After weeks of social distancing, digital learning, and self-quarantining, Visit Henry County, Georgia invites you to learn why Henry County is “Better Explored.”
Now is the perfect time to explore Henry County, only 20 miles south of Atlanta. Whether you have visited many times or are considering a trip for the first time, make the decision to dig deeper and discover hidden gems. Put on your explorer hats, pull out your GPS, and prepare for a trip off the beaten path.
Here are eight jewels just waiting to be discovered:
1. Army Aviation Heritage Foundation
Tucked away at the Atlanta Speedway Airport lies an unassuming hangar. Accessed from Speedway Blvd., a small gravel road leads to the hangar parking lot. If you venture into the hangar, you will see historic warbirds—specifically Huey and Cobra helicopters being tended by a group of volunteers. Be immersed in a history lesson of Army aviation and its role in various conflicts, possibly taught by a Vietnam veteran who actually flew one of these aircraft in combat. Not only can you get a lesson from the ground, but for a set donation you can actually go airborne in either the Huey or Cobra as part of their ride program, during an airshow, or during their Saturday public ride events.
2. Floyd Chapel Baptist Church
Just off Hwy 138 in the City of Stockbridge, there is a small, yellow, one-story cinder block church. At first glance, this quaint, well-maintained building with cheerful flowers out front gives no hint of the historic events that took place at this site. Closer inspection reveals a historic marker. This is Floyd Chapel Baptist Church, the church Martin Luther King, Sr. and his mother attended when he was a boy and the church where he received his call to ministry and preached his first sermon. The church is open on Sundays for services.
3. Southern Fusion Dining
Sometimes the best part of exploring is discovering where the locals eat. Take a side street off Hwy 42 just before you get into the heart of Locust Grove’s beautiful historic downtown. Blink and you’ll miss Southern Fusion Dining tucked away in a strip center. This restaurant boasts delicious southern staples with a twist. The menu items are prepared by a U.S. Army grenade instructor turned chef. From chicken and waffles to savory frittatas, if you’re in the mood for breakfast, Southern Fusion is a dining destination that won’t disappoint.
4. Panola Mountain State Park
The “crown jewel” of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Panola Mountain is a beautiful hidden gem located in Stockbridge off of the main thoroughfare. Enter through the park gates and be welcomed to more than 1,600 acres of outdoor adventure and activities. The natural beauty of the park is preserved, as much of the park is a conservation area. While Panola offers hiking, biking, and other park staples, unique offerings include bouldering, tree climbing, and archery programs. If you are looking for a truly one-of-a-kind sleepover, check out their ZZZ’s in the Trees program.
5. Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
If you love animals, you’ll enjoy a visit to Noah’s Ark, the animal sanctuary in Locust Grove that was the home of the world-famous BLT. While Baloo is the only remaining member of the bear, lion, and tiger trio, there are still many amazing animals to meet. In addition to the free, self-guided tour through the 250 acres, they also offer a behind the scenes Walk on the Wild Side Tour. If a truly unique souvenir is on your to-do list, how about a painting by a bear or a tiger? Noah’s Ark offers “Painting With Doc” where you can watch your one-of-a-kind work of art be created by either Doc the tiger or Anna Lou the grizzly bear.
6. Crumbles by Nicole
Cookies, cupcakes, and monster shakes, oh my! This bakery owned by a TV baking show champ is located in a small Downtown Locust Grove storefront that serves up huge flavor. There is even something for those Keto friends and family members! Classes and camps can give you or your kids the chance to discover your inner confectionary artist.
The furniture and home decor at BarnBeautiful in Stockbridge isn’t just beautiful, it tells stories. Every piece on display is crafted from reclaimed barnwood. That wood carries a story of a family, a place, and a point in time. On the bottom or back of each unique piece, you will find a “barnstamp” or custom code that can be matched to a specific barn on the company’s website. The owners of BarnBeautiful reclaim each structure themselves and, before doing so, take a photograph and interview the owner to gain insight into the structure’s history.
8. Southern Belle Farm
You might not expect to find a place to pick strawberries or peaches so close to Atlanta, but Southern Belle Farm in McDonough offers this and more. Pick your own berries, peaches, muscadines, and scuppernongs throughout the spring and summer. As summer fades to fall, attention turns to pumpkins, corn mazes, and pig races. Whatever season you visit, do not miss the homemade treats.
To truly know a place, spend time exploring. When you do, you’ll discover Robert Frost had the right idea when he wrote in his poem The Road Not Taken:
“I took the one [road] less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.”
Henry County is a place that is “Better Explored.” Unique adventures, delicious eats, and moving experiences await you. Learn more at VisitHenryCountyGeorgia.com.