Spring Events Your Family Can’t Miss

Atlanta Botanical Garden Blooms

Tulips at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Are you ready for warm weather yet? If you are anxious for the sunshine and fun that comes with spring, then grab a pen and mark your calendar. Here are five events in four beloved Atlanta Metro locations that the family can look forward to.

I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle

The High Museum of Atlanta’s newest exhibit will open in April 2, 2016.  I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle is set to span nearly 50 years of the artist’s career and feature more than 80 of his signature collage works from 15 of his most popular books.

This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Alliance Theatre’s world premiere play with music Pancakes, Pancakes! (June 1 through July 3, 2016), based on Eric Carle’s book of the same name.

The Jump

Every year Stone Mountain Park adds a new aspect of adventure to the park. Families will love the new attraction, The Jump, coming spring 2016. This thrilling, family-friendly, multi-level free fall drop experience offers three different tower levels to jump onto free fall air bags — just like a stunt professional!

New Dolphin Tales Show

If you’ve been to the Georgia Aquarium this year you might have noticed that the Dolphin Tale show you’ve been watching since April 2011 is no longer showing. Currently, there is a new, temporary dolphin training experience in the AT&T Dolphin Tales theatre called Splash 101. It has taken the place of the first Dolphin Tales show as the Aquarium prepares to debut a completely new dolphin experience on March 31.

Atlanta Blooms! & Chihuly Returns

I love spring each year at the Atlanta Botanical Garden for a number of reasons, but the tulips are at the top of that list. 2016 is going to be an amazing show, as the landscape changes almost daily as more than 300,000 bulbs spring to life during Atlanta Blooms!, including more than 38,000 new ones planted last fall.

As if that were not enough, Chihuly returns to the garden this spring! Chihuly in the Garden, set for April 30 – October 30, 2016, will include 21 installations, all set among the garden’s natural beauty. (That’s more than twice as many as his 2004 exhibit brought.) Additionally, Chihuly Nights will offer extended evening hours, giving visitors a different, yet spectacular experience for viewing the sculptures with dramatic lighting, set against the city’s beautiful skyline.

You can read details about these and other exciting family events on my Save the Date page, or ink your calendar from our Monthly Event Spotlights.

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

A Perfect Indoor Activity for Outdoor Explorers

Ansel Adams exhibit at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville

Ansel Adams exhibit at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville

Even the greatest outdoorsman occasionally takes shelter from the cold and rain, and the Booth Western Art Museum has the perfect indoor exhibit for nature art lovers. Ansel Adams: Before & After is a fantastic photography exhibit featuring art by the celebrated photographer, his predecessors, peers, and modern photographers inspired by Adams.

The Early Years portion of the exhibition features images representing the art of five photographers who came before Ansel Adams. These visionaries set the stage for photography as an art form and influenced Adams’ early career.

Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, the Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, CA, 1944. Image courtesy of Lumière, Collection of Robert Yellowlees.

Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, the Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, CA, 1944. Image courtesy of Lumière, Collection of Robert Yellowlees.

From there, the exhibit follows Adams’ innovative career alongside other photographers moving away from the fuzzy impressionistic style to focus on defined images detailing patterns and contours. This portion of the exhibit offers a close look at timeless images captured by Ansel Adams, including White House Ruin, Surf and Rock, and Winter Sunrise, the Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, CA.

Cara Weston, Garrapata at Sunset - Big Sur, 2008. Image courtesy of Lumière.

Cara Weston, Garrapata at Sunset – Big Sur, 2008. Image courtesy of Lumière.

The exhibition also showcases the images of modern photographers benefiting from Adams’ creative contributions to art. A mix of film and digital photography, the Next Generation includes striking images from third-generation photographer Cara Weston, veteran photography instructor Al Weber, and pioneering environmental photographer Philip Hyde, among others.

The exhibit comes to a close with a look at images representing the future of photography. Stunning visions captured and created using advanced digital techniques leave viewers with a sense of wonder and imagination.

