As much as we love to explore what Atlanta metro has to offer for families, sometimes we just want to take it on the road and visit other cities nearby. Our weekend escape series provide you with the idea and fact on nearby location for you to plan your next family getaway. Family vacation doesn’t have to be fancy and extravagant. These family-friendly destinations near Atlanta offer both fun and budget-friendly experience for the whole family.
Today, we are excited to transport you to Athens, GA courtesy of Lesli Peterson, a travel editor of Homeschool.com.
Many families with kids overlook Athens as a weekend vacation destination because it’s a college town. Don’t fall into this trap! Provided you can avoid visiting during a home game (Go Dawgs!), this escape provides a number of memory-making options. The best part? Most activities are low cost or free!
City: Athens, GA
Distance: 70.5 miles
Est Driving Time: 1 hour, 17 min
Things to Do in Athens, GA
With the University of Georgia as the backdrop to this weekend escape, adventures can be fun and educational. Summer is a fun time to visit; there are outdoor opportunities for every age group, including some offerings mom and dad are sure to enjoy.
Walk in the shade of the trees, and see bears and other exotic animals at Bear Hollow Zoo. This secluded (and un-crowded) respite sits between a few stores and apartments, but you would never know it. It feels like you are deep in the forest. Walk the wildlife trails, visit the pond, or play at the playground and enjoy a picnic. This wooded location with its large canopy trees provides a break from the heat of summer. Come on a Saturday afternoon for animal encounters.
Sandy Creek Nature Center sprawls over 225-acres. Kids can walk over 4 miles of trails, see various wildlife, and even check out a 19th century log cabin. There are plenty of summer programs to join in like Family Fishing or meeting Sandy the Frog.
Kids 12 and older will enjoy the Friday Night Paddles around Lake Chapman. Bring your own canoe or kayak, or pay a small amount to borrow one. Registration required.
Active Climbing is Athens’ indoor climbing spot. It is the perfect place to get some exercise during the hot summer months. You will find that it is not as crowded as most indoor climbing locations closer to Atlanta, and the price is very reasonable. They also offer climbing opportunities for young children.
Grab your skateboard, BMX bike or inline skates and head to The Skate Park of Athens. This 14,000 square foot park was designed by the legendary Tony Hawk and is another free option for your sports-minded kids.
Next to the Skate Park is the World of Wonder playground. This gigantic playground suits children from infant through 12 years old. It is the largest volunteer-built playground in the state with swings, towers, a dragon, and more.
The Sunflower Music Series is an opportunity for mom and dad to sample various live bands in an environment that is suitable for the whole family. Bring a picnic and enjoy the lawn or terrace at the State Botanical Gardens.
Place to Stay in Athens, GA
Families looking to experience the old-world south will enjoy a stay at Foundry Park Inn & Spa. This southern charmer offers guests a wide array of choices including family suites, an outdoor pool, and breakfast and lunch options at the historic Hoyt House. It is also home to Melting Point, a live music venue that welcomes kids during the week.
If you are looking for a more local indie scene then check-in at Hotel Indigo – Athens. This contemporary hotel showcases local artwork and the local brew – Jittery Joe’s. It is the first LEED Gold Certified Hotel among it’s contemporaries with ‘chic eco-boutique’ features like low VOC paints and furniture manufactured locally. Patio seating at the Madison Bar & Bistro is inviting for kids during breakfast or dinner.
Where to Eat in Athens, GA
You’ll find elegant dining at 5&10 whose chef and owner, Hugh Acheson was named one of Food and Wine’s 10 best new chefs. Don’t let the white tablecloths stop you from bringing the kids; Hugh is quick to say that he thinks children should learn about good food as early as possible.
Clocked is a more low-key restaurant where kids can order hamburgers with loads of different toppings, fries and milkshakes. You can feel good about the meal knowing it is made with organic, all natural ingredients, free of pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals.
If your family is more about pizza than burgers, stop by Ted’s Most Best. They serve wood fire pizzas in this converted tire storage garage. Kids will enjoy the patio area with umbrellas for shade. Late in the evening you will find the college crowd playing Bocce ball outside, but families who come early will be pleased to see sand toys instead of Bocce balls, allowing mom and dad to enjoy a Happy Hour brew.
Check out other ‘Weekend Escape’ from Atlanta for:
- Asheville, NC
- Beech Mountain, NC
- Chattanooga, TN
- Columbia, GA
- Destin, FL
- Helen, GA
- St. Simons Island & the Golden Isles
Photo Credits: Georgia Department of Economic Development, ACC Leisure Services, Hotel Indigo Athens, Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten