I am not certain that virtual conventions are really worthwhile. That may be a controversial statement, but I think I can stand by it even in a post-pandemic world. Today marks the start of the AIA 2021 Virtual Convention series. While I am all signed up to attend all 4 days spread out over the summer I will not truly count it as a convention. I mean how can you really?
Traveling down the Chattahoochee by inner tube or raft is a great way to cool off. Do it yourself, or visit one of these companies for a relaxing day on the river.
Please note that because companies are taking safety precautions during COVID-19, you may experience longer wait times or reduced capacity for rentals. Be sure to check the website or call for special instructions.
This tubing company sits right in the German-inspired town of Helen, and also has a zip line, water slide and climbing areas. After snaking down the Chattahoochee River, explore the town and have a taste of German food.
Cost: Purchase tickets at the Headwaters or Chattahoochee Outposts, and the Main Street Booth. $10-$16 per person; prices vary for other activities.
The Details: Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The minimum age for tubing is 3.
Float down the Chattahoochee River at one of NOC’s three outposts: Roswell at Azaelea Park, Powers Island or Johnson Ferry. Kayak, canoe, paddleboard and raft rentals and guided trips are also available; book tickets online.
Cost: From $25 per person.
The Details: Open daily at 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Minimum tubing age is 8.
Purchase tickets at the Abbots Bridge Road check-in area; a shuttle will take you to the put-in location for a four-hour ride down the Chattahoochee. Straps are available to tether your tubes together, or rent a 4-person raft.
Cost: $23 (4 hour trip)
The Details: Open daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (last trip leaves at 4:30 p.m.). Minimum tubing age is 5.
This family attraction in Helen offers a 2.5-hour tube ride from 2 launch locations – Highway 75 N. or Brucken Street. While you’re there, enjoy the waterpark’s slides and activities.
Cost: $12-$16 per person for a single-tube trip (prices vary on weekends and holidays).
The Details: Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tube the Chattahoochee on a 2-3 hour trip, from Power Island Park NPS to Paces Mill NPS.
Cost: Starting at $25 per person.
The Details: Open daily 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Minimum tubing age is 5.
DIY Shoot the Hooch
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is open for rafting and tubing from dawn to dusk during the summer; all you need is a life vest and raft or tube. Parking is $5 at any of the parking lot access points. Make sure to leave a second car where you decide to end on the river.
Check weather reports and call for dam water release information: This provides recommended calm water times for floating. Buford Dam: 1-855- 326-3569. Make sure you are in a safe location when the river begins to rise.
Minimum age to float down the river varies if renting supplies from a company; if not, it is up to parental discretion.
Ages 12 and younger must wear a life vest at all times. Ages 13 and older must have one in the raft or tube.
Rubber-soled shoes are a must for tackling slippery rocks.
Where to Go:
Abbotts Bridge to Medlock Bridge, 4 miles; 3-4 hours.
Medlock Bridge to Jones Bridge, 3 miles; 1.5-2 hours.
Morgan Falls Dam to Johnson Ferry, 2 miles; 1-2 hours.
Johnson Ferry to Powers Island, 3.5 miles; 2-4 hours.
Powers Island to Paces Mill, 3 miles; 1-3 hours.
Visit nps.gov or call 678-538-1200 for more information.
Meet at Appalachian Outfitters’ Dahlonega outpost for a tube ride on the Chestatee River. A shuttle will take you to the put-in site for the 30-45 minute ride. If you want to do the trip again, take a 10-minute walk back to the beginning (or pay a $2 shuttle fee for each additional ride). You can also rent canoe and kayaks for trips on the Chestatee and Etowah Rivers.
Cost: $6 per person; $2 for additional shuttle rides.
The Details: Open Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The minimum age for tubing is 4.
This tubing adventure is worth the trip to the scenic Blue Ridge area – take a 1.5 mile trip down the calm waters of the Toccoa river. Single and two-person funyaks and kayaks are also available for rental.
