Photo: Courtesy of Lesli Peterson
Photo: Courtesy of Lesli Peterson

2015 summer bucket list for Atlanta metro families

As the owner of 365 Atlanta Family and the Family Travel Spokesperson for Georgia, the most frequent question I answer is, “What do I do with the kids over summer break?” True to the monthly “Fifty-two” series format you’ll find on my site, here are 52 Georgia memory-makers for your family this summer.

Date-specific events

Georgia Renaissance Festival. Until June 7. Jokers, knights and characters of all kinds meet for food, rides and entertainment at this interactive annual festival of fun. 

Helen Balloon Festival. June 4-6. Bring a picnic and blanket, and spend the evening in Helen watching dozens of hot air balloons inflate and launch. Assist with inflations, take a tethered ride and more. 

SRM’s Locomotive Celebration. June 6-7. Explore the grounds with over 90 pieces of railroad equipment. During the celebration, there will be a locomotive hunt, craft corner, food and more. 

Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Butterfly Festival. June 6-7. Enjoy butterfly encounters, a plant sale, face painting, crafts and more. Two butterfly releases are scheduled on each day.  

Fox Theatre Block Party. June 7. It’s a celebration of thanks for how you have helped The Fox Theatre. Enjoy two stages of entertainment, food and drink, activities and prizes. The best part? It’s free! 

Magic Tree House at Elm Street Arts Village. June 10-24. Kids will fall head over heels for this adaptation of Mary Pope Osbourne’s book, Dinosaurs Before Dark. Shows play Wednesday mornings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. 

Slow Food Atlanta’s Ice Cream Social. June 20. Taste dozens of ice creams, and vote for your favorite flavor. Renowned local chefs as well as ambitious amateurs churn ice cream for your delight. BYOS (Bring your own spoon!) 

Backyard camping. June 27. The kick-off to National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout begins June 27. Pitch a tent in your own backyard, or venture farther for a wild time.  

Folktales by Firelight. June 27. During this free event, visitors will take a family-friendly walk on Arabia Mountain, hear stories by Georgia’s beloved Jonah McDonald, and listen to folktales around the fire with s’mores. It’s all part of Arabia Mountain’s AMP Summer Adventures. 

Red, White and View at Georgia Aquarium. July 4. Grab the best seat in the house for Centennial Olympic Park fireworks at the Georgia Aquarium. No kids? Head to the Oceans Ballroom for unlimited beer and food at the 4th of July Beer Festival.  

Outlaw Cars Dixie Speedway. July 18. Whether you are in the stands or tailgating, the races are always fun. The Outlaw Cars are a great way to introduce kids to this sport.  This race features the late models and winged mini sprints.

Slide the City. July 25. The party hits Decatur this summer. Take a one-of-a-kind slip n’ slide ride on this 1000 foot-long slide down main street. 

Roswell Summer Puppet Series. Various dates. Perfect for young children, Roswell’s annual puppet series begins June 1, for 7 straight weeks of kid-friendly puppet shows. New this year, puppet workshops on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Atlanta Play Mobile. Various dates. Atlanta’s Parks and Rec teamed with Coca-Cola to offer free opportunities to play at their recreation center on wheels. Enjoy activities, games, crafts and more.  

Family Evenings with Camp Kingfisher. Various dates. Kids don’t have to attend Camp Kingfisher in order to enjoy Family Evenings this summer. Spend time at the pool at Chattahoochee Nature Center (yes, the pool!) canoe, enjoy bird encounters and more.  

Toddler Trek at GEHC. Various dates. Experience the outdoors with your little one learning about nature through songs and exploring.  

Atlanta Braves Mother-Son Day. Various dates. Step up to the plate with discount tickets and an exclusive T-shirt. Other family-friendly days this season include Father-Daughter Day, Father’s Day Catch on the Field and Fireworks on the Field.  

Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival. Various dates. Cool off inside the fabulous Fox Theatre with summer film festival movies like The Goonies, Ghostbusters and more. 

Gwinnett Braves. Various. A game with the Gwinnett Braves is perfect for the whole family. Visit during special events like Kids Eat Free, Sunday Family Funday or during a night with fireworks.

Flexible summer fun in the metro

A farmers market. Don’t miss a chance to learn about new veggies and fruits, and grab a King of Pops treat. Purchase something at the market to make for dinner together as a family.  

ABG in Gainesville. Explore the newest addition to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Gainesville location. The trails are short and shady, and they include a model train garden and water feature that the kids will enjoy. 

Atlanta Streetcar. In case you missed it, the Atlanta Streetcar is fare-free for the rest of 2015. Take a tour of the city, with stops at Centennial Olympic Park, Sweet Auburn Market and King Historic District. 

Aurora Theatre Children’s Playhouse. Five shows for little ones are held Wednesdays and Thursdays, and they feature some of the best kiddo performers around. 

Bruce Munro at Atlanta Botanical Garden. Give the kids a special evening, and let them stay up late to see the new Bruce Munro light exhibit come to life as the sun sets in the city.  

