4 Things to Do at the BB&T Atlanta Open

Georgia loves tennis and, according to BB&T Atlanta Open Tournament Director and Chief Development Officer Eddie Gonzalez, tennis loves Georgia. Last year about 347,000 people played tennis in Atlanta — more than any city in the world! World-class tennis facilities are in the works, as well; Berry College recently broke ground for the Rome Tennis Center of Georgia, which will feature 51 USTA standard courts on a 30-acre site.

BB&T Atlanta Open

Photo courtesy of BB&T Atlanta Open

This summer, tennis lovers from around the world will convene at Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta for the 12th annual BB&T Atlanta Open. The first stop in the Emirates Airline US Open Series is also the only professional tennis tournament in Atlanta. The week-long event will kick off on Saturday, July 25 with a qualifying draw and advance to the championship set for Sunday, August 2, 2015. A few Georgia natives will showcase their talents at the tournament, including Georgia Tech freshman Christopher Eubanks, who defeated top collegiate tennis players for the wild card spot in the tournament. And, be sure to watch for UGA grad and reigning champ John Isner, who will be vying for his third title this year.

Alongside the exhilarating tennis matches, BB&T Atlanta Open and Atlantic Station will offer plenty of activities suited for all ages. After watching your favorite players compete for the prestigious title, stroll around to shops, restaurants and ongoing events throughout the week.

Family Zone presented by Prince – Play like the players do on the free tennis courts available from noon until 7 p.m. during the BB&T Tournament. Tennis balls and racquets will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

Kick-Off Concert with The Commodores – These legends of Motown will take the “Night Shift” on July 25 to kick off the tournament in Atlantic Station. The concert promises to be the perfect start to a week of great entertainment.

Post-Match Concert with LoCash – As if one concert wasn’t enough, this dynamic country duo will perform a post-match concert July 29 at 9 p.m. All ticket holders for the Wednesday night match can enjoy the concert for free. LoCash is known for writing songs for Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and many other well-known country artists. Individual tickets for the tennis match begin at $39, including a round of tennis and the LoCash concert.

Post-Match Fireworks Show – Post-match fireworks will be presented by Coca-Cola after the Friday, July 31 night session.

Did we mention that Atlantic Station will be broadcasting the whole tournament live on the big screen in Central Park? So, get your tickets, head to Atlantic Station (remembering to visit the Explore Georgia table!) and show the world how much Georgia loves tennis!

John Isner

2-Time Defending Champion, UGA Grad John Isner | Photo courtesy of BB&T Atlanta Open

2015 Kids Racing Events in Georgia

First, my friend who NEVER runs stunned us all by running two marathons in one weekend. Then I learned about the IronKids Alpharetta event coming to our part of town in September. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Should our family expand our hiking adventures into the running realm?

IronKids Alpharetta

IronKids Alpharetta | Photo courtesy of Alpharetta CVB

I asked a few friends who run (and whose kids run) to give me their thoughts. I think the best advice I received was to start with the tot trot, move to the family one-mile run, and then branch out from there as their skillset and desire expands (keeping a jogging stroller at hand.)

It seems that some kids go at it full gusto without much prep. One kiddo reported that he wanted to train better for the next event though, because the medals looked so cool! A common theme during my unofficial interviewing? When kids are doing this for themselves it’s a confidence booster and an ideal way to show them true heart in organized sports.

If your kids are anxious to try their hand at a racing event, this sample list of triathlons and runs around the state will get you started. You won’t see us at any triathlon events this year, but maybe we’ll wave as you pass us on the next family fun run!

