Rafting in Columbus with Whitewater Express

Rafting on the Chattahoochee River with Whitewater Express in Columbus

Summer Family Bucket List

Spend the summer exploring Georgia with these family-friendly destinations.

Looking for summer family fun around Georgia? We have ideas for you spanning all the corners of the state, with overnight options to boot! 

Truist Park at The Battery Atlanta. Photo by @kayla_marie_smith

Atlanta Metro

Truist Park at The Battery Atlanta. Photo by @kayla_marie_smith

World of Coca-Cola

The whole family will love exploring the World of Coca-Cola's vault, which holds the secret formula to the famous drink, known for spreading happiness worldwide. Take a photo with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, and taste more than 100 Coke beverages from around the world.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

At the Chattahoochee Nature Center, see a bald eagle, explore the Chattahoochee River on a guided canoe trip, or hike the trails at Atlanta's nature destination. Nearby, get out on the water with Nantahala Outdoor Center, where you can rent tubes, kayaks, paddleboards and more.

Make it a weekend:

Stay near The Battery Atlanta to introduce the kids to America's pastime by catching an Atlanta Braves game and touring Truist Park. The lively mixed-use development surrounding the baseball stadium at I-285 and I-75 includes shopping, entertainment, restaurants, the Omni and Aloft hotels, and more. Nearby, add to the excitement by skydiving indoors at iFly Atlanta, riding the waves at Six Flags White Water, and braving the coasters at Six Flags Over Georgia.

Serene 18 Paddle Trail in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Classic South

Photo by @benjamingalland

Serene 18 Paddle Trail

Explore 18 square miles of calm water trails with the family on the Serene 18. Rent boats and look for wildlife as you paddle Clarks Hill Lake, the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal – all within a few miles of one another.

Savannah Rapids Pavilion

View the Augusta Canal National Historic Area Headgates while taking a picnic. Sit along the banks of Reed Creek, view the falls or rent bikes for a 7.5-mile ride to Augusta.

Make it a weekend:

Indulge at Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, a luxurious lakeside resort in Greensboro on Lake Oconee. Enjoy resort activities, like tennis, fitness classes, non-motorized watercraft such as canoes and pedal boats, and access to the driving range and putting greens. With the renovated pool deck, s'mores by the lake, and bike rentals, there is plenty of fun for the whole family.

Girl feeding birds on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @gordon_mcmahan

Georgia Coast

Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by @gordon_mcmahan

Savannah & Tybee Island

Only 20 minutes from each other, Savannah and Tybee Island go together like summer and sunshine. Whether you stay in the historic city and make day trips to the beach or vice versa, you'll love exploring all the sights in these coastal Georgia highlights.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for an up-close look at these lovable creatures of the deep. Try your hand at the interactive exhibit gallery, view the open turtle hospital and check in on the turtles in the rehabilitation pavilion as they get nursed back to health.

Make it a weekend:

Stay at the Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island. Guests to the resort will find plenty of ocean view rooms and white sand beaches conveniently outside their doors. Oversized rooms and baths, refreshing décor, refrigerators, a guest laundry and kitchenettes in oceanfront suites add to the comfort and relaxation of a family stay at the beach.

OcmOcmulgee National Monument

Historic Heartland

Ocmulgee National Monument

Native Americans first came here during the Paleo-Indian period hunting Ice Age mammals. See the mounds built by the Mississippian culture over 100 years ago, and visit the museum.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area covers 40,000 acres of land right outside Atlanta, including two massive granite outcrops, the South River, miles of trails, multiple historic sites and more. Many visitors know about the area's two granite outcrops Panola Mountain and Arabia Mountain, but you may not know about the expansive area's many more natural and historic highlights. Here are five off-the-beaten-path destinations you should explore on your next outing.

Make it a weekend:

It's a bed and breakfast, a horse farm and a guest ranch. Southern Cross Guest Ranch in Madison is home to 150 Paint and Quarter horses. The all-inclusive package includes two horseback riding sessions, three meals, lodging, use of the video game room, mountain bikes and video library access. Kiddos must be at least 4 years old to stay, and lower rates may apply to kids 8 and under.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Northwest Georgia

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Chug-a-chug on board the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway's restored passenger train as it follows the Toccoa River to McCaysville, where you can straddle the Georgia/Tennessee line for a photo op and enjoy lunch by the river.

