Three Free Things to Do with Kids Over Spring Break

A spring break vacation is a welcome retreat from the busy school year. However, a week entertaining kids can get expensive. To keep your budget from breaking, too, here are three fabulous and free things to do with kids this season.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta is one of 11 national parks in Georgia.

Every Kid in a Park Program: Let your fourth grader pick up the fees on your next visit to any national park through the Every Kid in a Park program. The program invites fourth graders to visit any national park for free. In addition, their pass is good for a limited number of travelers who accompany the fourth grader. Kids can get a pass by going to, completing an online game, and downloading a paper voucher. These can be redeemed at any park for a durable plastic pass. Georgia has 11 National Parks throughout the state.

Learn to Fly: How cool would it be to come back from spring break to tell your friends you flew a plane? Children 8 – 17 can with the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Young Eagles Program. Just make an appointment with your local chapter and schedule a flight. Kids learn about what a pilot has to do before the flight, a little about aeronautics, and then, of course, they get to go up in a plane for a ride, and just maybe take the controls for a minute or two. After the flight, students age 14 – 17 are eligible for a free online flight training course. Young Eagles also offers them a voucher for their first flight lesson with an instructor (after the first half of the online flight school training course is complete).

The Last 100 Yards exhibit at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia

The Last 100 Yards exhibit at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia

Fight the Last Hundred Yards: At the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia, a life-sized, walk-through diorama depicts the fight for the last 100 yards of some of the toughest battles throughout U.S. history. If that’s a little bit much, take a walk outside and back in time to the 1940s, and a genuine World War II-era base. Visit the mess hall, pray in the chapel, visit the supply room, as well as the headquarters used by Gen. George S. Patton before his deployment to North Africa.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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Four Best Places to See Roses in Georgia

Did you know that the Cherokee Rose is the official Georgia State Flower? Here is where you can see the flower and other roses throughout the state of Georgia.

Roses at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo courtesy Atlanta Botanical Garden, Facebook

Roses at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo courtesy Atlanta Botanical Garden, Facebook

Atlanta Botanical Garden (Atlanta) – Nestled into the heart of Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Botanical Garden boasts 30 acres of gardens including the Rose Garden. Peak blooming times are in May and June while some re-blooming occurs in the autumn.

Callaway Gardens (Pine Mountain) – Head to the Middle Georgia mountains in the springtime to see the flowers at Callaway Gardens at their peak color. In addition to roses, you won’t want to miss the Gardens’ acclaimed azaleas and the Day Butterfly Center.

Thomasville Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of The Village Journal

Thomasville Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of The Village Journal

Rose Show & Festival (Thomasville) – Celebrating its 95th year in 2016, the Rose Show & Festival features thousands of roses, two parades, live music, a street dance, arts and crafts, festival food and more. The 2016 festival will be held April 21-23. While you’re there, be sure to check out the 5-acre Thomasville Rose Garden.

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (Atlanta) – Along with being the home to a museum featuring President Jimmy Carter’s life, the destination features 37 acres of land where guests can see a formal garden, meadow, cherry orchard, waterfalls and rose garden that contains the coral-colored Rosalynn Carter Rose, named after the 43rd President’s wife.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

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 You can learn more about the Oxford American’s Georgia Music issue in Glen’s piece at