Archive for March, 2010

Southern festivals in full bloom this spring

Now that it finally feels like spring here in Georgia, it’s time to get out and really enjoy the sunshine and warmth that draw so many visitors to our neck of the woods.  We’ve had a long, cold, rainy winter, but fortunately the grey doldrums are dissipating as we southerners break out our white shoes and Easter pastels.

To help celebrate this seasonal awakening, outdoor events are blossoming throughout the region faster than the daffodils and Bradford Pear trees. Atlantans who will be traveling on holiday from school or for Easter should have no problem finding a spring festival within an easy distance of their destination.

Take this weekend, for instance. It’s Easter weekend and many schools are out on break. Events of some sort – from religious services and ecumenical egg hunts to celebrations of nature – are occurring outdoors in just about every town, big or small. Here are a few suggestions for folks heading out of town for the break or to visit family over …

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Is it time to get a passport?

My passport expired a few years ago. At the time, I had small children and no plans to venture any further than Canada, where a passport was still unnecessary if you drove across the border.

Since then, a couple of planned trips to Europe to visit friends and family fell through before I had gotten around to renewing my passport or obtaining one for our children. I discovered that when I don’t need my passport, I simply don’t think of it.

I kicked myself last July when my previous inaction caused our family to miss out on a couple of days in British Columbia. Our last-minute decision to add Vancouver, BC to our Seattle itinerary was foiled by new rules that took effect weeks earlier, requiring Americans to present a passport or passcard at Canadian border crossings. We landed in northwestern Washington empty-handed, and could only look at our northern neighbors from a distance.

I promised myself that I would file the paperwork when we returned from Seattle. However, the …

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Where should families go when they need a (spring) break?

Families with school-aged children probably need no reminder that Spring Break is fast approaching for most metro school systems. With college students already settling back into the rigors of academia, the younger kids are anxious for their own break in early April.

Normally, this time of year is too busy for my husband to take off work, so I often drive the kids to St. Simons to visit my family while they’re out of school. The kids can see their grandparents and enjoy a little beach time (even if the water is a bit chilly). My husband can get a lot of work done while we’re gone, and my folks help me keep an extra eye out on my adventurous little beach bums.

This year, however, my husband thinks he may be able to break away from work for a couple of days. We were down as a family in St. Simons not too long ago, so we thought we would try some place new for a quick getaway.

When friends who recently moved to Florida suggested we hold a mini-neighborhood reunion somewhere …

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Will Sea Island gem lose its luster if resort is sold?

News that the posh Sea Island resort has gone bust and is seeking buyers leaves me feeling wistful for the days I spent on the Georgia coast in my childhood – even though I have never actually vacationed on Sea Island.

I have traversed the small Sea Island Road many times in the past 38 years, but I have never stayed there overnight.  All of my life, at least some part of my family has lived on neighboring St. Simons Island. As a result, it never made sense to consider paying to spend the night just few miles away – either at the famed Cloister or in one of the beautiful, multi-million dollar “cottages”.

Sea Island was still a lovely draw, however. Life seemed to slow down and take on a peaceful tone the moment we drove or bicycled past the old Cloister and those first cottages. (St. Simons was more peaceful back then too, but it has always been more commercial and more populated than Sea Island.)

Development came like gangbusters to St. Simons in the years after I …

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What kind of Spring Break will college students take?

After yet another day of snow here in metro Atlanta, I’m beginning to believe spring may never come. Thank goodness for Spring Break. While families with children in grade schools will have to wait until the week of Easter to get away, most college students are gearing up for their spring flings right now. 

It may be difficult to think of Spring Break destinations when it looks more like the Winter Olympics outside, but students bound by university calendars, term papers and laboratories will take much-needed holidays when and where they can.

So where will the university crowd go in 2010?  For the majority of breakers, the answer this year is much the same as last year.

Many college travelers plan ahead for this annual retreat or take advantage of student deals to hit the fabled beaches of Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica or Puerto Rico. Some will also cross the pond for a little European vacation; but domestic beaches – especially in the south – are going to be the big …

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