As one of the original 13 colonies and the last state to join the Union after becoming a Confederate state during the Civil War, Georgia has played an important role in American history. The Peach State also offers a wide array of natural attractions to be discovered. With a plethora of opportunities throughout the state, Georgia has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Experience the Past Firsthand

Georgia’s turbulent past with civil rights is featured at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. It aims to educate visitors on human rights issues around the world through stories of conflict and bravery. The interactive Lunch Counter Experience focuses on segregation issues in Georgia in the 1960s. While sitting at the lunch counter, visitors experience the same physical and verbal abuse the civil rights activists felt.

Lunch counter

The Lunch Counter Experience. Credit: Center for Civil and Human Rights

The first gold rush in the United States happened in Georgia, 20 years before the California Gold Rush. The town of Dahlonega celebrates the event with Underground Adventures at Consolidated Gold Mines. Embark on a journey 200 feet underground in a real gold mine and travel back 100 years to experience life as a gold miner. During the tour, guides explain the importance the Gold Rush played in Georgia and the rest of the United States. They also tell stories from real gold miners. At the end of the tour guests test their luck panning for gold and gems. Students can keep any of their findings!

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta preserves the life and career of the 39th President. As the only Presidential library in the Southeast, it serves as an archive for Jimmy Carter’s presidential papers and has an exact replica of the Oval Office. The museum contains multiple interactive exhibits to experience a day in the life of Jimmy Carter, including a virtual trip around the world with the Carter family to fight diseases and promote democracy. President Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize and Medals of Freedom, which are on display.

Beware of Georgia’s Haunted History

Because of Dahlonega’s history with gold mining, the Underground Railroad and Trail of Tears, many consider the town to be haunted. If you wish to take your students on a spooky tour of the past, join tour guides on a Dahlonega Ghost Walk – Historic Hauntings Tour. You are taken to 13 locations that are full of local legends and ghost sightings including Civil War soldiers playing cards, ghosts rattling dishes at local restaurants, a young girl who plays in rooms in the Historic District and chairs moving on their own.

Jekyll Island’s deep history is the perfect backdrop for the Jekyll Island Ghost Tour. Visitors are taken around the island on a trolley as guides recall events from the island’s history. The tour includes a graveyard visit, a haunted house and a watery haunt. You get to hear about and maybe even see the island’s most famous ghost, Mary the Wanderer.

Ghost hunters wanted on the Original Haunted Savannah Tour. Go sleuthing with professional paranormal investigators and learn why Savannah is the “Most Haunted City in America” as you travel down cobblestone streets and to one of the oldest cemeteries in town.

A stop on the tour: Colonial Park Cemetery. Credit: Original Haunted Savannah Tour

A stop on the tour: Colonial Park Cemetery Credit: Original Haunted Savannah Tour

Surround Yourself with Nature

The Chattahoochee National Forest offers a plethora of recreational opportunities for students. It contains miles of trails for mountain biking and horseback riding. Lakes and rivers allow for water adventures like canoeing, kayaking, fishing and lazy tubing. If you don’t mind a little hiking, you can find yourself relaxing near 30 different waterfalls.

Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain connects students with nature through guided and self-guided tours, as well as outdoor obstacle courses. Students have the opportunity to learn about birds and other animals through programs such as Birds of Prey, Owl Pellets and Recognizing Reptiles. More than 1,000 butterflies flutter around a multitude of tropical plants at the butterfly center.

Birds of Prey program. Credit: Callaway Gardens

Birds of Prey program Credit: Callaway Gardens

Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens while also learning about the importance of preserving plants. The garden has a multitude of educational tours and demonstrations to fit any education plan. Topics include the forest ecosystem, healing medicinal plants and rainforests. Head over to the Hummingbird Trail to see the wonders of nature in action.

Literature in the Making

The art form of creating books is becoming lost as more and more digital books are created. The Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking in Atlanta demonstrates the history of papermaking and creating books. A tour of the museum begins with the earliest form of writing materials, such as papyrus, and moves to the Chinese discovery of making paper and to the printing press and paper mills of Europe. Students even have the opportunity to make their own paper to take home.

Learning how to make paper. Credit Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking

Learning how to make paper Credit Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking

The Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Gone with the Wind is immortalized at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. The museum is located in Margaret Mitchell’s apartment, which she affectionately called “the dump.” Visits include a tour of the apartment, a lecture about the author’s life and death, and exhibitions on the making of the Gone with the Wind movie. The exhibition The Making of a Film Legend includes storyboards, photo opportunities, life-size costume sketches and the opportunity to read parts of the script for a casting call. Stars Fall on Atlanta: The Premiere of Gone with the Wind captures the excitement around the film.

The fun doesn’t stop with these locations! There is so much to do in Georgia that it would be impossible to list them all in this article. If you know of any student group activities in Georgia, tell us about it!