Just minutes south of Atlanta, Clayton County, Georgia, combines the relaxed, neighborly feel of a small town with the desirable amenities of a large city. It is best known for its role in the classic American story “Gone with the Wind”. Portions of Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel and scenes from the movie were set in this Georgia county, where there are six free things to do to help make your visit there an affordable family vacation.

Though it is one of Georgia’s smallest counties, Clayton is one of the most densely populated areas in the state with more than a quarter million residents.  Clayton County offers the following free historic sites as well as a variety of free outdoor activities.

1. The Georgia State Archives – Serves as Georgia’s repository for official documents from 1732 to the present. It also serves as Georgia’s center for genealogy. Open Tuesday- Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

2. The National Archives SE Region – Home to the famous, infamous, and anonymous heroes of the shared past. Family history comes alive through the records of the Federal Government. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

3. Reynolds Nature Preserve – This nature preserve has 146 acres of land with four miles of hiking trails, ponds, birding and picnic areas. The Interpretive Center houses a collection of native amphibians, reptiles and education exhibits. The preserve’s gardens include a heritage vegetable and herb garden and a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Grounds are open daily 8:30 a.m.-dusk.

4. Newman Wetlands Center – 32 acres of birds, reptiles and amphibians.  Open daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Winter hours are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. The interpretive building is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday September-May.  Tuesday-Saturday June-August.

5. Balock / Shamrock the J.W. Smith Reservoir – Both open March-October only, with excellent fishing. The Blalock / Shamrock Reservoir is open Wednesday-Sunday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. The J.W. Smith Reservoir is open Saturday-Wednesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

6. Clayton County International Park – Includes a 17-court tennis center, outdoor playground, fishing lakes, walking and bike trails, and group picnic areas.  The park is open year-round 8 a.m.-8 p.m.