Family Reunion in South Georgia’s Favorite Park

We recently sat down with two cousins, Gwen and Mary Katherine, who planned a family reunion here that they recently celebrated.

Growing up in South Georgia, the cousins are familiar with the quiet retreat of Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge. But other family members and spouses who grew up away from the area were a bit more curious about what this park could offer.

This is their story, in their own words, about their recent weekend reunion.

Mary Katherine: Gwen is an event planner, so I naturally let her take the lead. Our weekend reunion totally rocked because she knew how to herd about 25 people of all ages into an amazing fun time. January is when our extended family meets – after all the holidays – but together to celebrate the New Year.

  • What was your most memorable moment?
    Playing golf on the Wallace Adams Golf Course with our grandparents and cousins. It’s a beautiful course lined with loblolly pines, magnolias, and willows. Even though it is winter, the warm sunshine and mild temperatures made it easy for us to get in a round. There a
  • re golf supplies, snacks, beer, clothing, and souvenirs at the Pro Shop where you also rent golf carts.

Gwen: Mary Katherine is the one who arranged the welcome gifts for family by visiting McRae-Helena just a couple miles away, and shopping at the local boutiques. That was a nice touch! And it felt good to support and shop local. (Horse Creek Winery makes a watermelon pink semi-sweet wine called Jubilee and it tastes incredible.)

There are 60 rooms at the Pete Philips Lodge where we stayed. It overlooks the golf course, which is central here. We booked a group rate, and each family member made their own reservation under the family name.

  • What was your most memorable moment?
    Telling funny family stories by the warm, glowing fire pit behind the lodge at sunset. We laughed so hard! Our family is crae crae – in a good way.

Mary Katherine: We planned different outings that families could sign up for. For example, we reserved a picnic shelter by Lake Thaxton where there is a miniature golf course designed like the real course. It may be mini golf, but even the adults were challenged to get the balls to the holes in par! It was good, outdoor fun for the kids close by our picnic gathering.

Another outing was reserving complimentary bicycles at the front desk for our teens who preferred to explore on their own. They got to explore the whole park on wheels.

  • What was your favorite outing?
    Fishing in the 256-acre lake. The lake was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s around the natural diversion of the Little Ocmulgee River. There is a lovely, white sandy beach, fishing docks, and a boat ramp.

Gwen: We haven’t even described the amazing food and drinks yet! The Fairway Restaurant is where we gathered for breakfast and lunch. It overlooks holes 6 and 7 on the golf course and has high, vaulted ceilings with wooden buttresses and beautiful stonework. The menu is Southern and casual. Think delicious and healthy meals the old-fashioned way.

If we weren’t out in the town, we would have dinner at Mulligan’s Grille which offers more of a pub-style menu with beers on tap or tasty cocktails made to order. What’s better than a hamburger grilled to that perfect temperature and decked out with crispy fried onion rings! Paired with a cool India pale ale, your day is going well.

  • What was your favorite outing?
    A long morning hike on our second day together. You have got to experience all or part of the looping 6-mile Oak Ridge Trail in the longleaf pine ecosystem. This is where South Georgia’s nature gets weird and wild! We passed stands of turkey oaks and swamps with cypress trees. Walking the white sand hills sometimes feels like walking on a beach. We kept our eyes open for two of Georgia’s rarest species, the harmless Indigo snake and the gopher tortoise – signs stated we might see them, but no luck this time.

Little Ocmulgee State Park is a tranquil 1,360-acre Georgia State Park on the Little Ocmulgee River. Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge offers 60 Lodge guest rooms, 10 cottages (currently under renovation), and a campground with 54 sites for tent and R/V camping.

Call 229-868-7474 or visit to arrange your family reunion, wedding, work retreat, honeymoon, guys and gals golf weekends – you imagine the party and we’ll make it happen for you.

When asked if they had any parting words for the readers about their reunion, both Gwen and Mary Katherine shared: May your first or next visit be fun, exciting, and memorable as ours!