July 18
Clarkesville – Chopped Oak Triathlon

July 25
Dalton – Run for God – Dalton Parks Triathlon
Kennesaw – Georgia State Games Championship Run

August 8
Marietta – East Cobb Sprint, Super Sprint and Kids Triathlon
Columbus – Y Kids Tri – Youth Triathlon

Aug 22
Flowery Branch – KidFit & Adult Fit Triathlon

Aug 23
Norcross – 2015 Atlanta Kids Triathlon

Sept 13
Dawsonville – Bootlegger Super Sprint Triathlon

Sept 19
Alpharetta – IronKids Alpharetta
Rome – Roman Rumble 5k and 2 mile Health Walk

Sept 20
Rome – RACE Rome Youth Triathlon

Nov 26
Atlanta – Atlanta Half Marathon & Thanksgiving Day 5K

Dec 12
Atlanta – Jeff Galloway Race Weekend 5K and Kids Run

Strong4Life Super Hero Event

Strong4Life Super Hero Event

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.

Taste the State with Georgia Restaurant Week

Georgia Restaurant WeekThe culinary scene in Georgia is wonderfully diverse, with restaurants across the state offering an array of delicious options ranging from traditional Southern cuisine and locally-sourced treats to flavorful ethnic dishes and amazing seafood. The inaugural Georgia Restaurant Week, held July 13th though 19th, celebrates the state’s unique and varied culinary scene by offering patrons the opportunity to enjoy some of their favorite local eateries and discover some new dining experiences through exclusive deals and menu options!

Each participating restaurant selects a Prix Fixe Menu to offer diners during Georgia Restaurant Week, hosted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division and the Georgia Restaurant Association. These menus are available during dinner service at the fixed prices of $15, $25 or $35 per person or per couple, depending on the eatery. This annual event celebrates the flavors of Georgia by showcasing the state’s culinary experiences and highlighting unique local flavors, notable chefs, award-winning restaurants, agritourism destinations and much more.

So what kind of dining experience do you want? Because Georgia Restaurant Week can offer it. If you want dinner with a view, make your way to the 30th floor at Nikolai’s Roof, in Atlanta, where you will find an amazing view of the city skyline while enjoying more than 300 hand-selected wines. Or perhaps you like some live entertainment with your meal? Then you won’t want to miss dinner at Scott’s Downtown, in Gainesville, where you’ll enjoy jazz music while you dine in their comfortable atmosphere. Appreciate fine art in The Library at Epic Restaurant, in Columbus, where you can’t help but be enveloped by the warm, welcoming atmosphere alongside the Chattahoochee River. If you want to eat outdoors, the patio at Joe’s on Juniper, in Atlanta, within walking distance of Piedmont Park, is the place to be. Keen to try something foreign to the American pallet? Cinco Mexican Cantina, in Cumming, and Der Biergarten, in Atlanta, provide authentic selections of both traditional and contemporary ethnic dishes. These are but a few of the amazing dining experiences offered by participating venues; find more by visiting GARestaurantWeek.com.

With a vast array of restaurants to choose from, you could find your new favorite eatery any day of the week. Georgia Restaurant Week runs from July 13th to July 19th in accordance with participating restaurants’ regular hours. We recommend you make a reservation, as these deals won’t last forever. So come on out and have your appetite ready! Join the conversation online using #GeorgiaEats and enjoy Georgia’s incredible culinary scene!


Hey! Did you enjoy your Georgia Restaurant Week experience? Fill out the official survey and you could win great prizes!

Fourth of July in Georgia

Independence Day is right around the corner, and everyone is preparing for the most patriotic weekend of the year. Here is a list of fun July 4th festivities, from free fireworks to a scenic train ride on the SAM Shortline. So gather your family and friends and show off your red, white and blue at these exciting events all around Georgia!

4th of July Family Fun Day Celebration - Dahlonega

4th of July Family Fun Day Celebration in Dahlonega

Historic High Country
Villa Rica – The 9th annual Fireworks Display Extravaganza kicks off at 5:00 pm with the largest fireworks display in Northwest Georgia! Admission is free with concessions and on-site parking available.

Rome – You can be just as colorful as the fireworks with the Color in Motion 5k Run starting at 6:00 pm at Ridge Ferry Park. The party starts when you enter the park with live music, food and entertainment. There will be a fireworks show after the race. Race Day registration is $35.

