By Lesli Peterson
Albany, Georgia is filled with adventure for kids of all ages. Wild animals…an aquarium…historical exploration…art opportunities…and plenty of wonderful places to eat! Here is what to do with kids in Albany!
We gladly called Merry Acres Inn our home while visiting Albany last summer. Our experience included resting in a spacious suite with hardwood floors, swimming for hours in a mineral-water pool, and dining outdoors on a true southern porch complete with ceiling fans and sweet tea.
We stopped at Albany Welcome Center to learn about the best places for us to visit on our three-day adventure this summer, but found so much more. We were richly rewarded with a powerful history lesson; learning about Horace King, freed slave and bridge builder, was a highlight for me. The boys also enjoyed Turtle Grove Play Park, the community-built playground out back.
We walked to Flint River for breathtaking views of the powerful waterway that wreaked havoc on Albany not too long ago. The city is recovering beautifully, though, and leveraging the river by creating kayak and canoe launch sites right out the back door of the Welcome Center.
Just beside the Welcome Center is RiverFront Park, where my kids splish-splashed the heat away in the Festival Spring Fountain.
There is a ton of fun and adventure for the entire family at Chehaw Park – more than we were able to do in our short visit. We played on a huge playground, petted a snake, fed a camel, rode through the safari with wild animals, and gazed at an abundance of alligators. We didn’t even make it to the campsite, nature trails, disc golf, BMX track, bald eagle aviary, or the banks of Lake Chehaw. Whew! This “zoo” is like no other, commissioned by Jim Fowler of Wild Kingdom fame. Don’t miss it.
Flint Riverquarium was borne from the devastation of the 1994 Albany flood. It is an opportunity for children (and adults) to discern the importance of the natural resources in the area, and the uniqueness of the Flint River watershed. We learned about Blue Holes, watched alligator feedings, peered at shark eggs, and walked with birds through the aviary. It gave our family a great appreciation for the diversity of the Flint River, on which this aquarium resides. Don’t ask the boys if it was educational, though…they only know they had a great time!
Artpark on Pine is the only open-air art community in Georgia, and one of only a few in the US. The building was previously an old auto parts store, but stood empty for a long while. The city turned it into a venue for local and visiting artists. My boys had a blast watching artists paint and exploring the “graffiti” on the walls and floor. I can only imagine how much more they would have liked it if I had come prepared. Don’t forget to BYOP – Bring Your Own Paint!
Thronateeska Heritage Center is a science museum, train car display museum, and a planetarium all in one. It teaches visitors about history and exploration in the Albany area, as well as around the south. We were lucky enough to receive a guided tour through the Center. This option is available for anyone for only a nominal fee, and I highly recommend it. Without the tour, we would have enjoyed ourselves, but certainly not as much as we did. I’m always leery about history centers with my young boys…scared that they are not yet old enough to appreciate the exhibits. Lisa, our guide, clued right into their ages and took us on a tour that captivated the whole family.
The following restaurants were kid-friendly, with delicious eats!
Blackbeards. Seafood and BBQ, with a cornucopia of options, and large servings.
Manor House Pub. Located at Merry Acres Inn. Outdoor dining options make this fun for the family.
Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking. Perfect for breakfast. Kids will love the French toast sticks.
Cookie Shoppe. The pimento cheese is perfect, and the fresh-from-the-oven cookies will make a sweet-tooth out of anyone.
Harvest Moon. The pizza sounded amazing, but the His and Her Salads with blackened grouper will bogle your taste-buds. Heaven.