Springtime Blooms in Henry County, Georgia

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From high-speed racing to outdoor sanctuaries, Henry County is an unexpected Spring Break escape

Whether you desire a vacation that is fast-paced fun or a restful retreat, Henry County, Georgia, blooms with possibilities this spring. Only 30 minutes south of Atlanta, and the perfect stopping point for those en route to Savannah or Orlando, Henry County is a quaint Southern destination packed with endless entertainment for the whole family.

Strap in tight for a thrilling time at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Folds of Honor-QuikTrip 500. NASCAR drivers will face off February 25. There are even discounted tickets for children 12 and under. Can’t make it to the competition? No worries. Race fans can get a taste of the experience throughout the year with track tours. Learn the history, visit Victory Lane and take three laps in the Speedway van around the same 1.54-mile track where racing greats have sped to victory.

From burning rubber to burning calories, Panola Mountain State Park gives outdoor enthusiasts a challenging adventure while offering stunning views. This 100-acre granite outcrop is similar to Stone Mountain, but much more pristine. Adventures will enjoy hiking, biking, tree climbing, archery and more. Bikes are available for rent and there is a $5 parking fee. For more open-aired springtime fun, head to Cubihatcha Outdoor Center, open Monday-Friday. This unique preserved land is home to over 10 miles of trails sandwiched between two sparkling reservoirs.

Connect with nature with a visit to Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. This free experience encompasses a wildlife haven that is home to over 1,500 animals and over 100 different species. Get up close and personal with everything from lions to bears and even livestock. There’s a guided, behind-the-scenes tour available for a fee, picnic area and playground for the little ones.

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Speaking of the little ones, they will be delighted with a trip to¬†Southern Belle Farm. Starting in April, families can pick their own perfectly fresh strawberries. On the weekends, the kids will love flying high on the jumping pillow, climbing aboard the cow train and chugging along the Hayride. Peruse the Country Market, and make selections of seasonal produce, canned goods, jams and jellies. This unique farm experience wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Mimi’s Kitchen. This bakery serves up mouth-watering treats, like homemade seasonal cobblers, strawberry and peach ice cream and fried pies.

Thrill-seekers will get their fill during The Walkin’ Dead Hampton Tours. Early episodes of the famous AMC show’s season six were filmed largely in Hampton. With enough interest, tours are offered on Saturdays at 1 p.m. An experienced guide takes fans on an hour-long story telling stroll, providing behind-the-scenes photo opps and insight. Listen to stories about how downtown Hampton was transformed into an apocalyptic set–visitors can even take pictures at the famous dumpster scene.

Thrill-seekers of a different variety might enjoy an exhilarating game at the 25,000-square-foot Hot Shots Paintball and Airsoft at Windy Hill Park. This is one of the largest and most advanced paintball fields in the Southeast.

Fan of festivals? Plan your trip around one of Henry County’s many springtime events. Prepare the taste buds for a culinary excursion at Taste of Henry, where diners can sample everything from upscale gourmet fare to down-home Southern cooking all under one roof. Or, go on a treasure hunt at the Yellow Pollen Street Festival. Downtown Hampton comes alive as artisans and craftsmen line the street with their one-of-a-kind creations. Start your engines at Motorama. Held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, this festival highlights award-winning classic cars, monster trucks, and motorcycles. Or, catch engines in action at Friday Night Drags. Every Friday from April to August, drag races take over Atlanta Motor Speedway, featuring 225 racers and 90 show cars.

All of the excitement is sure to make you thirsty. Sip on suds at the Jailhouse Brewing Company. This unique brewery is housed in the town’s original jail. Owners Glenn and Melissa Golden decided to transform the city landmark into their now popular brew house. That’s because in Henry County–history has a name. Part of what makes Henry County a destination worth visiting are the people who make it come to life. Book a tour of the Jailhouse Brewing Company and the Goldens will give you an up close look at their passion project while serving up samples of their prized craft beer. Sip on brews like the Mugshot IPA. Indulge in a tasting¬†tour, Thursday-Friday, 5:30-8 p.m. or Saturday, 2-6 p.m.

Satisfy wanting appetites while soaking in the perfect spring weather with one of Henry County’s many patio-adorning restaurants. Searching for good food and a good time? Look no further than 15th Street Pizza and Pub. Home to some of the best pizza and one of the largest selections of craft beer below the Mason Dixon Line, the outdoor atmosphere does not disappoint, complete with a water feature, big screen TV’s to watch games and corn hole sets. For a romantic night on the town, eat alfresco at The French Market and Tavern. The delectable Cajun-Southern fusion is only matched by the starlit ambiance, which includes a sparkling water fountain and cozy outdoor fireplace.

Don’t go home empty-handed. Henry County is the perfect place to find a prized antique. Start the shopping spree in Locust Grove. Between three downtown options: The Grove Depot, Deja Vu on Forty-Two and the Locust Grove Emporium, bargain-hunters will rejoice while searching through this marketplace. Browse the goodies at All My Treasures in Hampton. This adorable shop boasts collections of rare light fixtures, Vaseline glass and Noritaki china. From appliances to decor to toys, guests will find whatever their heart desires at Peachtree Peddlers Antique Mall & Flea Market and Sweetie’s Flea Market.

Visitors can rest easy, choosing from a variety of lodging options including name brand hotels or sleeping under the stars at one of the beautiful campsites in the area. Whether looking for an adventure-packed trip or an easy-going escape, guests will feel as renewed as a spring blossom after visiting Henry County, Georgia.