Valdosta, Georgia is just 13 miles from the Florida border on I-75 and halfway between Atlanta and Orlando. Lots of people come to visit Wild Adventures Theme Park but never take the time to explore Valdosta itself. They don’t know what they’re missing! Add just 24 hours in Valdosta to your itinerary and here are some of the ways to fill your time.
One-Day Itinerary: Breakfast, lunch and dinner, a nature preserve, downtown Valdosta, and more
9:00 AM: Start your one-day Valdosta itinerary at The Egg and I, 2953-A North Ashley Street
The early bird gets the…bacon. This is a great little place to have breakfat, brunch or even lunch. Have one of their eggs-clusives, benedicts, frittatas, or omelettes. I had the Pork Belly Benedict – slow-cooked, maple drizzled pork belly on cornbread with a barbeque hollandaise. So yummy! The service here is outstanding.
10:00 AM: Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area on Bemiss Road
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, look no further than Grand Bay. This is a great place to go on a walk out into a South Georgia Swamp. From the raised boardwalk you get up close to nature and the wildlife that lives there. Grand Bay is easy to get to and an inexpensive way to spend some time outside. This is not a zoo. There is plenty of wildlife besides ‘gators—huge spiders, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, ducks, and beautiful flowers. You’ll see different things every time and every season. The tower at the end of the boardwalk is like the prize in the Cracker Jack’s box…it’s quite a climb up the stairs but the view from the top is so worth it. The boardwalk is handicap accessible.
11:45 PM: Take some time to explore historic downtown Valdosta
Venture away from the mall and shops in the I-75 corridor and experience the heart of Valdosta. Valdosta’s vibrant downtown neighborhood is filled with great places to eat and unique boutique shops.
Here is a selection of some of the cute, little shops I enjoyed.
Art and Soul, 115 W. Central – a cute little furniture, art, and design store. This place is full of unique finds that speak to your soul.
Ellie’s Boutique, 135 N. Patterson – a trendy, yet classy women’s clothing and accessories store.
Red Door Records and Cinema, 133 N Patterson – a vinyl record shop by day and on Friday and Saturday nights it transforms into a single screen cinema.
Urban Garden – 102 N Ashley – a unique open air plant market.
1:00 PM: Lunch at the Kings Grill, 200 N Patterson in the heart of downtown
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite it’s time for lunch. Stop by the King’s Grill where you’ll rub elbows with the local regulars. The food is what you’d expect—down-home Southern favorites like fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, greens, burgers, meatloaf, mashed taters with gravy, grits, and homemade, traditional, desserts. It’s not a place for those watching their diets nor is it fancy in the least, but it is a local institution. This is an old-school diner with daily plate specials and the best Southern fried chicken in Valdosta.
Both the interior and exterior of this small, vintage café appear to be unchanged since the 1960s and I suspect the menu is unchanged also. Pat Yeomans took over the family restaurant in 1985 and she keeps it as much as it “has always been.” (Flo, from the old TV series, Mel’s Diner and her famous line “Kiss my grits.” would fit right in here.)
2:30 PM: Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, 527 N Patterson St
The Turner Center houses six galleries in 17,000 square feet of space. Two of the galleries house permanent collections, including a 600-piece East African art collection and over 30 pieces of antique European fine porcelain. The Center contains a gift shop with one-of-a-kind items by local artists. Items in the gift shop include pottery, jewelry, prints, original works of art, note cards, books, hand-carved walking sticks, scented soaps, stained glass, wood carvings and much more.
4:00 PM: South Georgia Pecan Co., 401 E Hill Ave
This gift shop has great southern gifts all year round but like their name suggests the specialty is pecans. There are pecans done just about any way you could imagine. You can purchase individual bags or mix the bags to make a very nice gift box presentation. The gift store offers lots of samples to help make your selections. My favorite has to be the amaretto pecans. This little shop is a great little find!
4:45 PM: Wakeboard Compound for beginner’s lessons
Valdosta has long held the reputation for being a sports town. Now it can add wakeboarding to the list. Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard over the surface of a body of water. It is an aqua sport developed by combining skills of snowboarding, water skiing, and windsurfing techniques. The rider uses balance to perform tricks on the wake while being towed.
One of the best features of the park is the reliance on technology to make everything so inviting. The facility uses a closed-circuit, cable-course where computer controlled specifically designed cables tow the riders at certain speeds to get the wakeboarders skimming on top of the water.
Don’t worry if you’ve never wakeboarded before, they offer beginner lessons.
8:30 PM: Dinner at the Salty Snapper, 1405 Gornto St
You have enough time for a shower (and maybe even a short power nap) before changing and heading out for dinner at the Salty Snapper. The Salty Snapper offers fresh seafood with delicious healthy options and good service We enjoyed a starter of Suwannee dip (Pimento cheese) served on saltines. (Not healthy or low-fat but so, so good.) My Salmon was perfection. If you save room for dessert, try the Peanut Butter pie. Delicious! Linger over live music and cold drinks on the covered porch.
10:30 PM: Make it an early night
There is plenty of nightlife in Valdosta but if you plan to get on the road in the morning it’s better to tuck in early.
8:00 AM: Early breakfast at Daylight Donuts, 1305 Baytree Rd
What day isn’t better when you start it with a donut? Try a cronut – sausage, egg, and cheese on a glazed donut. Daylight Donut has a café where you can also get an excellent fresh bagel breakfast, sandwiches, burritos, or a sausage roll. But the donuts are really the stars. Daylight Donut only makes small batches so their donuts are always fresh and tasty. They have good coffee and friendly serice.
8:30 AM: Don’t leave town without stopping at Big Rosie’s Fruit Stand, 39420 Schoolcraft Rd
Big Rosie’s has been around for 48 years. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall fruit stand where you’ll find Georgia-grown, Georgia-made food products. Georgia peaches, honey-roasted pecans, and Cajun boiled peanuts are the way to go. Or take home a jar of Chow Chow relish or Mayhaw jelly. Rosie is still there most days and he’ll charm the pants off of you.
9:00 AM: Time to get back on the road
We’ve packed a lot in just 24 hours in Valdosta but there is so much more to see and do.