Share experiences. Share memories. Share photos! Henry County offers moments worth sharing with bucket list busters and family fun just 30 minutes south of Atlanta. Unexpected adventures and out-of-this-world food create moments you won’t want to keep to yourself.
Nothing bonds people more than a little friendly competition, right? Panola Mountain State Park offers a variety of activities ranging from easy to challenging. The most unique is tree climbing—think bigger than climbing the old tree in your backyard. A professional tree-climbing instructor will strap you into a harness-and-pulley system and instruct you in the finer points of serious tree climbing. Work the ropes to leverage yourself more than 50 feet into a beautiful oak tree, hang out on a tree limb, or hang upside down like a bat.
Helicopter rides offer the feeling of freedom in a way a commercial jet just can’t match. The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation offers the opportunity to fly in a Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey helicopter with the doors wide open. While your hair is rearranged into a style known affectionately as “helicopter hair,” be sure to have your camera ready to capture the beautiful view of the landscape below. For a more action-packed but less-windblown experience, you can climb into the gunner’s seat of an AH-1 Cobra helicopter. Sit tight as the pilot navigates through a series of military maneuvers similar to what that aircraft would have flown while in combat. Don’t worry: chances are that your pilot actually flew the aircraft in combat, and your ride is just a walk in the park. Even if you don’t want to leave the ground, you can still take the free hangar tour and get your photo in one of these iconic aircraft.
Each October, a family-friendly pumpkin patch by day transforms into one of the top haunted attractions in Georgia when the sun goes down. Fear the Woods consists of three separate haunted attractions. The Haunted House brings to life all your psychological fears—clowns, claustrophobia, and more—while the Haunted Trail requires you to find your way back to the farm through woods and a corn field after being dropped off in the Skinner family’s territory. The newest addition is Pandemic, an 80,000-square-foot interactive laser tag combat field full of zombies and other deadly creatures. Take careful aim—your fate may depend on it. If fear is not your idea of fun, don’t worry. The Pumpkin Patch At Yule Forest also offers family-friendly fun with activities like a daytime hayride through the cartoon forest where the characters you will encounter are not out for brains.
While Atlanta Motor Speedway is famous for hosting NASCAR races, it is actually open year-round for events and tours. Take the tour offered from the gift shop to check out the pits, garages, and victory lane before getting a chance to experience what 24-degree banks feel like during your three laps around the track in the tour van. You don’t have to be a NASCAR fan to appreciate the sheer size of the facility, its history, and the skill required to drive on those banked turns. If you want a more hands-on experience, several racing and driving schools are offered throughout the year.
While visiting the animals at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary is free, those who want a more personal encounter with the big cats, bears, and monkeys should book a Walk On the Wild Side Tour. This tour takes you inside the first of two fences with an experienced guide. As you walk through the habitats, the guide shares stories about each of the animals. New in 2018, those who want an even more behind-the-scenes look can book a spot for one of the big-cat feeding days! Noah’s Ark is an animal sanctuary whose residents originate from neglectful or abusive situations or were surrendered by their prior owners.
What if you could have a drink in “the clink” without being arrested? Sound interesting? JailHouse Brewing Company was Georgia’s fourth microbrewery and gets its name from its location: the old Hampton city jail. Come for “visitation,” and meet the warden and his inmates while sampling Slammer Wheat or Mugshot IPA in “the yard.” You’ll often find music or live entertainment during visiting hours Thursday-Saturday.
Doesn’t food taste better straight out of the garden? Enjoy fresh fruit from Southern Belle Farm. While pre-picked strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and muscadines are available in the market, try the “U-Pick” option for a memorable experience, a great photo-op, and the chance to pick only the fruit you deem perfect. Stop by the market before you leave for homemade strawberry shortcake and strawberry or peach ice cream. If it tastes like grandma made it, it’s because grandma—or rather “Mimi”—did!
If you want the next best thing to tomatoes grown in your own garden, pick them up from Gardner Farm in Locust Grove. The Gardner family has been growing and selling peaches for more than 80 years and have recently begun sharing the bounty from their garden. They sell tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and more in the “peach shack” behind the historic “peach stand.” In peak tomato season, come by for a tomato sandwich and a cup of homemade, soft-serve peach ice cream.
If you’re the type of traveler that wants to eat like a local, check out 15th Street Pizza and Pub. As the longest continually-operating pizza restaurant in Henry County, it has seen its share of changes as it has built a dedicated local following. You are going to be treated like family whether you’re in the mood for delicious pizza and wings or want to pull up a stool at the custom copper bar and choose from more than 24 craft beers on tap, 40 bottled beers, and 16 wines.
When you want a Southern meal with a twist, look no further than the French Market & Tavern, a Southern-Cajun fusion restaurant with sophisticated farmhouse-chic style. This Locust Grove establishment, housed in a former 1900s hardware store, is part home décor and gift shop and part restaurant with mouthwatering dishes, desserts, and drinks.
To learn more about these and other Henry County experiences, go to VisitHenryCountyGeorgia.com.