Save Money at Georgia’s Theme Parks

Nothing says ‘summer’ like a visit to a theme park, and Georgia has quite a few. Whether you want to scream through a loop-de-loop on a roller coaster, spin around and around or just ride up and down on a merry-go-round, there’s a place for you and it’s closer than you might think. Here is what’s new this summer at three theme parks in Georgia, as well as a tip for how to save money on a visit.

Six Flags Over Georgia, Atlanta:Six Flags Over Georgia

This is probably the largest of Georgia’s theme parks and perhaps the most well known. New this year is The JOKER Chaos Coaster which rockets seven stories in the air, soaring through a bedlam of loops, suspending riders upside-down for a ravaging thrill; and Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a spinning, twisting and rolling ride through a cycle of classic family fun. Don’t forget your bathing suit for Hurricane Harbor, which was introduced in 2014.
Money Saving Tip: Do as much as you can in advance. Go to and purchase your tickets, parking pass, Flash Passes, meal plans and/or season passes. You’ll save the most money for your visit by purchasing in advance. Also, plan your trip using suggestions from this post Tips for a Great Day. The advice is valid for any theme park visit, not just Six Flags Over Georgia.

Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta:Stone Mountain Park

The fun at Stone Mountain Park doesn’t need to end when the park closes. All new this year, stay in one of three Stone Mountain Park yurts, nestled lakeside in the park’s popular campground. This is glamping at it’s finest with yurts made of wood and canvas, featuring outside decks, picnic tables, charcoal grills, a fire pit and large water spigots for camping convenience. Inside each smoke-free yurt, are all the comforts of home with log furniture, heat and A/C, electric outlets, large windows, skylights, ceiling fans, lockable doors and sleep space for up to five guests. Just bring a sleeping bags and personal items.
Money Saving Tip: Visit Stone Mountain’s free attractions early in the day, like the covered bridge, outdoor granite museum, and the hike up the stone mountain. Plan to visit the paid attractions after 4 pm when prices go down with the sun. A Sunset Adventure Pass includes all your favorite attractions like the 4-D Experience, SkyHike, Geyser Towers, and the Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard, as well as terrace seating for the Laser Light show and unlimited popcorn until the start of the show, and an ice cold Coca-Cola beverage.

Wild Adventures, Valdosta:Wild AdventuresWild Adventures’ new ride, Jungle Rumble, takes guests swinging, swooping, climbing and dropping. Like a monkey swinging through the trees, the ride has no shortage of screeching and screaming. Riders swing back and forth before reaching four-stories high then plunge back down to the ground to do it all over again in reverse. The ride is designed for families to enjoy together with thrills for adults and kids. Once you’ve gotten your thrills on the roller coaster, head over to see the new squirrel monkey exhibit in a rejuvenated area of the theme park.
Money Saving Tip: Purchase your tickets at least 7 days in advance online and save $10. If you don’t have that much time, you can still save $8 by purchasing at least two days in advance. For those that can’t plan that far ahead, grab lunch at a nearby Subway in Valdosta, Albany or Columbus and pick up an $8 off coupon.

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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6 Georgia Beaches for Family Fun

Golden Isles Beaches

St Simon’s Island. St. Simon’s Island (and nearby Jekyll) are filled with family entertainment options. Ride the historic trolley, climb the lighthouse, visit the Sea Turtle Center and much more. I highly recommend a stop at 4th of May for mimosas and pimento cheese. They also have books and coloring paraphernalia for the kiddos. See more info about our St. Simon’s adventure here:

Cumberland Island. With no cars and few homes on this secluded beach, it is the perfect escape. Hike to the ruins, search for sea shells and catch a glimpse of the wild horses.  Families with older kiddos can stay at the luxurious and historic Greyfield Inn. The only other option includes camping on the beach or riding the ferry back to St Mary’s for the evening. Either choice is wonderful.

Acworth Beach. Acworth Bach at Cauble Park is a public lake-beach with a roped-off area for swimming. It sits on the north shore of Lake Acworth and also houses restrooms, a playground and picnic tables. Swimming runs Memorial Day through Labor Day, but there is no lifeguard on duty.

Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area. Lake Rabun’s swim area includes a roped-off section for swimmers, restrooms and picnic tables. If you need a break from swimming, try the Beach Trail hike or dipping your pole to catch bass, trout and more. Camping sites are available here for a full weekend of beachtime fun.

TybeeTybee Island. Tybee Island beaches are quiet and peaceful, with wide sandy beaches for plenty of play time. Visit the lighthouse and museum, stop in at Fort Pulaski or enjoy a Dolphin Tour.  A bike tour and stop by the Tybee Marine Science Center are not to be missed. If you have time, try the Tybee Beach Ecology Trip, as well. My family and I attended the 4H program at Tybee last year. You can find a few photos here:

Robins Lake Beach at Callaway. This is the world’s largest manmade, white sand beach! Besides swimming and lounging, there is a playground, giant chess set, miniature golf, table tennis and shuffleboard. All of this is included with entry into Callaway. For an additional fee, try Aqua Island, paddle boats, the rock climbing wall, a bounce house and more. We visited with the grandparents and had a great time. See more about that here:

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.