Woodstock – Join the Stars & Strikes July 4th Spectacular with a parade starting at 10:00 am, a festival from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, a free concert with The Block Party Band and a thrilling firework show beginning at dusk.

Ringgold – Celebrate Independence Day with Red, White and Blueberry wine at the Georgia Winery! Featuring your choice of wine at $3 per glass.

Northeast Mountains
Dahlonega – Celebrate Independence Day family-style in Dahlonega on the historic town square with a fun 5k and 10k race, a patriotic ceremony on the lawn of the Gold Museum, a watermelon cutting by The Dahlonega Nugget, a classic car show and live music. The Independence Day Parade through the historic square begins around 5 p.m. and ends just in time to find a spot on the nearby drill field of the University of North Georgia to await the fireworks.

Helen – Come see Helen’s annual display of fireworks! View the beautiful show from the south side of Helen near the tubing companies at the Alpine Village Shoppes. Fireworks begin at dusk.

Sky Valley – This weekend event is fun for the whole family with a pancake breakfast and BBQ dinner followed by fireworks on Friday, July 3rd.  Saturday kicks off with a rubber duck race at 10:30 am and a parade through the park at 11:30 am.

Dillard – Come enjoy the free live band from 4:30 pm. to 8:30 pm, and BBQ from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the historic Dillard House. A fantastic firework display is scheduled for Saturday, July 5, at dusk at the north end of Rabun County.

Atlanta Metro
Lanier Islands – Gather at LanierWorld for a weekend celebration! Enjoy live entertainment on Thursday, July 2nd. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday splash around at the water park while dancing to the music and watch the firework spectacles at 10:00 pm every night.

Atlanta – Show off your patriotism at the AJC Peachtree Road Race. The largest 10K in the world, it is the 46th running, and a Fourth of July tradition for thousands of people throughout the metro Atlanta area and beyond. The race starts in Buckhead near Lenox Square Mall and ends in Piedmont Park.

The Georgia Aquarium – This Fourth of July, celebrate with unlimited beer samplings, food, live music and fireworks! Red White & Brew will be held in the Oceans Ballroom, with views of our beluga whales, manta rays and whale sharks. After dinner and drinks, head up to the Aquarium’s parking deck rooftop for the city’s best view of the Centennial Olympic Park firework show. The event lasts from 7:00 pm to 10 pm.

Centennial Olympic Park – Centennial Olympic Park’s 4th of July Celebration will offer fun and entertainment for the entire family, including free music and Atlanta’s number one fireworks display. Gates open at 6:00 pm.

Stone Mountain Park – Don’t miss the four day Fantastic Fourth Celebration, July 2-5! Stone Mountain Park and Star 94 present ‘Rockin the Rock’ featuring American Authors and Rachel Platten. The concert will kick off the Fantastic Fourth Celebration on July 2nd. The Lasershow Spectacular and extended fireworks finale will begin at 9:30 pm.

AJC Peachtree Road Race - Atlanta

AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta

Historic Heartland
Madison – This free celebration features live music by the Athens Classic City Band. Bring a picnic, blankets, tables or chairs and join family and friends for the festivities. Music begins at 7 pm, but come early to grab a spot on the lawn or rent a table from the Center for $20 each. Don’t forget to decorate your table; prizes will be given for “Most Patriotic” table decorations.

Athens – Foundry Entertainment & Yuengling present the 7th annual Classic City American Music Festival featuring Dom Flemons, Grassland String Band, Little Country Giants, The Skillet Lickers, Art Rosenbaum and more. This event is family-friendly with 10+ bands, two stages, fried and grilled food, great drinks, BBQ, and fireworks. Music begins at 3:00 pm.

Juliette – Put on your red, white and blue, pack a picnic, and spend a day on the farm. Hear the Declaration of Independence at noon and compete in sack race, three legged race, egg toss, and other events. Watch blacksmiths, woodstove cook, quilters, and other skills of the past at the Jarrell Plantation Historic Site. Events run from 10:30 am until 3:30 pm.

