Looking to keep boredom at bay, inject some spontaneous fun or find easygoing activities to enjoy summer after camp and vacations are over?
Here’s a cool 20 ways to enjoy late summer days.
COMPILED BY THERRA C. GWYN
1. BE AN AIRHEAD>>Highly rated by parents on YELP, Catch Air Marietta is a well-stocked wonderland of play space for children 10 and younger with ball pits, a dance floor, slides, inflatables and games. No shoes? No problem. Shoes are not allowed in the fun zones but everyone, including adults, must wear socks. (They won’t send you home if you forget and arrive in flip-flops, they’ll just sell you some socks at the front counter.) Walk-ins are welcome and parents can kick back and enjoy the free Wi-Fi while watching the young un’s wear themselves out. Located at Town Center Market, 2505 Chastain Meadows Parkway, Suite 103, Marietta. Admission: $6 for children two and younger ($7 on weekends), $9 for ages three to ten years ($10 weekends). Open seven days. Website is catchairparty.com. Call them at 678.809.3911.
2. GET THE SCOOP>>Summer wouldn’t be summer and childhood wouldn’t be childhood without ice cream. The 6th annual Atlanta Ice Cream Festival happens July 23 in Piedmont Park from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and in addition to sweet mounds of the cool stuff, there’s kid-friendly entertainment, face painting, arts, crafts and the beauty of Atlanta’s in town park for all ages to enjoy. Admission is free. Details at atlantaicecreamfestival.com
3. GO JUMP IN A LAKE>>Get out of town! Lake Blue Ridge, located in North Georgia’s rolling hills puts the emphasis on blue with some of the prettiest water in one of the most scenic lakes in the whole state. Launch your own boat at Lake Blue Ridge Marina or rent a pontoon. Kids will love the paddleboats, canoes or SUP (stand – up paddleboards.) Morganton Point Recreation area (475 Lake Dr., Morganton Point) is on the lake, supplying a mountain beach, showers, concessions, places to picnic and trails into the Chattahoochee National Forest.
4. FARMVILLE>>Cagle’s Family Farm at 362 Stringer Road in Canton offers an agriculturally based good time year ‘round but in the summer there’s a unique opportunity to pick your groceries out of the ground. The Cagle family announces on Facebook weekly the day they open for picking. Make an appointment by calling 770.345.5591 to harvest everything from fresh kale to cucumbers. Ag-adventure farm tours happen on Saturdays in June and July at 10 a.m. Tour tickets are $7 per person. Fresh information daily at facebook.com/CaglesFamilyFarmGA and caglesfamilyfarm.com.
5. HOLLYWOOD OF THE SOUTH>>So much entertainment on the big and little screen is or was filmed right here in Georgia (700 movies and 20 TV shows in the last 40 years.) Here’s a chance to tour the “Hollywood of the South” up close and personal. Atlanta Film Tours will take your family to sites featured in films including “The Hunger Games” and “Driving Miss Daisy” or you can go full-on zombie by touring “The Walking Dead” locations. There’s even a “Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind” tour and a chance to explore locations focusing on productions by local phenom Tyler Perry. Guided tours run around 3 hours and include riding in luxury coaches and walking on active and previously used film sets. All children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are $65 and reservations are recommended as many tours sell out in advance. Will you see any stars? It’s possible. Bring a camera and your manners – remember as you visit film sets that folks are working. Book your seats at atlantamovietours.com.
6. FINDING BIGFOOT>>You don’t have to believe in the legend to have an oversized good time at North Georgia’s new education-meets-entertainment attraction and museum. There’s a large exhibit of Bigfoot artifacts, photos and a huge up-to-date “sighting map” plus a Sasquatch Theater and the world’s only Bigfoot Research Tech vehicle. You may believe by the time you leave. Cost for adults is $8 and $6 for kids three to 12-years old. Military members with ID admitted free. Open Monday through Saturday in Cherry Log, Georgia, at 19473 Highway 515. Call 706.946.2601 or Google “Expedition Bigfoot” to read online reviews and see photos.
