Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @jekyll_island
Cascade Skating in Atlanta
Since it opened in 2000, Cascade Skating has played a huge role in establishing Atlanta’s unique roller-skating culture. Where do you think Atlanta’s own R&B phenomenon Usher picked up those dazzling viral moves from the skating routine he performs during his Las Vegas residency? Don’t just show up to watch; go on and roll-bounce with the family into the southwest Atlanta landmark, feel the magnetic energy and master a few smooth moves of your own. Then, reward yourself and the fam for any unexpected spills and bumps with an indulgent meal on Main Street in College Park, about 15 minutes south on Interstate 285. There, you’ll find an array of popular Black-owned restaurants, including Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar, The Real Milk & Honey, The Corner Grille and several others.
Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo
Anyone who grew up watching Video Soul on BET remembers host Donnie Simpson encouraging us to “shoot for the moon,” but at Stephen C. Foster State Park you actually can “be among the stars.” Designated as one of the best places to stargaze in the world, this south Georgia park was the first place in Georgia to be accredited by the International Dark Sky Places Program as a gold-tier “International Dark Sky Park,” recognizing its stewardship of the night sky through responsible lighting policies and public education. There’s very little light pollution here, so views of the stars, comets and planets are crystal-clear, making it an unforgettable getaway for your starry-eyed family, particularly if you choose to spend the night in one of the park’s platform cabins. If you prefer a more solid roof over your head, Newell Lodge & Resort offers comfortable campgrounds and cabin rentals for families of five or less along the tranquil Okefenokee Swamp Park.
Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island
Bring your tribe to this amazing 11-acre waterpark between May and September for spills, thrills, and lots of liquid leisure. The Frantic Atlantic wave pool is a crowd favorite, while the bravest hearts will dig the 300-foot drop of the Pirate’s Passage ride down a five-story tower, while others will love the 40-foot slides at Nature’s Revenge, including the curvy Flash Flood, and the spiraling Thunder and Lightning twin slides. There’s also a lazy river called Turtle Creek for those of us who are in no hurry and an area for water gun battles. Since there’s no safer dining choice for kids than pizza, pick up a few traditional or thin-crust pies at Red Bug Motors Pizza. Enjoy those in the quaint, English pub–styled restaurant, or have them delivered to your suite at the Residence Inn by Marriott Jekyll Island, whose oceanfront views and sprawling resort-style swimming pool — the island’s largest — will keep the aquatic vibes flowing.
Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta
Zoo Atlanta has been a favorite stop in Grant Park for decades, and for good reason. There are always cool events like Illuminights at the Zoo: A Chinese Lantern Festival, the recurring Brew at the Zoo, where you get beers and bears all in one, and more innovative programming throughout the year. It’s always a perfect day trip for the kids, and you can pre-game the family anticipation before driving into the surrounding Grant Park neighborhood by checking for the zoo’s live-streaming Panda Cam. If your kids happen to be burger fans, they’ll love the neighborhood’s variety of options, including Farm Burger, whose Lil Chz Burger is the perfect size for smaller hands and is made with 100-percent grassfed beef. There’s also Grindhouse Killer Burgers, where robot toys and kung-fu movies surround the restaurant, and a full bar lets the parents have just as much fun as the kiddos.
Blue Ridge Helicopter Tours in North Georgia
Luxurious, unforgettable views of the Blue Ridge Mountains await the family when you book with Blue Ridge Helicopter Tours. Bask in the beauty of the mountainous scenery with a 100-mile trip over the city of Blue Ridge, the Toccoa River, Amicalola Falls, Mercier Orchards, Bell Mountain, and more. After working up an appetite at high altitudes, come back to earth to a great meal at Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe, where you can order traditional Cuban sandwiches, bowls with chicken, beef, pork or veggie proteins, and of course amazing rum cakes. And since such an action-packed day might sway the fam towards settling in for the night, book a stay at Mountain Top Cabin Rentals for four or more guests.
Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta
The shorties will love Splash Island Waterpark, open from the spring season through September, which features a 20,000-square-foot wave pool, the daring drops of the Bonzai Pipelines, and Polynesian Adventure (imagine a playground inside a pool), along with other rides and slides. There’s plenty of food for your hungry family folks, whether they prefer Pounce’s Pizza, Island Chicken Fry (don’t skip on the curly fries), Typhoon Tacos or sweets from the Mayfield Ice Cream Shop. And don’t miss out on a refill and refreshment yourself at the recently opened Water’s Edge Brews & Bites, where you can enjoy gourmet pretzels along with locally brewed beer and wine.
Whitewater Express in Columbus
There’s a gang of great outdoor fun to be had at Whitewater Express. Go ziplining at 1,200 feet from Georgia to Alabama and back, and dare the brave youngsters to take the 10-Element Aerial Challenge, which includes beam-balancing and crawling across rope spider webs in the sky. Blue Heron Adventure Park also offers a two-hour Classic Trip rafting ride that’s great for beginners and families with kids at least seven years old, as it sails through a lazy river section of the Chattahoochee River. Bike rentals are also available for pedaling along the scenic Columbus RiverWalk.
When hunger hits, take a feast break at Banks Food Hall, a 12,000-square-foot dining destination in a historic Bay Avenue building just across from the RiverWalk’s splash pad and playground. From The Original Hot Dog Factory to El Primo Taqueria, everyone’s sure to find their fill, plus they regularly feature live bands and other family-friendly entertainment. A great option for your stay is the Hotel Indigo Columbus at Riverfront Place, which is within walking distance of the RiverWalk, has a heated outdoor pool, and is also located not far from other kid-friendly spots like the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.
Callaway Resort & Gardens in Pine Mountain
There’s no shortage of options for family good times at Callaway Resort & Gardens. Along with pedal boating, mini golf, the Treetop Adventures zipline and rope obstacle course, and more, the kids will also love the butterfly expedition scavenger hunt, and the critter explorer collection of bugs and insects. But probably most of all, they’ll be extra-geeked to try the inflatable floating monkey bars, trampolines, and the brand-new climbing challenge The Glacier, all of which adorn the Aqua Island playground, which is essentially thee perfect summer activity for kids. Make it even more fun by visiting for the July 4th weekend, when the resort throws a Star Spangled Beach Party with fireworks each night.
There’s plenty within Callaway Gardens’ 2,500 acres for the adults, including hiking, fishing, and the birds of prey program, where trained raptors show off their speed and strength in flight demonstrations. And of course, there’s the beachside Cabana Bar & Grill, which is perfect for you and bae while the kids splash it up. You also have several options for an overnight stay right on the property, including The Lodge & Spa for modern rooms and suites, or secluded cottages and villas tucked into the forest. While you’re there, The Piedmont Dining Room, located near the main lobby, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is an excellent choice particularly if your fam loves a great buffet.