Watkinsville – Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department and Ellis Pain Center present the Oconee 4th of July Spectacular!  Come out for this star spangled celebration and listen to live music and good food. Activities begin at 6:30 pm and run until the fireworks show at 9:30 pm.

Classic South
Augusta – The Annual Yankee Doodle Dash will feature a 5K and 10K race on Augusta Canal Tow Path. The race begins at 8:00 am on Saturday, July 4th. Registration is $15.

Appling – Decorate your bicycle or golf cart and dress-up your best furry friend for a patriotic pet parade through the campground of Mistletoe State Park. Participants of all ages are welcome! The parade begins at 9:30 am.

Waynesboro – Celebrate your independence with Mad Anthony’s Fireworks Show at the Waynesboro-Burke County recreation department. Bring your family and friends and gather around to watch the night sky light up with red, white, and blue from 9-9:30 pm.

Reynolds Plantation Lake Oconee – Reserve your spot at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge for a weekend full of family fun with something for everyone. Activities kick off on Thursday, July 2nd and run until Sunday, July 5th with a concert and fireworks display on Friday night beginning at 7:45 pm!

Waycross – Join in the Independence Day Fun at Laura S. Walker State Park all day long! There is a parking fee of $5.

Savannah – Come celebrate American patriotism at the River Street Fourth of July Celebration! Live music will be featured on the Arbor Stage throughout the night. Grab your chair and get there early to watch the sky light up for the 2015 Fireworks Extravaganza. The event is free and runs from 4:40 pm until 10:00 pm.

St. Simons Island – The Annual St. Simons Island Sunshine Festival held in the Pier Village on St. Simons has been an island tradition for over 60 years. The family fun starts this year on Friday, July 3, 2015, and runs through Sunday, July 5, 2015. Festival hours are 10 am to 5 pm. The fireworks display begins at 9 pm on July 4 in Neptune Park. Bring the family and run in a 1-mile fun run and 5K race. The 1-mile fun run begins at 7:30 am, and the 5K race starts at 8 am. Start/Finish/Registration for both races will be at Mallery Park.

Darien – The annual Independence celebration is on Friday, July 3. Bring your food, lawn chairs, and blankets so you can relax in the breeze of the Darien River while enjoying music by The Bushmen and fireworks at dark. The gates open at 5 pm and the entertainment begins at 6:30 pm. Admission is $10 for adults (beginning at age 13), $5 for children (6-12 years old) and under five years of age are free.

July 4th Festivities - Thomasville

July 4th Festivities in Thomasville

Magnolia Midlands
Dublin – Featuring live musical performances, a huge fireworks display, and lots of kid’s activities, Beach Blast is a free family-friendly event with cornhole and softball tournaments, eating contests, food, water slides, jumpers and more at Southern Pines Park. Stick around for the fireworks display lighting the night sky beginning at dark! Park opens at 11:00 am.

Fitzgerald – Visit Paulk Park on July 4 for fireworks, free Cokes, hotdogs, music and contests for all ages.

Douglas – Complete with vendors, live entertainment and some of the best fireworks in South Georgia, Freedom Fest is one of the premier Independence Day celebrations in the region. Tailgate or come into the stands at JC Adams Municipal Park to enjoy the show. Gates open at 4 p. on July 4, 2015. Admission is free.

Statesboro – Head out to Mill Creek Park for the July 4th Firecracker Fest! Complete with games and activities for all ages and a great selection of food, this celebration is sure to keep you busy. Starting at 3:00 pm with a tennis tournament, the park will host live music and a spectacular fireworks display starting at 9:00 pm.

Plantation Trace
Thomasville – Head over to downtown Thomasville for a community-wide Independence Day celebration, complete with food, fireworks and fun! Enjoy watermelon slices, fun activities, face painting, food vendors and more! Admission is free and festivities begin at 6:30 pm.

