Have you ever been invited to an out of town wedding AND you don’t have an overnight babysitter? Problem solved…make it a family road trip! Just a week after the Interstate 85 collapse and the same week as the opening of the new SunTrust baseball stadium, we planned a trip to Newnan, Georgia. I know, you’re thinking…crazy! Sometimes, we like to live on the wild side! Part of both Coweta County and metro Atlanta, Newnan lies about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta and was much larger than I anticipated. Thinking we were in for a traffic nightmare, we left early in the day, and amazingly, yes, amazingly, the traffic was fairly smooth.
Friday Night: Train Depot
On the first night, there was a Mexican Fiesta at the Historic Atlanta and West Point Train Depot. Loud and fast freight trains passed the building every hour, so our two boys were excited. According to the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society website, the depot was constructed in the 1850s and in 1864 was the site of a confrontation between Union and Confederate soldiers. Other than my boys playing hide and seek with other kids, they managed to forego any such quarrels themselves. Whew! The daily admission price is $5 for adults, $2 for students and children ages 4-12, and free for those under 3. It’s right in the center of town, so there are lots of options for family-friendly fare.
Saturday Morning: Dunaway Gardens
If your kids love nature, take them to the beautiful and scenic Dunaway Gardens located on Roscoe Road. Originally the gardens served as the ancestral home of Wayne P. Sewell who developed the gardens for his wife and stage actress Hetty Jane Dunaway. The gardens opened in 1934 and served as a training ground for stage performances and performers. They were also a retreat for locals and celebrities such as Walt Disney and Sarah Colley, otherwise known as Minnie Pearl.
The gardens are terraced and very steep. Stairs and pathways link each hidden garden room. The self-guided tour ambles through the verdant forest, various pools, waterfalls, and hand laid stonework. The boys were very curious and walked, rather than ran, to find the next path, always stopping to point out bugs, tadpoles, and salamanders. My husband even enjoyed the stroll. Be prepared…in the hot Georgia sun, it makes for an interesting climb back to the car. The gardens became overgrown with vines and kudzu after the death of Mrs. Dunaway. But, in 2000 restoration began and it was reopened in 2005. Admission is $10 for adults, free for children.
If you prefer indoor pursuits, your family may enjoy Monkey Joe’s, an inflatable play center. We didn’t have time to check it out but heard it was lots of fun. It’s located in the Ashley Park Shopping Center where you can also grab a bite to eat.
Saturday Afternoon: Full Circle Toys and BBQ
After all that climbing and walking, we were famished. So we headed into historic Newnan where we grabbed a bite at The Oink Joint. This place is fairly new and was delicious. Since it’s a barbecue joint, it’s very family-friendly. I ordered the brisket taco and was not disappointed. We were so full, but we found some room in our stomachs to split a couple of banana puddings! After lunch, we headed to Full Circle Toys, a vintage and consignment toy store. Oh my! I’m not certain if my husband or my boys were more excited about the Star Wars and GI Joe toys. If you’re a fan of either, a trip to this store is a must. It was a busy day, so we headed back to get ready for the evening’s festivities.
Saturday Evening: Vinewood Plantation
The wedding began at 6:30pm. As we all know, it takes about two hours to get an entire family dressed for an event. The kids wanted to ride the shuttle, so they boarded it (and quickly fell asleep) for the trip to Vinewood Plantation. The plantation was not far from Dunaway Gardens, so the history and similar landscape continued here, too. Originally, the plantation was built in 1852, but the historic barn, home, and grounds have been completely renovated. I drove, since the shuttle wasn’t scheduled to return until late in the evening. Lucky me, I arrived earlier than the shuttle and took advantage of surveying this beautiful, historic property. I might as well take advantage of the peace and tranquility! Am I right?
The staff was already prepared and offered glasses of champagne and hors d’oeuvres to guests. For a few moments, I felt like a normal person even if I was already cursing my high heels. Once the boys arrived, they played with their buddies from the night before. Dinner was served in the barn, which was draped with white gauzy fabric, enormous vases filled with branches, and lots of candles. It was a beautiful evening.
Where to Stay
During the entire weekend, we stayed at a newer property, Home2 by Hilton. It’s an all suite or extended stay hotel, so it has some great amenities, such as a kitchen and separate sitting area with a workstation. Plus, the fitness facility and laundry are combined for moms who are multi-taskers. On one end of the hotel there is a patio with a contemporary fire pit. On the other side, there is a separate patio and outdoor salt-water pool. The complimentary breakfast fit our family quite well by serving hot egg sandwiches, waffles, or simple cold cereals and oatmeal. There are also plenty of fresh fruit, juices, and choices of hot coffee and tea.