Ansel Adams: Before & After is open at Booth Western Art Museum until March 23, 2016.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Walking Tours of Athens and Macon Musical History

In last week’s coverage of the Oxford American’s can’t-miss Georgia Music Issue I intentionally skimmed over two of the state’s most storied musical towns because I wanted to give them a bit more bandwidth (yes, that’s a pun): Athens and Macon. Both cities have walking tours that give music fans insight into the bands, venues and landmarks that figure prominently in local music history.


Dudley Park railroad trestle in Athens

Featured on the back cover of R.E.M.’s 1983 debut album, the Dudley Park railroad trestle is one of the stops on the Athens Music Walking Tour.

The magazine holds a wonderful, wide-ranging 20-page history of Athens’ musical heritage. Art Rosenbaum’s thoughtful reflection on the town’s African-American gospel and work song (that’s where R.E.M. got the idea) traditions are its centerpiece, but most of the section offers vignettes of the ’80s-forward indie rock bands most often associated with the University of Georgia’s home.

Athens is a great walking city, and even in February you’re as likely as not to be greeted with open-jacket weather. A self-guided tour of musical attractions is available on the Athens Welcome Center’s website and allows ample opportunity for detours and freelancing. I never pass through Athens without a stop at The Grit, the homey diner whose breakfast dishes and pastries are so tasty one barely notices they’re meat-free. The C-00 film production company of R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe was housed in the building’s upstairs office, by the way.

Athens institution Wuxtry Records

Athens institution Wuxtry Records celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2016. Photo by Jason Thrasher.

If you prefer more structure, guided versions of the tour will be offered June 24-26 to coincide with the 20th annual AthFest, a weekend-long indoor/outdoor music event. And guided tours are always available for groups of five or more with a few days’ advance notice.


Rock Candy Tours in Macon

Rock, roll and stroll through Macon’s legendary, notorious music history with Rock Candy Tours.

Macon’s musical history runs the gamut from the Allman Brothers to Little Richard to Otis Redding. The first two are subjects of lengthy Oxford American features, and Redding’s emotional (even by his high standards) “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” graces the 25-track CD that accompanies the issue. Rock Candy Tours offers a series of curated strolls — some running on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, others for custom scheduling. The road may not go on quite forever, but it sure helps to have someone show you the high points. The Big House Museum, the Allman Brothers’ showpiece, is another worthwhile stop.

Because walking works up an appetite (and because I’m always thinking about food), don’t don’t miss a chance to dine at H&H Soul Food, a favorite of the Allmans and other bands from the legendary Capricorn Records label, not to mention countless locals.

glenGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org. You can learn more about the Oxford American’s Georgia Music issue in Glen’s piece at GeorgiaMusic.org.

Alpharetta is a Symphony for the Senses

songwriter festival2 lr

ALPHARETTA, just north of Atlanta and easily accessible via the state’s “Hospitality Highway,” entertains, offering a variety of opportunities to savor the sounds of live music. From an intimate setting at The Velvet Note to outdoor ambiance at Matilda’s, to noteworthy performances at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Alpharetta brings new sounds to the suburbs!

Catch a concert at Alpharetta’s impressive 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, which hosts famous names throughout the year.

Photo: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Photo: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Get in touch with Southern roots at Matilda’s Music Under the Pines. This outdoor Alpharetta concert venue offers a relaxed alfresco evening of entertainment. Owner M.J. Potter created the music series in 2005, and it has grown over the years to attract some of the best musicians and bands in Atlanta and around the country.

Bring favorite eats, drinks and even Fido along, and kick back while bands pick out bluegrass, country and folk rock tunes. Matilda’s Music Under the Pines offers a downhome experience that will have patrons feeling sweet harmony — only in Alpharetta.

Photo: ABH Photography

Photo: ABH Photography

April through November, head to Chukkar Farm on select Friday and Saturday evenings for live music set against the backdrop of more than 100 acres of rolling landscapes and breathtaking views of the polo field.

Go indoors at The Velvet Note and hear a world-class musical artists in a setting as intimate and comfortable as your own living room.

