Blue Ridge Mountains

For those who love the outdoors and landscape views of the mountain peaks, the Blue Ridge Mountains are the place to be. The mountains got their name from the way the peaks appear to always be blanketed by a soft blue haze. Stretching from Georgia to North Carolina and even into Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer a wide range of opportunities for nature lovers to soak up the beauty and take part in a variety of outdoor activities. Ideally, the best time of year to visit the mountains is during spring or fall when the colors are rich and vibrant.

Asheville, North Carolina, Blue Ridge MountainsWhat to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a real treat for those who enjoy hiking, and there is much to be seen in the way of natural landscapes, waterfalls, fauna, wildlife, gorges and even canyons. Some of the most popular hiking destinations in the Blue Ridge include the Appalachian Trail, Grandfather Mountain, Devil's Courthouse and Tallulah Gorge. There are hundreds upon hundreds of miles of hiking trails that will bring enjoyment to both beginning and advanced hikers. And if you don't feel up to hiking the trails, take a scenic and relaxing drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and catch a glimpse of the many mountains in the area along the 469-mile stretch of highway.

For those less interested in hiking and more interested in relaxing beneath the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the many wineries and vineyards throughout the Blue Ridge are prime tourist destinations for wine lovers and many offer outdoor wine tastings with panoramic views of the mountains. Popular vineyards and wineries that may interest travelers include: Thistle Meadow Winery – Laurel Springs, North Carolina, Breaux Vineyards – Purcellville, Virginia, The Winery House at Round Peak Vineyards – Mount Airy, North Carolina

Believe it or not, there is much more to be seen when traveling in the Blue Ridge than the mountain peaks themselves. Nestled in the heart of the mountains in Western North Carolina is the city of Asheville, a favorite vacation spot of President Obama and his family. Travelers often visit to tour the Biltmore House and botanical gardens, while others enjoy venturing downtown where the streets are lined with chic little boutiques, restaurants, museums and nightclubs.

In Virginia, Roanoke is a popular destination for travelers seeking to take in the natural beauty of the mountains. While offering plenty of opportunities for camping, swimming, hiking and picnics, Roanoke is also home to the Booker T. Washington National Monument as well as the Vinton Historical Society Museum. Whatever the occasion, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer plenty of memory making opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life.


Florida’s First Coast

Although its name fits its history of being the first stretch of Florida Coastal Regions to be colonized by Europeans, Florida's First Coast wasn't named until 1983 when it became the subject of a campaign to separate Jacksonville from South Georgia. Developed by the William Cook Advertising Agency for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the moniker was introduced at the 1983 Florida Gator Bowl and is now synonymous with the cities on the extreme northeast area of Florida, including Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine, Palm Coast and Jacksonville Beach.

St. Augustine, Florida's First CoastSt. Augustine
Indeed, "First Coast" would certainly describe the shores of St. Augustine, for this city is the oldest in the continental U.S. When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés officially founded St. Augustine in 1565, the area had already been discovered 52 years earlier by Juan Ponce de León. Visitors can enthrall themselves in the city's history by walking down its ancient streets or visiting Castillo de San Marcos, the pentagon-shaped bastion that was built by the Spanish in 1672 and is the only existing 17th century fort in North America.

Fernandina Beach
Known as the "Isle of 8 Flags," Fernandina Beach is situated off the coast of Jacksonville, on Amelia Island. Named for King Ferdinand VII of Spain, this stretch of shoreline has the distinction of being the only municipality in the continental U.S. that has been possessed by eight different nations since its founding in 1562. This historic area is also home to Fort Clinch State Park, where visitors can observe Civil War reenactments on the first weekend of every month at the park's 19th century brick fortress.

Acquired by the United States from Spain in 1821, the area along Florida's northeast coast was platted in 1822 and named Jacksonville, in honor of Andrew Jackson, Florida's first military governor and the seventh President of the United States. Located 25 miles south of the Georgia State line, Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. mainland and the location of the country's 3rd largest Naval installation. Visitors to the area have many recreational opportunities, including sunbathing at the Jacksonville Beaches, golfing at the PGA headquarters in Ponte Vedra, kayaking or hiking around Fort George Island or sightseeing along the Jacksonville Riverwalk.

