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.
A tiger sits beneath the setting sun, her tail beating the ground as her gaze locks onto a man passing by. Luckily, the two aren’t deep in the jungle, but at Wild Animal Safari outside Atlanta, where guests view these majestic animals from the safety of slow-moving vehicles. During tours, personal cars and guided buses wind through 3.5 miles of the park’s territory, passing the habitats of 650 animals such as camels, zebras, and american bison. After the driving tour, safari groups set out on foot to spy smaller animals, including lemurs and peacocks, with opportunities to feed and pet some species. Afterward, pizza and burgers await the hungry at the safari café, and the Wild Animal gift shop offers mementos such as T-shirts and stuffed safari guides.
Built into the rippling foothills of Appalachia, Atlanta Motorsports Park hosts a world-class road course designed by famed Formula 1 architect, Hermann Tilke. Tilke honored the natural landscape with his 2-mile racetrack, weaving high-speed straights amongst steep elevation changes. He even included two signature turns, inspired by Belgium's Spa-Franchochamps and the 'Carousel' turn found on Germany's fearsome Nurburgring. Track members can test their private vehicles' mettle on the track at any time, pushing engines to their limits on professional-quality pavement.
In addition to its professional-grade road course, the venue is also home to a world-class karting track. Open to all visitors, the kart course runs almost a mile, and features a stunningly-steep 43' in elevation changes built to Commission Internationale de Karting's Level A standards. The owners invite visitors to bring their own karts, but guests can always rent vehicles from the fleet. Each rental comes with a complementary helmet and driving suit to protect the driver from whipping winds, harsh sunshine, or point deductions in race's fashion show portion.
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.