Families are flocking to LaGrange, Georgia, for small town adventures

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West Point Lake Fun credit Shawn Zwilling

Families are flocking to LaGrange, Georgia, in search of fun-for-all-ages adventures, both indoors and out. Just an hour from both Atlanta and Columbus on I-85, LaGrange is the perfect place for getting away from it all without straying too far from home. With museums, parades and events all in the kind of small town setting that’s becoming increasingly rare these days, it’s the ideal West Georgia destination for a day trip or weekend!

History is alive in LaGrange
When the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette toured Georgia in 1825, he is said to have remarked that west Georgia’s beautiful landscape reminded him of his home in France, the Chateau de LaGrange. City founders paid homage to the Marquis and his home when they established the town of LaGrange three years later, naming it after his estate and dedicating a square to him in the center of the city. Today, the LaGrange Art Museum stands just two blocks from Lafayette Square, housed in a beautiful Victorian building constructed in 1892 as the city jail. Inside can be found treasures of nearly every style, from the whimsical and abstract to the traditional and ornate.

Facing Lafayette Park is the Cochran Gallery on the square, a local couple’s lifelong collection of several genres, including African American works on paper and the world’s largest private collection of Andy Warhol screen prints, which are part of an often world-traveling exhibit. Works of art featured at the gallery are constantly changing; current works on display can be found at http://www.cochrangallery.com/.

Around the corner is LaGrange’s Legacy Museum on Main, housed in one of the city’s historic former bank buildings, detailing the history of west Georgia from its modest beginnings through the present day. Explore the stories of local notables like textile magnate Fuller Callaway and the women of the Nancy Hart Militia, who defended LaGrange against a force of some 2,500 Federal soldiers burning their way through Georgia in 1865.

On the outskirts of town, visit the Hills and Dales Estate, one of America’s finest historic homes. Situated on a gently rolling hill above a meticulously maintained garden laid out around the time of the city’s founding, the home is celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2016 with teas, picnics, storytelling events and much more all year long.

Just a little farther down the road is the Biblical History Center, a walk-through living history museum focusing on what life was like during the time of Jesus using an archaeological lens. The Center has scientific replicas of The Life of the Shepherd, The Life of the Farmer and The Life of the Village, and is proud to house the Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery, with more than 250 authentic artifacts on long-term loan from the Israeli Antiquities Authority. The collection is one of only four like it in the United States, and is the only one in the Southeast, with the other three artifacts collections being housed at museums in New York and Los Angeles.

Special holiday events
Every Independence Day for more than 30 years, LaGrange has celebrated with its Sweet Land of Liberty Parade. Organized by a beloved local, the parade has always begun at the City Park, the center of summertime life in times gone by, and is traditionally for children only, marshaled by the Rotary Club and organized by the Junior Service League. Kids can participate, riding on any kind of non-motorized vehicle, and anyone can register on the morning the parade takes place (so come to town early and save your kids’ spots!).

This year, City Park is being transformed into Sweetland Amphitheater at Boyd Park, named after the signature Independence Day parade and the local citizens who founded it. Memorial Day 2016 will kick off the amphitheater’s inaugural summer concert season, with performers to be announced in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on http://www.sweetland.events/ for lineup information.

Make a splash on West Point Lake
After the Sweet Land of Liberty Parade, drive just outside of town to West Point Lake to enjoy the fireworks from Pyne Road Park. Even if your visit doesn’t coincide with the Fourth of July, West Point Lake is the perfect place to bring the kids for a pontoon boat or jet ski ride. Rent a cabin on the lake at the Highland Marina Resort, pitch a tent or bring your RV for a weekend (or more!) of bird watching, swimming, boating, fishing and family togetherness. With more than 500 miles of largely undeveloped, idyllic shoreline and known for being one of the best angling spots in Georgia, there’s plenty of warm-weather adventure for families both on and off the water.