Historic Banning Mills

About an hour west of downtown Atlanta is Historic Banning Mills and the longest zip line in the Georgia, aptly known as the Screaming Eagle. The Banning Mills zip lines are definitely fun, but you can also mix things up with the high ropes course, and for those truly adventurous types, there is the Free Fall, a 10-story drop, straight down.

Make it a weekend:

Stay in Cartersville for easy access to popular attractions like Red Top Mountain State Park, The Booth Museum, Tellus Science Museum, and Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. Play on the water at Terminus Wake Park, see the Euharlee Covered Bridge (the oldest covered bridge in the state), and spend a night stargazing at Rocky Mountain Recreation and Public Fishing Area in Rome.

Burnham House Cottage at General Coffee State Park in Nicholls, Georgia

Magnolia Midlands

River Bend Wildlife Management Area

Explore 1,700 acres filled with walking trails and bird-watching opportunities at River Bend Wildlife Management Area in Dublin. Fish or kayak at Troup's Spring Lake where a clear water spring flows to the swamp's edge.

Splash in the Boro

Jump into 768,000 gallons of fun, ride on a wild slide, or relax and go with the flow on the Lazy River at Splash in the Boro Family Water Park. Water park enthusiasts will enjoy full amenities of a big city facility on an economical budget.

Make it a weekend:

Overnight at General Coffee State Park in Nicholls. The Burnham Cottage is a restored farmhouse with wooden floors, antique furniture and a claw-tooth tub. There are also plenty of hiking opportunities, a heritage farm, a 4-acre lake with peddle boats and canoe rental and even a playground.

Tubing in Helen, Georgia

Northeast Mountains

Tubing in Helen

Pick a tube with or without a bottom, don a life vest and float down the Chattahoochee River in Helen for a leisurely, fun time.

Mountain Fresh Creamery

Visit Mountain Fresh Creamery, where you can tour the dairy facility and see the cows that make their all-natural milk. Don't forget to stop for an ice cream after your tour.

Make it a weekend:

Stay in a room, suite, cottage or chalet at The Dillard House in Dillard. Your mountain escape includes pool time, trout fishing, petting zoo, horseback riding, and more. You're also near Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls, whitewater rafting through the Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area in Clayton and three lovely Georgia wineries.


Plantation Trace

Chehaw Park

This park in Albany features natural habitat exhibits with native and exotic animals, yet it is much more than a zoo. Chehaw also feature nature trails, BMX bike racing, camping options and one of Georgia's largest play parks.

Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village

Experience 19th century-style farm activities, from planting and harvesting to cooking, spinning and quiltmaking in Tifton at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village. More than 35 buildings have been relocated, restored and preserved on this 95-acre site.

Make it a weekend:

Spacious rooms, a mineral water pool and easy dining options for the kids make Merry Acres Inn in Albany a lovely escape for the family. Sit under the ceiling fans at the on-site Manor House Pub noshing on delightful eats as the kids play with a tub of toys to the side. It's "Retro Done Right" at the Southern boutique hotel.

Zip line

Presidential Pathways

Whitewater Express

Located in the heart of downtown Columbus is the Chattahoochee Whitewater Park, the longest urban whitewater course in the world. Brave the 2.5-mile stretch of river with guides from Whitewater Express, which takes families of all age groups out on rafts to navigate the rapids. After 4 p.m., the water level rises, creating more excitement for thrill-seekers. You also can soar high above the water on the only dual zip line in the United States that connects two states!

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange attracts families for its indoor water park, onsite accommodations, character encounters, kids activities and multiple dining options. Made up of more than 93,000 square feet, it's the perfect year-round destination for your little travelers.

Make it a weekend:

Relax at The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Resort & Gardens in Pine Mountain, where elegant touches meet mountain lodge serenity. Unwind at the pool, stretch out on the patio or let the Piedmont Grille pack you a beach picnic to enjoy at Callaway Resort & Gardens. The deluxe rooms offer plenty of space for the family, with a gorgeous bathroom, fridge, microwave and extra-large patio with views of the courtyard and pool.

Published: April 2021
Written by: Lesli Peterson