The Battery Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

The Battery Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Cobb Travel & Tourism

Family-Friendly Sports Towns in Georgia

Georgia’s family-friendly sports towns offer tons of fun beyond the stadium gates.

When planning sporting events, venues and their amenities are certainly top of mind, but they aren’t the only consideration. Explore some of the state’s large cities, small towns and locations along the coast that offer top-notch sports venues as well as things to do for the whole family off the field.

Cities

Sunrise over Atlanta, Georgia
Sunrise over Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @andrewfordphotography

Metro Atlanta

The metro Atlanta region, which covers several counties and a multitude of cities, is home to venues large and small for every sport imaginable. The capital of Georgia – and the largest city in the Southeast – is a major sporting and tourism destination, home of professional teams, including the Atlanta Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Dream and Atlanta United.

Once the scores are tallied, family-friendly activities can be found in communities throughout the region. Some of the most popular are located south of downtown in the ATL Airport District, in the northwest suburbs of Cobb County, east of Atlanta in DeKalb County and in Gwinnett County, just a short drive northeast of Atlanta.

Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia
ATL Airport District

The Georgia International Convention Center, near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, hosts tournaments year-round in basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling. Once the games are over, family-fun attractions abound, like the nearby Delta Flight Museum. The museum, located in Delta’s original 1940s aircraft hangers, includes airplanes, a flight simulator, and Delta memorabilia from the 1920s until today. Kids will enjoy a scavenger hunt through the museum and the many hands-on exhibits.

Around the corner at the Porsche Experience Center, adults can test their sports-car driving skills in real life on the 1.6-mile skills development track or compete on tracks from around the world with a visit to the simulator lab. Young drivers (ages 16-24) can hone their skills with instruction from professionals in the Young Driver Experience. And all car buffs will love seeing the iconic and one-of-a-kind vehicles in the Heritage Gallery.

Roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia
Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo courtesy Cobb Travel & Tourism
Cobb County

Northwest Metro’s Cobb County is home to Kennesaw State University Sports and Entertainment Park, which hosts football, soccer, volleyball and more activities. After the games, families can let off steam on Six Flags Over Georgia’s 11 roller coasters or cool off at its Hurricane Harbor water park, which features a zero gravity slide. Younger family members will love steering trucks along a country road or spinning and spraying in the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters ride. Six Flags also hosts concerts and holiday events all year long.

For those who haven’t worn out their need for sports, the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park and The Battery Atlanta are must-sees in Cobb County. From the game-day excitement of Major League Baseball during the season to restaurants, bowling, concerts and shopping year-round, the area offers fun for the whole family. Friday nights often feature family movies under the stars on the Plaza Green, and non-game-day Sundays in the summer feature a farmers market with local vendors Adults and kids can work together to beat the clock at The Escape Game, or play for bragging rights while grabbing a bite at GoodGame Powered by TopGolf Swing Suite.

Skyride cable car at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Georgia
Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Georgia
DeKalb County

After swim meets at Dynamo Swim Club located just east of Atlanta in DeKalb County, families can dry off with a hike to the top of Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain Park is 3,200 acres of outdoor recreation, including trails, picnic areas, lakes, golf, train rides and a spectacular view from the top, which is also accessible by riding the Summit Skyride. Check out Sky Hike, the nation's largest family adventure course in the treetops, and in the summer, stay after dark for the Lasershow Spectacular, the world's longest-running laser show. Other attractions include Dinosaur Explore, the indoor Dinotorium, and mini-golf.

Just a short drive from Stone Mountain, the wonders of nature and science are on display at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, where you can travel back in time to see some of the world’s largest dinosaurs and into outer space to view the stars. Outside, there are 75 acres to explore with a canopy walk, exhibits and ADA-accessible trails. Inside, the Giant Screen Theater shows award-winning documentaries made specifically for IMAX and giant screens.

Go karts at Andretti Indoor Carting & Games
Andretti Indoor Carting & Games in Buford, Georgia
Gwinnett County

Looking for inspiration only the pros can provide? Gwinnett County in the northeast Atlanta metro area has you covered. Get up close to the action at an Atlanta Gladiators hockey game or a Georgia Swarm lacrosse match at Gas South Arena. For baseball fans, the Atlanta Braves aren’t the only game in town. Guests can meet the up-and-coming players before they reach The Show at the Braves-owned and -operated AAA Coolray Field, where the Gwinnett Stripers play 144 games each year.

Gwinnett encompasses more than 15 cities, like Duluth and Lawrenceville, which feature vibrant downtown squares with a variety of local restaurants and shops. Families can spend hours playing games in Buford at TopGolf and Andretti Indoor Carting & Games, or having a cultural experience at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the largest Hindu Mandir (temple) in the United States.

Kayaking to see donkeys on Stallings Island in Augusta, Georgia
Serene18 Paddle Trail in Augusta, Georgia

Augusta and Columbia County

Each spring, the eyes of the world – at least the world of golf – are on Augusta, in east Georgia, when The Masters hits the links at Augusta National. Come fall, the city is home to one of the largest Ironman 70.3 races in the world. This event offers a great chance for athletes from around the world to see what this city has to offer, as they swim the Savannah River, bike the rural roads around town and run through historic downtown.

Amateur and young athletes will find plenty of places to play, as well, at Diamond Lakes Park’s and Patriots Park’s baseball and softball fields; Wildwood Park’s mountain biking and disc golf courses; and Blanchard Woods Park’s cross country trails, skate park and BMX track. Indoor sports enthusiasts will find games at the Augusta Convention Center.

