Nestled in the heart of the Peach State, Ware County, Waycross offers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. From its picturesque landscapes to its rich history and warm-hearted residents, this small town is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
With a rich history and a vibrant community, Waycross offers a delightful blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. Known as the “Crossroads of the Suwannee River,” this city is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including the Okefenokee Swamp, a vast wilderness teeming with diverse wildlife. Waycross boasts a strong railroad heritage, serving as a major transportation hub for both passengers and goods.
The city is home to the Southern Forest World, a fascinating museum showcasing the region’s timber industry and forestry practices. Waycross also hosts the annual Okefenokee Festival, a lively event that celebrates local traditions and culture. Let’s explore the top 15 best activities you can do in the city and around the area if you happen to visit Waycross city.
1. Enjoy outdoor activities at Laura S. Walker State Park
Laura S. Walker State Park encompasses approximately 626 acres of land in Ware County, Georgia. The park features a diverse range of ecosystems, including forests, marshes, and lakes. Visitors can enjoy various recreational activities within the park, such as boating, fishing, hiking, camping, and picnicking. The centerpiece of Laura S. Walker State Park is the 120-acre Lake Laura, which offers opportunities for water-based activities like swimming, kayaking, and canoeing.
2. Explore the vast and mysterious Okefenokee Swamp
The Okefenokee Swamp is one of the largest intact freshwater wetland ecosystems in the United States. It covers an area of approximately 700 square miles, comprising cypress forests, marshes, prairies, and blackwater rivers. Its untouched and ancient landscape evokes a sense of primeval wilderness, where nature has been preserved in its raw form.
The rich history and folklore surrounding the Okefenokee Swamp also contribute to its mysterious reputation. Stories of ghostly apparitions, mythical creatures like the “Altamaha-ha” (a Loch Ness Monster-like creature), and legends of hidden treasures have been passed down through generations, further shrouding the swamp in mystery and intrigue.
3. Go on a ride at Waycross Motor Speedway
Waycross Motor Speedway is a dirt track racing facility located in Waycross, Georgia. The speedway hosts various racing events throughout the year, attracting both local and regional racers as well as racing enthusiasts. Dirt track racing is a popular motorsport that involves racing on oval-shaped tracks covered in dirt or clay. These types of races often feature high-speed action, close competition, and thrilling moments for both drivers and spectators.
Waycross Motor Speedway provides a venue for drivers to showcase their skills and compete in different classes, such as Late Models, Street Stocks, and Modifieds. The speedway offers an exciting atmosphere for fans to enjoy the sights, sounds, and adrenaline of grassroots racing.
4. Learn about the region’s forestry industry at Southern Forest World
Waycross and the surrounding area have long been associated with the forestry industry due to the abundance of timber resources in the region. The city’s location at the intersection of major railroad lines made it a vital hub for the transportation of timber and forest products.
The forestry industry in Waycross dates back to the late 19th century when logging operations began to flourish. The vast tracts of forests in the area provided an ample supply of timber, attracting companies and workers to the region. Logging camps and sawmills emerged, leading to the growth of the local economy and the establishment of Waycross as a timber-centric community.
The museum highlights the importance of timber as a natural resource and the process of logging. It explores the techniques used in the past and present for harvesting trees, including the use of tools and machinery.
5. Catch a high school football game at Memorial Stadium
Memorial Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium located in Waycross, Georgia. Stadiums named “Memorial Stadium” are often dedicated to honoring military personnel or individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities.
These stadiums generally host various sporting events, including football matches. They serve as gathering places for fans to cheer on their favorite teams and witness exciting athletic competitions.
6. Treat yourself to delectable pastries at Tebeau’s Bakery
Tebeau’s Bakery is a well-known and beloved bakery located in Waycross, Georgia. This family-owned establishment has been serving the community with delicious baked goods since its founding in 1906. With over a century of baking tradition, Tebeau’s Bakery has become an iconic institution in Waycross.
The bakery offers a wide variety of baked goods, including bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, and more. One of their specialties is their mouthwatering doughnuts, which are often praised for their freshness and irresistible flavors. Tebeau’s Bakery is also known for its delectable pies, made with flaky crusts and flavorful fillings.