Cost: $15 per person.
The Details: Open daily 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.; reservations are not required. The minimum age for tubing is 5.
Our state is home to more than 30 beautiful lakes; some were formed by nature and others began as reservoirs created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Read about our favorite Georgia lakes and their attractions; all are great destinations for a day trip, weekend adventure or family vacation.
Located just northwest of Atlanta, Lake Allatoona makes an ideal day trip. Visit one of its many parks, with beaches, picnic spots, playgrounds and other facilities. Cauble Park on Lake Acworth (which flows into Lake Allatoona) is popular for its beach and amenities. Red Top Mountain State Park also has biking and hiking trails, beaches and a historic Civil War site.
- Distance from Atlanta: about 30 minutes
- Miles of shoreline: 270
It’s one of the state’s most visited lakes, and one trip will tell you why. Lanier Islands Resort and its waterpark are popular destinations; in addition, the lake also has plenty of day parks with beaches, boat access, picnic areas and fishing. Visit Don Carter State Park for activities like paddling, horseback riding and 15 miles of hiking trails.
- Distance from Atlanta: about 45 minutes
- Miles of shoreline: 692
Much of this lake’s shoreline is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, and there’s plenty to do! Morganton Point Recreational Area has a great family beach, as well as kayak and paddle board rentals. The Day Use Area offers hiking, a paved walking loop and scenic lake views. Lake Blue Ridge Recreation Area has great views of the dam, with an accessible park, swimming and other amenities.
- Distance from Atlanta: about 1½ hours
- Miles of shoreline: 65
Located on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, Lake Hartwell is known for its great fishing. Not an angler? The lake has nine campgrounds and a wide variety of family-friendly things to do, including beaches, biking, canoeing and waterskiing. Opportunities for walking and hiking abound, including a paved and accessible trail leading to the Hartwell Dam.
- Distance from Atlanta: 2 hours
- Miles of shoreline: 962
Spend a weekend – or a week – on Lake Sinclair, located near I-20 in Milledgeville. Little River Park and Scenic Mountain campgrounds have RV and pop-up camper sites, tent camping and cabin rentals. Explore the lake’s quiet coves in a canoe or kayak, float in a tube, rent a boat or go jet skiing. Hike or walk the nearby trails and enjoy the public fishing area and sandy beaches.
- Distance from Atlanta: About 1½ hours
- Miles of shoreline: 500
Enjoy an upscale vacation at Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club, where you can rent a villa or cabin and enjoy golfing, restaurants and other amenities, or camp lakeside at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park, with fishing, biking and hiking trails, water sports, sandy beaches and more. Visit the park’s Military Museum, which pays tribute to veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present day, or test your aim at the park’s archery and air gun range.
- Distance from Atlanta: about 2½ hours
- Miles of shoreline: 97
There is so much to see and do beyond Atlanta! Check out these out-of-the-box attractions and destinations.
Charlemagne’s Kingdom. Helen. This model railroad is a detailed replica of Germany, with hundreds of feet of track, an Alpine village with cable cars, a 22-foot Matterhorn, a working Autobahn and more.
BabyLand General Hospital. Cleveland. Tour the birthplace of the Cabbage Patch Kids, witness a “birth,” and find the perfect Original Kid or Cabbage Patch Kid to adopt.
Expedition Bigfoot. Blue Ridge. Reality or myth? See the evidence at this display of bigfoot artifacts, exhibits, photos, sighting maps and “Sasquatch Theater.”
Pasaquan. Buena Vista. This fascinating 7-acre complex, created by artist Eddie Owens Martin, features structures, sculptures and walls elaborately painted in African, Mexican and Native American symbols.
Old Car City USA. White. Stroll through the 34-acre junkyard and see thousands of classic cars, folk art and memorabilia. It’s a popular destination for amateur and professional photographers alike.
