Spring Events Your Family Can’t Miss

Atlanta Botanical Garden Blooms

Tulips at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Most of the state has seen a touch of snow; 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 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.

Just like the current Mo Willems exhibit, 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 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 in March of this year.

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.

Romance in Georgia

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and it’s time for Mom and Dad to plan a sitter and begin thinking about how to celebrate. Since hubby and I make the effort to take an overnight date once a month, we have plenty of ideas for you. Here are four of our favorite places to escape as a couple.

Horseback riding at Barnsley Resort in Adairsville

Horseback riding at Barnsley Resort in Adairsville

Adairsville. One of my favorite romantic escapes in Georgia is at Barnsley Resort. They have an onsite Fairy Godmother (her REAL title) whose job is to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences; she comes equipped with a menu of options for romantics looking for something over the top. Impress your love with cozy cottage accommodations with fireplaces and private romantic dining options.

The Valentine’s Weekend package includes a carriage ride, chocolate truffles, four-course gourmet meal and $100 credit toward activities such as spa treatments, horseback riding or golf. Hubby and I enjoyed this package about two years ago, and I always think of it fondly.

The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain

The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain

Pine Mountain. The Lodge and Spa at Callaway is a luxurious resort adjacent to Callaway Gardens. Our family visited in winter. We roamed the resort grounds, hiked and picnicked at Callaway Gardens, lingered long hours in our spacious suite, and dined in-house. It was the perfect winter escape for us: relaxing, tranquil, and peaceful.

I love that they are offering a Little Lovebirds Package that is perfect for families. The package includes one two-bedroom suite with private balconies; $100 culinary credit to Piedmont Grille; four tickets to the Birds of Prey exhibit at Callaway Gardens; one family-friendly movie with DVD player in-room; champagne and strawberries amenity for the adults, and s’mores and milk for the little ones; de-stressing couples massage for adults, and cupcake manicures and pedicures for the little ones.

The indoor pool at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead.

The indoor pool at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead.

Buckhead Atlanta. Buckhead is filled with shopping and restaurants that exude romance. To cap the night, try a stay at Mandarin Oriental, Atlantaone of the sexiest hotels I’ve ever stayed in! Or cozy together at Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. They are celebrating 14 Days of Chocolate and a Romance Package featuring deluxe accommodations for one evening, breakfast for two in The Café, a bottle of chilled sparkling wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, rose petal turndown and overnight valet parking. Did I mention the heated pool is one of the best indoor pools in the state? Escape the cold this Valentine’s Day!

Romantic Buckhead restaurant recommendations? Try King + Duke, Umi or Local Three. Local Three is a favorite of mine and they have a Prix Fixe VDay menu.

Crème Brûlée at MAYA Steaks & Seafood, Sandy Springs

Crème Brûlée at MAYA Steaks & Seafood, Sandy Springs

Sandy Springs. Our first date night of 2016 was spent in Sandy Springs, and it was magnificent. We noshed on red wine, fried oysters, delicious steak and heavenly crème brulee at MAYA. Next door is Steve’s Live Music; it was new to us, but we are now destined to become regulars. The laid back, smoke-free atmosphere is filled with AMAZING local musical talent.

Finally, finish the night at The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North. Our Living Room Suite was heavenly. Don’t miss the Romantic Getaway Package that includes breakfast for two from the restaurant, champagne and strawberries upon arrival, and a late check out. Read more details about our Sandy Springs Date Night.

If you are looking for more Fun Date Night Ideas then check out the post on my website. We update it regularly, so be sure to bookmark it.

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.

Indoor Family Fun in Winter

As many of you know, in addition to writing here on Explore Georgia, I also have a family travel blog called 365 Atlanta Family. This time of year I get tons of questions about the best places for families to escape the cold.

I thought it would be fun to highlight the Top 10 Indoor Family Fun Activities that my blog readers were interested in for 2015. If you’ve never been to these places, it’s a great time to add them to your bucket list.

