Birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids makes for fun day trip
Cleveland, Georgia, is a little off the beaten path, but if you don’t mind the nearly two-hour-drive from the Upstate to get there, it can make for a fun and unique day trip with the kids. That’s because Cleveland is home to the Cabbage Patch Kids Babyland General Hospital, a museum and store all about Cabbage Patch Kids.
BabyLand General Hospital is the official birthplace of the Cabbage Patch Kids, where families can visit to meet Kids up for adoption, watch a Cabbage Patch Kid be born and take part in an official adoption process, all in one day. Best of all, admission is always free.
Cabbage Patch Kids were created by Xavier Roberts as pieces of art, but they grew so popular among toy enthusiasts in the 1980s that they became a popular culture phenomenon. Roberts based his business around the hand-stitched fabric sculptures in his hometown of Cleveland, Georgia, where Cabbage Patch Kids are still hand-stitched today.
Visitors to BabyLand General Hospital experience the environment of a real hospital as they walk through different parts of the building. There’s a nursery for preemies and newborns filled with cribs of available babies, a classroom for older children who haven’t been adopted yet as well as a changing area and private adoption room, where new parents can fill out paperwork and name their new Kids.
Every hour or so, visitors get to witness a Cabbage Patch Kid’s birth, and you can even help name the newborn. Simply listen for the announcement that Mother Cabbage is in labor and gather around the giant tree that is the centerpiece of Babyland General Hospital. There, a nurse will explain the birthing process, introduce the new baby to the audience, and take him or her for cleaning and dressing in the nearby nursery.
Babyland General Hospital also hosts regular events, such as the Cabbage Patch Kids Tea Party planned for June 17, and birthday parties. Visiting hours to Babyland General are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays – Saturdays and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays. It is located at 300 N.O.K. Drive in Cleveland, Georgia. For more information, visit www.babylandgeneral.com.
After spending an hour or two at Babyland General Hospital, Cleveland also offers a few more kid-friendly options if you’re inclined to stay an extra hour or two. We discovered Gold n Gem Grubbin’ not far from the hospital. As North Georgia’s only commercially operating historic gold mine, it offers a unique chance to mine for gold or gems. Families can purchase a bucket and then mine for treasures in one of the convenient sluices sitting comfortably under shade trees with a view of the property’s 7-acre lake. The more adventurous can venture down to the creek and pan for gold there instead. There is no admission fee, but you will have to purchase a bucket to start mining. Buckets start at $20. For more information, visit www.goldngemgrubbinstore.com.
Right down the street from Gold n Gem Grubbin’ is the North Georgia Zoo & Farm, a small zoo that features more than 80 species of animals, including kangaroos, alligators, deer, otters and peacocks. The zoo is only open weekends through much of the year, but it’s open Tuesdays – Sundays June 1 through Aug. 11. If you plan your trip ahead, you can pay extra for an animal encounter that allows you or your children ages 8 and older to hold, feed, and pet certain animals, such as baby wolves, monkeys, kangaroos and more. For a complete schedule and more details, visit www.myfavoritezoo.com or call 706-348-7279.
If you’re hungry, grab lunch or dinner atThe Soda Fountain Café, an old-fashioned diner located on the Square in Cleveland inside Cleveland Pharmacy and Gifts. On the way home, you can stop for dessert in nearby Helen, Georgia, where kids can explore Hansel & Gretel Gourmet Candy Kitchen — if they’re not too tired already!