Tunnel Hill Heritage Center and Museum. Dalton. Explore Civil War history at the site of the Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel and see where the Civil War’s “Great Locomotive Chase” came through in 1862.
The Rock Garden. Calhoun. Children love exploring this beautiful garden, home to 50 miniature stone castles, buildings and bridges crafted from tiny stones, pebbles and shells.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Lilburn. This beautifully ornate Hindu temple was constructed with more than 34,000 hand-carved pieces. Visitors can take an audio tour or participate in the Abhishek prayer ritual.
Tree Spirits. St. Simons Island. Go on a one-of-a-kind treasure hunt to find the weathered faces carved into the island’s oak trees, or download a map that shows the location of each face.
Catch a Baseball Game: Georgia’s Minor Leagues
Savannah Bananas. When the Bananas play at Historic Grayson Stadium, it’s part circus, part sporting event, with dancing players, a dad cheering squad and plenty of craziness.
Gwinnett Stripers. Special nights at Coolray Field include fireworks, giveaways, Family Value Tuesdays and Funday Sundays. Recent upgrades to the field include new high-definition video screens.
Rome Braves. Catch a game at State Mutual Stadium; check the website for ticket promotions and giveaways, including all-you-can-eat Wednesdays and family fun days.
Macon Bacon. Historic Luther Willams Field is home to this summer collegiate league. Themed games include Southern Rock Night and Star Wars Night. Stop in the Pork Shop for souvenirs.
Go Fish Education Center. Perry. Learn about Georgia’s watersheds and aquatic wildlife, catch and release fish, try the interactive fishing and boating simulators and more.
Flint RiverQuarium Environmental Education Center. Albany. View fish, turtles, alligators and other creatures at the 22-foot Blue Hole Spring; explore hands-on exhibits, a hatchery, aviary and more.
Little Grand Canyon, Providence Canyon State Park. Lumpkin. Walk or hike the rim trail and explore the scenic canyons, formed by erosion in the 1800s, with their distinctive pink, orange, red and purple hues.
Rock City. Lookout Mountain. Amazing “7 States” views, natural rock formations, lush gardens and art installations have made Rock City a favorite destination since the early 1900s.
Toccoa River Swinging Bridge. Blue Ridge. At 270 feet long, it’s the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. View the beautiful Toccoa River as you hike the easy one-mile Benton McKaye Trail.
Laurel & Hardy Museum. Harlem. Learn about the life of Harlem-born Oliver Hardy and how he and Stan Laurel became one of the most successful comedy teams of the 20th century.
Georgia Rural Telephone Museum. Leslie. Explore the museum’s collection of rare antique telephones and memorabilia – housed in a restored 1920 cotton warehouse – along with antique clocks and cars.
Savoy Car Museum. Cartersville. Scheduled to open this fall, the Savoy will explore the history and diversity of the automobile. More than 35 acres of space will include exhibitions, theater and an outdoor pavilion.
Lunchbox Museum. Columbus. Take a trip back in time and see more than 1,000 metal lunch boxes, including pop culture favorites, rare original Western motifs and related items.
U.S. National Tick Collection. Statesboro. Where else can you see more than 1 million tick specimens? Visit the exhibit area during Georgia Southern University hours; view the collection by appointment only.
Dahlonega Gold Museum. Dahlonega. Visit the site of America’s first major gold rush, where more than $6 million in gold was coined, and see rare coins and artifacts. Try panning for gold at one of the nearby gold mines.
Elvis Museum. Cornelia. Fans of “The King” will love this museum tucked inside the historic Loudermilk Boarding House. With more than 30,000 pieces of memorabilia, it claims to be the world’s largest collection.
St. Marys Submarine Museum. St. Marys. Explore a fascinating collection of pictures, war patrol reports, artifacts, uniforms and exhibits, all dedicated to preserving the history of the “silent service.”
William P. Wall Museum of Natural History at Georgia College. Milledgeville. This earth sciences museum contains a trove of fossils up to 500 million years old, as well as a planetarium and science education center.
