Four Georgia Getaway Ideas For Valentines Day

Not-your-average Valentine’s Day – Four Memorable, Romantic Adventures

Adventure lovers and true romantics can have a Valentine’s Day to remember at three locations not far from Atlanta.  Instead of the usual chocolates and long waits at a restaurant, take your love to new heights, stay in a cozy cabin or treehouse, or create a heart-melting love spell with a Fairy Godmother at a luxury resort.  Here are four options:

I Heart You at Fort Mountain State Park

Heart Rock

Heart Rock at Fort Mountain State Park

Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth offers couples rock-solid proof that their love can stand the test of time. Standing high up atop Fort Mountain and gazing out over the Chatsworth valley is an old stone fire tower with a romantic feature: a rustically lovely, heart-shaped stone centered just above the tower’s window. The story:  a young stone mason building the tower for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s hand-carved and set the “heart rock” in the tower in honor of his sweetheart, who later became his wife of 59 years! With the creation of the “heart rock,” this young mason literally and figuratively set his love in stone for all the world to see.

In addition to the “heart rock,” Fort Mountain State Park offers over 14 miles of companionable walking trails, 15 snug cottages with fireplaces or wood stoves, and four romantically-isolated back country campsites.  There will be a guided hike to the fort on February 14.

Smithgall Woods State Park

Smithgall Woods State Park

All across the state at Georgia State Parks, couples can celebrate being together on winter wonderland hikes, picnics under the stars and full-moon wagon rides, as well as at a variety of romantic accommodations and specials for couples planning a weekend escape. Looking for a luxury splurge? Smithgall Woods State Park “cottages,” which are really luxury homes to die for, right on a bubbling stream. Smithgall Woods is just a few miles from Helen, Georgia, too, which is a quaint little Bavarian Village set in the mountains of North Georgia.

Flying Hearts at Historic Banning Mills


Adventure lovers can take on a new kind of romantic venture at Historic Banning Mills near Whitesburg, about 45 mins West of Atlanta.  What’s more romantic than an exhilarating day of zipping through the woods, then relaxing with an in-room Jacuzzi in your personal tree house room?

Banning Mills tree house suites are perfect for couples and include a jetted tub, fireplace, bathroom and panoramic forest views with rope bridge access. The rooms are made from heart pine logs featuring Aspen Log king beds and pillow top mattress.  The comfortable stand-alone tree house rooms enable couples to “stay high” all day and night – you can zip, climb, soar and sleep in the treetops. Massages and meals can be arranged.

The Screaming Eagle zip-line canopy tour at Banning Mills was named the Guinness World Record holder for The Longest continuous Zip-Wire (line) course / tour in the world. The tour includes sky bridges, ropes challenge courses, zip lines that take guests up to 60 MPH and offer exceptional scenic views of the naturally preserved and historic landscape below. This will be a Valentine’s Day couples are sure to remember.   For additional information, reservations or lodging options, please visit Banning Mills website or call 770-834-9149.

Rates, Discounts and Package:

February deal:  Mention   “smooch15” and guests can “buy one get one free Forest zip line canopy tour”.

Package:

One Night Stay in a Creekside Jacuzzi or Pine Log Cabin Room, Five Course Gourmet Meal and Full Country Breakfast the following morning, $299 (all inclusive)  or 323.00 (all inclusive) for a Tree House Room.

Love Spells by a Fairy Godmother at Barnsley Resort

Barnsley Resort

Barnsley Resort

Near Adairsville, Georgia, Barnsley Resort’s fairytale setting and stunning scenery alone could make it the ultimate couple’s getaway with cozy cottage settings, beautiful landscaped gardens, preserved ruins and private dining locales such as the historic ruins, a hidden bamboo garden or fireside butler service.

Fairy Godmother

Fairy Godmother

But more than this, Barnsley has a Fairy Godmother (yes her real title) on staff whose sole job is to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences. 