Full of historic sites, Florida's First Coast offers a fine mix of the old and the new, and visitors to this area can take a rare glimpse of the 17th century while simultaneously enjoying one of the finest vacation experiences Florida has to offer.


St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

St. Simon's Island is a beautiful and charming destination on the Atlantic Coast of Southern Georgia. Known to local residents simply as The Island, St. Simon's has a rich history that dates back for more than 4,000 years. Today, it is a residential area and a top destination for tourists who want to spend time in a warm, scenic area with an emphasis on outdoor recreation. Although St. Simon's Island does technically include the small island located off the coast of Georgia, the county name also refers to some of the coastal area that houses the bridge leading to the island itself.


Historic lighthouse located on St Simons Island in GeorgiaThe very first residents of St. Simon's Island came to the area to fish around the year 2000 BC. Although there is evidence of these ancient settlers, there is very little that is known about them. Between their initial arrival and the arrival of European colonists in the area, the Timucuan tribe lived in the area now known as St. Simon's Island. It was the Timucan people who made contact with the first Europeans in the area, but no direct descents of the tribe live in St. Simon's Island in modern times. In the 17th century, conflict erupted between the Spanish settlers and the English, though it was the Spanish who most significantly influenced the culture of the area during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The economy of St. Simon's Island is primarily based on the tourism industry, but there are a few companies, such as Rich Products, who have small seafood processing and packing plants in the area. There are a number of hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and other tourism based enterprises along the coast as well as on the island. In recent years, due to a troubled economy in the United States and around the world, tourism has decreased slightly. However, prospects look promising as prices for accommodations and meals on St. Simon's Island are slightly cheaper than in nearby Savannah, Georgia or Jacksonville, Florida.

St. Simon's offers locals and visitors alike plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. With a moderate winter climate and warm summers, it is easy to spend time outside during every month of the year. Some of the most popular activities include kayaking at sea, boating, fishing on the coast and deep at sea, birdwatching, swimming and windsurfing. These activities combine to make St. Simon's Island an attractive destination for families, couples and groups.


Jekyll Island Georgia

Jekyll Island is one of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia that is rich in history and tradition. It is also one of the few islands that can be accessed by car. If you are looking for a little garden spot to spend your next vacation or weekend getaway, then Jekyll Island is the place to go.

Jekyll Island was purchased and founded in 1886 and was to simply entertain the richest families in the world. Famous families such as the Rockefellers, Morgans, and Pulitzers stayed on Jekyll Island to escape the harsh coldness of winter. This was as exclusive Island, which hosted the famous Jekyll Island Club, which was formed to provide a private retreat to the rich and famous. The club was so exclusive that originally it had limited the membership to only 100 members and is regarded as the most exclusives social club in the United States.

Driftwood along the Beach, Jekyll Island GeorgiaOne of the most historic sites that is well known and sits in the Jekyll Island Historic District is the Jekyll Island Museum. The museum had captured and preserved hundreds of artifacts and exhibits used when they hosted the rich and prominent families. It provides a snapshot in time of what it was like to be wealthy and how they lived in the private club. The museum offers various tours and programs that will help you understand and relive the 1950’s era once again. Also, do not forget about one of the most famous tabby ruins in southeast, the Horton House Ruins. The house was famous for being built with shells, lime, sand and tabby. In addition it is Georgia’s oldest buildings and is registered as a historic place.

Jekyll Island also has many modern day activities. The island has a complete water park, the Sea Turtle Center, full line of water activities, biking, and nature walks along the 10 miles of tidal beaches. Do not forget about the shopping opportunities at Jekyll Island. You can choose from souvenir shops, trading post, and a year round Santa’s Christmas Shoppe. No matter what your preference is, Jekyll Island has you covered.

As mentioned before, the reason many people visit the island is because of the year round tropical and warm climate. During the summer months, temperatures average around the upper 80’s and lows in the mid 70’s. In the winter months, temperatures are still mild compared to the rest of the United States, with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s.


Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia long has been the cultural and commercial center of the southern United States. Originally founded in the early nineteenth century to facilitate railroad construction from the Atlantic Ocean to the interior of the country, Atlanta was incorporated as a city in 1847 and quickly became a hub of business activity. The confluence of railroad lines in the city made it a natural distribution center for military support for the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. The city suffered the scourge of General Sherman’s historic “march to the sea” campaign late in the war and took decades to recover from the wholesale destruction of its infrastructure.

Downtown Skyline of Atlanta, GeorgiaBy the 1970s, Atlanta was poised to become one of the major commercial centers and largest cities in the United States. Major companies such as Turner Broadcasting, Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, and UPS make their corporate home in Atlanta, which has led to a tremendous influx of people and entrepreneurial investment in the city over the past forty years. Atlanta’s advantageous geographical position continues to impact the region’s economic viability as major shipping companies distribute products all over the east coast through the city. Other important components of the region’s economy include finance, banking, and scientific research in biotechnology.

Leisure and cultural life in Atlanta are as diverse as the city’s inhabitants and historical legacy. The Georgian capital boasts three major sports franchises: baseball’s Atlanta Braves, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcon’s, and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. The intellectual life of Atlanta draws on the two major research universities that reside within the city’s borders, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech. Sites of general interest in the city include Atlanta Underground, the Olympic Park that hosted the 1996 Olympic Games, and the Coca-Cola Factory.

Atlanta enjoys a robust fine arts culture. The city benefits from a number of world-class art galleries, primarily the High Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Lovers of classical music and dance can take in performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, or the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra. The city also enjoys a vibrant theater scene with groups such as the Alliance Theater, Seven Stages Theater, and the Center for Puppetry Arts. The Fox Theatre is one of the most famous historical venues in the world and hosts film screenings, live music, and theatrical performances.

Modern Atlanta is symbolic of the New South, enjoying the economic prosperity of commercial investment while at the same time preserving the historical and cultural legacy of its place as a dynamic Southern city.



Georgia, known as the Peach State, is the 9th most populated state in the United States. Located in the southeastern section of the country, Georgia is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and South Carolina to the east, Florida to the south, Alabama to the west, to the north Tennessee and North Carolina.

Any trip to Georgia starts in Atlanta for most travelers. Georgia’s capital is home to a busy nightlife with gourmet restaurants in Buckhead, college cuisine in Decatur and an arty emphasis in Midtown. For families, there’s Six Flags Over Georgia, Stone Mountain Park, Fernbank Planetarium and Science Center, and the enormous Atlanta zoo featuring Giant Pandas. While downtown, you can visit the Georgia Aquarium, the Olympic Park, and the High Museum of Art. Take a tour of CNN headquarters and see where cable news began. Then visit the amusing World of Coke, celebrating a native Georgia product.

Stone Mountain, GeorgiaGeorgia has an outdoor heritage that is preserved in many state parks including south Georgia’s Okefenokee State Park, home to alligators and giant snapping turtles. The Georgia mountains offer everything from rustic cabins to fancy resorts. Georgia’s numerous lakes and long rivers offer sports like water skiing, jet skiing and canoeing almost year-round due to Georgia’s mild climate.

If you like the beach, Georgia has that too. The best known beaches are by Savannah, on St. Simons Island and the exclusive Sea Island, but there are wilder beaches such as Cumberland Island, a national wildlife refuge.
Savannah is another large city but with a decidedly Old South beat. Always known for its gorgeous city homes from the antebellum and post-bellum period, Savannah’s architecture has been lovingly restored by students of the prestigious Savannah College of Art. While there, check out top chef Paula Deen’s restaurant The Lady and Sons. Stay downtown and enjoy the Riverwalk shops and restaurants. Take a horse and buggy ride. Then head out to the Atlantic beaches for some fun on Tybee Island.

St. Simons Island, an hour south on Interstate 95, is a beautiful place with a charming waterfront where you can shop and eat. Rent a condo right on the beach and be sure to watch for dolphins which frequent those waters. While on the island, go fishing on the intercoastal waterway or tour the lighthouse. Drive down to Jekyl Island and enjoy its unspoiled natural beauty and beaches. Don’t miss the Turtle Sanctuary where you can see sea turtles up close and learn more about protecting their nesting grounds. Travel a little further South and you can take a boat to Cumberland Island. See what coastal areas look like when they are left in their natural state and witness an island where wild horses run free.