Hike the Hooch: First Stop, Island Ford

{SMIJ by Jill “Game Day” hats and football thermal available at Henry & Pearl}

We love to hike and part of the fun is heading out of town an hour or more to find great spots to explore.  Let me clarify “we love”.  It’s always me coming up with the idea and “breaking the news” to the rest of the family.  Pat is usually pretty quick to jump on board.  I think he has already prepared himself for what he knows is coming as soon as the weather starts getting nice.  The kids want to know “how long of a drive is it?”, “can we bring our iPads, iPhones, etc?”, “What time will we be back?”, “What about my friends?”.  They give in pretty easily because they know I won’t give up!  And, let me tell you, without fail, 100% of the time, the one who complains the most about going is the one who never wants to leave.  Just sayin… Sometimes mom does know best.  And, we are all just different people after a few hours in nature.  There is just nothing like getting that fresh Georgia air into every last cell in your body.

So, while it’s fun to explore the endless options to hike around Georgia, sometimes you just don’t have that much time.  For those days, we have so many great options right in town.  I thought this Fall it would be fun to explore some favorites around the Chattahoochee.  Please share your experiences, too.  We are always looking for new places to explore.

First stop, Island Ford in Sandy Springs.  This park is right off Exit 6 in Dunwoody.  Very easy to get to, lots of parking and well-managed and staffed.  It is open every day except Christmas!  There is even a nice visitor’s center with clean restrooms and a park attendant to answer questions.  For your little – or big – scientists, they have a cool microscope display where the kids can get up close and personal with things they see in Georgia.

We started with this hike because it is very easy.  It is short and flat with breathtaking views of the river.  You can even take your shoes off and wade into the cool water in some kid-friendly spots.  We wish we would have brought a little snack because we wanted to enjoy a picnic on one of the rocks sticking out into the river – and because no one wanted to leave.  Remember that “mom knows best” thing…. The kids want to come back next weekend with bathing suits and a picnic.

The trail is fully shaded the entire way, but you can easily step off the trail at many spots to get close to the river and enjoy the sun.  I do recommend bug spray although we didn’t get bit, it seemed like a good thing to have along.  There are also two huge rock formations along the trail that kids can explore.  Great picture spots, too!  People were fishing, rafting, kayaking and enjoying this river.  We had a blast and we were back home right after lunch time with our lungs full of fresh air, our minds calm and plans for our next Chattahoochee adventure.  Stay tuned…

Pick-Your-Own Fun in Washington Farms’ Strawberry Fields

I’ve been looking forward to this little adventure for the last few months.  {Lots more pictures below.}  I wrote about our visit to this farm for pumpkins in the Fall and saw that they also grow strawberries, blueberries and blackberries each year and you can pick them yourselves.  It doesn’t get much fresher than that!  I also think it’s funny that we are willing to pay more for strawberries to do the work ourselves.  Ha!  Anyhoo… I signed up for the alert e-mail to let you know when strawberries are ready to be picked and it happened to arrive during Spring Break.  According to Washington Farms website you are better off arriving before lunch so there are still strawberries to pick so we got there about 11am on a Thursday.  Since most of our state is at the beach, it wasn’t that busy and we had more ripe strawberries to choose from than we could possibly pick or eat.   In addition, we had the most perfect weather day.  These strawberries were so red and delicious.  Reese ate half her bucket before we got out of the fields.  They also had homemade strawberry ice cream that was unbelievable.  The people there were so friendly and we left with two full buckets of strawberries, 2 bellies full of ice cream, blackberry and F.R.O.G. Preserves for the next morning and heads full of memories.  We’ll definitely be back this summer for blackberries and blueberries, too.

If you work up an appetite picking like we did, Striplings General Store is right down the road and they have yummy prepared foods, fountain drinks, tea, desserts and all kinds of goodies to eat there or bring home to put on a Green Egg.  We had lunch there to top off our morning.  If we are in the area, Striplings is a must-do.

You can go pick strawberries through May.  On Saturdays starting in the end of April they have all their farm festivities going on, too – jumping pillow, slides, animals. Check the website for all the up to date details.  We have shared some strawberries, made strawberry shortcake, topped brownies with strawberries with the neighborhood and enjoyed them just plain and fresh.  We already plan to go back for more this season.  Maybe we’ll see you there!

OOTD: Hudson Camo Skinnies | OTBT Wedges (also available locally at Henry & Pearl) | Judith March Trucker Hat | American Eagle Denim Shirt (mine is from years ago, but they always carry similar) | My Favorite Nordstrom Hoops, of course |Essie Haute in the Heat Pedi Color |  Mani Color Anti-Bleak OPI| Oversize Aviators | SMIJ Tees {This exact tee available at Henry & Pearl – they ship, too!}

Exploring Jekyll Island

First stop, Jekyll Island.  Last year we took a long weekend in Fernandina Beach and passed all the exits for Georgia’s Golden Isles.  I don’t usually drive that part of Georgia and ever since then have been dying to visit the area.  So, this year we took our long February weekend and headed to Jekyll Island to do some exploring.  We were only there for 2 days and had a few things we wanted to accomplish.

