It’s fall, y’all, and that means it’s time for shootin’ ranges, hayrides and apple pickin’ in the great state of Georgia. Living in Atlanta means lots of nearby opportunities to enjoy down-home fun. Do you think smelling like barn animals, paddling until your arms are sore, or making the wilderness your restroom sounds like fun? We do, too. Read on for ideas that will give your fall some country flair. Plaid shirt and cutoffs not included.
APPLE PICKING Fall is apple season, and it’s easy and a lot of fun to pick your own. Make a day trip to Ellijay and hit up Reece Apple House (1931 Ga. 52 East, 706-276-3048, www.reeceorchards.com) and the Hillcrest Orchards (9696 Ga. 52 East, 706-273-3838, www.hillcrestorchards.net).
CAMPING Fall was made for camping: Mosquito season is over, you can actually enjoy the warmth of a fire, and the changing foliage offers a kaleidoscopic backdrop. Just north of Helen is the Chattahoochee National Forest, where you can camp along the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River. Pitch a tent for free on a picturesque site next to the river off of Poplar Stump Road, or get a tent site at the Upper Chattahoochee River Campground with a picnic table and grill for $12 per night. 706-754-6221. www.fs.fed.us/conf/chatcamp.htm.
CANOEING Because the Chattahoochee River flows right through town, canoeing in Atlanta is one of the easiest ways to escape without traveling far. The Chattahoochee Nature Center runs regular canoeing trips in the fall on weekends. $30. 9135 Willeo Road. 770-992-2055. www.chattnaturecenter.org.
CORN MAZES From crazy difficult to kid-friendly, corn mazes are cheap and will keep you busy (and/or lost) for hours. Uncle Shucks Corn Maze in Dawsonville ($9; Friday-Sunday in September and November; daily in October; 4525 Ga. 53 East, 770-772-6223, www.uncleshucks.com) is your typical corn maze during the day and a haunted maze after dark – no flashlights allowed. At Washington Farms near Athens ($8; Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 26-Nov. 1; 5691 Hog Mountain Road, 706-769-0627, www.washingtonfarms.net), you enter the corn maze through a 24-foot slide. Awesome.
COUNTY FAIRS If you’re in the mood for funnel cake, blue ribbons, and guys diving into little ponds from 80 feet in the air, you have to hit a county fair this fall. Check out the North Georgia State Fair or go to www.countyfairgrounds.net/georgia/georgia.php for a list of fairs by county. $1-$5. Daily, Sept. 24-Oct. 4. 2245 Callaway Road. 770-423-1330. www.northgeorgiastatefair.com.
FISHING We like fishing at the Morgan Falls Dam at Morgan Falls Park in Sandy Springs, but check out www.n-georgia.com/atlanta-fishing-lakes.htm for a list of small lakes around the metro area that are perfect for catching the big one. 450 Morgan Falls Place. 404-730-6200. www.sandyspringsconservancy.org.
HORSEBACK RIDING Saddle up for a trail ride with a friend or a date. Though horseback riding isn’t always the cheapest option, it’ll make anyone feel like they’re wild at heart. Lake Lanier Islands Resort offers 45-minute trail rides along the lake throughout the fall for $35. 7000 Holiday Road. 770-932-7233. www.lakelanierislands.com.
PUMPKIN PATCHES Hayrides, farm animals and fresh produce: the holy trinity of autumnal good times. Bert’s farm in Dawsonville is a favorite for its sprawling gourd selection and daily hayrides. 4801 Ga. 52, Dawsonville. 706-265-3701. www.burtsfarm.com.