Hidden Travel Gems in the Southeastern US
The southeastern section of the US provides a myriad of activities and landscapes. It’s home to big cities like Atlanta, Miami, and Jacksonville. Practically every physical feature is covered as well, including mountains, beaches, islands, forests, rivers, and deep gorges. So where do you go for a great getaway, one that every vacationer doesn’t know about?
The Georgia Renaissance Festival
Just south of Atlanta, the Renfest is held each year from April through June, and it’s packed with more fun than you can shake a sword at! Stepping through the gate is like going back 500 years in time. The site is a permanent village built to resemble a hamlet from Renaissance Europe. All the costumed workers add to the authenticity by speaking “Elizabethan English.”
Watch knights on horses joust, meet King Henry VIII, test your skill at archery or hatchet tossing, laugh at the antics of comedians, research your family history, or watch live demonstrations of candle making, spinning, glass blowing, and sheep herding. Wonderful musicians perform throughout the day, including a marching bagpipe band. The shopping is great, too, with swords, knives, kilts, dragons, boots, jewelry, perfumes, and wooden toys offered for sale. The food is unbelievable: giant turkey legs, fish and chips, roast pork, grilled steaks, shrimp, snacks, and an amazing array of frozen treats and desserts. And the ale flows freely! Even the rides for the kids don’t use electricity; they use either manpower or gravity, but the kids will love them!
The Renfest partners with local hotels to offer visitors great deals on accommodations, for as low as $69 per night.
Renfest visitors agree, “It’s a rollicking good time!”
St. Joe Beach, Florida
Situated on the panhandle, St. Joe Beach has somehow managed to remain a secret, so you won’t find hordes of tourists there. What you will find are dazzling white beaches, clear water, delicious fresh seafood, and lots of friendly natives. This is an especially great beach for kids because of the calm surf. Protected by the arm of St. Joseph Peninsula, St. Joe is one of the safest beaches in Florida because there’s no undertow. The sand is so white that it doesn’t get hot so it won’t burn little feet.
A few miles away from the beach in St. Joe Bay, a clear, shallow body of water great for fishing, scalloping, swimming, and snorkeling. A fun way to spend a day is by renting a pontoon boat and exploring the bay on your own. And should you get tired of all the peace and quiet, the amusements of Panama City are only an hour away.
Visitors to St. Joe refer to it as “the old Florida,” and they’re right. No high-rises, amusement parks, interstates, or theme parks…just sun, sand, seafood, and family fun!
Located in the North Georgia Mountains, Helen is a beautiful little village with Alpine architecture. It has the “feel” of Old Europe, with cobblestone lanes, half-timbered buildings, storybook bridges, and sidewalk cafes, all surrounded by the southern end of the Appalachians. Quaint little shops offer all kinds of imports, as well as locally-produced food items and crafts. Local wineries offer wine tastings and their products for sale, too.
As you stroll down the sidewalk, you’ll be bombarded by the tantalizing aromas of funnel cakes, grilled sausages, fried onions and peppers, gourmet coffees, and freshly baked bread. The smells from the homemade candy shops alone are enough to lure you in to purchase some of the delicacies!
Kids will love Helen, too. They’ll feel like they’re in the middle of a fairy tale! In the summer, tubing on the river that runs right through downtown is popular, and there are carnival rides, go-carts, and miniature golf. In the fall and winter, however, the kids might get bored here.