I’ve got Georgia on my mind and Gainesville in my heart; I miss this little town already. Every summer we make our annual family trip down to Georgia to spend time with my grandma, who lives in Hall County. This part of Northern Georgia is a great location for families. The southern hospitality and ample supply of fresh Jaemor peaches is enough to make you want to stay. If you are traveling to or even through Georgia, these are the places I highly recommend planning to see.
FRANCES MEADOWS AQUATIC CENTER
While in Georgia we got to spend the day at the highly recommended Frances Meadow Aquatic Center. It really is an amazing place for families to stay cool in Georgia heat. I think parents with young children will love it a lot because it is super cheap and designed especially for littles. The main highlight of the aquatic center is the outdoor pool and water play area. However, the facility also has a 10-lane indoor community pool, 4-lane indoor instructional pool and a wellness center equipped for fitness classes.
The outdoor pool features an amazing play structure with interactive water elements. The play structure has some great learning activities that promote problem solving with gadgets that turn water off and on and a water table that has channels for collecting and pouring water. My boys loved running through the raindrop rainbow and splashing in the geysers. To make the play area complete they have a slide perfect for little ones of all ages.
Towards the back of the outdoor pool area is a zero-depth entry pool with drop bucket water feature, whirl pool, current channel and big kid slides. Children 40 inches and taller are sure to love the two body slides that are three stories tall. My oldest son spent most of his time going down the body slides. My youngest really enjoyed spinning around in the whirl pool that swirls you around in a giant circle than dumps you out in to a channel that pushes you along in a small lazy river.
The amenities at the facility are great. The locker rooms are spacious and provide everything you need to prepare for swimming and cleaning up afterwards. The family changing rooms are located once you enter the outdoor section to the left near the gates. They even have life vests available for littles. The concession stand is reasonably priced and offers a lot of snack options. There is a lovely patio seating area for enjoying your refreshments at. No outside food or drinks are permitted. However, there is a park with picnic benches located right outside the facility, if you wish to pack a picnic lunch.
ADDRESS: 1545 Community Way, Gainesville, GA 30501
COST: $8- Ages 3 and Up/$6- Seniors/FREE- 2 and under
ELACHEE NATURE CENTER
Discover, learn and play at the beautiful Elachee Nature Center located in Gainesville, GA. I chose to take my kids hear after seeing the stunning photos of the 1,500-acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve and reading about the educational activities provided on site. This place is a nature lover’s dream and is truly one of our favorite spots in North Georgia.
I love that the center features interactive discovery areas and exhibits. Look at all there is to see and do:
- Explore the Exhibit Hallsfilled with hands-on activities for learning the natural and cultural history of Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve. LEARN MORE
- Meet snakes, turtles and other species in our Live Animal Exhibit. LEARN MORE
- Witness Live Bee Hivesand view interpretive panels in the Pollinator Pass Exhibit.
- Observe the regal red tail hawk in the Outdoor Aviary. LEARN MORE
- Borrow a Discover Nature Pack(English or Spanish – FREE check out) from the Nature Shop to help children in grades K-8 get the most out of their Elachee visit.
- Enjoy playing with your little ones along the Storybook Trail (on the Geiger Trail).
- See what’s growing in the Elachee Nature Academy’s Gardens That Teach.
- Set out on the 0.75-mile Ed Dodd Self-Guided Trailto see the diverse forest and topography of the Nature Preserve.
- Explore theE-House, a solar-powered energy conservation demonstration building.
- Study plants in the Certified Pollinator Garden.
- Examine a Pervious Parking Surfaceand Rain-water Collection System (overflow lot).
- Relax in the Picnic Areaand the many Pavilions on the Visitor Center grounds.
- Stop by the Compost Demonstration Siteto learn the basics of a home set-up.
- Pick out a gift at the Nature Shop.
ADDRESS: 2125 Elachee Dr. Gainesville, GA 30501
COST: Exploring the park and trails is FREE, small fee to explore the Exhibits in the Center.
