Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge

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I’m a Presbyterian Church youth group leader. Really, just a parent volunteer who loves to help kids find their true selves in the tangle of the teen years. This Spring Break, we are taking 25 high schoolers on a road trip from Atlanta to Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge in South Georgia.

Lake 8990

Far from big city distractions and garish night lights, we’ll be venturing into the woods to be surrounded by sand hills, pine trees, cool water, and serenely comfortable accommodations.

I learned when arranging our youth retreat that the lodge accommodates every kind of group, from business retreats to weddings and family reunions.

Fun Fact: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge accommodates conference groups, reunions, and weddings of up to 200 people.

Our youth retreat is more about outdoor recreation, with morning and evening gathering times scheduled. The lodge is outfitted with the latest technology and the conference services team will help me with audio-visual set-up for our group presentations.

The lodge also has full-service catering for buffet service or plated meals. Our group, of course, is casual and rambunctious, so we’re doing breakfast and dinner buffets, with lunches packed for us as we go out kayaking, swimming, golfing, hiking, and relaxing by Little Ocmulgee Lake on Thaxton Beach during the days.

Fun Fact: Nearby, the annual Vidalia Onion Festival is April 20-23, 2023! Live bands and food and culture combine in a celebration of Georgia’s official state vegetable, the Vidalia Onion.

Outside of catering, our group can also visit the Fairway Grill restaurant that overlooks the Wallace Adams Golf Course. This is the restaurant that is handling our boxed lunches, and the authentic Southern food is amazing, so we’re ready to be satisfied!

A big focus of our retreat is to be in touch with nature and our youthfulness by engaging in the outdoors. If you’re not too familiar with all that is offered here, here’s a breakdown of the explorations and discoveries everyone has access to:

  • Group picnics in the picnic shelter are close to the 265-acre Little Ocmulgee Lake. The shelters have benches and grills and are fully covered for sun or rain.
  • A mini golf course is designed to be a mini replica of the Wallace Adams Golf Course and is free for all to play by the picnic shelters.
  • Sun-soaked days splashing in the private pool and Splash Pad (both open Memorial Day weekend)
  • Thaxton Beach is a white sand beach to spread out towels, picnic blankets and enjoy swimming, reading, or launching a kayak into the water. Fishing is allowed with state license on the lake’s dock.
  • Golfers are challenged by the highly regarded Wallace Adams Golf Course – recognized as one of the best public courses in the South.
  • Hiking through rare plant communities on a 2.6-mile loop is best done in the morning or evening during the late Spring and Summer seasons.

I hope you are learning that planning a group event at Little O is rewarding because of the beauty and adventurous options surrounding the experience.

Lake 8865

This may become an annual retreat for our youth group because the kids who came two years ago voted to have us go back. With everything there is to see and do, and an amazing conference services team who backs up all your plans with exquisite detail, you’ll find Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge is a cinch.

Plan your stay: Just south of McRae-Helena, Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

By Quentin Jones

Closer to the Atlantic coast of Georgia than most people realize, Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge is an exciting option for any family looking to do something festive – away from home - this holiday season. Follow along while I share what I’m learning about “Sparkle in the Park” festivities for all ages.

Sparkle in the Park – Dec. 3 through Jan. 2
Check this out: Visitors can drive through a special Christmas light display called Sparkle in the Park every evening from December 3 to January 2. This illuminating experience is made possible by Friends of Little Ocmulgee State Park and costs just the $5 state park Parking Pass fee (donations for the Friends are welcome).

Holiday “Blanket-In” Movies – Dec. 10
I’m also looking into the weekend of Saturday, December 10, for experiencing two classic children’s Christmas movies under the stars. Visitors bring lawn chairs and blankets, and the show begins at dark. The $5 Parking Pass covers the cost, and concessions are available for purchase from the Friends of Little Ocmulgee State Park. All this takes place in the field behind Picnic Shelter #2.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus – Dec. 17
If kids want to meet Santa and whisper their wish lists, he and his wife and some elves will be at will be at Picnic Shelter #2 transformed into a Santa’s Workshop from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Saturday, December 17. Mrs. Claus will read aloud the classic story, T’was the Night Before Christmas. Mingle with the elves and enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and punch. Event is free with $5 Parking Pass.