Centennial Park. Pack a picnic and head downtown, or grab a bite at Googie Burger once you get there. Nothing says summer like playing in the fountains! Bring some extra clothes and you could finish the day at SkyView, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke or Imagine It!….all within walking distance, even for short legs.

Circus Arts Institute. Children fly on a low trapeze, tempt fate on the tight wire and try their hands at juggling or other circus adventures.  

College Football Hall of Fame. Immerse yourself in the excitement and spirit of college football fanfare. Tickets include high-tech RFID ‘credentials,’ which personalize your visit and allow you to relive the experience from home. 

Don Carter Beach. Spend the afternoon at Georgia’s newest park, taking in the beach, nature trails, and playgrounds.  If you’re looking for a siesta, this is a wonderful place for a cottage stay on the lake.

Food Truck Park. Head to the Food Truck Park for great eats, King of Pops and plenty of space for running around, including a playground.

High Museum of Atlanta. Enjoy family time with the new Mo Willems exhibit, or grab a Discovery Backpack for exploring. Try Toddler Thursdays or weekend tours for families. There is always something fun at the High.

Hurricane Harbor. Hurricane Harbor is the new mega water park that hit Atlanta last year, right in the Six Flags park. There is a wave pool, slide towers, thrill rides, a children’s water play area, plus cabanas, food and much more.

Laser Show/Geyser Tower at Stone Mountain Park. Visit the laser show - free, as if you needed an excuse to visit this summer staple. Spend the day at Geyser Towers or riding the tram to the mountaintop.  Did you know you can also camp here? The yurts are open!

Marietta Fire Museum. Tour the two stories of fire truck paraphernalia and fire trucks.  Be sure to ask for a tour, and whatever you do, get your parking validated to save $20.  Just a short walk away is a fun train playground and an ice cream shop.

New rides at Six Flags Over Georgia. Take a spin on two new rides: THE JOKER Chaos Coaster and Harley Quinn Spinsanity. Additionally, Batman is still rolling backward, so don’t miss it.

Puppetry Arts. Summer puppet shows include The Ugly Duckling and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.  Don’t forget each performance includes a ticket to the puppet workshop – with air conditioning.

Sandy Springs Playable Art Park. Explore six art installations, all for kids to play on and crawl over.  One is a swing set; the rest are primarily for climbing, sliding and having fun.

The Anderson’s Sunflowers. Dance among a field of sunflowers, and don’t forget your camera. The last farm update indicated the sunflowers should peek at the beginning of July.

The Painted Pin. It’s “over 21” most of the time, but before 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays the kids can bowl with you or enjoy free bocce ball, shuffleboard, ping pong, skee ball, skittles, pop-a-shot, darts, giant Jenga and ring toss.

Topgolf. Alpharetta's Topgolf, the only venue of its kind in Georgia, is a best-in-class golf entertainment facility complete with a food and drink menu that puts any sports bar to shame. Take a swing while the littles enjoy Kidzone.

Treetop Quest. Choose from the original location in Buford or the new location in Dunwoody. Swing through the trees in this family-friendly obstacle course in the sky.

Zoo Atlanta. Cool off inside the Zoo’s new reptile exhibit, and once you’re done there head over to the splash pad in the children’s area.

Fun beyond the metro

Callaway Gardens. Tour the gardens, the butterfly house, and more! Fridays offer music on the beach, a farmers market, a high-flying circus and nighttime movies.

Cave tour. Take the kids on a tour of one of Georgia’s magnificent caves, but don’t go alone! Georgia Girl Guides can safely take you within one of these natural wonders, and the price is very reasonable.

Chattahoochee River Float. Whether by boat or raft, take a lazy ride down the Chattahoochee.

Cherry picking. Cherry picking lasts only a short season near the end of May, and Mercier Orchards is the only place you’ll find them. Miss the season? Try strawberries, apples or blueberries.

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve. Mosey to Dahlonega for a visit to the zoo. See monkeys, bears and even a white Siberian tiger.

Conasauga snorkeling. Grab your snorkel gear and head to the Conasauga. Not only will you feel relief from the summer heat, but you are also likely to see 15-20 different species of fish.

Georgia State Parks. Work toward a Junior Ranger badge, take an archery class at Panola or visit Providence Canyon. There is always something to do at the state’s parks.

Historic Banning Mills. Enjoy zip-lining and other aerial adventures, a birds-of-prey show, kayaking and nature trails. Don’t miss a night in a treehouse room, which comes with a full country breakfast.

Take a tour.  Visit the High Roads Ice Cream Factory, milk a cow at Mayfield Dairy or check out the locker room at the Georgia Dome.

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge. Enjoy a staycation with fun for everyone. Ritz-Kids Camp activities include going on a nature hike or scavenger hunt, hooking a fish, making a pine cone bird feeder, shooting hoops on our court, exploring our tree house playground or performing plays in our Pollywog Theatre. Also enjoy s’mores by the lake and the summer concert series with fireworks at select shows.

The Rock Ranch. The Rock Ranch is open on Saturdays this summer, with fun for the family.  There is berry picking, paddle boats, pedal carts, pole fishing, a train ride and much more.  There are also concessions and a Farm Market.

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