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!}