ATLANTA — Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, so Georgia’s State Parks are offering 10 ways to celebrate over the weekend. From sunset hikes to hayrides, park rangers have planned outdoorsy events for couples, families and even Fido. Check out the suggestions below or find your own way to surprise your nature-loving sweetheart on GaStateParks.org.
Hike to the Heart at Fort Mountain
During the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps mason carved a heart-shaped stone for his sweetheart, setting it into a fire tower. The lad’s romantic gesture must have won her love, because they were married 59 years. Visit Fort Mountain State Park anytime to hike to this destination, or join a guided hike at 1 p.m. on February 15 when the tower will be open for exploring. Cabins and campsites are nestled into the forest, making this park a beautiful overnight getaway. $5 parking.
Molten Moonlight Iron Pour
Watch sparks fly when iron is melted to 2,000 degrees at Red Top Mountain State Park on February 15. Visitors can come early to buy scratch blocks to create their own designs, taking them home later that night once filled and cooled. Be sure to leave time for a moonlit stroll by Lake Allatoona. $5 parking.
If your heart belongs to your four-legged best friend, give them a promise of more adventures in 2020. The Tails on Trails Club encourages you both to hike 12 participating state parks, earning a certificate upon completion. The quest includes a t-shirt for you and a matching bandana for your dog. Many state parks also offer ranger-led dog hikes where you can meet new friends on the trail. $20 membership.
Atlanta Skyline Hike for Couples
Join a park ranger on February 14 for a rare chance to watch sunset over metro Atlanta. Couples will hike to the top of Panola Mountain, a granite monadnock similar to Stone Mountain, ending their adventure with a toasty-warm campfire and chocolate-strawberry s’mores. Call 770-389-7801 for reservations. $30 per couple plus $5 parking.
Hard Labor Creek State Park just east of Atlanta is offering two wagon rides on February 14 and 15: 5:30 p.m. for families and 6:30 p.m. for couples. Bring a blanket to snuggle up during this journey along Lake Rutledge, where visitors will enjoy a campfire, s’mores and ranger-led tour of the night sky. Call 706-557-3001 for reservations. $5 plus $5 parking.
Singles Archery at Panola Mountain
Be your own Cupid as you take aim during this indoor archery class. You may just fall in love with a new sport. The beginner class is 7:30 p.m. on February 14 and open to those 18 and older. Call Panola Mountain State Park at 770-389-7801 to register. $25 includes instruction and equipment rental. $5 parking.
Horses, Hearts and Scavenger Hunts
F.D. Roosevelt State Park has planned a plethora of Valentine’s activities for Saturday, February 15. Go on a camera scavenger hunt for Valentine’s-themed items or join a broken heart-themed archery class. A two-hour, winter wonderland horseback adventure includes wine and cheese by the fire. Call 706-628-7463 to register for trail ride. Fees vary. $5 parking.
Campfire and Valentine’s Trivia
Warm up to a roaring fire at Crooked River State Park for Valentine’s-themed trivia on February 14. The winning individual or team takes home a prize. Visitors are welcome to bring all the makings for s’mores. Those who stay overnight in the park’s cabins or campsites can enjoy outstanding birding in the morning. The park is just a short drive from St. Marys’ restaurants and shops. Call 912-882-5256 to register for campfire trivia. $5 parking.
Go Glamping in Style
If your sweetie loves sleeping under the stars, treat them to glamour camping (glamping) in a yurt. These unique rentals are like a cross between a tent and a cabin, with furniture inside and a picnic area outside. Cozy up to the campfire in the evening, then enjoy coffee on your private porch as the sun rises. Glamping yurts are found in just six Georgia State Parks, so reservations are highly recommended. $80 – $100.
Cozy Cabin Getaway
Surprise your loved one with an unexpected getaway to a cozy cabin. Styles, rates and views vary among Georgia’s State Parks. General Coffee’s Burnham House has a master bedroom with fireplace and stone shower. Smithgall Woods features two cabins with hot tubs and two sitting right above trout-filled Dukes Creek. Find photos and rates on GaStateParks.org