Can’t get away for the whole weekend? State parks welcome visitors to come for just the day as well. For a $5 parking fee, guests can cool off at lakeside beaches, explore hiking trails, and even fish for their dinner – all for free. Many state parks rent stand-up paddleboards, aquacycles, bikes and kayaks for a small fee. Some of the state’s historic forts will showcase America’s history with musket firings, military drills and displays. Historic site admission ranges from $3.50 to $12 per person.
Park rangers encourage visitors to bring picnics, but to leave fireworks at home because sparklers and explosives are not allowed in Georgia’s state parks. However, many parks are close to towns with their own displays planned.
Want more ideas on affordable July 4th activities? The State Park System has these suggestions:
• Dozens of Independence Day events, such as the bicycle and pet parade at Mistletoe State Park near Augusta, are posted at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.
• Covered picnic shelters and enclosed group shelters can be reserved for family reunions and parties. All offer pretty views, and grills and restrooms are nearby. Reservations should be made in advance for these popular shelters. Individuals can use picnic tables scattered throughout all of Georgia’s state parks for free.
• Lakeside swimming beaches are free once visitors pay a $5 parking fee. Popular spots include Reed Bingham in Adel, Indian Springs near Jackson, Red Top Mountain on Lake Allatoona, Tugaloo on Lake Hartwell and Hard Labor Creek near Rutledge. More sandy beaches are listed at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/swimming.
• Splash pads for small children are offered at Magnolia Springs in Millen, Gordonia-Alatamaha in Reidsville and Little Ocmulgee near McRae. www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/swimming
To learn more about Georgia’s state parks and historic sites, visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org or call 1-800-864-7275. Cabins, yurts and campsites make great summer vacation destinations. Dozens of events are hosted throughout the year, such as guided hikes and paddles, snake shows, Civil War enactments, outdoor concerts and children’s nature crafts. Programs are listed at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.