updated 3/30/2005 1:40:40 PM ET 2005-03-30T18:40:40

Shake off the winter doldrums with a road trip through the southwestern corner of Georgia, an area the state promotes as Southern Rivers, where you can indulge in spring festivals and explore scenic Southern countryside.

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Head southwest out of Atlanta to Callaway Gardens - - where you can go to "Special Events" and click on "March-May" for their spring celebration and Easter observances. This 14,000-acre complex boasts gardens, golf courses, tennis courts, nature trails, resort facilities and more. And for this time of year, look under "Attractions" for the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl and the Cecil Day Butterfly Center, as well as links to other attractions in the area.

Just outside Callaway, the town of Pine Mountain - - can put you on the road to F.D. Roosevelt State Park, Georgia's largest, and also offers hotels, cabins and campgrounds. The first weekend in April, they celebrate Pine Mountain Days with downtown entertainment, arts and crafts.

At nearby Warm Springs, FDR's Little White House - -preserves the former president's vacation cottage in the town where he took healing soaks in local waters, seeking relief from polio.

Heading south will take you to the city of Columbus - - home of the Army's Fort Benning, local parks and plenty of places to spend the night and plan the next leg of your trip. If you can be there in late April, check in with Historic Columbus - - and click on "Riverfest" for a weekend of barbecue and partying.

Drive south of Columbus and turn east on U.S. 280 to Plains and the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site - - which preserves the former president's small-town heritage and part of the farm where he grew up.

If you're keeping up the springtime theme, keep going south almost to the Florida state line and the town of Thomasville - - where the annual Rose Show and Festival is set for late April. While you're there, you can admire the town's restored Victorian style homes, historic downtown and the Rose Garden on the shore of Cherokee Lake. Check out the "Attractions" section of the Web site for Melhana, the Grand Plantation, and other sights.

East of Thomasville, it's already Azalea Festival time in Valdosta - - but you can still explore the area and after the party is over. Funny thing; their photos don't seem to have a single shot of an azalea. Move on to the Valdosta Tourism Authority - - for local historic sites, history and maps.

This sample of communities and events only scratches the surface of Georgia's Southern Rivers tourism region -  - where "Hit the Road" outlines a scenic byway and a lengthy Covered Bridge Trail. And you definitely need to click on "See and Do" to learn about more sightseeing possibilities and events including the National Grits Festival - - coming up in April in Warwick.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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