DON CARTER STATE PARK
Do you remember the 1996 Olympic games? Many of the outdoor games such as rowing, canoe and kayak were held in Gainesville, right in Lake Lanier. The lake offers kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, paddle boarding and even swimming. The park has more than just water activities to offer though; the hiking trails are gorgeous and play ground is state of the art.
ADDRESS: 5000 North Browning Bridge Road, Gainesville, GA 30506
HOURS: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
COST: $5 parking fee donation at the gate.
MOUNTAIN FRESH CREAMERY
Right across the street from my grandma’s house is a creamry that has the best ice cream I have ever had in my life! I was excited to learn that they offer educational tours of the dairy farm. Our family took a field trip the last week were there and while on the tour, we explored how their farm produces milk and makes ice cream. The farm is family operated so we got a personalized tour of the dairy farm and creamery, sampled milk, and even finished the tour with a sample scoop of ice cream and a kid’s goody bag. I wish we lived here so that I could buy fresh milk and enjoy ice cream every day, for now it’s just a special summer treat. I’m on the look out for a farm with the same standards as Mountain Fresh in Maryland, once you have fresh dairy you don’t want store bought.
ADDRESS: 6615 Cleveland Highway, Clermont, GA 30527
HOURS: Tours are on Wednesdays & Saturdays by appointment.
COST: $7 per person (Includes milk sampling & cup of ice cream.)
INK – INTERACTIVE NEIGHBORHOOD FOR KIDS
Every year we make sure to visit the INK This year was our third time making a trip out to this fun children’s museum. The Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (INK) offers the perfect opportunity for children, ages 2 to 12 to immerse themselves in imaginative play. Walking into the INK is like walking into a miniature town for kids. The museum has child-sized interactive exhibits that encourage children to assume various different real-world roles.
The neighborhood includes hair salon, grocery market, diner and bank each with everything you would need to pretend you are running or using these businesses. I love that the diner has a working jukebox. The make believe veterinarian clinic, dentist office, medical clinic & Radiology Department rooms have everything your little caregiver needs to be a doctor, nurse or patient. I found it pretty awesome that there are even working light boards and real x-rays.
ADDRESS: 999 Chestnut St, SE #11, Gainesville, GA 30501
HOURS: Open most days Monday-Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM
COST: $8 per person Monday- Saturday ($6 Sundays)
HELEN GERMAN TOWN
Nestled in the foothills of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a quaint little Bavarian Alpine village. Helen is home to more than 200 different specialty shops. We usually start off by visiting Tim’s Toy Shop. Last year my boys got wooden trains and cars to pull down the cobble stone sidewalk. Next, we followed the rich aromas and polka music to Hansel and Gretel’s Candy Shop. This family owned business has been in operation for over 30-years. Best part about this candy shop is getting to sample the sweets. It was hard to make a decision between all the delicious confections of tasty peanut brittle, heavenly fudge, divine toffee and endless sweet treats. After much deliberation we walked out well stocked with a block of fudge, a chocolate covered apple and two lollipops bigger than my boy’s faces. We usually end the evening dining by the water and watching people tubing on the river.
While not in Hall County, Stone Mountain Park is North of Atlanta and an excellent place for families to visit. I have been coming to Stone Mountain since I was a child and have fond memories. It’s exciting to make new memories with my family now that I have kids of my own. Stone Mountain Park is huge and offers so much to see and do. See The Playful Parent guide for more information.
ADDRESS: 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd. Stone Mountain, GA 30083
ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDENS-GAINESVILLE
Due to weather we were not able to visit the gardens this trip. However, it is one of the most recommended activities to do by locals. Hope to add more information next year.
ADDRESS: 1911 Sweetbay Drive, Gainesville, GA 30501
COST: $8 Adult/$5 Kids 3-12/FREE 3 and under
***The Playful Parent is a free resource for families that advocates learning through play and promotes family bonding. All information provided is my own non-bias opinion. Article and photos are property of The Playful Parent.***