Tebeau’s Bakery has become a cherished tradition in Waycross, serving as a gathering place for locals to enjoy freshly baked goods and catch up with friends and neighbors.
7. Attend live performances at Waycross City Auditorium
The Waycross City Auditorium was constructed in the early 1920s and completed in 1923. It was built as a civic center to serve the community of Waycross, Georgia, and provide a venue for various events and gatherings.
Over the years, the auditorium has undergone several renovations and upgrades to ensure its preservation and adaptability to changing needs. These efforts have aimed to maintain the historical integrity of the building while enhancing its functionality.
The auditorium occasionally hosts educational presentations, guest speakers, and workshops covering a range of topics such as history, science, literature, and more. These events provide opportunities for learning and intellectual enrichment.
8. Embark on a nature hike at Ware County Swamp
The Ware County Swamp is home to a remarkable array of plant and animal species. It serves as a vital habitat for various wildlife, including alligators, turtles, birds, and a rich diversity of fish and insects.
As you step onto the trailhead, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a lush, green landscape. Tall cypress trees with their fascinating “knees” rise from the water, creating a picturesque scene. Take a moment to soak in the peaceful ambiance and the symphony of chirping birds and croaking frogs.
While hiking, keep an eye out for the fascinating plant and animal life that call the swamp home. Marvel at the vibrant wildflowers, moss-draped trees, and delicate ferns that line the trail. If you’re lucky, you might spot some native wildlife like turtles sunbathing on logs, graceful herons wading through the water, or maybe even an elusive alligator resting on the banks.
9. Join in the annual SwampFest celebration
SwampFest is centered around the Okefenokee Swamp, a renowned natural wonder. The festival pays tribute to the swamp’s ecological importance, biodiversity, and the rich history and folklore associated with the area.
SwampFest is held each year in spring and it features live music performances from local and regional bands, showcasing various genres such as country, rock, blues, and bluegrass. Visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts, dance to the music, and immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere.
10. Delve into your family history at Huxford-Spear Genealogical Library
The Huxford-Spear Genealogical Library serves as a research facility for individuals interested in tracing their family histories and genealogical roots. It houses a wide range of records, including birth and death certificates, marriage records, census data, cemetery records, historical documents, family papers, and more.
The library’s collection primarily focuses on genealogical resources related to Waycross, Ware County, and the surrounding regions of South Georgia. It contains valuable information for individuals with ancestral connections to this area.
The library periodically organizes workshops, lectures, and events focused on genealogical research techniques, preservation of historical documents, and other related topics. These events provide opportunities for individuals to learn and enhance their genealogical skills.
11. Attend the annual fair at Exchange Club Fairgrounds
The fairgrounds come alive with a wide array of thrilling amusement rides and games suitable for all ages. From classic carousel rides to exhilarating roller coasters, there are attractions to suit various preferences and thrill levels. Visitors can also enjoy playing a variety of carnival games to test their skills and win prizes.
The fair typically takes place over several days, often spanning a week or more. The specific dates may vary from year to year, so it’s advisable to check local event listings or the official website for the most accurate information.
Waycross, Georgia, is a place where the charm of the South meets the quirkiness of small-town living. As I bid adieu to this delightful town, I can’t help but chuckle at the eccentricities I’ve encountered. From the mythical creatures that supposedly roam the Okefenokee Swamp to the local obsession with sweet tea, Waycross is a town that keeps you on your toes.
Waycross may not be the wildest or trendiest destination out there, but it’s got a unique charm that sneaks up on you. It’s a place where you can trade skyscrapers for sprawling meadows, traffic jams for peaceful drives down country roads, and stress for a laid-back attitude that says, “Why to rush when you can enjoy the journey?”
So, if you find yourself craving a dose of Southern hospitality, a quirky adventure, and a good ol’ belly laugh, make your way to Waycross, Georgia. Just be prepared to leave with a smile on your face and a hankering for some more of that sweet tea. Y’all come back now, ya hear?