If vacationing in a Biblical History Center sounds too churchy for you, follow Cultural Heritage TravelingMom’s footsteps to find why LaGrange, Georgia is an ancient world exploration with plenty of action and experiences. She has tips of other fun things to do in LaGrange too, including America’s newest Great Wolf Lodge.
Digging in the dirt reveals real-deal ancient treasures, when kids become junior archaeologists in a diverse and interesting town 66 miles southwest of Atlanta.
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That’s where the Biblical History Center replicates the feel of family life mentioned in Bible stories. Plenty of hands-on experiences crop up on self-guided visits or guided tours.
Connect Old and New Worlds At Biblical History Center
Touching a goat hair tent, and going inside, connects not only to Bible days but Bedouin families in the Kingdom of Jordan today, where these tents were made.
Tent-making was a career line for people named in the Bible, including the apostle Paul. That’s typical of the information in the Biblical History Center: connecting to worlds old and new, not proselytizing. Consistent signage throughout the recreated village and gardens asks and answers questions about what a thing looked like, what it did, and what was its significance.
Seeking cow knuckles used for dice, or olives pressed for oil, is just as likely as climbing a watchtower to survey the vineyard, so much a part of life in Biblical times and of the poetry and metaphors in the writing.
Biblical History Center founder James W. Flemming, Ed.D., expresses a life immersed in historical geography, cartography and archeology in the design and experiences presented here.
Kids Should Dig At Biblical History Center
That’s why when children slip into the “Kid’s Dig” experience they find treasures: replicated and real artifact shards. Flemming knows the terrain, beginning with his first of many digs in Israel in 1969.
Flemming’s years of engagement in Israel also led to a very long-term loan of ancient artifacts on display in the climate-controlled museum. There are 250 of them, and that’s significant.
Loans from the Israeli Antiquities Authority to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City number 35, fewer to the Louvre in Paris, and to the Jewish Museum of New York, 9.
Expect to find ancient items of everyday life in this collection at the Biblical History Center, the only place in the southeast to do so. That fits the theme of the whole experience: being among the people of the Bible.
A 4,700-year-old game board and 1,600-year-old oil lamp are among the artifacts.
Dine With Biblical Posture And Foods
Book a meal too; you’ll find yourself reclining to dine with 15 people, tasting 11 different foods. Both rooms for Biblical meals were patterned after excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneum. That makes the meal a first century experience, since the cities were destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.
Modern-day meals distinguish LaGrange too
Choose environments as well as menus in LaGrange. Cultural Heritage TravelingMom experienced these three:
Sleek, minimalist designs drew me in for dinner at Mare-Sol on Main Street. This downtown is anchored by a classical square complete with flowing fountain and statuary, but the restaurant is modern.
A tall polished table long enough to support 20 or more elbow-leaning, standing to chat, drinkers points the eye from the front door to the glass-backed full bar.
Dining tables give a cozy feel of privacy in a booth, simply because they’re raised a step off the floor. Mare-Sol stands the silverware and condiments in elegantly casual metal — straight lines and simple.
Geometry reigns with the dishes: square, oblong, round and more. I mused a bit about turning them in different directions as a table puzzle.
My food, however, was complex. Robust flavors seemed a nice counterpoint to the sleek design. My tomato basil bisque and Greek salad worked together to be my entree; lunch had been a large meal and this dinner needed space for flatbreads and dessert.
From multiple options I chose the flatbread with proscuitto, fungi and fresh arugula. The chef sauteed the mushrooms first.
Dessert? Fried bread pudding. Could have chosen a version of this southern staple with white chocolate and cranberries but that sounded too sweet for me.
The kid’s menu feature all the routine fussy-eater foods, but for encouraging adventure, it’s possible to order fettucini alfredo.
TravelingMom Tip: Pasta is homemade and the soups are hearty. Order a side of Kalamata olives to connect with your Biblical History Center experience where olive pressing was historic.
Taste of Lemon
Lunch in the choir stall pleased me mightily since I barely can carry a tune.
Taste of Lemon serves lunch Monday – Friday in a Methodist Episcopal church built in 1889 for cotton mill workers in LaGrange. Felt architecturally churchy even with a bustling lunch crowd. I didn’t mind waiting 15 minutes – perching on an old wooden pew, of course.
I grow backyard vegetables and often order veggie plates in restaurants but never have encountered a whopping 10-vegetable plate until Taste of Lemon. Delicious and sort of fun to taste so much; my server recommended using the creamed potatoes as a palate cleanser.
TravelingMom Tip: Parking is abundant on site or across the street in a multi-story garage but the restaurant is hard to spot. Don’t give up.
Pump some gas and then order lunch. Pleased me that 505 East separated the dining portion from the typical gas station convenience store with a wall and a door.
No doubt about eating in the midst of petrol, but this LaGrange restaurant dispels the notion that gas station food is processed, boring and bad for your health. Sandwiches with fresh veggies, soups with local ingredients, pastas and grains – that’s a start. Something special appears each day because that’s what the cook wants! Beef burgers or veggie burgers get a beefsteak tomato slice and avocado.
My recommendation to discover Eats at 505 Vernon Street came from a visitor in the LaGrange Art Museum.
Hills and Dales Estate Shares Synergy With Biblical History Center
Four generations of the Callaway family lived in Hills and Dales Estate in LaGrange. Today, the fifth generation encourages traveling families to select all sorts of ways to engage. Kids too.
For instance: wallpaper filled with familiar nursery rhyme art. Gardens with boxwoods to read; messages consistent with Biblical History Center experiences. These are trimmed to form letters and words.
Docent-told stories about the families who lived here.
Seek a synergy here with the energies of LaGrange and its early residents. Knowing what to notice enriches the visit. Here’s a heads-up:
- Calla lilies have always been cultivated here, and always will be.
- Boxwoods grew on these grounds before the Civil War, and still do
- Artificial flowers never entered this home, and all arrangements are fresh today. Paintings of flowers are intentional.
- The coffee table book about J. Neel Reid matters; he was the home’s architect.
Visiting children might just find a storyteller in the gardens, or flower potting event in the greenhouse.
Artist Lamar Dodd lived across the street, and recognizing his art and that of his students in the home and at the LaGrange Museum of Art builds neighborhood and generational connections.
Visits feel personal because family possessions with memories fill the rooms.
See why Sue Rodman considers LaGrange a very fun weekend place with teens.