Kids carry a kayak in a campground

Paddle-in camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan, Georgia

5 Unique Ways to Enjoy Georgia State Parks with Kids

A few years ago, our family stayed overnight at a different one of Georgia State Parks each month and visited multiple parks in between overnight adventures. While I highly recommend such an adventure, it isn’t for everyone. Don’t let this discourage you from exploring the parks, though! Here are five fun day trip park adventures for kiddos.

George L. Smith State Park

1. Canoe or kayak the blackwater at George L. Smith State Park

There is nothing quite like canoeing in the blackwater at George L. Smith State Park. The cypress and Tupelo trees tucked in the water reflect dreamily on the blacktop. It is peaceful and serene, and the perfect environment for learning to row. 

2. Iron pour at Red Top Mountain State Park

Red Top Mountain's name comes from the soil's rich red color caused by high iron-ore content. Bring the kiddos to select a scratch block mold. The crew then fires up the blast furnace, fills the mold with molten iron, and offers up your unique piece once cooled.


Magnolia Springs
Magnolia Springs State Park

3. See turtles in the natural spring at Magnolia Springs State Park

Not too far from George L. Smith you’ll find Magnolia Springs. The natural spring here pumps 7 to 9 million gallons of water each day. It is crystal clear, and reflects beautiful shades of blue and green. Within the spring we saw dozens and dozens of turtles, and a few alligators. I’ve never seen so many turtles in such a small area; it was amazing. 

A side note: Camp Lawton was on this site during the Civil War. It was one of two prison camps, the other being the more famous Andersonville.  A museum at the park shares many of the artifacts found here.

Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls

4. Hike the falls at Amicalola State Park & Lodge

Amicalola is one of the tallest falls this side of the Mississippi. You’ll want to take the kids to see it! I recommend driving up the hill and parking midway with younger kids. A short walk will get you to a bridge, only feet from the falls. It’s gorgeous, and the kids loved it. The path is paved, so a stroller would also work. Active kids can make it down the stairs to the base of the falls and back. Older kids can climb up the 450 stairs to the top of the falls…or start at the top and walk all the way down.

Arabia Mountain. Photo by Stacy Funderburke
Arabia Mountain. Photo by Stacy Funderburke

5. Get down with the diamorpha at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Diamorpha are succulants found in the pools of rock outcrops like those at Chattahoochee Bend and Arabia Mountain. In spring they turn bright red and then burst with a white bloom. Primarily found in Georgia, they are on the endangered species list in Tennessee. In fall and winter they appear brown and “dead,” but they are not. Showing kids how special they are in spring helps them to understand and better respect these beauties in the cold months. We inspected these charmers here.

Published: March 2019
Written by: Lesli Peterson
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