Two things that I put on our Fall Bucket List were camping and hiking, so this past weekend we packed up and headed over to Lake Hartwell State Park.  It was a much needed getaway and we had such a great time together and with our family and friends.  We are already planning on going back!  Here are 9 reasons why I highly recommend you make the trip too! 

1.  CHEAPER VACATION.  By the time you've stayed in a hotel 2 nights, you've spent hundreds of dollars not including your food and entertainment.  But, at $14 a night for this campsite, you can spend your money on good food, more adventures or a longer getaway!  Sure, it's not luxury, but it's a great way to get out of town and have some downtime.

Lake Front Property for only $14 a night!

2.  PRIVATE CAMPSITES.  Not only did choosing a tent site by the water give us an amazing view of Lake Hartwell, but it also meant a little additional privacy since we didn't have people on all sides.  We left our volvo in the parking area and had a short walk to our site, but this meant that we wouldn't have cars passing at all times of the day and shining the headlights into our tent at night.

Best loaded baked potato soup ever!

3.  LAVONIA, GA.  The first night we arrived, we headed over to Lavonia to get a bite to eat at 211 Main Street Restaurant.  The food was absolutely amazing and the atmosphere was friendly.  I've never even heard of this place but instantly fell in love because it was like my own version of Stars Hallow or Mayberry...Ironman said we are moving here.  Plus, it didn't suck that dessert was an enormous piece of homemade peanut butter chocolate pie!

4.  GOOD NEIGHBORS.  After dinner we headed back to get everything settled at our camp site and start a fire before dark.  I had just started a good book and was reading by flashlight as we enjoyed the warmth.  I love the crackling of the fire and the sounds of the crickets.  It's so peaceful.  We said hello to our tent neighbor and found out that he actually went to our same university and so it was fun to get to know him and share his firewood (since he came more prepared than us).  Turns out, after our friends joined us on Saturday, that they actually knew the neighbor from school!  Small world.

Ironman told me he didn't need to bring his pillow on the trip...
See how he is conveniently sharing mine?

5.  GREAT COFFEE.  As soon as we woke up, we decided to head back to Lavonia and try another place to eat since we were already in love with the small town feel of the place.    Gloria's Daily Grind had great coffee and welcoming baristas!

Best coffee ever!

6.  FUN FOR ALL AGES.  By the time we finished our coffee, it was time to meet up with everyone for a day filled of adventure!  Ironman's sister, her husband and their two kids were already there waiting for us.  And some friends from home drove up to meet us here to camp with us one night.  It's convenient that the adults and kids could all have fun being outside together!

The short walk up to the tunnel.

7.  STUMPHOUSE TUNNEL.  Since I had invited everyone to come along for the fun, I felt responsible to make sure I planned something that everyone would enjoy.  So, off I went to Google and found the Stumphouse Tunnel and Isaqueena Falls.  I had no idea if they would be fun or not, but it sounded good so we went with it!

Ironman and Toby about to disappear into the dark!

8.  PERFECT HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE.  I had no clue that I had chosen just about the freakiest adventure ever.  I really don't like dark or damp places that may have creepy crawling things.  Plus, I get claustrophobic.  As we were walking in, I realized that maybe this had been a bad idea.

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps...

It was completely pitch black, so we were only able to see where the flashlights were pointed.  In a few areas, we had to walk through water and in some places, pieces of rock from the walls and ceiling had fallen in.  Apparently I have seen way too much Hunger Games because I kept imagining those zombie things calling out "Katniss" and running for us, with no place for us to escape.  

Different levels

At the very end of the tunnel, there was a sort of stair way up...we guessed that it must have been left that way from how they dug the tunnel.  I loved how this photo shows everyone at the different levels of their climb up to the top!  Ironman and Stephen were at the top and are the oldest of our group.  Lindsay and Adam were around the middle.  Toby is the youngest and you can see him there in the bottom left.  What a reminder about life and aging, right?


9.  ISAQUEENA FALLS.  And finally, fresh air and bright skies.  I was glad that I went into the tunnel, but I was really glad to be coming back out.  Just a short walk and we arrived at the Isaqueena Falls.  I was so happy that it was an easy hike to get to the bottom and catch this view.

Two nights goes by really fast and we were already home before we knew it.   But, within 2 hours we had already booked our next weekend getaway!  I am SO excited because it has been on my Bucket List for years.  Can you guess what it is?

Do you love camping and have a place that you would recommend?  Please let us know in the comments below!

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