INK in Gainesville

Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (INK) in Gainesville

10. Interactive Neighborhood for Kids in Gainesville. Children can play in a hair salon, pizza shop or bank, go grocery shopping or milk a cow, board a plane or hold a trial. Plan to spend several hours. There are no concessions, so bring a picnic.

9. Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party in Candler Park, Atlanta. Enjoy old-world decor, dark wood bookshelves overflowing with tomes, lanterns and empty birdcages. And the sweet aroma of gourmet tea. Enjoy a cuppa and spend some quiet time together.

8. Museum of Aviation in Warner Robbins. There are airplanes in four large hangers to capture your little one’s attention at this FREE museum. Most are for eyes-only, but there are a handful of places that children can climb into, touch, push, steer and more. Every one makes a great photo op, so bring the camera.

7. CREATE ATL at Woodruff Art Center in Midtown, Atlanta. Family-oriented programming led by the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and High Museum of Art feature FREE activities starting at 1 p.m. every Sunday, including family festivals, art-making activities, interactive musical story times, composers-in-training sessions, instrument making, drop-in acting classes and more.

6. The Cook’s Warehouse Cooking Classes in Decatur, East Cobb and Midtown Atlanta. Cooking classes make a great Girls Night Out or Date Night adventure, but Cook’s Warehouse also has classes for kids. Their pasta making class is great for kids 6-9 years old. Try Edible Science or Knife Skills for older kids. And the Family-style Breakfast for Dinner looks like a hoot!

5. Tiny Towne in Norcross. The main attraction here is the ability for kids to drive a car themselves! There are two tracks. The first track allows kids 3+ to ride in a small car and kids about 6+ to ride in a larger auto. A second track on the other side of the building is where kids 9 and older can drive golf cart cars.

4. Little Shop of Stories in Decatur. This great bookstore engages kids of all ages, with murals, books, a play section and tons of scheduled events. We love the bedtime stories in jammies and Family Game Night.

3. Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland. Watch your kids’ faces come alive as they see a new Cabbage Patch Kid being born.

2. SkyZone Trampoline Park in various locations around Georgia. Sometimes there is nothing left to do but JUMP! It’s the perfect place to get the wiggles out when its too cold outside.

1. Sweetwater Park Yurts in Lithia Springs. Families can take time away together, even in winter. The new yurts at Sweetwater (and throughout all of Georgia’s state parks) have heaters. Camping doesn’t have to end because the weather is cold. Need more yurt info? We’ve got it for you here.

Looking for more indoor family fun ideas? Take a look at our list of 52 Fun Things To Do in the Winter for Atlanta Families.

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.

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.

Georgia Trivia for Family Travel Fun

Kids love trivia! Why not use it as a tool to get your family pumped about visiting a new city? Here are 10 fun facts to spearhead your next Georgia adventure.

Berry College Georgia Trivia

The Old Mill is just one of many secrets on Berry College’s campus.

  1. Historic Saint Marys is the second oldest city in the nation. It is also where you can catch a ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore.
  1. The oldest portable steam engine in the US is on display at Railroad Museum in Savannah.
  1. Cordele is said to be the watermelon capital of the world, and it’s great place to catch the Watermelon Express via the SAM Shortline.
  1. Berry College in Rome has the world’s largest college campus. You can explore Berry College for free. Here are more FREE ways to enjoy Rome, Ga.
  1. Marshall Forest, also in Rome, is the only natural forest within a city limits in the US.
  1. Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia, at 4,784 feet. It’s exceptionally family-friendly. Read about our fall summit hike of Brasstown Bald.
  1. UGA in Athens is the first university chartered and supported by state funds.
  1. The Varsity in Atlanta is the world’s largest drive-in fast food restaurant.
  1. Georgia’s Capitol dome is plated with Georgia gold. The first domestic gold ever sent to the Philadelphia Mint came from Dahlonega. You can take a gold tour in Dahlonega, or enjoy over 120 additional adventures in the Georgia Mountains.
  1. Chickens don’t cross the road in Quitman, because it is illegal there! This small Georgia town was also was the final home of James Pierpont, author of “Jingle Bells.”

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.