*Oh! One more thing about this evening: Sleigh rides will be offered through the Sparkle in the Park light display for $1 per person.

Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

I hope you are learning a bit more about all the holiday fun available in South Georgia by Little Ocmulgee Lake. It feels like the central place to be for relaxation and a sparkle of holiday cheer!

By Quentin Jones

Feel Cooler Breezes Across the Sands, Little Ocmulgee River, and Wallace Adams Golf Course

Just a few miles north of McRae-Helena on the Little Ocmulgee River is a 1,360-acre oasis of hospitality and wilderness in South Georgia. We call it “Little O” but others will know it as Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge.

Fall may be my favorite season in this part of the state. It’s football season, and if you don’t have rooms booked yet for the Georgia-Florida game on October 29, click here. And with the new addition of the lodge’s restaurant, Mulligan’s Grille, you won’t have to worry about missing a football game while enjoying time on the road with loved ones.

Our family loves staying at Little Ocmulgee because though not far from Atlanta, we can relax in wooded seclusion away from the hustle, and traffic of our city life. Here are my Top 3 Reasons for continuing to visit Little O, especially in the fall..

No. 1:    Getting There: Explore the backroads of the Magnolia Midlands

Little O is in Telfair County, part of the Southern hospitality network of South Georgia counties collectively known as the Magnolia Midlands. If you’re driving to Little O on a Friday, you’re in luck. Many of the restaurants in Magnolia Midlands celebrate the Southern ritual of Fish Fry Fridays - when people after work and school head to the river sand bars and throw out lines for catfish.

As you plan your stay at Little O, plan to travel to Helena-McRae along the scenic backroads. You’re going to find lots of small-town charm like a local art market in a family’s barn! I bought a “chicken sculpture” from a farmer-welder that people have remarked on for years. Driving these byways slows down the pace, makes me appreciate Georgia for its real-ness. I stop for Georgia Grown products, real Southern cooking, and antique shops. And while you’re at little O, look up the nearby museums that capture the essence and history of the towns.

No. 2: Telfair County Farmers Market

I always look forward to visiting the Telfair County Farmers Market at 139 North Third Avenue in McRae-Helena Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm year-round. When it’s growing in season, it’s for sale: watermelons, Vidalia onions, sweet corn, lettuces and herbs, strawberries, peaches and pecans. You can also purchase handmade crafts from local artisans. Stock up on holiday gifts for your office colleagues, friends, and family.

No. 3: Outside at Little O

Cooler breezes mean that play on the championship Wallace Adams Golf Course will be a breeze, literally! So is hiking. The 2.6-mile loop trail is a vibrant example of the white sandhills of Georgia. There are cacti I want to check on to see how they grew with all the rains this summer.

And calling all water babies, come with your fishing rods and kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards to launch from Thaxton Beach. Little Ocmulgee River won’t be cold yet, and the fall colors and breezes will feel so refreshing. Here are all the things to do at Little O.

Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping.

See you in the South of the State!

By LYDIA SEA, Georgia wanderer finding off-the-beaten path places (and gems!)