Photo: The Velvet Note

Photo: The Velvet Note

Seek out this Southern city during the annual Wire and Wood Songwriters Festival each October. Nationally recognized singer-songwriters gather for three days of concerts. Music lovers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that inspired country, rock, blues, Americana and bluegrass songs. Attendees will be able to meet touring veteran songsmiths and local up-and-coming talent as music fills the streets of Alpharetta. More details will be announced at www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com as soon as they are available.

Photo: Occupy My Family

A perfect duet: Pair good eats with sweet beats

Cure cravings at any of Alpharetta’s menu of eateries featuring cuisines that satisfy from homegrown to globally-inspired.
Smokejack lr

Photo: Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau

At Avalon, Oak Steakhouse‘s contemporary dishes like bone-in pork chops over Carolina grits and wild Alaskan salmon will make you say farewell to grandfather’s stuffy steakhouse. This modern take on fine dining also features prime cuts of beef and a handmade cocktail menu to really please your palate. (678) 722-8333

Calamari, crostini and clams, oh my! Colletta offers a modern take on Italian favorites. With unexpected flavors like a peach and gorgonzola pizza or a veal chop over polenta, your taste buds will not be left wanting. Don’t forget to end the night with a cannoli.  (678) 722- 8335

Every other Wednesday these jointly-owned restaurants pair up for an outdoor party in Palmer Plaza. Let artists from near and far serenade you while you kick back with $5 drinks and specialty apps.

Downtown is also where you will find more restaurants with a beat! Your lips will be smackin’ at locally owned Smokejack’s Southern Grill and BBQ. Start off with a tasty basket of fried pickles, move to a pulled pork sandwich or chomp down on smoked, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Relish the finger-lickin’ comfort food while local bands pick out bluegrass and country favorites every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. (770) 410-7611

Music and food culminate in Alpharetta for a symphonic experience for the senses.

South Main Kitchen is known for its farm-to-table fare and unique communal dining experience. Fill your appetite with their fresh ingredient-focused dishes from an ever-changing, American-inspired menu.Top off a cocktail and toast a night out by heading to the rooftop lounge and bar area. Local musicians fill the fall air with sweet sounds most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. (678) 691-4622



Indulgent dishes paired with fresh melodies — Alpharetta feeds both body and soul.

TIP: Call ahead to ensure the restaurant of your choice is featuring live music that night. 

Find everything you need to know about Alpharetta here, including the city’s Don’t Miss Events.

Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com, 678-297-2811.

© Lauren Boyd Photography 2013 www.LaurenBoydPhotography.com www.Facebook.com/LaurenBoydPhotography

Mom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Three Winter Hikes for Georgia Families

Fort Mountain photo by Lesli Peterson.

Fort Mountain photo by Lesli Peterson.

Hiking in winter affords views of the Georgia mountains that are not available when the foliage is full. Rocks, tree trunks and nature’s architecture offer a different perspective that can be just as beautiful as a newly bloomed flower of spring. Here are three of our family’s favorite winter explorations in Georgia.

Fort Mountain State Park (Chatsworth): Fort Mountain has amazing views and great historical markers, like the tower and wall. Perfect for viewing in the bare winter season.

There are plenty of hiking trails for the entire family at Fort Mountain, so you might consider making a weekend of it. We stayed at one of the newly refurbished cabins cabins, which are just spectacular.

Read more about our winter time Fort Mountain Adventure.

Blood Mountain (Blairsville): Blood Mountain easily comes to mind because of the diverse rocky terrain and the fun shelter at the end of the trail. Add to that amazing panoramic views, and you’ve got a winter hike like no other!

Blood Mountain is about 4.5 miles, and it is a climb. I would not recommend it for a kid’s first hike. It’s great for kids that hike regularly (my son was 6 years old when he first completed it without being carried) or teenagers. If you have hiking poles, this is the perfect hike on which to use them.

Read more about our hike to the Blood Mountain Summit.

George L Smith State Park (Twin City): Explore a different kind of winter trail here: a water trail. Wind your way through black water and bare cypress trees, which reflect off the lake like towering giants reaching for the clouds.

You can explore the grist mill and dam from 1880. Nearby is also Magnolia Springs Park where you can explore a Civil War POW museum and see a natural spring.

Read more about our paddle at George L Smith and our turtle escapade at Magnolia Springs.

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.