The smell of fresh air does something that erases all sibling bickers, squashes the whines and engages families together in the moment. From the early vestiges of fall through the warming rays of summer, Atlanta is full of outdoor fun that the entire family can enjoy. Here are a few ways to get you started and get you outdoors with the kids in Atlanta.
Swing through the trees at Treetop Quest at GEHC
Self-guided zip-lining and treetop obstacles await you, adjacent to Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, near the Mall of Georgia. With course difficulties ranging from ‘Chick’Pea’ to ‘Level 5’, family members as young as 4 years old can join in the adventure. Treetop Quest is perfect for a family outing, unique birthday party, or even a date-night option for Mom and Dad. Sign up for their mailing list for deals and coupons. Treetop Quest has now opened a second location in the Atlanta area in Dunwoody.
Walk the trail to the top of the 729-foot Amicalola Falls
Named by the Cherokee Indians, “tumbling waters” offers a myriad of ways to enjoy one of Georgia’s seven natural wonders. A steep ascent up the steps, an alternate windy path over natural terrain, or a car ride to the top provide options for families varying skill levels. If you are wanting to extend the fun, then stay the night Amicalola Lodge or try a more remote option at Len Foote Hike Inn. And if you are an overachiever, you can jump on the approach trail and take the Appalachian Trail up to Maine for a lobster dinner. You’ll be hungry after the 5-7 month hike! Don’t forget to take $5 CASH for parking, whichever route you choose to enjoy Amicalola Falls.
Bike the Silver Comet Trail
Fill up your water bottles and strap on your helmet. With over 61 miles of paved surface starting in Smyrna and ending near the Georgia/Alabama state line, you and your family can cruise until your heart’s content. However you roll- bike, rollerblades, scooter, wheelchair, chariot…as long as it doesn’t have a motor, then you are pretty much good to go. If you plan a lengthy ride, build in a meal stop in the city of Rockmart at Frankie’s Italian Restaurant. They welcome the hungry and weary from the Silver Comet Trail.
Go camping at a State Park
Getting back to nature and unplugging is a sure fire way to add more intentional time to your family time. With forty-one parks offering more than 2,700 campsites of varying types. If it is your first time, there is a First-Time Camper Program through the Georgia State Parks. For $50 at participating parks, you get two nights in a campground, help to get you started and setup, and equipment to borrow from REI. Yes, you read that correctly. A 6-person tent, 4 sleeping pads, 1 camp stove with fuel, 4 roasting forks, 1 lantern, and 2 camp chairs are all your to BORROW for your stay.
Catch a fish at Buford Trout Hatchery
It is easy to miss this one as it seems to be hidden in an upscale neighborhood, just across from Windermere subdivision in Cumming. Follow the signs off Hwy 20 and enter the Chattahoochee River Community. Yes, you are still going the correct way. A little ways in and a turn to the right (clearly marked) will lead you down to the hatchery, adjacent to the Chattahoochee River. Big ones, small ones, little ones, and GIGANTIC ones…trout that is…are in rows of ponds for your viewing pleasure. Hiking trails and a family fish pond round out the experience. If you want to deepen your knowledge of all that is fishy, try one of the weekly hatchery tours offered to the public on Saturdays at 1pm.
Treasure hunt with the whole family by geocaching
Ahoy matey!! There’s pirate treasure to be found. Ok..maybe that is just a wee bit overkill, but geocaching can quench your families desire for buried treasures without the fear of having to walk the plank. Grab your GPS and punch in your coordinates for a fun family way to explore the outdoors. Challenge your family to see how many passport stamps you can get on your Georgia State Park Geo-Challenge Passport. The over 43 participating parks with give you reason for a little extra adventuring.
Enjoy a shaded walk at Big Trees Forest
Over 30 acres of white oaks, rippling streams, and winding paths are hidden just 4 miles north of I-285. You may have driven right by this elusive treasure without even noticing it. Located in Sandy Springs, you will find the entrance at the back parking lot by the North Fulton County Government Annex Building. Put on your kiddos play clothes, pack a picnic and enjoy a shaded stroll. Hours of creek splashing and adventuring fun can be found within the Big Trees Forest Preserve borders.
Hike to the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain
Lookout perch or meditation point, you take your pick, Either way, the granite outcropping atop Sawnee Mountain will provide the perfect setting. This loop also includes the opportunity to see the entrance to old gold mine shafts. Don’t worry mom..they are properly gated shut. If you feel as though your entire family is not yet up for 3.5 mile jaunt around the loop, fun is still to be found at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve with a visitor/nature center, treehouse, and even a playground.
Picnic at Tallulah Gorge State Park
A 1000-ft deep gorge, hiking trails, suspension bridge, and lakes await your Tallulah Gorge options. If those are lofty goals, then head to Terrora Beach day use area, as well as the Georgia Power Picnic Area for more low key picnic options. Power up with some carbs and then grab the more advanced family members for a memorable expedition. If the almost 1100 steps down to the suspension bridge doesn’t get your attention, just remember that means there are almost 1100 steps back up.
Fly a kite at Piedmont Park
It may not be Central Park, but it is the beloved ‘common area’ for the city of Atlanta. Lush green landscaping, open fields fit for soccer or kite flying, and even art deco playgrounds adorn the approximately 185 acres. Every Saturday at 11am, from March to December, you can also take advantage of a FREE guided walking tour to learn more about the park’s depth of history. The summer also boasts the Green Market at Piedmont Park, every Saturday, 9am to 1pm, near the 12th Street entrance.