|For fall family fun, a ride in the country to explore delightful towns is a longstanding American tradition. An hour east of Atlanta and eight miles south of Athens, take the scenic route to Oconee County, Georgia, where visitors can pick buckets of flowers, play in a pumpkin patch, discover a treasured covered bridge, follow an antique trail, explore delicious local dining and more. Located in Georgia’s Historic Heartland region, the county seat is charming Watkinsville. Affordable and laid-back, Oconee County is a great basecamp for University of Georgia football games or other Athens’ activities.|
For all-day activities, head for Washington Farms from September 24-November 6, 2022. Far beyond wagon rides and a petting zoo, farm fun includes more than 30 activities from a vortex tunnel and human foosball to pig races, jumping pads, climbing wall, low ropes course and a zip line. Pick from the pumpkin patch, get lost in the 6.5-acre corn maze and make a pledge on the wall of Growing Kindness. Pick a bouquet from sunflower and zinnia fields. To avoid extremely large numbers of visitors, capacity is limited per hour. The grill serves kettle corn, ice cream, hamburgers, pizza and more. To view fall U-pick, hours, activities and pricing go to www.Washingtonfarms.net/fall/; 5691 Hog Mountain Road, Bogart, GA 30622; (706) 769-0627.
Is there such a thing as too many flowers? Walk through rows and rows of blooms at Twin Run Flower Farm, where the owners provide shears, cups and buckets, even vases and ribbons for your creations. In a hurry? Stop by the Flower Farm Stand 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays, where pre-orders are welcome. The U-pick is open on Saturdays; weekdays by appointment, so check the schedule. 1845 Barnett Shoals Road, Watkinsville, Georgia 30677. No phone; check the Facebook page for updates.
For a lively fall fair atmosphere, don’t miss the Oconee Chamber Fall Festival, October 15, 2022. A crowd-pleaser for 49 years and always held on the third Saturday in October, this outdoor event is a top regional draw. All items are handmade at this premier arts and crafts showcase featuring 200 vendors from all over the U.S. A wide variety of food vendors and fun activities make this a must-do. Free parking and admission; please leave pets at home. Rocket Field, 34 School Street, Watkinsville, Georgia 30677.
For a quick orientation on more things to do, stop in for a complimentary cup of Georgia Bushcraft coffee at the Oconee County Welcome Center in historic downtown Watkinsville. There you’ll be greeted by experts offering personalized itineraries, dining and shopping recommendations, historic spots and lodging ideas. Learn about Antique Row and pick up a map of Oconee’s Antique Trail of shops, from high-end antiques to cool vintage. Then, step across the street for a family selfie at the Eagle Tavern. The front lawn is decorated for fall and ready to serve as a backdrop for photos. Visit during the week for an inside look at how stagecoach travelers refreshed in the 1800s. Handicap accessible, open weekdays only. Free admission, donations are welcome. 26 North Main Street, Watkinsville, Georgia 30677;
(706) 769-5197. Discover more history on a scenic drive to the 1897 Elder Mill Covered Bridge, one of 13 functioning covered bridges in Georgia and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 1441 Elder Mill Road, #1434, Watkinsville, Georgia 30677; (706) 769-5197.
As one of the oldest towns in north Georgia, Watkinsville has some tales to tell that are both historical and eerie. Come hear tales of a haunted tavern, the lady who never left and more. Shivery thrills are enhanced by the fall air on a Watkinsville Haunted History Tour. Local folklorist and historian Jeff Clarke has appeared in the series “The American Revolution” on the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel series “Tales of Terror–Historical Hauntings” and more. He takes guests on a spooky and spirited walk-through downtown Watkinsville. VisitOconee.com/portfolio-item/walking-tours, 706-521-2556.
For horse lovers, Classic City Clydesdales offers farm tours in which visitors can get up close and personal with the larger-than-life breed, and experience shaggy-haired Highland cows and petting-zoo farm animals. Tours take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and by appointment for trail rides and group tours (check the website or call for details). 4190 Price Mill Road, Bishop, Georgia 30621; (706) 424-1889.
There’s plenty to do for an overnight stay. For sipping and supping, locally-owned restaurants satisfy the pickiest palates while a new local brewery, South Main Brewery, will be a unique attraction for the area, with beverages brewed by locals and sourced from area farms. For provisions to take back home or to your room, choose from locally grown meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and more at the Oconee Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-noon, every Saturday from May to November, in front of the Oconee County Courthouse. A variety of lodging options, from lofts to campsites to chain hotels, make it easy to rest before continuing the adventure tomorrow. www.VisitOconee.com
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