Go Back in Time
Historic Westville. Columbus. This living history museum explores 19th century life in the South. Visit historic buildings, hear from costumed interpreters and see demonstrations in traditional crafts.
Jarrell Plantation. Juliette. Tour the buildings, furnishings and equipment of this 1847 farm, including a cotton gin, grist mill and barn. Programs throughout the year demonstrate mid-1800s life in the South.
Georgia Museum of Agriculture. Tifton. Live interpreters and interactive exhibits explore agricultural innovations of the 19th century. Visit the historic village, nature center, steam train, art gallery and more.
Feeling a little cooped up at home? A nature walk or hike can be a great way to get outdoors while still avoiding large crowds of people. Pack your water bottles and your hand sanitizer and enjoy one of Atlanta’s many beautiful trails. Be sure to check ahead to make sure the park is still open to the public; also keep in mind that some areas may be busier at certain times of the day, so plan your outing accordingly.
Maintain social distancing and safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Check websites for their precautions.
For additional ideas for family fun, check out 250 Fun Things to Do in Atlanta with Kids.
About 20 minutes east of downtown Atlanta, this park offers a wooded trail along a stream leading to ruins of the Manchester Textile Mill. Other trails wind through forests, ferns and wild azaleas. Try the red trail for the easiest route. Lithia Springs.
Walk 1.5 miles of paved paths underneath a mixed hardwood forest at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This is a great trail for beginning hikers. Atlanta.
Hike around Wildcat Creek, the wetlands boardwalk or make your way through two miles of Piedmont forest. The awesome playground is an added treat with two climbing towers, a giant rope swing, tall slides and more. Dunwoody.
Three miles of hiking trails following the Chattahoochee River with terrain along the path that is perfect for climbing with cave-like overhangs, scenic views of the water and loads of wildlife and wildflowers. Sandy Springs.
An easy, less than 2-mile part paved, part dirt trail round trip takes you by the remnants of a stone springhouse (with moat) and Civil War-era trenches on this former battlefield site. Plus, there’s a small waterfall. Atlanta.
An easy round trip half-mile hike has a fascinating surprise. The highlight of the park’s trail system is the quirky Doll’s Head Trail, filled with folk art created by local Atlanta artists and park volunteers. Atlanta.
This park boasts more than 15 miles of wooded trails. Even explore a reconstructed 1860s homestead. In the hot months, pack a bathing suit for the swimming hole at Lake Allatoona. Acworth.
Go playground to playground, from Riverside Park to Azalea Park, and then on to boardwalks adjacent to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. This flat trail runs alongside the Chattahoochee River, giving up close views of the water and its wildlife. Roswell.
Mostly known for the Indian Seats natural rock formation at the peak of the mountain, Sawnee has an easy short hike best for younger children. The brief round trip leads to a tree house and a fairy houses trail. Another short, but steep, climb, leads to an observation deck. Cumming.
Explore 15 miles of walking and hiking trails including the one-mile trail to the top of the mountain. The Nature Garden trail is an easy walk around large oak trees. The hike to the top is more challenging, but includes great views of downtown Atlanta. Stone Mountain.
This urban forest has three hiking routes, including a one-mile loop trail beneath white oak trees. Be sure to grab the nature trail guide at the entrance of the forest and try to clasp hands around one of the giant oaks. Sandy Springs.
Stroll your choice of flat, easy trails in Alpharetta or Forsyth with paved and boardwalk areas. Observe wildlife in the wooded and wetland settings. Alpharetta and Forsyth.
Take the paved trails headed east or west and check out ever-changing outdoor artwork, exciting playgrounds and even tiny doors. A fascinating blend of nature and art makes a BeltLine walk a must-do to see the city from a new perspective. Multiple access points.
Amazing views await at the summit of the crater-filled Arabia Mountain. The trail is short, but along the way, plenty of unique land forms and plants entertain. Lithonia.
