By Sue Rodman
Ever since I saw an article in Southern Living about 15 years ago on Providence Canyon, I’ve wanted to vist. A few years ago, I decided to craft a spring break in West Georgia around a trip to the Providence Canyon State Park. It took a bit of planning, but we had a fabulous and inexpensive spring break trip. Below was our itinerary. Make sure to visit the links – which will take you to the posts I did on each location mentioned. In many instances, you’ll see video and links to photos. Enjoy!
Day 1: We began our journey at my in-laws in St. Simon’s Island. If you are starting in Atlanta, you might want to do this a bit differently. We crossed South Georgia and arrived in Albany on a Monday evening. We checked in to the Hilton Garden Inn and went to the restaurant for dinner. Food was difficult on our adventure. I was really hoping to find some great local restaurants, but aside from BBQ joints, we really didn’t find any. The Hilton Garden Inn is a great place to stay in Albany. The hotel is across the street from the Riverwalk and you can walk to all the attractions. Downtown Albany is not an evening destination, there really weren’t any restaurants open, so I’m glad we had the option of eating at the hotel, even if it was satisfactory food and service. Next time I’m in Albany, I’m going to make time for Jimmie’s Hot Dogs. This was the type of place I expected to find throughout the trip and really didn’t. If you have suggestions of restaurants in Albany, let us know in the comments.
Day 2: We visited Chehaw Animal Park, Flint RiverQuarium and walked along RiverFront Park. We had a good lunch at Riverstreet BBQ (but again, Jimmie’s was more of what I was looking for, and cheaper too!) I wish we had made time for the Thornateeska Heritage Museum and Planetarium. We left Albany in the evening and headed to George T. Bagby State Park for the night. On the way we passed through Antebellum Cuthbert, which seemed like a town in need of some exploration, but alas, that is for another visit.
Day 3: Our original plan was to travel 45 min. to Lumpkin, Ga. on both Day 3 and 4 to visit first Providence Canyon and second Westville. (Editors Note: As of 2016, Westville is closed and being moved to Columbus Georgia. Perhaps visit the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village instead) We opted to hang out at George T. Bagby State Park for the day and combine our Lumpkin visits into one day. It was a good decision as everyone needed a bit of just hanging out. Frontier Village was a great side trip and we were a lot closer to the Kolomoki Indian Mounds than I thought. Next time, I might head there for part of the day. We ate dinner at Tommy’s restaurant, a cinder block building that had all the attributes of a fantastic little find, however the food was ok, but nothing to write about. We had breakfast at the lodge, which was fine and close. Food was a good mix of eggs and bacon and healthier fruit and yogurt.
Day 4: This was the only day of rain. Of course this was also the day we planned to hike Providence Canyon and visit Westville, an 1850’s living history museum. Luckily, we were able to hike the canyon itself before the rain hit. It waited until we were at the opposite end of the rim hike, so we had the maximum walk possible back to the car. We would have loved a bit more dry time to truly explore the canyon. Food in this area is non-existent, so bring a picnic and snacks. If you’re planning to visit these attractions, the best place to stay is Florence Marina State Park. It’s right down the street. Cottages book fast, so if you don’t want to camp, plan ahead. If you can’t get a place at Florence Marina, Columbus isn’t far either. In fact, in an effort to get out of the rain, we opted for a side trip to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus before heading to our final destination, camping at FDR State Park.
Day 5: The rain on Day 4 made me question my decision to camp at FDR. They do have cottages, but as with all the other parks, these book fast and were not an option when we finally decided on our trip’s itinerary. FDR is right next to Callaway Gardens, so if you need less primitive accommodations, Callaway is the way to go. Again, we had a difficult time finding food. I would recommend heading to nearby Warm Springs for food vs. Pine Mountain. Our quest for pizza ended up at the chain Fox Pizza Den in Pine Mtn., but a better choice would have been the Whistling Pig across the street. Better still, Mac’s BBQ in Warm Springs. Warm Springs also had the elusive ice cream shoppe we had been seeking since Fort Gaines on Day 2. The highlight of this day was a horseback trail ride. Since it was our first horse riding adventure, I booked an hour trip, but the boys were clamoring for more. I booked our horseback riding trip the weekend before, but when we got there, they were full for the weekend. I’m not sure if that’s normal, but I wouldn’t wait until you are on site to book the riding, however, you don’t need to book it as far in advance as the cottages.
Day 6: Our last day we spent at the Little White House and the actual Warm Springs pools. The older boys found this somewhat interesting, but the 5 year old was ready to go fairly quickly. This was more a stop for me than them. I’ve always had a fascination with the 30 and 40s and as the daughter of New Deal Democrats, FDR has always been an interesting figure to me. These stops took longer than I thought. I was very excited that we were only an hour and a half outside of Atlanta when it was time to go home.