Our first stop was Driftwood Beach.  This is the best playground my kids have ever visited.  You earn your fun with a fairly long, but extremely scenic, walk around (when you think you are there, keep walking…) the end of the island to a beach full of twisted driftwood to climb, swing on and crawl under.  I’ll devote an entire post to this part of our trip soon.  Needless to say, I took lots of pictures!  We had dinner that night at Latitude 31 where we had great service and a different view of the island sitting on the Historic Wharf.  Then, it was on to our history lesson the next day.  We took a trolley tour of the historic district.  It was a crisp, but sunny day and it was really fun being transported back to the time when the titans of industry and elite families were settling this beautiful island.  This island has no doubt seen a lot!  We ran out of time, but will come back to do the “can’t be missed” Georgia Sea Turtle center.  Jekyll Island did NOT disappoint and I already can’t wait to go back.  My kids made me promise to spend an entire day on Driftwood Beach for starters.

And, of course, what is a Fashion Blog Post without and OOTD: Wide Leg Crop (going to wear the heck out of these things!) | SMIJ Anchor Tee in Navy & White | Blue Gradient Sunnies | Gold Hoops (similar) | White Layering Tank | Target Poncho (similar) | Neutral Sandals  (I had wedges on, but changed before heading on to the beach.)

Swamp Thing

Oh my goodness!  This was so fun!  We went on an airboat ride on the Withlacoochee River in Florida over Christmas break.  I wanted to post about it and encourage you to drive on down to Florida or South Georgia and give your kids this experience.  Both of mine loved it and were begging to be taken back every time we are in Florida.  We were blessed with unbelievably (well, it’s Florida so it’s actually believable…) beautiful weather for a December ride.  Our tour guide was awesome and really looked the part – authentically. Hat pulled down over sunglasses, a full beard, camo shorts, no shoes, knife on hip and a great personality.  We all felt like we were in very capable hands with this guy!

The ride included a great tour of the river with some very interesting information about the river, region and wildlife, a stop in a hidden spring where we could jump in for a dip (considering I’d already seen 3 alligators on this tour and even after being told that alligators “rarely” came into the cooler spring, I opted OUT of the dip – duh!), some personal experiences of our local guide, a few gunshots heard in the distance and, most importantly, a few spins at high speeds where we all got splashed and thrilled.  My kids were in heaven and didn’t want it to end.  But, at the end, we all got to hold an alligator, too!

We went to Wild Bill’s and I highly recommend the trip.  You can stay locally in Ocala or The Villages (you’ll want to retire that day!), enjoy an airboat ride and take in some therapeutic Florida air for a fun day.

And, what do you where for an airboat tour?  My choices here:  Hat (because lots of wind and large birds flying overhead – just sayin…), Favorite Tank (cuz why not get some sun, too…), Sunglasses, Tiffany’s Hoops (cuz they go with everything), Paige Vertigo Distressed (distressed just seemed right for an airboat ride)

See our capable tour guide behind me?  He made the trip awesome!

This is the hidden Spring.

See the Spring bubbling up?  This is where we were allowed to jump out and swim.

See the baby alligator in the above picture?  He and his 7 brothers and sisters live in this nest.

Alligators and turtles.

Crazy Florida birds everywhere.

Reese LOVED this ride!

Alligator sunning.

Airboat for real.

Alligator peaking through swampy water below us while we waited on a boardwalk for our boat.  The boardwalk says not to lean on the railing.  Guess they don’t want you to break through and meet this little guy up close and personal…

Went with distressed hat and jeans.  Going for that “already been chewed on by an alligator” look.

Apple Pickin' Fashion + A Super Fun Place to Take Your Kids

Its been raining so much, but we just couldn’t take it anymore and headed out anyway.  We got super lucky and ended up driving right out of the rain into sunshine.  Later to find out that the line of clouds was just below Blue Ridge, GA.  I couldn’t have planned that better IF I had planned that.  Turned out to be a beautiful drive – I mean so beautiful.  Beautiful leaves, misty morning, just Fall splendor everywhere.

It was a Mommy & Me morning and I have an animal lover on my hands.  Armed with that knowledge we headed to Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay, GA.  I love fresh, tree-ripened apples so much so it’s hard to keep me out of apple orchards during this short period of time when they are just so perfect.  With Hillcrest we got a petting zoo, complete with kittens!, apples, creative play equipment, nature walk and lots of fresh air, scenery, nice people and fun.

And, it was a perfect day to layer up in my new Target denim sherpa jacket.  Details below…  Happy Fall, Ya’ll!



Target Jacket | SMIJ Tee | BaubleBar Ring | J Brand Pants (LOVE THESE!!!) | Michael Kors Watch (similar – mine is very old, but I still love it.) | Essie Polish (Halloween left-over mani) | Ray-Bans | Nordstrom Oversized Hoops | Judith March Hat (similar) | My Longhorn necklace is from Mercantile in Seaside, FL