More than three miles of gravel trails runs beside the Chattahoochee River. Check out both woodlands and marshes, and all the animals that inhabit them. Marietta.
The Mountain Trail is steep with some level terrain that leads to the peak, where a panoramic view of Atlanta is the reward. Rocky sections make this best for more advanced hikers. There are also many easier trails and activities at this historic battlefield site. Kennesaw.
Three choices of looped trails, all under two miles, make this a great spot for beginning hikers. There’s a wide variety of sights to see, too. Ponds, a butterfly garden, antique farm equipment and resident critters are all part of the landscape. Morrow.
A pond is at the center of this moderate two-mile flat loop. Adjacent to a playground, this tranquil spot is a great place to see ducks, turtles, geese and other water fowl. Brookhaven.
This land in north Atlanta flourishes with nature and wildlife. Families can regularly spot a box turtle, a midland water snake or the carnivorous lady slipper orchid while walking on the easy two miles of trails. Kids especially love a replica of a teepee. Johns Creek.
Lesser known than other Atlanta nature centers, the passive nature trails of Lost Corner have a lot to offer! Go in search of a host of native trees, plants and animals including (regularly sighted) birds of prey, deer, turtles, wild turkey, rabbits, foxes and more. Sandy Springs.
More than 30 woodland acres in Atlanta’s Morningside neighborhood surrounds South Fork Peachtree Creek. A cool suspension bridge over the creek connects the trails. Wade in the shallow water under the bridge along with visitors who bring their furry friends to “dog beach.” Atlanta.
Walk through several different ecosystems on a 1.5 mile easy trail. This 28-acre sanctuary includes wetlands, upland forests and pine forests along a floodplain. This walk is ideal for kids learning about Georgia’s climate and native living things. Decatur.
In the mood for a day or overnight trip? These hikes are worth the drive!
Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” is an amazing man-made geological formation, caused by water erosion in the 1800s. The stunning canyons, some as deep as 150 feet, can be viewed from the rim trail, or hike down for a closer view of the red, pink, orange, and purple formations. Lumpkin County.
A 270-foot swinging suspension bridge is a highlight of the Benton McKaye Trail near Blue Ridge. The kid-friendly one-mile hike offers great views of the wide-flowing Toccoa River; stop at the cascades area for a mid-hike picnic. Blue Ridge.
This prehistoric American Indian site is loaded with history. From the Visitor Center, trails lead to the Earth Lodge, Trading Post Site, and the Great and Lesser Temple Mounds. The River Trail is handicap accessible. Other highlights include Civil War earthworks and a wetlands trail. Macon.
It’s hard to beat the views from Brasstown Bald, the state’s highest point. A half-mile paved trail through the forest takes visitors to the 360-degree observation deck, with views that stretch to North and South Carolina and Tennessee. Explore the area’s other hiking trails, picnic areas, and visit the center’s museum. Hiawassee.
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Looking for a sunny, family-friendly getaway for you and your kiddos? The Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is located on the east coast of South Florida. Nestled between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano, This charming beachside town exudes Old Florida charm, with more than two miles of white sandy beaches to explore and activities for every member of the family to enjoy. Whether it’s playing in the sand or snorkeling right off the beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is the perfect family getaway you’ve been dreaming about. And the best part? There’s no car needed- everything is just a stroll away from your hotel.
Enjoy the ocean breeze with outdoor activities. Spend the day outdoors with the kids building sandcastles or rent some snorkel gear to see what kind of tropical fish and sea creatures you spot just off the beach. You can also surf, kayak, paddle board, skim, and kiteboard right from the Town’s shoreline.
If you are looking for a slower pace, don’t worry- the motto in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is “Relax… You’re Here.” Unplug, unwind, and soak up some salty ocean air. Grab your newest read and relax in a colorful Adirondack chair in El Prado Park and Dunes Plaza or enjoy a soft breeze in Washingtonia Park where there’s shade and a shower to rinse off your little ones’ toys and sandy feet before walking “home.”