7. COOL DADS ROCK…AND ROLL>>Soapbox Derby alert! Be part of the audience or build a “green” car (human-powered, no engines allowed) and participate in the fast lane fun at the Cool Dad’s Soapbox Derby Festival in August at Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward Park. Cool Dads Rock is a non-profit organization promoting activities centered on building memorable relationships between fathers and their children. Anyone can compete and boys and girls four years and older can race with an adult. Bring the kids and your inner child. August 13th, 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 680 Dallas St. SE, Atlanta.
Info and race registration at cooldadsrock.com.
8. WHEN NATURE CALLS>>The Chattahoochee Nature Center is 127 acres of gardens, wetlands and woodland trails located on “The ‘Hooch”, the Chattahoochee River. With a myriad of activities ranging from concerts, Family Canoe Days, “Breakfast With Butterflies,” and moonlight paddling excursions there’s plenty of reasons to grab the kids and go outside for a last-blast summer outing. Bring a picnic and grab a spot to enjoy it. “Water Day” on August 7 is a noon until four celebration of H2O while the weather’s still hot. Encourage the kids to run through the center’s sprinklers, play games and make crafts. Come dressed to get damp (that means swimsuits and flip flops) and settle down afterwards for Story Time. Parking is free. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children from three to 12 years, $7 for seniors and students. 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell. Open seven days. Find all the ways to get wild at chattnaturecenter.org or call 770.992.2055 x238.
9. TUNE IN TO MATILDAS>>Matilda’s in Alpharetta offers music under the pine trees (and often on the front porch) and is family-friendly, right down to welcoming your dog to the show (on a leash of course!) Bands play at 8:30 p.m. every Saturday night in June, July and August. Bring a chair and a picnic and settle in under the stars at 377 S. Main St., Alpharetta. Adult tickets are $15 and admission is free for those under 16 years. Call 770.754.7831 to get the schedule or look online at matildasmusicvenue.com
10. GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES>>There’s a reason children and animals rule the cute photo and video universe of the Internet and here’s a chance to enjoy both in real life. Not your average petting zoo, Tanglewood Farm is also a registered rare breed farm preserve caring for over 150 animals. The “awwww” factor here is large even if the animals are not. Mingle with Baby Doll Southdown Sheep, tiny horses, pigs, donkeys and even miniature cows. The only oversized livestock onsite are the Giant Flemish Rabbits, a European bunny breed that can weigh up to 20 pounds. Tickets are $15 per person with children under one year admitted free. Open weekends. The farm closed temporarily due to weather-related damage in the spring but will re-open for summer. 171 Tanglewood Dr., Canton. Call 770.667.MINI for updates, details, or check tanglewoodfarmminiatures.com
11. LAUGH ‘TIL IT HURTS>>Sometimes having to venture downtown feels like no laughing matter, but that’s not the case on the first Wednesday of every month through September. Whole World Improv Theatre entertains in Atlantic Station’s Central Park creating chuckles the whole family can enjoy. Bring a blanket and laugh out loud. The hour-long show begins at 8:00 p.m. Self-parking in covered deck is free up to two hours, $4 for three to four hours. Atlantic Station;1380 Atlantic Dr.