In addition to her regular menu of “Love Spell Experiences” for 2015, Fairy has created A Black Tie Affair love spell ($225) for Valentine’s celebrations. Return from dinner to find tea light candles in your room, setting the mood for romance.  Share a bottle of sparkling wine and decadent chocolate truffles for a sweet treat to end a special evening. Open an elegant gift box filled with surprises, including Barnsley Resort’s signature bubble bath.

Additionally for that weekend, lovebirds can enjoy a Valentine’s Day Package including:

  • Two-night stay in a luxurious cottage
  • Complimentary breakfast, chocolate truffle sweetheart gift and a special four-course gourmet dinner in the Rice House
  • $100 resort credit for additional dining or activities such as horseback riding or spa treatments
  • Moonlit horse drawn carriage rides on Friday and Saturday evenings
  • Rate start at $500 for Manor Room Accommodations.

Whether for Valentine’s Day, your Anniversary, his or her birthday, or just any weekend that calls for romance, you won’t have to go far to get away in the Atlanta area. Taking a drive away from home to celebrate any important date can be so much fun!

East Alabama Wine, Art & Cheese Festival, Heflin, Alabama

The East Alabama Wine, Art & Cheese Festival is in Heflin

The East Alabama Wine, Art & Cheese Festival is in Heflin

My sister and I went to the East Alabama Wine, Art, & Cheese Festival last weekend. It was held at Smith Farms Store, at exit 205 off I-20 west in Heflin, Alabama. Admission to the festival was free, but the tickets to the tasting were $25 at the gate. We were given free tickets to the tasting in exchange for this post.

Smith Farms Store sign. You see it when you get off at the exit.

Smith Farms Store sign. You see it when you get off at the exit.

The Smith Farms Store has been in business since 1955. The sell smoked meats, cheese, candy, jams, jellies, imported beer & wines, and spices and sauces.

Inside Smith Farms Store

Inside Smith Farms Store

Their advertising says it is the home of the best smoked meat, wine, and cheese. You can see more about the store at their facebook page.

Bamawise had products for tasting from Holmsted Finest; Merry Cheese Crackers; and Pickled Pink

Bamawise had products for tasting from Holmsted Finest; Merry Cheese Crackers; and Pickled Pink

There were several tasting booths at the festival. One of the first ones Linda and I stopped at was Bamawise. Bamawise is a specialty food supplier that believes products made in Alabama are the best available. They represent some of the finest products from small businesses from all over Alabama. We tasted some Peach Chutney from Holmsted Finest; some Watermelon Pickles from Pickled Pink; and some Cheese Cookies from Merry Cheese Crisps. We talked for a few minutes with Patrick Davis, who is one of the owners of Bamawise. He said they help individuals with a good recipe or idea for a product get it produced and into stores so they can make money. With this arrangement, the small producers can focus on their products, while Bamawise helps them get sales. It’s a win win partnership. All of the products we tasted were very good.

Patrick Davis and his partner

Patrick Davis and his partner

Next, Linda and I went on to what we went for–the WINE! And, there was plenty of that. We tasted wines imported from Italy, wines made in California, and wines made in Alabama. All were good, and I would have bought a bottle of each one I tasted if I had had a pocket full of money, but alas, I did not. So, here are the ones we tried and loved:

From World Wine Imports: Mango Moscato Premio Italy: An aromatic Sweet sparkling wine with natural mango flavors.  A very sweet, bubbly wine that I loved. But then I love sweet wines.

There was plenty of wine to taste

There was plenty of wine to taste. This group had a Riesling and a red wine, Gemini.

I also like a good Riesling, which is a white, sweet, bubbly wine. Can you see a pattern here? My sister and I both tried the Northport Gemini, because we are both Gemini’s. It was good for a red wine.

Jules J. Berta Winery from Albertville, Alabama. They have the Smith Farms, SF label on their wine.

Jules J. Berta Winery from Albertville, Alabama. They have the Smith Farms, SF label on their wine.

We talked to Jules from Jules J. Berta Winery in Albertbille, Alabama. They had many varieties of wine available for tasting. Jules, show in the blue shirt above, said the winery has been in his family for over two hundred years. He and his wife, Becky were representing the winery at the festival. I tried their Riesling and loved it. We may go to Albertville for a tour.

The last booth we stopped at was for the Fruithurst Winery. This winery is just a few miles from my house, and I will be going there for a tour soon. I met Joshua and Dylan Laminack who own the winery and make the wine. They were fun to talk to, and posed for a picture for me:

Joshua and Dylan Laminack of Fruithurst Winery

Joshua and Dylan Laminack of Fruithurst Winery

Their wine offerings include several Muscadine wines, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry, Blush and Blackberry wines. I tried the Sweet White Muscadine and it was so delicious. It tasted just like white muscadine grapes picked from the vine.

All of the wines, cheeses, and other treats we tried at the East Alabama Wine, Art, and Cheese Festival are for sale at Smith Farms Store in Heflin and Cullman, Alabama. For more information:

Smith Farms Store in Cullman, Alabama is located at 1-65 Exit 308  256-737-0505

Smith Farms Store in Heflin, Alabama is located at 1-20 Exit 205    256-463-4400

Oh! I did bring home one bottle:

Moscato D'Asti Viva Italy, a sweet fresh wine low in alcohol and considered a great dessert wine.

Moscato D’Asti Viva Italy, a sweet fresh wine low in alcohol and considered a great dessert wine.

Around East Alabama: Weigels #2 at Hollis Crossroads

Driving in east Alabama

Driving in east Alabama

Yesterday we decided to take a drive in east Alabama. I had chatted with someone on Facebook in a regional classifieds group about getting some cuttings from her rose bushes, the kind that ramble on the ground instead of making an upright bush. In this part of the country I have always heard them called rambling roses, but when I was googling them last winter I found what I was looking for called ground cover roses. It makes sense that they are called ground cover, because that is exactly what they do. I am also looking for a variety called Seven Sisters Roses. The Seven Sisters Roses have clusters of blooms instead of just one bloom per stem.

Hay rolls in a field. They looked like they had been recently cut.

Hay rolls in a field. They looked like they had been recently cut.

When I lived in my old house over twenty years ago, I had some of each of these types of roses. They grow really quickly from cuttings off of other plants. I want to plant them on the bank in front of our house. It shouldn’t take more than a year or two to have a magnificent display of bloom.

Hwy 9 south of Heflin, Alabama.

Hwy 9 south of Heflin, Alabama.

Anyway, we were trying to find the town of Woodland, Alabama, where this lady lives. I had called and left a message for her, and also messaged her on Facebook, trying to get in touch with her to get her address since she had told me that I could come and get some cuttings from her rose bushes. She said she has both the rambling roses and the Seven Sisters ones. I thought that if we just got in the car and headed in the direction of Woodland, that she would call me back and I could put her address into the GPS, and we would save time that way. Unfortunately, she never called me back, so we could not find her.

There was a tiny restaurant inside

There was a tiny restaurant inside

As it got later in the afternoon, we decided to stop at a C-store in Hollis Crossroads for some snacks. When we went inside, we found that they had a tiny restaurant in the store, so we decided to get something from there. I ordered a six pack of hot wings:

Barbecue Hot Wings

Barbecue Hot Wings

The wings were pretty good, served with a side of a thick, sweet barbecue sauce. Though they were a little burned on one side, they did taste good, and it was just enough for an afternoon snack. Fabgrandpa ordered a double cheeseburger and onion rings:

Double cheeseburger and onion rings

Double cheeseburger and onion rings

Not the best burger ever, but it filled the gap in Fabgrandpa’s stomach until we could get home. It was your standard gas station food service fare, but we love to stop at places like this when we are out and about.

