Weekend Trip: FDR State Park, the Little White House, and Columbus, GA

Weekend trip to Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, the Little White House, and Columbus, GA with kids. Trip report and itinerary suggestions

Last Friday was Dave’s birthday, and we celebrated with a quick weekend trip.

This trip’s itinerary changed a ridiculous number of times between when we planned it a few months ago and when it actually happened. It originally was going to include Providence Canyon State Park (in fact, going back there after Abe got sick and cut our last trip there short was what sparked the idea for this trip) and a visit to the National Park Service’s Jimmy Carter site in Plains, GA. But then. We opted to make things a little shorter and a little lower key, and I’m really glad we did. Because Abe? Well, either he’s at a terrible age for traveling or he’s just a terrible traveler. We’re hoping it’s the former, but only time will tell.

In the end, we decided on two nights in a cabin at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park and checking out some of the sites close by. Most of which have to do with FDR, it seems.

We got there after dark Thursday, so we didn’t have a chance to explore until Friday morning. The cabin didn’t have internet or TV, so we got to spend a lot of time together as a family playing on ipods and kindles:


Also, there was some Uno:


Our cabin was right on the lake, but Abe didn’t fall in even once!



Friday morning we went for a hike on one of the trails near the cabin. We had big plans to do SO MUCH HIKING on this trip. Like we were going to do the hike into and out of Providence Canyon. And we were DEFINITELY going to make it through the whole of the this paltry little three and a half mile hike! But we didn’t. We went two miles or so and then took a shortcut back to the cabin. (I would like to state for the record that Dave and I are not the ones who didn’t want to finish).

Off to a great, high energy start:


Observing nature!




After the hike, we drove to Warm Springs to have lunch and check out the Little White House, the vacation home where FDR spent a lot of time during his presidency (and where he died).

Despite having grown up only a couple of hours away, I’d never been to the Little White House before. We all (except Abe. Sigh) really enjoyed it. It’s a small house and a self guided tour, so perfect for kids with some interest in but a limited attention span for history. And it felt more intimate than a lot of other presidential houses we’ve toured…maybe because its history is relatively recent, or because it’s been kept so similar to how it was when FDR was here, or just because it’s such a modest house that you can really imagine someone spending time in.

We got there right around the same time as these two giant tour buses:


….there didn’t seem to be many other visitors….except for the 90,000 tour group members. But they traveled in packs, so we quickly figured out that if we just let them get ahead of us everywhere, we’d have a nice, uncrowded experience. There’s a short film and a museum in the building where you buy your tickets, but we skipped those in favor of getting Abe outside where he could run around.

There’s a nice walkway behind the museum that we didn’t get to see lined with flags and rocks from every state.



Some of the rocks are really nice. Like there is volcanic rock from Hawaii:


And then cutting granite into the shape of your state is a very popular choice, and one that caterpillars approve of:


And then SOME states (cough. Louisiana. cough) apparently just went out in the yard and grabbed the first rock they saw when they realized the rock sending deadline was approaching:


We took turns actually going into the house, Dave and I did. Which meant that Ari, Milo, and Gus all got to go through twice, just like a parent swap at Disney World. See that tour group? We got in line behind them, and then we were free to take our time and were the only people around in most of the rooms we went in.

It’s a very small house….a kitchen, a great room, three small bedrooms, and an entryway (where you can see scratches that Fala made on the door!). There are rangers around to answer questions if you have them, but aside from that there are just a few plaques explaining things in each room. You can also take a look at two small outbuildings: a guest house and servants’ quarters.


Meanwhile, Abe tried to break into the Marine Corps sentry post:


I thought The Little White House might be a great place to get a picture for this year’s Christmas card. Umm….

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Down the street from The Little White House you can visit the Historic Pools Museum and see big empty swimming pools where people used to come for hydrotherapy from the warm springs that gave the town its name (and brought FDR to the area). We had to pretty much run through here because Abe, but we did all get to touch the spring water:


On the way back to the cabin (it’s about a 25 minute drive), we stopped by Dowdell’s Knob. Word is this was FDR’s favorite picnic spot, and now there’s a life size statue of him sitting on the seat from his car and wearing his leg braces (the only statue of him where those are visible, I read somewhere or other). I did a good job of not worrying too much that the kids were going to go over the edge:

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That evening we cooked burgers at the cabin and then walked around a little by the lake and over to the little playground nearby.

Saturday morning we packed up and checked out then met up for a guided nature walk with one of the park rangers. Abe was restless and maddening, but everyone else enjoyed this. Milo and Gus, especially, were great about asking and answering questions:

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We ended the trip by heading a little farther southwest to check out Columbus, GA. It’s a nice town with lots of pretty buildings and a fairly new park that goes on for miles along the (kind of sad and drought stricken) Chattahoochee River:

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We walked along the river for a little while, then got some lunch and rounded out the trip with a visit to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. It’s a small place–just one big room with a few space-themed exhibits/artifacts. But for the modest admission price ($6/adults, $4/kids 4-12) you get unlimited planetarium shows and simulator rides. Milo and Gus were VERY excited about the simulators. It wasn’t at all crowded, so they mostly could go on them over and over with no waiting:


And Abe had buttons to push, so that was fun:


We even got to sit through a whole planetarium show because Abe fell asleep during it!

Then we drove home while Abe cried a lot. But still. Overall: fun. I look forward to traveling again when Abe is six.



Weekend Trip: FDR State Park, the Little White House, and Columbus, GA — 9 Comments

  1. Nice entry. I felt like I was reading a gothic family vacation, OR, the vacation of a family with a toddler. Misery to be had at every stop. I mostly chuckled because Matt grew up in Columbus and his parents lived there until a couple of years ago, so we’ve been to every low-key museum and minor tourist attraction within a reasonable driving distance. You totally missed the civil war naval museum. Tsk.

  2. Bahaha poor Abe. I’m glad you are documenting this for his future children. I completely feel your pain though, so I’m glad I can just virtually go on vacation via this post instead of actually get out with my kids. 🙂

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