Adel – Spend your 4th of July weekend right whether it be camping at the park, spending the day out on the lake, or competing in the Corn Hole and Putt Putt Golf tournaments. Bring the kids out for a bike parade and face painting in the campground. Corn Hole Tournament begins at 1:00 pm at $5.00 a team. The Putt Putt Golf Tournament starts at 3:00pm with a $2.00 a person admission fee. The Bike Parade kicks off at 5:00pm and the decoration supplies for bikes will be provided!

Valdosta – Join in on the wild fun for fireworks and some all-American fun as we celebrate our country on the 4th of July!  Experience one of the South’s largest and most patriotic fireworks display. Wild Adventures honors the military during our Independence Day celebration with free admission, July 3 – 5 for all active or retired military, disabled veterans and reservists with a valid US military ID. Family and friends of members of the military receive $10 off one-day admission or $5 off two-day admission at the park when accompanied by a service member.

Albany – Downtown Albany is offering a plethora of different activities all around town starting on Friday, July 3rd! Many shops and restaurants are offering discounts and drink specials. Join everyone at Riverfront Park for an outside screening of The Lego Movie. Live music at Veteran’s Park begins at 5:30 pm followed by a fireworks display at the Albany Civic Center at 9:30 pm.

Presidential Pathways
Callaway Gardens – The celebration begins early and lasts well into the night at our annual July 4th Star Spangled Beach Party at Robin Lake Beach. There will be live music, bands, fireworks and lots of fun. All events are at Robin Lake Beach area unless otherwise noted, are weather dependent and subject to change. Admission fee is required to enjoy the festivities!

Columbus – Florence Marina State Park invites you to attend the annual 4th of July activities on July 4th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. There will be boat rides, crafts and games available for the whole family! Cost is only $1-$5 for craft fee, $5 for boat ride and there is a $5 parking fee.

Manchester – Gear up for an elaborate evening at Manchester Mill on July 3. This is an annual event featuring great food and activities for all ages. Entertainment is on tap throughout the evening until the celebration begins. A spectacular firework show at 10 pm will start your Independence celebration here in Meriwether County. Please join us for the county’s largest event on July 3 with free admission!

Cordele – Catch the SAM Shortline at the Georgia Veterans State Park to enjoy a July 4th BBQ dinner  over beautiful Lake Blackshear then sit back for an exciting evening train ride through the Sumter County countryside. Upon your return, you’ll watch the fireworks from the train while parked on the Lake Blackshear trestle. Ticket price includes meal. The trip will run from 7:30 pm until 10:00 pm.

For more ideas, visit Explore Georgia’s Fourth of July Events listings!

Events Commemorating Memorial Day in Georgia

Memorial Day in Woodstock, Georgia

Photo courtesy of Woodstock, Georgia

Start summer 2015 at some of the many weekend events occurring this Memorial Day in Georgia:

May 22-24: Memorial Day Night Paddle at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge

May 22-24: Memorial Day Mayhem at Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge in Helena

May 22-25: Memorial Day Celebration at LanierWorld in Buford

May 22-25: Memorial Day Weekend at North GA Zoo in Cleveland

May 23: Memorial Day Weekend Celebration at Florence Marina State Park in Omaha

May 23: Old-Fashioned Memorial Day at Fort McAllister State Park in Richmond Hill

May 23: Memorial Day Miniature Golf Tournament at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla

May 23: Volunteer Day – Memorial Day Face Painting at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth

May 23-25: Memorial Day Observance at Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville

May 23-25: Memorial Day Weekend – Salute the Troops at Stone Mountain Park

May 23-25: Memorial Day Commemoration at Fort King George Historic Site in Darien

May 24: Memorial Day Celebration at Hightower Creek Vineyards in Hiawassee

May 25: Memorial Day Ceremony at The Park at City Center in Woodstock

May 25: Roswell Memorial Day Ceremony at City Hall in Roswell

May 25: Memorial Day at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth

May 25: Jackson County Memorial Day Parade in Jefferson

May 25: Memorial Day Celebration in Historic Downtown in Senoia

May 25: Memorial Day Commemoration at Fort Morris Historic Site in Midway