Summer Golf at Little O Locals call it Little O, short for Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. Just a few miles north of McRae-Helena on the Little Ocmulgee River is the 1,360-acre oasis of wilderness and comfort in South Georgia. Have you been? This last part of summer is the time to come, when their famed Wallace Adams Golf Course is not as busy as it is in Fall and Spring. Why so busy? This is a truly amazing course. Left: Pro Shop Photo I began my adventure in the pro shop checking out the golf wear for women, choosing a sassy pink golf dress because I wanted to look the part of a bold athlete! This is where you sign in, get the keys to your cart, enjoy a hot dog with relish, and pack the cooler with ice and drinks. The 18-hole Wallace Adams Golf Course is lined with loblolly pines – you may even see a red-cockaded woodpecker. Fragrant magnolia trees are mixed with willows that love water. This is an affordable, peaceful, yet challenging golf experience. Walking is permitted year-round but since it’s summer, we spoiled ourselves, using the cart for shade and ease. My group found that the greens roll true. Even with late afternoon thunderstorms alternating with South Georgia summer sunshine, the course is in great shape. The Bermuda grass fairways are neatly trimmed. New to golf, but learning from others, I overheard that this is a narrow front nine and a more open back nine. This is what is considered a fair course without hidden water hazards or secret sand traps. I can even call this course friendly – because everyone, beginners included, can feel their way around each hole. We loved the ponds, stone masonry bridge and water features. I enjoyed seeing teens with dads, and women’s groups on the course. Anyone can play golf and South Georgia hospitality is underfoot everywhere. Wallace Adams also has a driving range, chipping area and practice green where you can warm up and keep the arms and back fluid. We returned a set of rented clubs and parted ways to clean up back at the lodge.

