By Connie Pearson
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
What kind of short trips do you enjoy most often? Weekend getaways? Adventures with friends? Kid-friendly attractions for families?
Amazingly you are likely to find something to fit all of these categories in LaGrange, Georgia, less than 20 miles from the Alabama state line, almost dead center between Atlanta and Montgomery.
Where else could you go to experience an authentic Sabbath meal, stay and play in a giant indoor waterpark and resort, tour the gardens and mansion built for the Callaway family or enjoy a lunch of Southern favorites in a converted Methodist church building?
Biblical History Center
With all the attention given to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in Kentucky I was happy to find the impressive Biblical History Center much closer to home. This is not a theme park with a Disney atmosphere. Instead it’s a place for both serious learning and entertainment.
The stated purpose of the center is to educate visitors about the daily lives and activities of people described in the Bible, and they use an Archaeological Replica Garden, a Biblical Artifacts Gallery and a Biblical Meal Room to accomplish that.
You’ll find a threshing floor, a replica tomb and objects used by guides dressed in period clothing to explain the life of a shepherd, farmer and villager of the time.
The Kid’s Dig, Shepherd’s Bread Experience and special Easter and Christmas-themed events will likely offer the biggest appeal to children.
The artifacts gallery displays more than 250 objects on loan from the National Treasures of Israel, and the Biblical Meal Room allows visitors to participate in a four-course meal reminiscent of Passover or the Last Supper. The meal incorporates 15 different food items and is narrated with explanations of cultural etiquette and symbolism.
The center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, but reservations are required for the meal and some of the activities. Be sure to check the website and call the center for details and prices.
Since it opened in May of 2018, Great Wolf Lodge is attracting families and youth groups from across the South. Unlike Six Flags, where you go for a few hours or a day and then leave, Great Wolf Lodge is for overnight guests. Suites accommodating four to 12 guests are offered, and 10 dining options are on-site.
Pools, water slides, bowling, miniature golf, arcade games, a climbing wall and much more await guests in this huge indoor facility. It is entirely possible to park once and be entertained for several days.
Hills and Dales Estate encompasses 35 acres and is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays. The 13,000-square-foot mansion, completed in 1916, was built for Fuller E. Callaway, his wife Ida Cason Callaway and their two sons. It is considered one of the finest homes in America.
Ferrell Gardens, surrounding the estate, have been cultivated continuously for more than 175 years. A beautiful new visitors center and gift shop recently opened at the entrance to the property.
Christmas decorations during the holidays are carefully crafted to reflect those found in the mansion during the many years when members of the Callaway family lived there.
The gardens are especially stunning in the spring so tour hours are extended to Sundays from March until June.
Be sure to consider having lunch at Taste of Lemon while you explore LaGrange. You will think you’ve driven into a church parking lot because the building, dating back to 1892, formerly housed the Second Methodist Church. A restaurant has been in this spot since 1982. Open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, Taste of Lemon’s signature dish is pineapple casserole, but the daily meat-and-three specials are popular choices.
If you venture out a few miles from LaGrange, you’ll find great fishing and hiking around West Point Lake and a street lined with quaint shops in the neighboring town of Hogansville. The hummingbird is the adopted symbol of Hogansville and a fun family activity is following the Hummingbird Trail for colorful photo ops.
Few towns the size of LaGrange have so much to offer visitors so you’ll find plenty to “Go, Taste and See” in LaGrange.
For more information go to VisitLaGrange.com.