The food counter

The food counter

The place was clean, and the staff was very friendly. They chatted with us the whole time we were there. It was also pretty busy for a place way out in the country.

Fabgrandpa being silly

Fabgrandpa being silly

As usual, Fabgrandpa acted like a silly boy. I guess that’s what I like about him though.

If you are in the area and want to check it out, Weigel’s #2 is located at 8495 Highway 431, Heflin, AL 36264 .

Around West Georgia: Gluten Free Pizza At Mellow Mushroom In Hiram

Fabgrandpa and I received a complimentary lunch as compensation for this article

Mellow Mushroom Hiram, Georgia

Mellow Mushroom Hiram, Georgia

Back in the early 1990’s. Fabgrandpa and I and the kids used to go every now and then to Mellow Mushroom for a pizza. Then, in 2005, when we worked at Stone Mountain Park, we would go to the Mellow Mushroom near the park just about every week for dinner.  That was long before I found out that I am gluten intolerant, and we haven’t eaten there in a long long time. When I was asked if I wanted to try their gluten free pizza, I was pleasantly surprised that they even had gluten free pizza’s and that they were still in business.

Welcome to Mellow Mushroom

Welcome to Mellow Mushroom

When we arrived, we were greeted by the person working at the register. We asked for our contact person, and Courtney arrived shortly to seat us and take our order. This Mellow Mushroom is very clean and decorated in a modern style, with exposed pipes in the ceiling and abstract art on the walls.

The bar

The bar

The bar is stocked with all the regular alcoholic beverages, and many micro-brewery beers. They have three choices of gluten free adult beverages, which are Redbridge Beer; Woodchuck Hard Cider; and Strongbow Gold Apple.

The three adult gluten free beverages.

The three adult gluten free beverages.

Fabgrandpa and I stuck with sodas, and they were refilled often. The first thing we ordered was soup and salad.

hhhhhhh

The Capri Salad

My choice of salads was the Capri: It has sliced tomatoes,fresh mozzarella, and basil topped with a balsamic glaze and served with a side of spring mixed greens. This is one of my all time favorite combinations, and it was fresh and delicious.

Magic Mushroom Soup

Magic Mushroom Soup

Fabgrandpa chose the Magic Mushroom Soup. This soup smelled amazing! It has a mix of a wine and herb broth blended with creamy Italian MontAmoré cheese. Garnished with grilled shiitake, button and portobello mushrooms and fresh chives. It certainly put a smile on Fabgrandpa’s face:

A happy man at Mellow Mushroom

A happy man at Mellow Mushroom

After the appetizers, the pizza’s arrived, still hot from the oven. I ordered a half and half, which means they made two different kinds of pizza on one crust. One side was the Kosmic Karma: a red sauce based pizza with mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, feta, roma tomatoes and a pesto swirl. The other side was the House Special:  Red sauce based pizza with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, black olives, roma tomatoes, green peppers, onions and extra cheese. Both of them were sooo good, and the gluten free crust was good. It wasn’t too crispy or too chewy, and had a good flavor.

my half and half gluten free pizza from Mellow Mushroom

my half and half gluten free pizza from Mellow Mushroom

The pizza of choice for Fabgrandpa was the medium sized Mighty Meaty. This pizza had a red sauce base  with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, and applewood smoked bacon. The regular crust was thick and chewy and smelled delicious! And all that meat was just right for a hungry man!

The Mighty Meaty

The Mighty Meaty

I thoroughly enjoyed my gluten free pizza at Mellow Mushroom

I thoroughly enjoyed my gluten free pizza at Mellow Mushroom

The Mellow Mushroom gluten free menu has several preset combinations, and includes a “build your own pizza” option where you can choose your own toppings. I like that their gluten free pizza options are priced the same as the regular medium sized pizzas. I feel like this is a restaurant that really “gets it” as far as treating gluten free patrons equal to everyone else.

