True Southern charm is hard to define and too big to pack into a single weekend of family fun below the Mason-Dixon line. But, if you were looking to pack as much as you could into one weekend of flowers, fellowship, and full-on Southern living, you’d be hard pressed to find a more fitting event than the Hydrangea Festival in Douglas County, Georgia.
The flower of the hour is the hardy and jubilant Hydrangea—a delicate, vibrant species native to eastern Asia and the eastern American woodlands. The Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival celebrates the flowering plant as a Southern emblem and as a metaphor for Southern living.
Famous in gardening circles and beyond, Penny McHenry, who sadly passed in 2006, was given a hydrangea while grieving the loss of a daughter. Penny transformed that grief into a life-long passion that would come to inspire a love for the plant in so many others.
With two hydrangea varieties bearing her name (the Penny Mac and Mini Penny), Penny McHenry has left a blooming mark in Douglasville and countless gardens around the world. Interested visitors can learn more about Penny at her exhibition in the Douglas County Museum of History and Art. But if you want to feel the magic this year, the festival is the place to be.
With blooming nature trails, world-class fishing, hot brunch spots, and the upcoming Annual Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival (not to mention the riotously entertaining Six Flags amusement park nearby), greater Douglas County awaits you just minutes west of downtown Atlanta.
But your trip to Douglas County doesn’t end there. Pack your boots (both hiking and dancing), your thermal tumbler, your fishing rod, and a sundress or two, and head “Outside the Lines” for a weekend of down-home hilarity starting with:
The Douglas County Film Trail
In addition to stunning nature trails, plan a self-guided tour of pure silver screen magic in the Deep South. Georgia’s star continues to rise in the film and TV industry. As filming locations go from state-to-state, Georgia is 1st with California and New York trailing behind.
Over 700 movie and television productions have called Douglas County home, including contemporary smash-hits such as The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and some old classics like Driving Miss Daisy, and Smokey and the Bandit.
On the Douglas County Film Trail, strategically placed markers along the self-guided tour allow visitors to step through the silver screen and see with their own eyes what the camera once captured in that very spot. Adults, teens, tweens, and children alike can go giddy with excitement on Douglas County’s Film Trail.
Stop for a Brunch/Lunch/Bloody Mary Break
Nothing says “downhome” quite like the meat-and-two classic Southern combos you’ll find at Tiffany’s Kitchen in Douglas County. This proudly cozy and kid-friendly country spot serves reliably nostalgic dishes from Nana’s kitchen of memory. With hamburger casserole, white cream corn, collard greens, fried okra, cornbread, and a great breakfast selection on top of it all, Tiffany’s Kitchen is a family-favorite spot destined to satisfy the southern kid in all of us.
If your tastes linger a little further south round the Gulf of Mexico, all you need to do in Douglasville is follow the “X.” Gumbeaux’s, A Cajun Café, is a roux-side symphony of brass instruments and New Orleans flavors. Shrimp, crab, crawfish, jambalaya, etouffee, red beans & rice—whatever you’ve been dreaming about since last you strutted down Bourbon (Street), you can find it at Gumbeaux’s. And a Bloody Mary or two certainly can’t hurt much either, can it?
If your port-side preferences run deep, Douglas County’s got you covered with Gabe’s Downtown Louisiana Bistro. At Gabe’s, Cajun flare and fine dining collide at a shockingly reasonable price. From the exquisitely plated crawfish pistolette and oyster toast appetizers, to the fried shrimp po’ boy, all the way down to the bananas foster for dessert, Gabe’s Downtown transports you to the bayou with each and every bite.
Let Nature Take the Wheel
Southern life and Southern woodlands go hand in hand. The South is as much its flora and fauna as it is the friendly people and all their dropped “Gs”.
Sweetwater Creek State Park stays open from 7AM-Dark, and for $5 parking pass, avid hikers and day-strollers alike can revel in burned out Civil War mills, rocky bluffs, cascading rapids, and flower-framed forest trails.
The Douglas County Butterfly Trail sports multiple locations for snapping pictures of, staring at, or interacting with everyone’s favorite (perhaps the only favorite) insect. Ten current butterfly gardens give the winged treats a chance to feed on equally colorful flowers. Free to visitors from dawn to dusk, Douglas County’s butterflies would love the chance to welcome you.
Too Much More
Douglas County, Georgia, is your gateways to a world of Southern wonders. Just 15 minutes from Six Flags Amusement Park, and 30 minutes from Atlanta proper, Douglasville is far more than “just another suburb.”
Whether you come for the Hydrangea Festival, the abundant natural treasures, the cinema and TV sensations, or the grits of nearly every variety, you’ll find that true Southern charm means Douglasville and Douglas County. This summer, “Explore outside the lines” in Douglas County. You’ll never forget what you find.