5 Ways to Explore the Chattahoochee River

Beginning in North Georgia’s mountains and flowing hundreds of miles to Georgia’s southern border, the Chattahoochee River offers adventure and recreation all along the way. Here are five ways to enjoy our beautiful Chattahoochee River.


Thousands of acres along the Chattahoochee River are preserved by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Hikers enjoy miles of scenic trails winding through the northern suburbs of Metro Atlanta. Come explore the historic significance and natural beauty of the Chattahoochee at 15 unique locations.


Fishing for bass and catfish is a great year-round experience on the Chattahoochee River. It’s also a great place to find trout! For 48 miles, from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek, Chattahoochee River is a designated trout stream giving anglers some of the best trout fishing in North Georgia! Click here to plan a fishing trip.



A classic summertime tradition, families and friends have a splashing good time floating down the river on inner tubes. Mere minutes from Downtown Atlanta, Shoot The Hooch rents tubes, paddleboards, and canoes as well as offering a shuttle service! River trips range from 1.5 to 8 miles of relaxing recreation.


Explore the Chattahoochee on guided hikes and canoe paddles with the friendly folks at Chattahoochee Nature Center. In addition to hikes and activities, explorers learn about native plants and animals through the Discovery Center’s interactive exhibits, gardens, and nature exchange.



Did you know the Chattahoochee River is home to some of the biggest rapids east of the Colorado? There’s no rush like whitewater rafting! Whitewater Express, in Columbus, takes thrill-seekers and families on exciting rafting adventures, “as wild as Colorado and warm as Costa Rica!”

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.

Find Out How to Get Unlimited Access to Georgia State Parks


Georgia has more than 50 state parks spread all over like peach jam on a country biscuit. Park visitors experience all the wonders of our state, from waterfalls and majestic mountain views to blackwater paddles and coastal campouts, There’s one membership that offers them all to tourists and local explorers, while supporting a worthwhile mission to promote and preserve these treasures.

A Friends of Georgia State Parks membership is the only membership that offers unlimited annual access to over 50 fun destinations in the state. In addition to showcasing Georgia’s most beautiful places, Georgia State Parks invite visitors to participate in a variety of recreational activities and schedules hundreds of outdoor programs. Nature lovers and families enjoy exploring Georgia on birdwatching tours, guided hikes, Junior Ranger days, and more. Adventurers, travelers and locals all get a kick out of paddling kayaks through the salt marsh, camping out, and climbing canyons. There’s so much to do in our beautiful Georgia State Parks that it’s impossible to list it all. Become a member of Friends of Georgia State Parks and try them all.


In addition to the unlimited park access at over 50 locations, the membership tiers offer many other benefits. A Membership grants free camping stays or rounds of golf. Members also see discounts on lodging, merchandise, and train tickets for SAM Shortline! The included subscription to the Friends’ magazine, Georgia’s Great Places, helps members plan trips and discover more of Georgia’s hidden gems.

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.

4 FREE Things to do on St. Simons Island

Photo courtesy of @brantdavis_ssi via Instagram

Photo courtesy of @brantdavis_ssi via Instagram

As the weather gets warmer, thoughts turn to spending time at the beach, but creating an affordable beach vacation isn’t always easy.  St. Simons Island is part of the Golden Isles on the coast of Georgia, and offers lots of budget friendly entertainment. Here are four free things to do on St. Simon’s Island.

  1. Play in the Sand. Of course, who comes to a beach town without going to the beach. Erosion has taken a lot of St. Simon’s Island’s sand and deposited it on the East Beach area of the island, so no matter what the tide, you’ll find beach here. This mostly residential area has several public beach accesses, but you’ll be hard pressed to find parking. The Coast Guard Station on First Street has a good deal of parking, as well as public bathrooms, a small maritime museum and in season, a snack bar.
  2. Find Natural Treasure. Look carefully around the island and you’ll see tree spirits carved within the majestic live oak trees. At one time, the large ships that sailed these waters were made with wood from the live oaks around the island. The tree spirits pay homage to the salty sailors that lost their lives aboard these ships.
  3. Count the Fish. A visit the St. Simon’s Island pier is a must during any vacation. Walk the pier and see what the fisherman pull in, or say hello to the pelican’s that wait for left over fish. If you’d like to get into the action, the St. Simon’s Island Bait Shop is just down from the pier and sells fishing license, crab nets and whatever else you need for an afternoon angling. While you are there, say hello to the resident parrot. If you’re lucky, he may sit on your shoulder.
  4. Climb a Whale. At the base of the St. Simon’s Island Pier, there is a small playground. Walk less than 100 yards toward the Lighthouse and you’ll find an even bigger playground that sits just outside the gates to the public pool and a mini-golf course. You’ll also find a sculpture of a mother whale and her baby. It will likely have lots of other people’s babies climbing and crawling on it as well.

For discounts on hotel accommodations within the Golden Isles, visit Explore Georgia’s Deal page.

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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