Take a free tour of the gorgeous house that is the Governor's Mansion. The tours are mostly self-guided with expert commentary from trained volunteer docents. Many of the docents are state treasures themselves as they've been at the Mansion for years. The Mansion is decorated with era furnishings, paintings, and porcelain. There are special events happening regularly—such as the annual Easter egg hunt and fun children's reading nights with the First Lady of Georgia—so check their website for the dates you'll be in the area. Also, you'll find special recipes for authentic gubernatorial meals online.
391 West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305. Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-11:30am. Admission: Free.
The Fernbank Science Center, a part of the Dekalb County School System, is located at the edge of the 65-acre Fernbank Forest. Originally, the plot of land was quartered off for conservation purposes and the Science Center has morphed that mission into conservation and education. At the Center, there is a gorgeous rose garden, specialists to answer any questions your family could have on local flora, and a planetarium with shows at an extra cost. Much of the attraction of the Center is outside, so come prepared to brave the elements.
156 Heaton Park Dr., Atlanta, GA 30307. Hours: Exhibit Hall: Monday through Wednesday 12pm-5pm; Thursday through Friday 12pm-5pm. Saturday 10am-5pm; Fernbank Forest: Monday through Friday: 2pm-5pm; Saturday: 10am-5pm. Admission: Free.
Constructed in a somewhat run down Atlanta neighborhood, Centennial Olympic Park was created to host the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, and has completely revived that section of the city. In keeping with the international nature of the Olympics, granite from each of the five continents represented in the 1996 Olympic Games was used in the construction of the park. After the Games, the park was converted into a public space. It now sponsors free community events like festivals, fundraisers, and concerts.
265 Park Ave West N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30313-1591. Hours: Daily: 7am-11pm. Admission: Free
The Smith House Mine was discovered in 2006 when construction workers at the Smith House, an inn and restaurant, were re-flooring the dining room. To their surprise, below the floor was a thirty-foot deep, four-foot wide shaft of a gold mine. The mine had been perfectly persevered by the Smith House's floor for over 100 years. The shaft is now open for viewing, along with some of the artifacts discovered in the shaft. While you're there, you can have a tasty meal at the Smith House, too.
84 South Chestatee St., Dahlonega, GA 30533. Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 11am-3pm, 4pm-7:30pm; Friday 11am-3pm, 4pm-8pm; Saturday 11am-8pm; Sunday 11am-7pm. Admission: Free (suggested that you eat at the restaurant)
Destiny Alpacas is a working farm that is completely powered by solar energy. There is much to learn about the alpaca and eco-friendly farming and the folks at Destiny Alpaca are the passionate type of people to educate you and your family. This is very much a working farm though, so tours are only given by appointment and at the discretion of the staff. While a farm tour is free, you won't be able to pass up on making a few purchases from the gift shop. Alpaca fiber is supposed to be warmer than wool and have a luxurious feel. Plus, with the eco-friendly production at Destiny, it's a green conscious purchase.
1952 Gibson Rd., Young Harris, GA. Hours: Call for appointment. Admission: Free
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