out into an open pit mining facility. The facility is most noted as the source of most of the gold used for the Georgia State Capitol building’s signature gold leaf dome. During the late 19th century, a stamp mill was installed at the facility for the purposes of crushing gold-bearing quartz, which is still in operation today for demonstrations and customer mining. In 1969, the Crisson family opened the mine to the public as a tourist attraction, offering pan mining experiences and other family-friendly activities.
Though the Crisson Mine was closed for industrial mining operations in 1982, the mine remains open today as a tourist attraction, continuing to mine gold from its quartz deposits for visitor activities. As the oldest gold mining establishment still in operation in the northern Georgia region, the property is located near the Consolidated and Calhoun Mine facilities and is home to 22 gold-bearing veins of quartz within its open pit mining area, with some veins producing up to a quarter-ounce of gold for every ton of rock mined. Gold mined from the mine and the surrounding Dahlonega region is among the purest gold in the world, graded at over 23 karats.
Though the mine itself is still in operation for mining for visitor activities, the veins and pit of the Crisson Mine are not open to the public for exploration for visitor safety. Ore for visitor operations is mined using a 130-year-old Stamp Mill, which is displayed as a visitor exhibit. The mill, which crushes quartz rock to extract gold deposits, is the only operating stamp mill within the state of Georgia and one of only two remaining machines of its kind in the American Southeast. 10 stamps weighing more than 450 pounds apiece are used as part of the machine’s operation, which uses a chain-driven electric motor and a momentum-based flywheel and cam system to crush ore. Other mining equipment on display at the facility includes an antique rod mill, shaker tables, and jaw crushers.
Self-guided tours of the facility’s stamp mill and other mining equipment are offered with basic visitor admission, along with the opportunity to complete a pan or gold mining activity. Expert instructors are on site at all times to assist visitors with mining for gold or gemstones at the mine’s dedicated pan sifting facilities. Basic visitor admission includes one pan of gold dirt and a two-gallon bucket of gemstones for sifting, along with a gemstone chart for identifying gem finds. Additional ore for pan mining may be purchased by the pan, bucket, wheelbarrow, or tractor scoop. Use of highbankers, trommels, and rock crushers is also offered for advanced miners, and rates are available for guaranteed gold nugget buckets. For gemstone mining, larger sizes of concentrated buckets are offered, with some packages offering free cuts of any gemstones found within buckets. Professional gemstone cutters are available on site to cut any gemstones found in buckets into jewelry set in pendants, earrings, and rings for an additional fee. A mining store is also available on site and on the mine’s website, offering dredges, gold concentrates and separators, and metal detectors.
In addition to gold and gemstone mining activities, wagon rides are offered at the facility for a nominal fee per family or small group. Rides pass through wooded areas with farm animals and open pit and tunnel mining areas, with ride tour guides offering information about the facility’s operation and equipment. Picnic areas are provided for visitors to bring their own lunches or buy food options on site.
The Crisson Mine is open for visitor operations seven days a week, with the exception of major national holidays. Group rates are available for small groups and organizations with 20 members or more, including elementary and secondary school groups, scouting troops, and senior and community groups. Several tour attraction packages are offered, with options for gold panning, gemstone mining, and wagon ride activities. Birthday parties may also be hosted at the facility, using picnic areas for party activities with advance arrangement.
2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy E, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-6363
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