Travelogue: Southern Road Trip – Part 2 (Georgia)

For the Florida portion of our road trip, click here.

Days 6-8: Thomasville, GA

My husband grew up in the lovely small town of Thomasville, GA. While the population is less than 20,000 people, it feels very loved and taken care of by its residents and has a great little downtown shopping district. I’m a big city lover who likes escapes to small towns/nature, so taking a short visit here is always a treat. Peter’s mom had asked me what I wanted to do while we were in town, and I answered “Eat!” because there are so many great places in town to grab a bite. However, it does require some planning because many things are closed on Sundays and Mondays, or open later, etc. We arrived late on a Monday and had dinner at Peter’s parents’ home. The next morning we headed to Grassroots Coffee to meet with a family friend. The coffee shop has changed over the years, but it seems to welcome the whole community, from the older generation in the morning as they meet to catch up, to millenials out of school in the afternoon who come to do homework or check e-mail.

We strolled down Broad Street and stopped in at Mary Madison Boutique, where Julia picked out some summer sandals. Down the street is the food bank where my mother-in-law volunteers weekly, and right across the street is First United Methodist Church, where we told Julia it was a “beautiful church where Mommy and Daddy were married.” Now, every time we see another beautiful church, she says she wishes we were married there! We walked to lunch at Jonah’s Fish and Grits. Peter is allergic to corn and soy (very common in Southern food, and in the diets of animals raised in the US), but Jonah’s has some great salads and grilled grouper, so he can always find something good to eat while the rest of us enjoy our hushpuppies. After an afternoon rest (which I used to book our flights for our next trip and some hotels), we went back out to gorge on a cheese plate at the Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop. All of their brand name cheese is from grass-fed cows, so it was another place that was great for Peter to find treats. Afterwards, we walked over to George and Louie’s Seafood for some grilled shrimp and asparagus for the cracks in our bellies that weren’t stuffed with cheese. After a little sunset hour walk, we were ready to go back home and rest up for another trip to Grassroots before leaving the next morning.

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Julia enjoying the cheese and mason jars at Sweet Grass Dairy

Our Wednesday was mainly spent driving from Thomasville to Forsyth (about 3-4 hours without kids, so it was closer to 5 for us). Our main goal was to have dinner with a college friend of Peter’s, so we booked a cheap room at the Super 8 and didn’t plan any particular activities. However, we had some time before meeting for dinner and ended up visiting the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park in Macon. The visitors’ center had some great exhibits with artifacts and descriptions of Native American life, but also some videos that Julia loved of how Native Americans are still keeping their culture alive. We braved the heat and humidity to take a walk around some of the mounds (you can venture inside one, but can’t take pictures), which was a beautiful and relaxing way to stretch our legs after a long drive.

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Stretching our legs at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park

Day 9: Atlanta, GA

Our big plan for Atlanta was to take the kids to the Georgia Aquarium. I had pre-purchased tickets that morning to save some time, so we were basically able to walk right in once we got through security and the essentially obligatory family photo (which we were not prepared or equipped for). We tried to avoid weekend crowds by visiting mid-week, but the aquarium was overrun with school groups, so sometimes you just can’t win. We mostly enjoyed our visit, particularly seeing the whale sharks and beluga whales, which we don’t have at any aquariums near us (I believe they’re rescues, which allayed some of my concerns about such large animals living in captivity). However, the lack of good available food options (no outside food, and the available items are limited to pretty lame choices like pizza and chicken fingers) and craziness of the crowds was intimidating for a family with two small children. We left the aquarium for lunch, intending to visit a Mediterranean place in a business park, but the line was crazy with people taking their lunch breaks, so it ended up not being a great fit and we made do with french fries and a gyro from a smaller stand in the same business area. The aquarium’s FAQs don’t indicate this, despite my researching and attempting to call, but you can get re-entry with a simple hand stamp, but it’s a pain because you have to take a long exit through a gift shop and then go back through the long security process again. So, for future visits, psych yourself up for crowds, enjoy the whales, and just plan to eat crappy food for a day. Also, while the notifications were annoying, downloading the aquarium’s app gave us access to a neat feature where we could take a picture of a tank and it would recognize most of the species in the photo and a few clicks would tell us about them.

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Checking out the rays at the Georgia Aquarium

After leaving, we checked into our room at the La Quinta in Buckhead. We had hoped to take a family nap, but the toddler was NOT having it. So, we gave up hopes of a nap for ourselves and drove to the Ponce City Market. The converted Sears building houses a cool food hall on the ground floor, which was perfect to stroll the kids around while they napped and we ate gelato from Honeysuckle Gelato (the bourbon and mint was amazing!) and drank coffee in peace.

For dinner, we met Peter’s cousins and their kids at Siam Thai in Decatur, which was perfect because we could eat outside on the patio while the kids ran around on the adjacent square.

We wrapped up the next morning by having breakfast with another of Peter’s cousins at Ria’s Bluebird – the pancakes were SO good! After breakfast, it was time to head to North Carolina!

Georgia highlights: 

  • Everything we ate in Thomasville, GA, but especially the Sweet Grass Dairy cheese plate
  • Seeing whale sharks and beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium, even if it was terrifyingly busy