Sometimes you find hidden gems in the most unlikely of places. So is the case with my recent visit to Henry County. This area of the state is one I normally pass through, albeit usually very slowly because of traffic on I-75. Since it’s comfortably south of Atlanta, only about an hour or less from Downtown, it’s a great getaway spot for a day of activities or a fun long weekend, especially if you want to spend more time doing, and less time driving. The best part, there are a lot of free things to do in Henry County too. Here are five of our favorites, plus a way you could win some dream experiences too.
Five Free Things to do in Henry County
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary – This is the ultimate animal lovers field trip. So many Field Trips with Sue readers raved about this place that I included it in my book 100+ Free Things to Do in Atlanta, but I’d never been there until this month. The sanctuary has 250 acres where over 1,500 exotic and domestic animals that can’t survive in the wild are able to live out their lives in peace. The stars of the Sanctuary are the BLT, the bear, lion, tiger trio who grew up together under some unsavory circumstances and bonded so well that they can’t be separated. For a closer look, you can book a behind the scenes ‘Walk on the Wild Side Tour’ or ‘Keeper for a Day tour,’ for a fee. Those tours, and donations help to feed the animals which costs about $33,000 a month! The Sanctuary is open Tuesday – Saturday from noon to 3 pm.
Heritage Park Veterans Museum – This hidden gem has an amazing collection of military memorabilia from World War I through the present. A completely refurbished World War II motorcycle would have caught my dad’s eye, but the kids would like the Vietnam era bunker. I enjoyed the proliferation of displays about women in the military. Veterans who are passionate about the mission and even share some of their own stories staff the museum. Tours are Monday – Saturday from 10 – 3 pm or by appointment.
Army Aviation Heritage Foundation – Climb aboard helicopters from the World War II, and Vietnam era, as well as more recent conflicts in the Middle East at the Army Aviation Heritage flying museum at the Henry County Airport. If you really want to see them in action, you can purchase a helicopter ride, and take in the nearby Atlanta Motor Speedway. The museum is open Tuesday – Thursday from 8 – 4 pm, but it’s a good idea to call before going.
Locust Grove Train Watching Platform – If you have a train enthusiast, spend a little time watching the locomotive’s go by on the Locust Grove historic train-watching platform. If all that waiting and watching makes you hungry, across the street is the French Market & Tavern, where we had some amazing salads and sandwiches. However, they are best known for their desserts – so get them all, you want to be able to talk intelligently when folks ask which one is the best. The French Market is also a good place to pick up something fun for the house.
Nash Farm Battlefield & Museum – We didn’t visit here on my trip, but as a history buff, it’s on my list. The site saw quite a bit of action during the Civil War. Take a self-guided tour around the park by reading the historical markers any day, or visit on Friday and Saturdays between 9 and 5 pm to visit the museum where kids can try on period costumes, as well as see artifacts found on the grounds. Mark your calendar for Nov. 13 – 15, 2015 for the Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield living history event. The program is put on with the 30th Georgia Company E and includes camp life, school of a soldier, artillery demonstrations and a battle on Saturday and Sunday. I saw a reenactment of the Battle of Resaca, and it is something to behold. If you think it might be too much for your kids, here are three reasons to take your child to a Civil War re-enactment.
Win a Henry County Adventure
Treasure Hunt the hidden gems of Henry County: Make sure you don’t miss any of the fun in Henry County by downloading the Treasure Hunt App, it’s free. Garner enough gold from completing different quests and enter to win some pretty awesome prizes that will enhance your experience at several of the places above, such as a helicopter ride in an Army AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter at the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation; or a Walk on the Wild Side tour and Keeper for a Day at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.