12. GATHER THE GENERATIONS>>Netflix is fun but it will always be around.
Drive-in movies may not. Pack the family in the car for the time-honored tradition of going to a drive-in. More a novelty now than the entertainment staple it was in decades past, there are only about 300 drive-in theaters left in the United States. Atlanta’s Starlight Drive-In features three screens and first-run double features nightly. Ticket cost to see two movies is $9 for adults and $1 per child for five through nine-year olds, giving the outing a touch of yesteryear pricing too. One more retro detail: the film’s sound comes through your car’s FM radio so make sure your car has a working one. See the films at 2000 Moreland Ave. SE and the schedule at starlightdrivein.com
13. BUST A MOVE>>Put on your dancing shoes. On August 28 the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education will host its Healthy Living Day at the Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre in West Midtown Atlanta. Starting at noon kids and adults can participate in a variety of free activities including dance classes, food demonstrations and nutrition seminars. The festivities conclude with performances by local dance and arts organizations. 1695 Marietta Boulevard. centre.atlantaballet.com
14. MONSTERS, INC.>>Don’t want to brave hot, humid weather to play mini-golf outside with the kids? Sweat and squint no more because Monster Mini-Golf offers an indoor, glow-in-the-dark game with a scary-fun theme complete with animated props. The 18-hole course provides lighthearted fun for all ages. There’s also an arcade. Open every day at noon. Little monsters can play for $7.50, big monsters pay $8.50. Located at 2505 Chastain Meadows Parkway in Marietta, next to the Wal-Mart. More info at monsterminigolf.com.
15. ROCK THE RANCH>>The Rock Ranch is a 1,500-acre working cattle ranch founded by the late S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. Not just for cows, this ranch has more than 35 fun rides and attractions, a concessions area, cane pole fishing, locomotive rides, a zip line and a farmer’s market. The Rock is not always open to the public, so jump on the opportunity Thursdays and Fridays in July when they welcome guests. Tickets are $12 per person with discounts given to seniors and military. Some rides cost extra. Online coupons for further savings, driving directions to the entrance at 5020 Hwy. 36 in Barnesville and event dates are at therockranch.com.
16. GARDEN STORIES>>For young ones and parents searching for a gentle good time Smith-Gilbert Gardens hosts “Garden Stories” in July and August for young visitors aged three to six. Stories start at 10:30 a.m. and activities follow for the kids that include arts and crafts, organized play or dance. Pre-registration encouraged, $5 for members, $7 non-members. 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw. 770.919.0248. smithgilbertgardens.com.
17. BE A HOBBY-HEAD>>Whatever your kid’s hobbies are, it’s here. Hobbytown USA sells everything from rocket kits to pint-sized passenger vehicles. Also: remote control planes, role playing games, train kits, science kits and even power tools. Bonus: there’s plenty of “test areas” in the store for you and the kids to geek out together. Open seven days. 840 Barrett Parkway NW, Kennesaw. 770.426.8800
18. GO FETCH>>Socialization is good for people and pets and dog parks are good for both. Bring a book and let the kids throw a ball for Fido or play with someone else’s friendly pooch. Sit in the shade at 7-acre Lewis Park, (475 Campbell Hill St., Marietta) where there’s an off-leash area for dogs. Frank Boone Dog Park at Swift Cantrell (3140 Old U.S. Highway 41, Kennesaw) has a fenced, off-leash park with a dog wash station and separate area set aside for smaller pups. Pitner Road Dog Park (2450 Pitner Road, Acworth) offers several acres for both big and small fur family, benches for owners and dog water fountains.
19. TRAIN-ING DAY>>Kids love trains and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive history is chockfull of all things train. Adults will soak up the history in this Smithsonian-affiliated museum while younger family members enjoy the 8000 sq. ft. Jolley Education Center, home to interactive activities for children including telegraph stations where they can tap out messages in Morse code and a diesel train simulator allowing them to be train engineers. Open daily at 2829 Cherokee St., Kennesaw. There’s a lot to “choo” on here. See it online at southernmuseum.org.
20. SPLASH PAD>>Cool your heels downtown. Literally. Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park is the largest downtown park in the county that has been developed in the last quarter century. The Fountain of Rings, an inviting water feature that beckons the young and young at heart to play a city-sponsored game of “run through the sprinkler” recycles about 5,000 gallons of water per minute, enough to fill an average size swimming pool in five minutes. The Fountain of Rings show plays four times daily, every day, at 12:30, 3:30, 6:30 and 9 p.m. There’s more than 16,500 parking spaces in lots within walking distance of the park. Make plans to visit nearby attractions.