Photo: bridge and water feature

The lights were on at the 19th hole – Mulligan’s Grille! We were diverse in what we enjoyed: a Kentucky Mule with bourbon, ginger beer and lime juice, pinot grigio and a selection of cool, pale ales with pub-style foods. If you’re hungry, try the BB Smash Burger – complete with pimiento cheese and applewood smoked bacon. Cheers! I look forward to my next visit. See you on the fairway! Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping. The Lodge is adjacent to the golf course with views of the elegant fairways. Yes, there’s a guest-only swimming pool! You’ll need it and love it all. Place photo: food/drinks at Mulligan’s Grille By LYDIA SEA, Georgia wanderer finding off-the-beaten path places (and gems!)  
Plan a Reunion, and Weekend Getaway by White Sands and Water If you enjoy driving the scenic back roads to and from the coast as I do, perhaps you have seen the signs for Little Ocmulgee State Park? Not long ago, curiosity got the better of me and I pulled right in to check out this South Georgia gem. For a $5 car fee you enter the park and can let the kids play in the complimentary splash pad plus mini golf course or cool off in the lake. Little Ocmulgee State Park is a peaceful 1,360-acre Georgia State Park two miles north of McRae-Helena on the Little Ocmulgee River. Look down at the soil, which is more of a fine white sand. It makes for a soft lakeside beach perfect for relaxing. Image caption: The mini golf course is designed identically to scale as the Wallace Adams Golf Course. Taking in the beauty of the park, it made me think it would be the perfect destination wedding, family reunion, or weekend getaway destination. Imagine an e-vite or invitation with the words: Welcome to the white sand hills of South Georgia Above: People swim at Thaxton Beach on the sandy shore of Little Ocmulgee Lake There are seven picnic shelters and two group shelters available for reservation by the lake. When I visited, it was graduation weekend and families were honoring new grads with picnics. One of the group shelters hosted a family reunion, and they brought a smoker. Their laughter and playfulness together—every generation—was touching to me. They wore a family reunion tee-shirt. I was ready to be adopted! These shelters offered much more than shade and picnic tables; their proximity to the lake means there’s even more to do when visiting together. Some families were picnicking on Thaxton Beach by the lake. Kids and adults were splashing, laughing, drying off and sipping drinks while food was coming out of coolers and baskets.     I watched another family spend graduation weekend kayaking on the water. I know that next time I visit I will bring friends and kayaks because everything is so beautiful and peaceful here. I wanted to stretch my legs, so I highly recommend a stroll along the short loop or the longer 2.6-mile Oak Ridge Trail, where some of South Georgia’s rare plant and animal species are protected. Much of the sandy pathways are covered in shade by loblolly pines and even the rarer long leaf pines. Interior swamps are shaded by cypress and oaks. You’re not likely to see the harmless, non-venomous Eastern indigo snake, but if you do, it might be out in the sunshine warming its glossy body. Another protected animal you have an even better chance of seeing is the gopher tortoise. It’s faster than you think, so I stepped out of the way when I met one along the golf cart path. Image: Gopher Tortoise along the Wallace Adams Golf Course   Image: Lodging   Plan your stay: Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages, and 54 campsites for tent and R/V camping. The Lodge is adjacent to the golf course with views of the elegant fairways. Complementary bicycles are available at the Lodge entrance, “for a reasonable amount of time,” as they say at the front desk. It was a great way to check out different areas of the park without using my car. When you stay at the Lodge, you can also swim at the private pool! It’s the best way to relax in the early summer sun and to continue making memories with family and friends during your South Georgia destination getaway.    
Georgia is well known for its stunning and challenging golf courses. People the world over know about The Masters® tournament every April, but true masters of Georgia golf know that the pristine setting and classic design of Little Ocmulgee’s Wallace Adams Golf Course offers a similar experience for a fraction of the price. Ranked as one of the best courses in the Southeast, the Wallace Adams course is surrounded by loblolly pines, willows, and magnolias, creating the perfect natural setting for a round reminiscent of the legendary Masters® course. I’ve seen the Augusta icon, but like most Georgians, will never get a chance to play it. That’s why I frequent Wallace Adams at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. Wallace Adams is a course for everyone. I like to describe it as friendly because the course allows players to play distraction free, without worry of hidden water hazards and secret sand traps. Skilled players and beginners alike will love the challenge of the front nine, where the pines and vegetation hug each hole, creating beautifully crafted settings that require shot-making skills. I score better when I make well-thought shots off the tee instead of hitting purely for distance on every drive. The back nine, originally designed by O.C. Jones of the Robert Trent Jones family, is less restrictive and features smaller, sloping greens that follow doglegging fairways. Regardless of the style of play, golfers here must be thoughtful of each shot. Every playing style – long-ball hitters and short-game strikers – must use their skills wisely. I got in trouble trying to air it out in hopes of straightening the doglegs. If you make it, it can pay off, but be careful. If you don’t make it, you can easily find yourself in a difficult situation. I learned my lesson after having to punch out of deep rough when I didn’t clear a stand of pines. I suggest picking your spots carefully in the fairways to set up skillful second and third shots to lower your score. Along the way I enjoyed the lush Bermuda fairways and TifEagle Bermuda greens that are as pristine as the most renowned golf resorts in the world. Grabbing a cart is always an option, but I suggest taking the time to walk the course, which is allowed year-round. Walking let me see every bend, every hump, and every hazard from a new perspective, giving me the information I needed to lower my score in subsequent rounds. The full-service pro shop at Wallace Adams course had everything I needed to be ready to play. It had the full range of golf accessories, clubs, apparel, and more. I brought my own, but if packing your clubs is not an option for your stay at Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge, the pro shop also has clubs for rent. The practice area at Wallace Adams is well maintained and was the perfect place to get in the groove before my tee time. The chipping area features approaches like what I saw on the course and the practice green was the same speed as those on the course and gave me the chance to learn how to read the greens before teeing off. There is also a fully stocked snack and beverage bar so you can properly fuel your round. A Bloody Mary to start and a couple of beers after 18 holes was the perfect way to end a great round of golf. I also noticed during my stay at Little Ocmulgee that Wallace Adams Golf Course is a favorite among locals who are lucky enough to live nearby. But with the lodge at Little Ocmulgee State Park on site, it is also the perfect place for a full-fledged golf getaway. There is even an airstrip nearby so you can fly in to stay and play. It’s easy for me to see why Wallace Adams Golf Course is perennially ranked among the top courses in Georgia. Book your next golf retreat by visiting us online or calling 229-868-7474. Tee times can be made ahead of your arrival at or by calling the Golf Pro Shop at 229-868-6651.