Get Outdoors Georgia!

Tug-o-war games, full-moon hikes and outdoor concerts are just some of the ways to celebrate 2009’s unofficial end of summer. Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites have planned a host of affordable, family-friendly events for the upcoming Labor Day holiday, September 5-7.

Got a competitive grandma? Challenge her to a mini-golf tournament at Little Ocmulgee State Park. Got energy to burn? Join a ranger-led hike by moonlight into spectacular Tallulah Gorge. Fascinated by snakes and alligators? Take in a reptile show at Florence Marina State Park. A complete calendar of events is listed at

Labor Day weekend is usually one of the busiest holidays in Georgia’s state parks; however, some lodge rooms, cottages, campsites, picnic shelters and group campgrounds are still available. Last-minute availability can be checked by calling 1-800-864-7275 or visiting

Can’t get away for the long weekend? State parks welcome visitors to come for just the day as well. For a $5 parking fee, guests can cool off at lakeside beaches, boat across lakes, explore hiking and biking trails, and even fish for their dinner – all for free. Some of the state’s historic sites, such as Fort McAllister near Savannah, will pay homage to early American labor such as blacksmithing and woodworking. Historic site admission ranges from $3.50 to $5 per person.

Want more ideas for celebrating Labor Day? We’d like to offer the following suggestions:

Lakeside swimming beaches are free once visitors pay a $5 parking fee. The largest is at John Tanner State Park in Carrolton, but Hard Labor Creek, Reed Bingham, Indian Springs, Red Top Mountain, Tugaloo, Unicoi and many others have sandy beaches as well.

Covered picnic shelters and enclosed group shelters can be reserved for family reunions and parties. All offer pretty views, and grills and restrooms are nearby. Reservations should be made in advance. Individuals can use picnic tables scattered throughout all of Georgia’s state parks – and many state historic sites – for free.

Too pooped to pack a picnic? The lodges at Amicalola Falls, Red Top Mountain, Unicoi, Little Ocmulgee and George T. Bagby state parks all feature restaurants. Visitors staying overnight in the lodges enjoy free breakfast.

This is the last weekend for swimming in the pools at High Falls, Magnolia Springs and Victoria Bryant state parks – or cooling off in the children’s “spray ground” at Little Ocmulgee State Park.

Those who can’t get away until after the holiday can take advantage of the state park lodges’ new “Lodgical Rates” on weekdays. For only $69 to $79 per room, visitors can enjoy beautiful views and free breakfast at Amicalola Falls, Unicoi, Red Top Mountain, George T. Bagby and Little Ocmulgee state parks.

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