The gluten free menu

The gluten free menu

And they list the ingredients in the gluten free crust right on the menu:

Gluten free crust ingredients

Gluten free crust ingredients

Mellow Mushroom is located at 5157 Jimmy Lee Smith Pkwy, Hiram, GA 30141. Learn more about them on their website. They are open Sun-Wed 11-9,Thurs-Sat 11-10. And if you need to call to ask any questions, their phone number is  770-222-1943. In addition to pizza, they also have salads, soups, hoagies, calzones, munchies, and a special kids menu.

Me and Courtney at Mellow Mushroom in Hiram

Me and Courtney at Mellow Mushroom in Hiram

Around East Alabama: Tasty Dip, Heflin

A drive in the country

A drive in the country

Yesterday was such a beautiful day that we decided to take a drive in the country. We headed out for Heflin, Alabama to see what we could see.

Tasty Dip, Heflin, AL

Tasty Dip, Heflin, AL

When we drove through the town of Heflin we passed the Tasty Dip, another walk up restaurant. We decided to stop on our way back out of town.

The Tasty Dip

The Tasty Dip

The menu was posted on the window, with some menu items painted on the front of the building near the bottom of the wall. You can get the regular things like hamburger, hot dogs, fries, onion rings, sodas, and milk shakes. We both ordered a home made chocolate milkshake. I thought the price was rather steep, at $8.04 for two large milkshakes, but they did taste good.

Tasty Dip in Heflin, Alabama

Tasty Dip in Heflin, Alabama

While I was waiting for our order to be ready, a yellow cat came and started talking to me. She seemed to be hungry, and I was telling her “No, I don’t have anything for you.” Fabgrandpa was eating pretzels, so he threw some out the window for the cat.

Talking to the cat.

Talking to the cat.

That cat must have really been hungry, because she ate the pretzels. I would have thought that the ladies in the Tasty Dip would have given her something to eat, but I guess not.

The pretzel eating cat.

The pretzel eating cat.

After we got our milkshakes, we got back on the road to home. We had stopped in a grocery store, Foodland, in Heflin and had some milk and eggs in the trunk, so we needed to get home. This was the first time in months that we were able to get out and just drive around the countryside, and it was so much fun to me. I miss going places just for fun.

Tasty Dip

Tasty Dip

I love going to places like the Tasty Dip. You can read more about it here.  It is located at 1278 Ross St, Heflin, Al. Telephone number 256-463-7621. If you ever find your self in Heflin, stop in for a chocolate shake. You will not regret it.

Around West Georgia: Burger Chick Restaurant, Tallapoosa

Burger Chic

Burger Chick

Fabgrandpa and I have passed by the  Burger Chick every time we go through Tallapoosa for more than two years now. We finally decided to go there and get a burger and a shake on Saturday. Now, we have no idea why we put it off so long.

Walk up ordering at Burger Chic

Walk up ordering at Burger Chick

The Burger Chick has been in business for forty two years. The building looks that old, but it is clean and looks like it has been cared for. The health dept inspection report in the window shows a score of 94/A for last month. When we got there, there was a group of young people ordering their meals. It’s a walk up place, with a counter on the outside so you can stand there and eat if you want to, but they have also acquired the storefront next door and added a few tables so you can go over there and sit down.

lalala

Burger Chick & Company

The window says Hot Dogs, Cones, & Sundaes, but you can get a lot more than that. Burgers, cheese burgers, fries, onion rings, salads, chicken tenders, grilled chicken, and more. The burgers were some of the best we have had in a long time. They looked like they were patted out by hand. I had mine with no bun, with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Deciding what to order from the menu

Deciding what to order from the menu

The fries were ordinary crinkle cut but you could get them with cheese and chili if you want. I forgot to take pictures of the food, but trust me that it was good to eat, and the prices were reasonable. Burger Chick is located at 2106 US Hwy 78, Tallapoosa, GA.  Call ahead to make sure they are open, or place an order over the phone (770) 574-2052.

Burger Chic

Burger Chick