Once the sports equipment is packed away, families can keep everyone entertained nearby. History and museum buffs can get to know Augusta through the ages at the Augusta Museum of History. Exhibits include a restored 1914 locomotive and a tribute to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

On the water at Clarks Hill Lake in nearby Lincoln County, families can fish, swim, sunbathe, ski and boat at one of the many parks that dot its 400 miles of shoreline. Kayakers will love the Serene 18 Paddle Trail, with paddles along 18 miles of water trails across Clarks Hill Lake, the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal.

Combine history and water on a boat tour of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. Climb aboard the open-air boats for tours on the music, history and wildlife in the area. See 19th-century textile mills, 18th-century houses and wildlife like heron, otters and alligators.

Small Towns

Athens Twilight Criterium bicycle race in Athens, Georgia.
Twilight Criterium in Athens, Georgia. Photo courtesy @visitathensga

Athens

Athens may be the ultimate college town, home to the University of Georgia, but it offers activities for sporting families and kids of all ages. Akins Ford Arena at the Classic Center is home to ice hockey, gymnastics, cheer/dance, pickleball, volleyball, roller derby and public ice skating each winter. For outdoor adventure sports, Walker Park is the place for mountain biking, hiking and more.

When it comes to attractions, Athens is more than a college town. The 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia is bursting with beauty along five miles of nature trails and in breathtaking displays, including the Flower Garden, Shade Garden, and Children’s Garden.

Beauty of a different kind can be found at the Georgia Museum of Art, which serves as both an academic museum and the official state art museum. The free museum includes American and Italian Renaissance paintings, along with a collection of Southern decorative arts, a sculpture garden and traveling exhibits.

When the weather’s too good to be inside, Sandy Creek Park beckons visitors with its walking trails; Lake Chapman for boating, swimming and fishing, horseback trails, ball fields, and camping. Furry family members can frolic in the off-leash dog park.

Family on water slide at Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, Georgia
Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, Georgia

LaGrange

The mid-sized west Georgia town of LaGrange is home to West Point Lake, which hosts major fishing tournaments, as well as recreational boating, fishing and camping. Surrounding the lake’s 525-mile shoreline are parks, marinas, beach areas, nature trails and hunting areas. Those looking for team sports can find them at Callaway Stadium, home to high school football and soccer games, along with the LaGrange College Fighting Red Panthers football team.

Once the games are over, families can play at one of the premier indoor family fun resorts in the country. Great Wolf Lodge is home to an enormous indoor water park that features a wave pool, a four-story water fort, a lazy river, water slides and more. With a rock-climbing wall, kid-sized bowling alley, mini golf and arcade, the water is just the beginning of the fun at this resort designed to keep even the toughest family member entertained. On a beautiful night, Sweetland Amphitheatre beckons. Located within walking distance of restaurants and shops in downtown LaGrange, the 2,500-seat Sweetland offers table, lawn and stadium seating for concerts, comedy acts and community events.

Coast

Kids playing at Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, Georgia
Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @jekyll_island

Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island, a barrier island on Georgia's coast located midway between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, attracts competitors to its road and bike races, as well as unique sports venues like the Jekyll Island Soccer Complex, an ocean-side facility that hosts exhibitions, tournament play and summer camps. For those looking to add on a great family vacation, Jekyll Island is a winning destination.

Start with Summer Waves Water Park. Open during the summer, the park offers thrill rides, lazy floats and cabanas for relaxing, along the shores of the Jekyll River.

Nature lovers enjoy learning about how scientists are studying and saving sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Meet these gentle giants, see them being fed, and learn about the rehabilitation and care they receive.

Experience the dramatic history of the island at Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum, with a tour of the cottages of the Jekyll Island Club and National Landmark Historic District, an after-dark ghoulish tour, and a visit the Mosaic Gallery itself. Travel back more than 400 years to the time when Native Americans lived on the island, then fast forward to the 1950s when the state took over the island, and see how the other half dressed with an exhibit of the clothing of some of the world’s wealthiest families who made Jekyll their vacation home.

Savannah Bananas baseball team in Savannah, Georgia
Savannah Bananas in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah

Savannah may conjure images of Spanish-moss-draped history and high society, but there is more to this Southern belle than that and plenty to please today’s families. The Savannah Convention Center plays host to a variety of indoor sports competitions, including cheer and dance. Located on the Savannah River, the convention center boasts gorgeous views of the historic district across the water. The new Enmarket Arena – opened in February 2022 – is host to concerts and events and home to the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) Ghost Pirates.

Sports fans – and those who aren’t – won’t want to miss the Savannah Bananas baseball team. The team’s motto: We make baseball fun. With their bright yellow uniforms, often including kilts, and on-field antics, you might be surprised to know the baseball is pretty good, too. The Bananas play in historic Grayson Stadium. Built in 1926, baseball legends including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron all played here.

Speaking of legends, you can’t visit Savannah without exploring the Historic Landmark District. Designed in easily walkable squares, the district is full to bursting with historic homes, outstanding restaurants, and world-class museums. Kids will love Leopold’s Ice Cream, founded in 1919, and still handmade in downtown Savannah.

Just 20 minutes from Savannah, Tybee Island’s five miles of public beach, historic lighthouse, Marine Science Center, restaurants and shops guarantee fun – and relaxation – for the whole family.

Written by: Karen Kirkpatrick
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