Certified professional photographer Gene Taylor has fine-tuned his artistic vision while working in photojournalism and portrait photography for more than 30 years. During classes at Your Photo Safari, Gene introduces students to the photographic arts and the workings of DSLR cameras. Sessions begin in classroom settings, allowing students to get acquainted with camera basics as well as advanced features such as setting white balance and reducing blur. After learning how to navigate the multiple settings and buttons on their digital cameras, students traipse to area gardens to explore the natural world through their lenses. The hands-on experience allows students to take home artfully composed shots of plants bathed in natural light or trees planking over riverbanks in a bid for Internet fame.
Whether cuddling a tiny spotted piglet, nuzzling a baby goat, or cradling a fuzzy bunny, it's nearly impossible to suppress affectionate coos during a visit to Little Vine Petting Zoo. The zoo abounds with creatures of all kinds, from gentle donkeys to soft alpacas to one spiny hedgehog. Ponies and horses trot down the trail with wee riders on their backs, guests can opt for hay rides, and take pictures inside of rustic stagecoach. Ambling down a tree-lined road, the farm’s colorful train transports guests around the area. The cheerful farm staffers also host bashes onsite and can travel for on-location parties, bringing along ponies and animals to delight guests at birthday parties or confuse bridesmaids at weddings.
As a USDA–licensed petting zoo, the farm owners pride themselves in caring for their animals as an extension of their family. When they’re not introducing their barnyard companions to visitors, the owners breed and show Nigerian dwarf goats as a full-time goat farmers.
Jerry and Liz Bates happily settled into the ?alpaca way of life? in 2008. They farm alpacas, and it gives them a sense of peace to be out in natural surroundings with their fuzzy family. Tours of their farm, Southern Estate Alpacas, begin with Alpaca 101 lessons, where you learn about the origins and uses of alpacas. Next, you can visit with the herd to feed them out of your hand, pet their soft wool, or get a Facebook photo with a baby dwarf goat. Alpaca petting zoos are a good option for families with small children, since they have no horns or hooves and only a bottom set of teeth, so they can?t bite. After you?ve met your new best friend, head to the farm store to get a scarf or sweater made from his exquisite wool.
At first glance, Pettit Creek Farms looks much the same as other farms. Cows moo and goats bleat from the barnyard, while wagons full of hay and passengers trundle along. But then someone rides by on a camel. A zebra cranes its striped neck over a fence, searching for handfuls of oats, and KatieBird the emu ruffles her feathers at passersby.
It's around the holidays that this unusual farm becomes its most active. In the fall, as the temperature drops and the pumpkin patch ripens, visitors can be seen perusing the squashes and heard trying to navigate the winding corn maze. And, come winter, the farm fires up thousands of Christmas lights, creating a mile-long wonderland for visitors to drive through.
As Halloween approaches, a formerly self-sustaining family farm that then became a premier agritourism destination transforms into Cagle's Haunted Barn, a frightening attraction that terrifies guests within their Haunted Barn. Each year brings a new haunted theme, with past stories including a cannibalistic family home and a cursed mental hospital, so even repeat guests will be newly frightened.
Today's side deal is your second chance to commune with nature and the animal kingdom. For $20, you'll get a 20-minute horseback-riding lesson and an hour-long horseback ride through the Chattahoochee National Forest at Sunburst Stables, a $48 value. Retreat from the city to the lush trees and mountains less than two hours north of Atlanta. Take a day trip with the family or surprise your sensitive stallion with a horseback adventure for Valentine's Day.