Head to the playground. Just across the street from the beach, right behind Town Hall, you’ll find a playground and basketball courts. Bathrooms are conveniently located in the park, just in case anyone needs to take a quick break.
Ride bikes around town. If you didn’t bring your bike, there are plenty of options to score some wheels. First, be sure to check with your hotel in Town to see if they offer complimentary bike rentals (many do!). You can also rent bikes from Pedrito’s Bike Shop on Commercial Blvd. or at the B-Cycle rental stand on A1A, just north of Commercial. Once you have your wheels, spend the day exploring. El Mar Drive is a favorite detour for A1A cyclists with its small hotels and condos lining the street – and breathtaking beach views. With 30 bike racks throughout Town, biking around and stopping at little shops and eateries is super easy.
By now, you’ve surely worked up an appetite from all the sandcastle building, ocean swimming, and biking, so grab a tasty meal or a sweet treat to go from one of the Town’s eclectic eateries (most are privately owned). From Caribbean, to Italian, French, Thai, and more, the Town’s restaurants offer plenty of cuisine options and outdoor dining, kid-friendly menus, and grab-and-go options.
Strolling through town to our quaint shops for handmade jewelry, clothing, local art, housewares, and souvenirs is also easy with our walking map.
Stay at one of the open-air beachfront hotels and you will be digging your toes in the sand in no time. The Town’s low-rise hotels– many of which are literally on the sand – are perfect for vacationing with the family while maintaining a safe distance from others. Many have outdoor or covered lobbies and waiting areas, making it easy to catch the fresh ocean air while checking in or chatting with the staff. Additionally, many feature poolside barbeque grills and in-room kitchenettes, and almost all are walking distance from the nearby grocery store, making it easy to relax in the clean comfort of your hotel.
Ready to book your trip to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea? Call the Visitor’s Center at (800) 921-2319.
Oh- and don’t forget to snap a few photos during your stay in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea! Tag the official Town Instagram and Facebook accounts at @DiscoverLBTS, use the hashtags #DiscoverLBTS and #LoveLBTS, and you could be featured on the Town’s feed.
And get ready to do what we do in our motto and “Relax, You’re Here….”
Family travel this year presents some unique challenges. But any family can find fun, affordable, and even educational adventures in Daytona Beach. The main attraction to Daytona Beach is, naturally, the beach. With 23 miles of wide, white sand, there’s enough room for any oceanfront activity. From surfing, to beach cruising on bicycles, to picnics, to fishing, to simply relaxing in the Florida sun, there’s something for everyone out on the beach, with more than enough elbow room left over.
Daytona Beach offers families plenty of options off the beach as well. Enjoy attractions such as Daytona International Speedway – the “World Center of Racing” – where tours include the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. A number of Florida State Parks dot the region, making it easy to experience the area’s natural beauty. Explore the area’s rich history at the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts & Sciences or Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, Florida’s tallest lighthouse. Stand beside statues honoring famous Black Americans Mary McLeod Bethune and Jackie Robinson.
For vacationers looking for fun, open spaces, and a cultural experience like no other, Daytona Beach is wide open. To learn more about this family friendly destination, visit DaytonaBeach.com.
Home to more than 550 freshwater lakes and 25,000 acres of pristine recreational parks, the possibilities to enjoy the Great Outdoors are around every breathtaking bend of Polk County. Water skiing, air boating, kayaking, world-class fishing, award winning golf, and nearby theme parks, including LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and its all-new Pirate Island Hotel, are just the start.
Here, your safety and wellbeing are our top priority. Our “Be Sweet” campaign encourages visitors to take proper safety measures while exploring Polk County’s wealth of exciting outdoor adventures. To discover all we are doing to promote safety, and to begin planning your epic stay, go to VisitCentralFlorida.org. We look forward to hosting you and your family in Florida’s Sweetest Spot!
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