If you're planning to attend Falcons training camp, which begins on July 31, 2015,
What to expect:
Dave recently had a very informative post breaking down what training camp is exactly, and that's a great resource.
Expect it to be hot. The practices are scheduled in the mornings, which will mitigate the heat somewhat, but this is Georgia in late July and August. It's going to be very hot and very humid. Hydrate appropriately.
Expect it to be entertaining. From Dan Quinn's legendary practice playlists to the heated competition between players to the intense pace of practice, it should be a lot of fun to watch.
Expect it to be crowded. The turnout for open practices during minicamp was remarkable.
You'll want to bring lawn chairs or towels and blankets to sit on for your comfort. You cannot bring in coolers, food and drinks, professional cameras, video cameras, tripods, large bags and backpacks or alcohol, so leave those things at home. The team does have a wide variety of concessions available for just $1 per item, so they've got you covered.
If you're interested in taking advantage of all the greater Flowery Branch metro area has to offer, here are some suggestions.
La Parrilla is my favorite Mexican restaurant in this area, and it's just north of the Falcons' training facility at the corner of State Route 53 and Atlanta Highway in the Publix complex. They have a large menu with a lot of excellent options. I highly recommend the carne asada and the margaritas, and I eat there pretty much weekly, so I would know.
Buffalo's Southwest Cafe is in the same shopping center complex as La Parrilla, and they serve Southwestern-inspired dishes as well as excellent wings. They've got a nice bar, also.
If you turn right onto State Route 53 from Atlanta Highway, about a mile up the road on the left is a Kroger complex with a few dining options. If you want decent barbecue (albeit Texas style, not technically true Georgia barbecue) check out Dickey's. Marco's Pizza, also in this complex, is fantastic.
If you head south on Atlanta Highway from the Falcons' facility, there are two quality dining options within a reasonable distance. First is Waterloo Burgers, a local burger place I really like, and their sister restaurant, Moonie's Barbecue, another Texas-style barbecue place.
If you find yourself in need of anything when you're headed to or from training camp, the nearby Stonebridge Villagecomplex hosts a nice Target and many other retail options, as well as another burger place, Cheeseburger Bobby's, and a Shane's Rib Shack and a Chili's.
The Mall of Georgia is about 20 minutes south of the Falcons' training facility, and that area has everything you could possibly want in terms of shopping and chain restaurants. Just head south on 985 and take the exist for State Route 20, then turn left.
If you want to stay in Flowery Branch, the Hampton Inn across from the aforementioned Stonebridge Village is nice. There's also pretty much every chain hotel in the Mall of Georgia area if that's your preference.
If you really want to treat yourself, check out Chateau Élan, which is a winery, spa and resort located about 15 minutes from the team's facility.
Things to do:
There's a really fun water park and resort near the Falcons' training facility called Lake Lanier Islands, and that's worth checking out if you have time.
The mountains are just about an hour north of the team's facility, and there's a little town called Helen with all kinds of fun family activities available, from miniature golf to tubing on the Chattahoochee River.
Also north of the facility in the mountains is Dahlonega, the site of the first gold rush. There are some nice vineyards and a lot of gold rush history-related activities available.
The Gwinnett Braves, the triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, play their home games about 25 minutes from the Falcons' facility. It's a very nice park and a really fun experience for the whole family.
And, of course, Atlanta is just about 40 minutes south of the Falcons' facility. Check out the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, the High Museum and all that Atlanta has to offer if you haven't already.
If you have any questions about training camp or the Flowery Branch area, ask in the comments.